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User-Centered Interfaces

In creating user-centered interfaces, we focus on improving the ability of computers to understand more about what the user is doing, saying, and thinking in order to provide the user with information based on how they are best able to operate and communicate.


User-Centered Interfaces (UCI) optimizes human system performance through advances in Human Computer Interaction created through dynamic interactive interface design and engineering. We concentrate on the development of user centered interface technologies in three focus areas: Advanced Interaction Paradigms, Context-Intelligent Computing and Human-System Integration (HSI) Design Methods & Evaluation. Features of the UCI business area include a human testing lab which operates under IRB regulations, an internally-developed, unique HSI process called Interaction Design and Engineering for Advanced Systems (IDEAS), and a highly collaborative, multi-disciplinary team of scientists and engineers. UCI is developing revolutionary ways for military personnel to interact with technology that supports creation and delivery of tactical intelligence, battlespace situational awareness, team collaboration and coordination, and decision-support - critical technology discriminators for Lockheed Martin and visionary enablers for the military.

Key Technologies

In creating user-centered interfaces, we focus on improving the ability of computers to understand more about what the user is doing, saying, and thinking in order to provide the user with information based on how they are best able to operate and communicate. Some of the innovative UCI technologies that we have developed include:

  • Interface to the Warfighter (I2W) is a multimodal system designed to run on mobile, rugged, lightweight platforms and use both speech and text input to provide warfighters with an unobtrusive, low-effort means to request information and report new field intelligence. I2W will assist users in creating reports about their observations while on patrol, requesting relevant information to improve situational awareness, and receiving actionable intelligence. The multimodal interface works to minimize the cognitive workload and physical demands required to perform these activities.

  • Spoken Language for Interaction in Computing Environments (SLICE) technology underlies several of our cutting-edge systems that allow warfighters in the field to interact with distributed information sources by voice through advanced spoken language understanding technology. SLICE technology provides hands-free operation of computer systems through natural spoken language interaction. In a SLICE system, the computer listens for information requests and communicates with both the user and networked information resources to compute user-centered solutions. Warfighters can access, modify, or delete information using voice interaction.

  • The Sensor-based Mental Assessment in Real Time (SMART) tool uses task-independent and user-independent algorithms to convert physiological data into multiple gauge readings which indicate second by second variation in mental activity. These mental state gauges, which currently include cognitive workload, distraction, engagement, and drowsiness, provide insight into an individual’s mental processing in a manner that has previously been unavailable. The methods available for assessing mental state today are either subjective (e.g., rating scales) or intrusive (e.g., secondary task performance), and produce measurements relatively infrequently. In contrast, SMART provides objective measures of mental state once per second without interrupting performance. Application areas include human performance evaluation, training, and workload mitigation.

  • Tactical Access to Complex Technology through Interactive Communication (TACTIC) is a technology effort designed to provide personnel deployed in the field with access to resources that typically require intercession by stationary experts with extensive training and experience, from military expeditionary forces who need up-to-date intelligence while patrolling front lines to first responders in disaster situations. TACTIC provides a bridge from human to information in any situation for which there is a complex information environment in which a) information requests are typically composed by an expert who is extremely familiar with the data sources, required values, parameters, and expected results that relate to an information query and b) there is a need to enable novices to be able to use this environment to acquire operationally relevant information in near real-time with minimal assistance.

  • SACADE (Situational Awareness Continuity Across Disruptive Events) is an effort to develop context-intelligent, mixed-initiative systems to support teams who work asynchronously and need to share information across operational shifts or time zones. This effort builds on prior research in the computer supported collaborative work research area (Patterson & Woods, 2001; Patterson et al., 2004; Morris et al., 1999; Neuwirth et al., 1998). Our initial efforts have focused upon maintaining situational awareness across shift changes, however, our long term goal is to develop advanced HCI technology that supports SA maintenance through disruptive, disorienting events in any domain. We believe the information extraction (end work shift) and information understanding (begin work shift) tools developed to support total transfer of information between personnel will be highly useful during continuous operations when quick SA assessment needs arise.

User-Centered Interfaces is one of several Business Areas for the Contextual Systems Laboratory

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