Friday Nov 07, 2014

Emphasis on Practical Usability Research at HFES Annual Meeting in Chicago

By Anna Wichansky

Senior Director, Oracle Applications User Experience

HFES 2014 Meeting in Chicago

The 2014 International Annual Meeting of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society (HFES) was recently held in Chicago, on October 27-31, 2014. This conference deals with all the latest research and issues in the field of human factors, the study of human-machine systems. Some 1450 professionals in human factors, user experience (UX), and related fields attended the event.

Anna Wichansky and Ultan O’Broin (@usableapps) of the Oracle Applications User Experience (OAUX) team presented a half-day workshop on How to Create User Requirements for Software to HFES members and students, including industry consultants and end-user customers. This is their third presentation of the workshop, which features a highly interactive format with small groups engaged in hands-on role-playing exercises.

In this unique workshop, students prepared a business case about a fictitious auto parts company requiring a financial software upgrade to a more efficient, effective, and satisfying application. They worked in small groups and played the roles of UX consultant, user, and stakeholders in the implementation. Ultan and Anna facilitated the groups, played stakeholder roles as needed, and presented relevant concepts and methods for setting UX requirements based on the NIST IR 7432 Common Industry Format for Requirements. Students left with a completed template of user requirements for the workshop business case.

Context of Use: The fundamental layer of user requirements. Picture of people coding together

Understanding the context of use (the who, what, where, how, and with whom) dimension of software user requirements gathering is fundamental to a successful implementation. The HFES workshop explored context of use thoroughly as an underlying layer of the Common Industry Format for Usability Requirements.

In other highlights of the conference, Deborah Hersman, President and CEO of the U.S. National Safety Council and former head of the National Transportation Safety Board, gave an invited speech on the importance of human factors in promoting safety. One particular theme was computer-distracted operators of transportation vehicles. She related examples of the Northwest Airlines pilots who overflew their destination while reading rosters on a laptop, a texting engineer responsible for a train collision in Chatsworth, California, and the Delaware River tug boat mate in charge of towing a barge that collided with another vessel because he was distracted by his cell phone. Her clear message is that we need to use technology thoughtfully to ensure the benefits outweigh any detrimental effects. Automated cars, for example, could have many benefits in providing a very safe ride, possibly decreasing the effects of driver distraction, fatigue, and aging on highway accidents.

The fastest growing technical group in HFES is Healthcare, with many papers and sessions presented on testing medical devices, the design and human factors of electronic medical records, and online consumer information systems for patient compliance and support.

A symposium on research being conducted to support the NASA manned extra-planetary missions was also presented, with many relevant findings for life here on Earth, including the effects of sleep deprivation and sleep inertia (when you are suddenly awakened in the middle of sleep) on human performance.

BMW presented research on the optimal design for augmented displays in automated driving scenarios. The research found that drivers’ reactions to the displayed alerts and warnings as they attempted to avoid hazards in simulated driving tasks were often unpredictable, depending on features of the visual design.

About the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society 

Human Factors and Ergonomics Society logo

The Human Factors and Ergonomics Society is a 4500-member professional organization dedicated to the study of human-machine systems. Anna Wichansky is a Fellow of the HFES.

Related Information

Saturday Dec 21, 2013

Heads Up on Displays: Exploring Google Glass Globally

As a global Google Glass Explorer, I was drawn to the HuffPo's "Google Glass: Qué Guay!" article about reactions to Google Glass in Spain. I wondered about that Urban Dictionary entry (not safe for résumés) too, as I haven’t experienced such feedback. We have Explorers in Oracle, I thought it would be interesting to hear from some about what reactions they’d encountered the around the world.

London #throughglass

London pictured through Google Glass (pic: Ultan O'Broin) 

I’m indebted to co-workers Anthony Lai (@anthonyslai), Marta Rauch (@martarauch) and Noel Portugal (@noelportugal) for sharing their experiences. Not scientific in any way, this is 'after-the-fact' guerilla-style Glass user experience (UX) ethnography, is purely qualitative, and for fun, as we move towards the creation of Heads-Up Display (HUD) UX guidance.

Out and About with Glass

@noelportugal

Noel Portugal demos Fusion CRM App on Glass

Noel Portugal demos Oracle CRM app on Glass (pic: Ultan O'Broin)

Mexico

Most people do a quick stare but are hesitant to ask about Glass. Questions came from everyone, from taxi drivers to airport gate staff. They always include, "How much do they cost?" When showing someone how Glass works, others always gathered around to catch our conversation.

United Kingdom

Again, people were hesitant to ask. On the London train I immediately felt the gaze of passengers and overheard some guys saying, "It’s Google Glass!” Finally, one approached and I demoed Glass.

In Mexico, and the UK, I was asked if Glass was going to "take off”. My response was classic UX - “it depends” - especially, if the price comes down. If Google enhances it further, I see a future with a lot of Glass around me.

@anthonyslai

Anthony S Lai

Anthony Lai (pic: Misha Vaughan)

San Francisco Bay Area

Most people know about Glass, but not a lot of details. They’re genuinely interested, and this is increasing as more Explorers appear. There’s a small amount of negative reaction to Glass (I had one bad experience), but I’d say this is because others haven’t had personal experience of Glass (yet) and privacy concerns.

China

In Beijing, people were interested when they saw Glass, but very few knew about its existence. On the street, people would gaze at you for a second, but then look away to avoid embarrassment (a cultural thing). One man in his 60s knew about Glass and asked me if I liked it or not. There was only one other occasion when I was asked on the street.

I had similar experiences in Hong Kong as in Beijing.

@martarauch

Marta Rauch

Marta Rauch (pic courtesy: Marta Rauch) 

California

Everyone who tried on Glass thought it amazing. The most common response was “Cool!”, asking when and where they could get their own, and of course, how much it cost. The current high price is an issue for many.

At live events and conferences, the audience wants to try Glass and to be photographed wearing it. People are impressed by the Glassware apps available already (including the Oracle apps). They like the features and enjoy exploring by themselves. Typically, they’ll try a Google search and take pictures and videos. Some will even try a “Google Glass-bomb” by asking Glass something they think it won’t be able to answer, but Glass does pretty well with correct responses.

I am also asked when prescription lenses will be available, and if Glass is compatible with iPhones.

At Yosemite National Park, I wore Glass to take videos of the mountains, and tourists and rangers noticed and asked to try it. I also wore Glass to a NASA moon launch at NASA Ames Research Center to get some Glass images of the event. I was so surrounded by inquisitive geeks that I had to take Glass off and get the video with my mobile phone!

@ultan

Ultan O'Broin Selfie

Ultan O'Broin (pic: Selfie) 

Ireland

In Dublin stores, staff all wanted to try my Glass. They would first ask what it was and when I offered if they wanted to try, all accepted. Shopping therefore took a while, but everyone was knocked out by the experience. They wanted their own - until they heard about the price. Everyone got the hang of using the Glass gestures, but a few were confused and wondered why Glass needed gestures as well as voice input. Nobody had any privacy concerns. Many were quick to take pictures without asking the subjects (making me very nervous). Again, the prescription lenses questions came up.

Few adults knew the name Glass. They had a vague awareness of its existence, but they’d call it Google Glasses or even The Google Eye. However, kids all knew the correct name, and what Glass could do. I didn’t allow kids to try it, nervous about getting parental consent. I had a hard enough time getting Glass back off my nine-year old to continue “digital native” research, he loved it! College students knew what Glass was, approached me, trying it out with a “wow!” reaction.

I showed Glass in my local computer store and the owner identified a use case for working remotely on a service request (for hands-free location and directions to a site and knowledge lookup). In another store, someone said it would be ideal for hyper local ads about special offers nearby.

UK

Similar experiences in London as Dublin, even in big departmental stores. Sales assistants were ready with questions and eager to try Glass. I breezed into one famous store normally very leery of camera-toting tourists, but without problems. More questions came about prescription lenses, availability, and price.

I wore Glass on the Tube. In the close quarters of a packed train, I overheard passengers whispering “Google Glass”, but nobody asked me anything. I did hear that using Glass must be a cool way to watch music videos when stuck on the Underground!

In Manchester, I didn’t turn a single head.

San Francisco Bay Area

Lots of people identified Glass and asked questions. My favorite approach was “Excuse me, Sir, but I'm from Louisiana, and I have never seen a thing before like that on your head….”.  

In San Francisco, on Black Friday, I saw the twinkle of about a dozen Glass displays on Explorers as darkness fell. In a sunglasses store, I was their third Explorer that day. The staff was ready with “no, we don’t make lenses for it!”(They tried on my Glass anyway).

General Tips on Sharing the Glass Goodness

Our Explorers all liked and used the Android-only (at time of writing) MyGlass app’s screencast features for demoing Glass to others. Screen casting saves on passing Glass around to everyone and encourages participation as the crowd gathers. If someone asks about your Glass, then it’s polite and professional to answer, and offer if they’d like to try, when possible. Get their views, and thank them. Check with guardians first if kids approach and ask about trying Glass.

Cultural and Language Dimensions

Analysis of cultural dimensions to information and communications technology usually draws on the work of Geert Hofstede and Edward T Hall. That’s for later, and perhaps we can even construct new models. In addition to the ways our Explorers noticed how people approached around the world, here’s a few other global considerations.

In China and Mexico, we noticed that the Glass English-accented voice could present issues for non-native English speakers when communicating using voice commands. Also, anyone speaking in softer tones, Chinese women for example, may not be heard that easily by Glass. Ambient or background noise doesn’t help.

When demoing, Explorers were also asked whether you could change the Glass UI language to Spanish or another language (not right now).

The voice-to-text audio seemed to mangle non-English names (in Irish for example), but impressively, Glass learned how to get them right after repeated attempts. Acronyms could also confuse Glass initially, especially domain-specific ones (Saying UX first being shown as “You X”, but then pronounced correctly).

Keep an Eye  on the Enterprise

The word is out about Glass. HUDs will take off in a bigger way in 2014, and although Glass is the most well-known HUD in the U.S., and becoming so in Europe, there are others out there. Consumer expectations will influence the enterprise UX of HUDs longer term, but enterprise use cases have been identified that make sense to build now.

More Explorers Immiment

More Glass Explorers are coming, so expect more interest and use cases (Pic: Ultan O'Broin) 

Enterprise UX is all about context and stakeholders, so exploring reactions of more than just end users is valuable. Although this was a “fun” exercise, our Explorers’ insights will help inform methodologies for more scientific UX research and practical guidance to enable enterprise users to work more efficiently with HUDs.

So, Oracle customers and partners, stay tuned to the VOX blog and Twitter (@usableapps) for UX information and outreach about the HUD trend. You can participate in the building of wearable solutions to make businesses more productive.

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