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Human factors: Design

In: Carroll, J. Jamieson, G. Rehak, L. Gualtieri, J. Potter, S. Clegg, C. Gonzalez Castro, L. Sometimes automation may eliminate these information channels. A digital datalink system is being developed that shares several similarities to the AIS. Datalink is proposed to replace air-to-ground radio communications with digital messages that are typed in and appear on a display panel that will eliminate informal information that is currently conveyed by voice inflection Kerns In addition, the physical interaction between the crew members and the equipment can enhance communication and error recovery.

In maritime navigation the way the position is. The physical movements of team members, such as reaching for a switch, can communicate intentions. Automation can eliminate such communication by channeling multiple functions and activities through a single panel Segal To counteract these potential problems, it might be useful for AIS design to consider the joint information of the interacting crew in addition to the needs of each individual crew member.

The successful introduction of AIS depends on understanding the capabilities and training requirements. While AIS has certain unique features and operating functions, it is one of many tools intended to assist the mariner in accomplishing a myriad of ship operational tasks. As such, it should be treated as part of the total bridge navigational system in deciding how best to provide operator training. Operator training is a complex subject in itself, and the committee has not fully investigated it, but its importance is clear. Most of the deep water mariners who will be using AIS will not be subject to U.

Thus, their capabilities and training will be overseen by international agreements or the national regulations of the flag of the vessel. In contrast, as previously noted, the majority of the U. The capabilities and training needs among all of these mariners are as varied as the vessels they operate. However, because they share the same waterway, there are certain basic training principles concerning the use of AIS that may be common and may be important to consider. For example, a number of chart display units are in active use on U. Electronic chart systems are in general use on a number of vessel types.

Lawrence Seaway as well. Interestingly, as more mariners use this equipment in day-to-day operations, it may be that the addition of AIS will not present too large a burden of additional training so long as the display is appropriate and the operator has adequate skills with existing systems.

The particular training requirements will depend on the functionality of the AIS display. Under present USCG regulations, masters and mates of towing vessels over 26 feet are required to attend radar training as a condition of licensing. Refresher training is required on a 5-year cycle. Because of this requirement, the addition of AIS training might be considered as an adjunct to the radar endorsement. In the past, certification examinations have not always changed to reflect the introduction of new technology Lee and Sanquist It would be useful to review all vessel operator training and certification requirements to see how the introduction of AIS might be used to modify present standards rather than introduce new ones.

There will undoubtedly be a phase-in period to facilitate AIS carriage requirements; this period could also be useful to phase in any new requirements for training. For example, mariners could satisfy AIS training requirements concurrently with the first renewal of a radar certificate, following the implementation of the carriage requirements.


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This approach would allow mariners to better meet carriage requirement deadlines and ease the burden on examination centers. While the committee believes that training will always be an important factor in the successful introduction of AIS displays, it also believes that a training program will be most useful when it is integrated with a regular, comprehensive operator training program. While it will be important ultimately to tailor the AIS interface design to its intended uses, users, and context, certain general principles should be applied to its design and evaluation.

For example, Smith and Mosier Probably the most widely recognized usability heuristics are those based on a factor analysis of usability problems by Nielsen and Levy , which resulted in a concise list of 10 heuristics. This large body of guidelines can help direct AIS interface design, but some are more critical for AIS design than others.

In the following sections human factors design principles that appear to be particularly critical for AIS design are identified, and recent trends in information representation that may complement the traditional reliance on visual displays are discussed. The following paragraphs briefly discuss some of the best-known and widely accepted heuristics and design principles from Nielsen and Levy ; Shneiderman ; Wickens et al. The shipboard environment presents several critical considerations that differentiate it from typical desktop and control room situations in which the following human factors guidelines are typically applied.

Shipboard displays must consider illumination so that they can be operated in both day and night, and their displays must be visible but not excessively bright at night. Shipboard interfaces should also be designed so that they are operable in heavy seas, wet conditions, and high-vibration situations. The physical layout of the bridge should also influence shipboard design. The shipboard operator is not likely to be monitoring displays constantly, and the placement of shipboard displays relative to other navigation and communication aids may influence their utility.

Beyond these general considerations, the following 13 specific interface principles should be taken into account in AIS design:. Ensure visibility of system status and behavior: The system should always keep the user informed about its status and activities through timely and effective feedback. This heuristic is essential to a user-centered design paradigm and vital for effective coordination and cooperation in a joint human—machine system. Yet, it is one of the most frequently violated principles.

Many current interfaces focus on the presentation of status information but fail to highlight changes and events. They are often characterized by data availability rather than system observability, under which the machine plays an active role in supporting attention allocation. In the context of AIS, for example, it has been proposed that in the event of system overload, some targets will drop out.

It will be important to provide clear indications of such changes in display mode. It should follow conventions in the particular domain and use words, phrases, and concepts that are familiar to the mariner rather than system- or engineering-oriented terms. This will reduce training time because it avoids the need for mariners to adapt to the system, and it will help avoid errors e.

This also means that menu options and error messages should use terms that are meaningful to the mariner rather than terms that are familiar to the software developers. This requires a high degree of familiarity with the tasks and existing navigation tools of the mariner. The developers should identify and use the measurement units of the mariner.

Support user control and freedom: Users sometimes choose system functions by mistake. This will be especially important in the context of high-tempo operations. In other words, attention should be focused on vessel navigation, not on how to use or interact with the device being used to send or receive information.

Such inappropriate attentional fixations have been observed in other domains, where they have contributed to incidents and accidents. The need to support user control and freedom also concerns the changing conditions the mariner faces and the need to allow the mariner to adjust the features of the AIS to accommodate these conditions. One simple example is the need to adjust the display to reflect the changes in lighting from day to night.

Ensure consistency: This principle calls for the use of identical terminology for menus and help screens and for the consistent use of colors and display layout. Users should not have to wonder whether different words, situations, or actions mean the same thing, and where they can find information or controls.

Instead, designers should attempt to capitalize on user. Compliance with this heuristic requires not only consideration of each individual display but also of the environment in which it will be used. Users learn certain color-coding schemes or symbols, and it is likely that they will transfer their interpretation of information from known to new displays.

Design Error A Human Factors Approach

As mentioned in Chapter 4 , one problem with proposed AIS designs that has been identified already is that symbology requirements have not yet been fully harmonized across different electronic navigation platforms. Support error prevention, detection, and recovery: For many years, the focus in design has been on error prevention through training and design. More recently, it has been acknowledged that, despite the best intentions, errors will continue to occur and that it is critical to support operators in detecting when an error has been made, why the error occurred, and how it can be corrected.

Systems can support these three stages of error management by various means, such as a expressing error messages in plain language no codes ; b clearly indicating the nature of, and reasons for, the problem; and c suggesting promising solutions to the problem. Require recognition rather than recall: The designer should place explicit visible reminders or statements of rules and actions in the environment so that they are available at the appropriate time and place.

One example where this principle applies in the context of AIS is the need for officers to enter manually information related to the navigational status of the ship. In the absence of external reminders, this requirement can easily be forgotten by the officer who faces a wide range of competing attentional demands.

Support flexibility and efficiency of use: Flexibility and efficiency of use can be supported by enabling experienced users to employ shortcuts or accelerators that may be invisible to the novice user , such as hidden commands, special keys, or abbreviations. While this principle suggests that the user should be allowed to tailor the interface for frequent actions, it is important to note that this principle does not apply in all contexts. Support for tailoring can create difficulties in collaborative environments i.

Thus, an analysis of the appropriate level or levels of AIS display flexibility and efficiency may be warranted. Avoid serial access to highly related data: In many cases, operators need to access and integrate related data to form an overall assessment of a problem or situation. It is desirable to avoid requiring that these data be accessed in a serial fashion because this imposes considerable memory demands on the part of the operator. This principle calls for the integration of AIS information with existing related information on the bridge [such as the electronic charting and display information systems ECDIS display].

Apply the proximity compatibility principle: If two or more sources of information must be mentally integrated to complete a task, they should be presented in close display proximity. In contrast, if one piece of information should be the subject of focused attention, it should be clearly separated from other sources of information. Proximity can be created by spatial proximity or through configuring data in a certain pattern or by using similar colors for these elements. This principle is related to the heuristic of minimizing information access costs.

Frequently accessed sources of information should be positioned in locations where the cost of traveling between them is minimal. In other words, the user should not be required to navigate through lengthy menus to find information. Avoid new interface management tasks at high-tempo, high-criticality times: A common problem with many automated systems is that they require operators to enter or access data at times when they are already very busy.

In the context of AIS, for example, it can be problematic to expect the officer of the watch to update information on the navigational status of the vessel when the change in status also requires the execution of other actions more directly related to safety. Support predictive aiding: Many tasks require the anticipation of future states and events. A predictive display can aid the user in making predictions and reduces the cognitive load associated with performing this task in an unaided fashion.

Humans have difficulty combining complex relationships of dynamic systems to predict future events, particularly when. Create representations consistent with the decision to be supported: Operator decision making often depends on the visual representation of information. In particular, graphical integration of data makes it possible for people to see complex relationships that might otherwise be overlooked Vicente Relative and absolute motion vectors illustrate the power of representation.

Relative motion vectors make potential collisions obvious, whereas absolute vectors show the same information but make collisions more difficult to detect. Understanding the format of the information presented by a given display and how that information must be considered is essential for it to be useful in decision making.

Text display of position and motion vector data would make collision detection extremely difficult. Some graphical representations, such as misaligned maps, however, can also be misleading and induce errors Rossano and Warren Graphical displays that show position information with precision that exceeds the resolution of the underlying data can easily be misinterpreted. Thus, the resolution of the display should match the precision of the underlying data.

The MKD demonstrates a mismatch between display representation and the decision to be supported. Anecdotal information from active mariners who have used MKDs suggests that using the MKD digital readouts of latitude and longitude to make hazard assessments and collision avoidance decisions is much more difficult than using an appropriate graphic display of these data. Consider the principle of multiple resources: The proposed introduction of new systems and interfaces to highly complex and dynamic environments, such as the modern ship bridge, has raised concerns about possible data overload.

One promising approach to facilitate the processing of large amounts of data is to distribute information across multiple modalities such as vision, hearing, and touch rather than rely increasingly and almost exclusively on presentation of visual information. This principle is discussed in more detail in the following section.

The introduction of computerized systems to a variety of domains has increased the potential for collecting, transmitting, and transforming large. However, the ability of human operators to digest and interpret those data has not kept pace. Practitioners are bombarded with data, but they are not supported effectively in accessing, integrating, and interpreting those data.

The result is data overload. One of the main reasons for observed problems with data overload is the increasing, almost exclusive, reliance on visual information presentation in interface design. The same tendency can be observed in the development of proposed AIS displays. Presenting information exclusively on a dedicated visual display or integrated with existing visual interfaces may create difficulties for the mariner, whose current tasks already impose considerable visual attentional demands.

Multimodal information presentation—the presentation of information via various sensory channels such as vision, hearing, and touch—is one means of avoiding resource competition and the resulting performance breakdowns. The distribution of information across sensory channels is a means of enhancing the bandwidth of information transfer Sklar and Sarter It takes into consideration the benefits and limitations of the various modalities. For example, visual representation seems most appropriate for conveying large amounts of complex detailed information, especially in the spatial domain.

A related advantage of visual displays is their potential for permanent presentation, which affords delayed and prolonged attending. Sound, in contrast, is transient and omnidirectional, thus allowing information to be picked up without requiring a certain user location or orientation. Auditory alerts and warnings are the most commonly developed auditory display, but recent research suggests that sound can be used in other ways. Sonification contrasts with traditional auditory warnings in that it can convey a rich array of continuous dynamic information.

Examples include the static of a Geiger counter, the beep of a pulse oxymetry meter, or the click of a rate-of-turn indicator. Several recent applications of sonification demonstrate its potential. It has reduced error recovery times when tied to standard user interface elements Brewster ; Brewster and Crease Sonification has also aided in understanding how derivation, transformation, and interpolation affect the uncertainty of data in visualization Pang et al. More generally, sonification has shown great potential in domains as diverse. These applications show that sonification can convey subtle changes in complex time-varying data that are needed to promote better coordination between people and automation.

Because sound does not require the focused attention of a visual display, it may enable operators to monitor complex situations. Just as with visual displays, combining sounds generates a gestalt from the interaction of the components Brewster The findings support a theoretical argument that sonification can be a useful complement in visual displays.

Another sensory channel that is still underutilized is the haptic sense. The sense of touch shares a number of properties with the auditory channel. Most important, cues presented via these two modalities are transient in nature and difficult to miss, and thus are well suited for alerting purposes. The advantage of tactile cues over auditory feedback is their lower level of intrusiveness, which helps avoid unnecessary distractions. Also, like vision and hearing, touch allows for the concurrent presentation and extraction of several dimensions, such as frequency and amplitude in the case of vibrotactile cues.

The distribution of information across sensory channels is not only a means of enhancing the bandwidth of information transfer; it can support the following additional functions:. Redundancy, where several modalities are used for processing the same information. For example, the AIS could have a redundant auditory alert for important warnings that are displayed on the screen. Complementarity, where several modalities are used for processing different chunks of information that need to be merged.

Substitution, where one modality that has become temporarily or permanently unavailable is replaced by some other channel. This may become necessary in case of technical failures or changes in the environment e. For example, the AIS could read text. In summary, the design of a multimodal AIS interface may be a means of avoiding problems related to data overload. It may allow a reduction in competition among attentional resources and thus support effective attention allocation.

In addition to creating multisensory system output, it will be desirable to consider different modalities for providing input to AIS. For example, in some circumstances, the use of a keyboard for AIS data entry may not be possible or desirable. In those cases, voice input or a touch screen could serve as alternatives. Thus, the benefits and limitations of the combined use of input and output modalities should be explored, as well as the need for the adaptive use of modalities.

An adaptive approach to the design of multimodal interfaces may be appropriate for various reasons. Factors that vary over time and that may require a shift in modality usage include the abilities and preferences of individual mariners, environmental conditions, task requirements and combinations, and degraded operations that may render the use of certain channels obsolete.

For example, the responsiveness to different modalities appears to shift from the visual to the auditory channel if subjects are in a state of aversive arousal Johnson and Shapiro Also, modality expectations and the modality shifting effect play a role.

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The feasibility of multimodal interfaces also needs to be carefully evaluated. If a person expects information to be presented via a certain channel, on the basis of either agreements or frequency of use, then the response to the signal will be slower if it appears in an unexpected channel. If people have just responded to a cue in one modality, they tend to be slower to respond to a subsequent cue in a different modality Spence and Driver Environmental conditions also affect the feasibility or effectiveness of using a certain modality.

For example, high levels of ambient noise may make it impossible for the mariner to use the auditory channel and thus require a switch to a different modality that would otherwise be less desirable. Human factors design principles and promising multimodal display alternatives may help define useful AIS displays and control designs; however, no research has addressed specific design parameters for AIS.

Likewise, multimodal display alternatives seem promising, but research is needed to verify their effectiveness in conveying AIS information. Heuristic evaluation, first proposed by Nielsen and Molich , is a low-cost usability testing method for the initial evaluation of human—machine interfaces. The goal of heuristic evaluation is to identify problems in the early stages of design of a system or interface so that they can be attended to as part of an iterative design process. Each evaluator first inspects the interface independently. Once all evaluations have been completed, the evaluators communicate and aggregate their findings.

Heuristic evaluation does not provide a systematic way to generate fixes to the observed problems. However, because heuristic evaluation aims at explaining each observed usability problem with reference to established usability principles, many usability problems have fairly obvious fixes as soon as they have been identified. Interestingly, a typical human—computer interface expert will identify about a third of the problems with a particular interface using this technique.

Another expert, working independently, will tend to discover a different set of problems. For this reason, it is important that two to four experts evaluate the system independently. Heuristic evaluation tends to catch common interface design errors but may neglect more severe problems associated with system functionality. For this reason, usability tests are needed to evaluate whether the system is actually useful. Heuristic evaluation relies on design principles that tend to be formulated in a context-independent manner. Thus, while it is important to ensure that a new system interface meets those general guidelines and common practices for human—computer interaction, some problems cannot be uncovered without examining device use in context Woods et al.

As suggested by. Although heuristic evaluations can identify many human interface design problems, testing and experimentation are required to understand how people actually use the system. In addition, relatively little research has addressed AIS interface design. Usability testing has become a standard part of the design process for many major software companies, and the safety-critical nature of AIS makes it important for usability testing to be a part of AIS design.

Usability testing typically involves relatively few people using relatively few functions in a controlled environment.

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These limits mean that important design flaws may go unnoticed until the system is deployed on actual ships. For this reason, operational test and evaluation is a critical element of the design and evaluation process. Operational test and evaluation places the AIS interface in an actual operational environment to assess how it supports the operator in the full range of conditions that might be encountered. The committee did not identify many examples of operational test programs for AIS interfaces; thus, such operational test and evaluation programs are needed.

Good interface design can be guided by three general types of standards: design, process, and performance. Design standards specify the range or value of design parameters. These might take the form of very specific guidance concerning the color and size of display elements or more general guidelines, such as the 13 human factors design principles described above.

Although design standards are attractive because they can specify equipment. Adherence to design standards does not guarantee a good design. Process standards define the required design and evaluation process but do not define any of the features or characteristics of the device.


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For AIS interface design, process standards might mandate a process that begins with a task or work domain analysis, involves the application of human factors guidelines during design, and culminates in an operational evaluation. Performance standards define the required efficiency of the human—AIS interface and do not specify the interface features or the design process.

Performance standards require a comprehensive test and evaluation process that evaluates how AIS supports the operator in a variety of situations. Performance standards can be complex and costly to administer and may not guarantee a good design because it is impossible to test all possible use scenarios. No one type of standard will guarantee an acceptable AIS interface. A combination of design, process, and performance standards may be necessary to promote effective AIS displays and controls. Human factors considerations of AIS span a broad range that includes standards development, operational testing, training and certification, and research and development.

The rapid pace of navigation technology development and the limits of traditional design standards make it likely that process and performance standards could be useful mechanisms to address the human factors considerations of AIS display development. Performance standards require operational test and evaluations. These evaluations provide useful information that can help refine process and design standards.

Too frequently system design focuses on the physical system and its operation and fails to consider training and certification programs as part of the overall system design. Training and certification can have an important effect on overall system performance and should be considered with the same care as the development of display icons and color schemes.

Shipboard navigation and communication technology is changing quickly. In addition, there are many different operating environments, each with unique requirements for the AIS interface. More important, AIS may be used. For these reasons, it is critical to remain flexible and not to mandate a single interface standard.

These factors all argue for a continuing process of understanding the user, design, and evaluation that continues after the initial deployment of AIS. A combination of design standards, process standards, and performance standards is needed to ensure adequate interface design without interfering with the ability of designers to create effective AIS interfaces in the context of rapidly changing technology. Currently, the effect of AIS on the mariner is not well understood. General guidelines, such as the 13 heuristics described above, can help guide design, but research into the following issues is needed:.

Design, process, and performance standards for the human factors considerations of AIS;. How technology development and trends in other fields, such as aviation, might influence AIS design; and. How interface design can help address the trade-off between information requirements and the associated cost of complex shipboard displays of AIS information. Bainbridge, L.

Ironies of Automation. Automatica, Vol. Barrass, S. Using Sonification. Multimedia Systems, Vol. Borgatti, S. Everett, and L. Analytic Technologies, Columbia. Brehmer, B. Rasmussen, B. Brehmer, and J. Leplat, eds. Brewster, S.

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Interacting with Computers, Vol. Correcting Menu Usability Problems with Sound. Behaviour and Information Technology, Vol. Brown, C. Human—Computer Interface Design Guidelines. Ablex Publishing, Norwood, N. Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF. Skip to main content. Advertisement Hide. Conference paper. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves. This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access. Salmon, P. Vicente, K. Militello, L.

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