Investigation of button size and spacing for underwater controls

Étude sur la taille et l’espacement des boutons de commandes utilisées dans des activités sous-marines


  1. Morrison, J.B.
  2. Zander, J.K.
Corporate Authors
Defence R&D Canada - Toronto, Toronto ONT (CAN);Shearwater Human Engineering, Vancouver BC (CAN)
This study was designed to identify the optimal size and spacing of push-button controls for use by divers when wearing neoprene gloves in cold water. Four keypads having different size and spacing of buttons were tested in three environmental conditions. Ten subjects completed two different tests of speed and accuracy in air and in 25°C water with no gloves and in 4°C water with neoprene gloves. Results showed that there were main effects of keypad size and environment on performance and an interaction effect between keypad and environment. Responses were slower and less accurate in 4°C water with gloves than in air or 25°C water (p<0.05). Responses were also slower in 25°C water than in air (p<0.05). A keypad having 10 mm button size and 20 mm spacing (centre to centre) was found to be optimal when wearing gloves in cold water; there was no significant improvement in performance with larger keypads. Using a stylus to operate a smaller keypad improved accuracy when wearing gloves in 4°C water, but proved impractical without ergonomic design improvements. It is concluded that keypads designed for use in air are not optimal for use underwater.

Il y a un résumé en français ici.

Ergonomics;Human engineering;Underwater;Hyperbaric;Tactile sensitivity;Speed;Accuracy;Human performance;Keypad;Cold water;Warm water;Stylus;Human systems interaction;HSI
Report Number
DRDC-TORONTO-CR-2008-033 — Contractor Report
Date of publication
01 Apr 2008
Number of Pages
Electronic Document(PDF)

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