3D Nautical Charts

Cognitive off-loading by removing the need to make mental rotations when using maps in a conning (driving) situation

(A) Charts and radar displays are normally used in a north-up mode. (B) On this southbound vessel, a desired action to go on the east side of the central island with the cairn (a direction to the right on the chart display) leads to a turn on the wheel in the other direction (port/left). This can be confusing. (C) A conning display with a 3-D chart in a bridge perspective would simplify the decision-making in this situation.



This research commenced after the Sleipner accident in Norway 1999 where a high-speed ferry lost orientation and crashed into a small island. The research question was one of finding better ways of transmitting way-showing information. The screenshot above is from a prototype application made for the doctoral thesis in 2006.



The hypothesis of cognitive off-loading was tested in a series of laboratory maze experiments in 2005, 2007 and 2011. The experimental results clearly confirmed the hypothesis


Technical tests are now conducted to implement practical applications of the research. The image above is from a field test with an Android smart phone app in the Koster national park on the Swedish west coast in June 2015.



Porathe, T. (2006). 3-D Nautical Charts and Safe Navigation (dissertation). Malardalen Univarsity Press, Västerås, Sweden


Porathe, T. (2011). 3D Computer Graphics and Nautical Charts. In U. Freiherr von Lukas, E-M. Mahnke, K. Haase, S. Malo (eds.) Go-3D 2011 Computergraphik für die Praxis. Rostock: Fraunhofer Verlag, p. 5-15

Porathe, T. (2010) “If this will be the way to drive a ship – just anyone could do it”: 3D Nautical Charts. About creating acceptance and building standards for a VR within the maritime domain. Proceedings of the SIGRAD conference 2010 in Västerås, Sweden, 25-26 November, 2010

Porathe, T. (2008) Measuring effective map design for route guidance: an experiment comparing electronic map display principles. Information Design Journal, 16(3), 190-201. Amsterdam: John Benjamins

Porathe, T. (2008) 3-D Nautical Charts as Decision Support for Land Based Piloting. Published in the Proceedings of the 1st International Ship-Port-Interface Conference (ISPIC 2008) in Bremen, Germany 19-21 May 2008. Bremen: Buchwerft-verlag

Porathe , T. & ,Prison J. (2008) Design of Human-Map System Interaction. Published in the Proceedings of the ACM SIGCHI 26th CHI Conference in Florence, Italy 5-10 April 2008. ACM New York, NY, USA

Porathe, T. (2007) Nautiskt 3D-GIS med sikte på kognitiv avlastning och beslutsstöd. Kart og Plan,:3-2007, Vol 67, pp. 183–191. Bergen, Norway: Fagbokforlaget.



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