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Escalator passengers sometimes experience a feeling of disorientation or dizziness while boarding or riding the machine. Prior work has shown that this perception may be due to a visual depth illusion caused by the appearance of the escalator tread. Measurements confirm that the escalator tread surface is a highly periodic visual stimulus exhibiting unusually high contrast as well as a spatial frequency matched to the preferences of the visual nervous system. Means of minimizing the depth illusion are explored. These center on disrupting the periodic structures of the tread surface. Expressions intended to serve as candidates for figure of merit for the tread appearance are developed. These take into account some properties of the visual nervous system including the decline with eccentricity of visual acuity and the bandpass character of spatial detail processing under light adapted conditions.
escalators, safety, appearance, visual illusion, depth perception
Professor, University of California, Berkeley, CA