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IBC Systems and Services Usability Engineering

Objective

There are significant signs that the utilisation of new information services is below the initially (and usually, optimistically) expected level, In particular this arises from the low acceptability of services presented to the user. As indicated by some important role investigations, this issue is central to the diffusion or take-up, of new information services.

The aim of the project is to identify how best to match the work of the service designers (and providers) to the real needs of service users, in order to introduce and maintain new services successfully. Two kinds of services will be considered by the project; video communication and multimedia retrieval services.
The aim of the project is to identify how best to match the work of the service designers (and providers) to the real needs of service users, in order to introduce and maintain new services successfully. 2 kinds of services are considered; video communication and multimedia retrieval services.

To date, ISSUE has identified the critical usability areas on which to concentrate, and is now developing experimental protocols through which these issues will be addressed.

A 3-part survey of telecommunication managers and users of videoconferencing Systems in 4 European countries has been completed.
An experimental personal computer (PC) based multimedia test facility has been installed at the premises of 5 partners to experiment with interface features and assess user requirements of such systems.
An experimental multipoint network of twin video channel (independence face and document views) workstations has been used to investigate channel switching, telepointing and teledrawing.
Studies have been made of communication protocols over simulated multipoint video communication systems in both chaired and free communication conditions.
A series of basic investigations has been carried out of the display characteristics of high definition television (HDTV) displays, looking at window layout, size and positioning, optimum aspect radio for different information media, and image quality.
Technical Approach

The project will develop new tools, some of which concern usability engineering and are therefore based on a human factors approach. The project is developing simulation and experimental prototypes on which to carry out human factors experiments into areas identified as critical for the usability of video communications and multimedia retrieval services. In parallel, user surveys are being planned and conducted to assess user needs and requirements in relation to IBC technology.

To date, ISSUE has identified the critical usability areas on which to concentrate, and is now developing experimental protocols through which these issues will be addressed during 1992. The final phase of the project will collate information gained and disseminate it to service providers.

Key Issues
. Human factors in designing IBC systems and services.
. Experimentation and prototyping to investigate critical factors affecting usability.
. User needs analysis.
. Multimedia services.
. (Multi-point) video communication services.
. Evaluation of user acceptability of IBC based systems and support.

Achievements
. A three-part survey of telecommunication managers and uers of videoconferencing Systems in four European countries has been completed.
. An experimental PC-based multimedia test facility has been installed at the premises of five partners to experiment with interface features and assess user requirements of such systems.
. An experimental multipoint network of twin video channel (independence face and document views) workstations has been used to investigate channel switching, tele-pointing and tele-drawing.
. Studies have been made of communication protocols over simulated multipoint video communication systems in both chaired and free communication conditions.
. The project is participating in a pan-European study of the icons and pictograms for incorporation in future European standards for videotelephony equipment. This work is in collaboration with the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI).
. A series of basic investigations of the display characteristics of high definition television (HDTV) displays looking at window layout, size and positioning, optimum aspect radio for different information media, and image quality.

Expected Impact
The ISSUE consortium has decided as a matter of policy that output from the project should be presented in several different media. Accordingly guidance for IBC designers will be provided on video and by prototype demonstrations supported by documentation for reference purposes. The guidance will be of two types: prescriptive data, giving specific information on user preferences regarding, for example, size, position and number of windows, layout of video control panels etc.; and process information, ie how designers can acquire the necessary user data to inform design decision- making by such techniques as task analysis, system walk-throughs and rapid prototyping.

Coordinator

Loughborough University of Technology
Address
The Elms Elm Grove
LE11 1RG Loughborough
United Kingdom

Participants (6)

Fondazione "Ugo Bordoni"
Italy
PTT Netherlands Research
Netherlands
Sarin Telematica SpA
Italy
Symedia
France
TECHNICAL RESEARCH CENTRE OF FINLAND
Finland
TELEFONICA DE ESPANA S.A
Spain