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This study of 'Human Behaviour' explores different channels of HCI and in identifying 'what actually makes an effective interface' exploration into different types of interfaces was required.

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

Contents

Summary..................................................................................................................        1

Design Brief………………………………………………………………………..        3

Requirements...........................................................................................................        3

Performance Requirements…………………………………………….......        3

Specification……………………………………………………………………….        4

Designing an effective Interface…………………………………………………..        4

Understanding Input Devices – THE KEYBOARD…………………………….        5

Understanding – THE DISPLAY………………………………………………..        5

Layout………………………………………………………………………        6

Graphical User Interface…………………………………………………..        6

Training……………………………………………………………………………        7

Prototype Review – STAGE 1……………………………………………………        7

Summary of Results…………………………………………………………        8

Refinements………………………………………………………………..        8

Prototype Review STAGE 2……………………………………………………        9

Observations……………………………………………………………….        9

User Feedback……………………………………………………………...        9

Summary of Results…………………………………………………………        9

Evaluation…………………………………………………………………………10

Literature Review………………………………………………………………...

Bibliography………………………………………………………………………

Appendices………………………………………………………………………..

Summary

The ‘Mars Explorer’ robot was a prototype user interface which aimed to extract the behaviour of human individuals. In creating a simple design and testing to assess its effectiveness, a prototype was modelled that allowed a control function to be executed. The entire experiment was based upon testing the human user, understanding its capabilities and limitations, and adapting the design to improve cognition. The robot scenario provided the simple interface that allowed the testing of human understanding, showing how humans interact with computers and process knowledge.

‘Human Computer Interaction’ (HCI) in its simplest form, concentrates on creating effective, usable and efficient interfaces for humans to work with and computers to respond to. It is this notion of ‘effective’ that I concentrated upon, aiming to design a competent system that allowed a user to successfully control an interactive object.

This study of ‘Human Behaviour’ explores different channels of HCI and in identifying ‘what actually makes an effective interface’ exploration into different types of interfaces was required. Using two types of interfaces, namely,

  • A command line interface, and
  • A text based GUI

I was able to analyse how a user or robot operator performed and how they actually perceived the interface. Using HCI principles and evaluating the results obtained, I was able to refine a preliminary interface in to one that provided more scope, better interactivity and a higher level of efficiency.

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Middle

In the case of the ‘Mars Explorer’, it will be important for the user to be able to measure their performance. This will then elicit weaknesses or strengths and allow for further developments in terms of training and for designers, to adjust the system to suit the user’s requirements even further. To allow for this, the following measurements will be extracted:

  • The average response time over 30 forward movements – before and then after training has been provided.
  • The accuracy in terms of the number of collisions – before and after training.

Specification

A User Interface is required which will allow an operator to control the ‘Mars Explorer’ robot and help it to avoid objects when flying. Concise experimentation using a command line interface and a text based GUI will be used to compare and measure the effectiveness of the user interface. Operator feedback will also be analysed to study and further improve the design. The deliverables for this task will be a prototype interface which allows the operator to perform the required functions to manoeuvre the robot and also a report which expands upon improvements made as a result of tests upon the human user.

Designing an effective Interface

Above all, an interface needs to be appropriate to the control function that it is to perform. The human user must be considered in physical, physiological and sociological terms before an interface is implemented. It can be perceived as being relatively easy to design an interface for one human but difficult to produce an interface for many users. This is a direct result of the diversity in ability, intellectuality and other characteristics of the human user.

The human characteristics themselves play a vital role in determining the design of an interface. It is important that human centred design is used to eliminate the possibility of the design becoming inadequate and of no use to the operator.

Designing an interface and then refining through experimentation allows us to make an existing interactive system even more effective. In the case of the ‘Mars Explorer’ we need to understand the user’s properties and their actual interaction with the system. Matching the user’s characteristics with the system will allow it to become agreeable, easier to work with and to further allow for the tuning of preferences.

Understanding Input Devices – THE KEYBOARD

The problem specification for this task states that a ‘conventional’ keyboard will be used to control the ‘Mars Explorer’ robot.  The keyboard requires that the users select a position in a set of co-ordinates, and then exert physical pressure upon the key at the selected location to produce the desired effect. It should also be stated that a good keyboard provides you with some feedback of its correct operation. This immediate feedback allows us to perceive the keyboard as an output device as well. The robot operator will ideally have five control keys. These are:

  • A control key to move ‘UP’
  • A control key to move ‘DOWN’
  • A control key to move ‘LEFT’
  • A control key to move ‘RIGHT’
  • A control key to activate the emergency stop feature

Other keys on the keyboard will also be used to navigate through the whole system. For example the user will be required to select predefined keys to progress from the ‘welcome screen’ to actually controlling the robot.

We have to decide upon which keys will actually be used to implement the control of the robot. At this stage we must pay crucial attention to the characteristics of the human user itself. The following issues must be assessed before we designate keyboard control keys:

  • Comfort
  • Ease of use
  • Safety
  • Critical Issues
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Conclusion

‘Human Problem Solving’ by Newell and H.A. Simon, was the earliest journal used. In saying that, this does not mean it was the least effective. The ideas of improving human cognition through tests and expanding the knowledge base were two topics that were of direct relevance. The capabilities and boundaries of human users were discussed and references to the ‘Human Virtual Machine’ provided ideas that allowed me to explore how efficiently humans process information. The notion of cognition accustomed this report directly to the users of the robot. The idea of gaining knowledge and processing that knowledge to initiate a desired effect, linked directly to the four test cases used in the experiments.

The World Wide Web references¹ were on a whole inadequate and provided only delicate definitions about HCI. In terms of usefulness, I was unable to derive information relating to the design of interfaces.

______________________________

¹World Wide Web references – See Bibliography

Bibliography

  • Jenny Preece, Yvonne Rogers, Helen Sharp, David Benyon, Simon Holland and Tim Carey. ‘Human Computer Interaction’ Addison-Wesley, 1994
  • Benbasat, Izak; dexter, Albert S.; ad Todd, Peter (Univ. of British Columbia, Vancouver, B.c., Canada)
  • Commun. ACM 29, 11 (Nov. 1986), 1094-1105.
  • William M.Newman and Michael G.Lamming. ‘Interactive Systems Design’. Addison-Wesley, 1995
  • Newell and H.A. Simon. ‘Human Problem Solving’. Prentice Hall, 1972
  • A.G. Sutcliffe. ‘Human-Computer Interface Design’. Macmillan, Basingstoke, 1995
  • Philip Rae. The Study Of Interactive Systems – 1991
  • Andrew Pilot. Graphics Interfaces’ – 1989
  • http://www.ida.liu.se/labs/aslab/groups/um/hci/
  • http://hci-journal.com/
  • http://www.hcibib.org/hci-sites/

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