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The Commission of the European Union, through its Fourth Framework R&D programme is committed to the development of the Information Society. There is no doubt that there will be many radical changes in all aspects of society caused by the far-reaching impact of continuing advances in information and communi­ cation technologies. Many of these changes cannot be predicted, but that uncer­ tainty must not stop us from moving forward. The challenge is to ensure that these technologies are put to use in the most beneficial manner, taking fully into account the rich cultural and linguistic backgrounds within the peoples of Europe. We have a duty to ensure that the ultimate end-users of the technology are involved in the development and application of that technology to help shape its use. Without this active involvement, designers will not understand the individual and organisational requirements of the users, and the users will not understand the impact and applicability of the new technology. Failure on either account will lead to a sense of resentment on the part of the users and a lost opportunity to improve the quality of human life. The work, sponsored by the Human Comfort & Security sub-domain of the ESPRIT programme, has a central part to play in the creation of the Information Society, lying as it does at the interface between the technology and the user.



Beyond the Final Frontier: Usability at Reuters

This paper presents the Reuters Usability Group and its Customer Centred Design process both of which pivot around their life-force - the customer. We describe how to build this process into an evolutionary, self perpetuating and continuously evolving life cycle of ever more relevant and responsive products. Everything that we do revolves around the centre of gravity set by our customers, creating energy and synergy that launches our product into the future.
Greg Garrison

The New Media Interface: a Case for Reappraisal

In recent years the role of media technology as a mediating agency between the user and the user’s complex information environment has had a significant impact on the design and format of the user interface. However, current plans for digital media in many aspects of entertainment, education and information indicate that the next generation of media technology will have an even more profound impact on future interface design. Individual exemplars from various media industries are presented below and compared. The comparison reveals a seemingly dichoto­mous situation, at once convergent in shared infrastructure between media, while, at the same time being so divergent in a proliferation of new applications in electronic publishing, telecoms services and broadcasting.
The source of the paradigm shift in many of these applications is the emergence of digital coding as the common language of communication. This common digital language offers a unique opportunity to leverage converging technologies such as television, computers and telecommunications into a global communications infrastructure offering a vastly augmented range of services to users. To exploit this potential, we will have to absorb new media concepts, such as fully interactive TV, “dial up movies”, “broadcatching” rather than broadcasting. Such concepts will demand a radically new approach to the way, in which we may conceive, design and implement future multimedia interfaces.
Patrick Purcell

Long Term Research on Intelligent Information Interfaces

Intelligent Information Interfaces (i3) is a new initiative of the ESPRIT Long Term Research. Its aim is to promote research and development of new interfaces and interaction paradigms for interacting with information. These new interfaces will provide comfortable access to information for the broad population (i.e. not restricted to few specialists). An i3 home page, a Brokerage page and an i3-NET page provide information about i3 activities.
Jakub Wejchert

ETHICS: User led Requirements Analysis and Business Process Improvement

This paper discusses a participative design method called ETHICS. ETHICS focuses on the non-technical aspects of systems design, in particular a pre-change diagnosis of needs and an effective restructuring of the work situation. The front end of ETHICS, QU1CKethics, is used to assist the definition of information needs prior to the acquisition of MIS.
Enid Mumford

Bridging Software Design and Usability Analysis through Task Modelling

A user-centred approach to systems design and evaluation is presented. In particular task modelling is proposed as a bridging technology for understanding users’ needs, feeding this understanding into design and evaluating the usability of design choices. The approach is proposed as a general methodological framework for the design, the development and the evaluation of interactive systems. We discuss the beneficial bridging effects of task modelling throughout the development life cycle presenting the experience of the ESPRIT Project CHARADE, an integrated system for handling environmental emergencies. The main aspects of our experience are reported highlighting how the system life cycle has been characterized by an early and continual involvement of the final user, and how task analysis and modelling are shared resources for the entire development process.
Patrizia Marti, Veronique Normand

MAPI: MUSiC Assisted Process Improvement

The MAPI (MUSiC Assisted Process Improvement) project in the ESPRIT Human Comfort and Security area uses methods for usability measurement derived from the successful Framework III MUSiC project (Measuring the Usability of Systems in Context). These methods implement the principles of the draft ISO standard 9241, part 11, which defines usability as: “the extent to which a product can be used to achieve specified goals with effectiveness, efficiency and satisfaction in a specified context of use”. The service providers of MAPI have identified a number of different configurations in which MUSiC methods can be delivered in order to satisfy the industrial objectives of the MAPI industrial partners. The objectives of the MAPI project are to show that MUSiC methods can assist companies to improve their processes, and to highlight ways in which the current MUSiC tools need to be developed and delivered in order to be cost-effective.
Jurek Kirakowski, Nigel Bevan

Usability Evaluation of Software Applications

Providers and employers of information technology applications have to ensure the conformance with the requirements and recommendations given in ISO 9241 part 1 to 17 and ISO 9000, as far as concerned to define the demands of the EU Directive 90/270. However, no accepted methodology and instruments exist to operationalise the relevant standards. Therefore, a software based evaluation procedure, called ISO 9241-Evaluator, has been developed as a comprehensive combination of methods and instruments supporting a guideline-based expert judgement.
Reinhard Oppermann

Are You Sitting Comfortably ?

IT systems should be accurate, reliable, efficient and comfortable to use. The first three are essential, the last, comfort, a useful bonus. With some systems, however, “comfort/ease of use” is paramount: information gathering, for instance, where the users’ view is restricted to their interaction with the input mechanism. In market research, respondents are involved via exposure to some form of interview. Their participation, and the quality of the information obtained, relies on their task being perceived as relevant, straightforward, well managed, comfortable. This paper illustrates Taylor Nelson approaches that ensure data quality through respondent comfort. Current surveys for TV audience, grocery measurement and quality of mail services are described; so too is recent development work using automated speech recognition to conduct telephone interviews without an interviewer.
Heather Piper

Voice-based Dialogue in the Real World

Organisations which receive incoming telephone calls from customers are faced with a common set of problems. What is the best (fastest, cheapest, friendliest) way to identify what a customer wants and satisfy their requirement? What is the best way to manage variations in call volume? What is the best way to address the customer-led demand for increased quality and variety of telephone services in an increasingly competitive and cost-sensitive market? How can the process of creating new telephone services best be speeded up? The Language Engineering REWARD project addresses the needs of organisations (i) to create automatic teleservices using robust spoken language dialogue technology and (ii) to automate the process of creating such services. The project brings together five user organisations (from the PTO, Business Travel, Market Research, Telemarketing and Maintenance sectors) and two technology supplier organisations, along with a larger User Interest Group drawn from a variety of different European nations, and representing a wide range of languages and vertical market sectors.
Norman M. Fraser

MASK: Multimedia Multimodal Service Kiosk

The rigidity of touch-screen based, and menu-driven user interfaces for public services prevents users from transacting tasks as fluently as when communicating with another person. The objective of the MASK project is to pave the way for more advanced public service applications by employing multimodal and multimedia input-output. The project will produce a demonstrator implemented in a real public service context (railway traveller services). The development of the project demonstrator and its experimental application in the automated kiosk services will provide realistic guidelines for better integrating multimodal and multimedia interface technologies in the public service applications.
Eang Sour Chhor

Spoken Language Component of the MASK Kiosk

The aim of the Multimodal-Multimedia Automated Service Kiosk (MASK) project is to pave the way for more advanced public service applications by user interfaces employing multimodal, multimedia input and output. The project has analyzed the technological requirements in the context of users and the tasks they perform in carrying out travel enquiries, and developed a prototype information kiosk that will be installed in the Gare St. Lazare in Paris. The kiosk will improve the effectiveness of such services by enabling interaction through the coordinated use of multimodal inputs (speech and touch) and multimedia output (sound, video, text, and graphics) and in doing so create the opportunity for new public services. Vocal input is managed by a spoken language system, which aims to provide a natural interface between the user and the computer through the use of simple and natural dialogues. In this paper the architecture and the capabilities of the spoken language system are described, with emphasis on the speaker-independent, large vocabulary continuous speech recognizer, the natural language component (including semantic analysis and dialogue management), and the response generator. We also describe our data collection and evaluation activities which are crucial to system development.
J. L. Gauvain, S. Bennacef, L. Devillers, L. F. Lamel, S. Rosset

Designing Co-operativity in Spoken Human-Machine Dialogues

Dialogue model design for Spoken Language Dialogue Systems (SLDSs) is still based mainly on common sense, experience and intuition, and “trial and error” strategies, rather than on established design principles. Co-operativity in dialogue systems is crucial to comfortable human-machine spoken dialogues. This paper presents a set of principles of co-operative user-system dialogues which have been derived from a corpus of task oriented spoken human-machine dialogues. The set of principles is shown to include as a sub-set an established body of principles of co-operative human-human dialogues. Analysis of results from a user test of an implemented SLDS prototype shows that the set of principles is adequate to account for the dialogue problems identified in the test corpus. Both empirical and theoretical grounds indicate that the principles presented in this paper may constitute a comprehensive set of guidelines for the design of cooperative human-machine dialogues.
Laila Dybkjær, Niels Ole Bernsen, Hans Dybkjær

Usability Analysis of Spoken Dialogues for Automated Telephone Banking Services (OVID)

This paper describes the methodology in use on research project OVID to investigate the design, implementation and evaluation of spoken dialogues for automated telephone banking services. The project involves a series of large-scale field experiments using both Wizard of Oz (WOZ) schemes and real time speech recognition technology for the investigation of the perceived usability of such banking services which have voice response capability. The system possesses a fully integrated dialogue component which can be independently modified to suit different experimental objectives. The set-up for experiments using the WOZ scheme is described with details of the user evaluation measures employed in the research.
Mervyn A. Jack, Jean-Paul Lefèvre

Hypermedia-based Telecooperation Support for Marketing Software Products

The development, distribution, quality assurance and maintenance of software products increasingly takes place in international markets and requires the intensive collaboration of several parties. To facilitate the different kinds of asynchronous and synchronous collaboration between remote users in different European countries hypermedia-based telecooperation support is a key component: Hypermedia enables the integration of heterogeneous information entities created by different partners as well as the structuring of such a multi-organizational knowledge base. Telecooperation technology enables not only asynchronous sharing of distributed knowledge but also tightly-coupled collaboration on synchronously shared workspaces. These facilities can be used to support communication and cooperation in the later stages of the software lifecycle, especially the market introduction of commercial software products.
This paper summarizes the requirements resulting from this application domain and outlines the design of a cooperative telecooperation system which is capable of meeting these requirements. An initial prototype of SEPIA has been adapted to the requirements of supporting the market introduction of software products. This prototype provides all necessary workspaces and the kernel of related cooperation facilities. For testing purposes, this version is currently installed in a LAN environment. Future development will expand this version to WANs, with the aim of supporting the introduction of specific software in several national branches of the European market.
Jörg M. Haake, Manfred Thüring, Caterina Rehm-Berbenni

GNOSIS Tool for Computer-based Training

This work describes the GNOSIS tool, developed within the scope of an national initiative, with financial support of the European Commission (Telematique-2). The purpose of the developed tool was primarily to provide the necessary environment for a distance learning process, utilising both a stand alone computer-based training environment, and a concrete interface over a VBI (Vertical Blank Interval) TV channel transmission of incremental educational data. The ultimate target of the developed product is to provide the necessary environment for Computer-based Training, either at a supervised training mode or at an autonomous standalone mode or at a distance learning mode.
C. T. Davarakis, A. V. Harissis

Information Navigation in Teaching with DATABOOK

Computer-based information navigation, a Virtual Reality approach, provides the technological platform for accessing large and complex data in an interactive way in administrative and industrial areas, technical documentation, teaching, control and maintenance. This paper presents the computer-supported information navigation system DATABOOK which is used in teaching at the Technical University of Munich. It runs on PC, and uses a relational inversion technique with true immersion in order to ensure efficient user interaction. The hardware development is based on the Siemens microcontroller SAB-80C166, and has been performed in co-operation with the company Siemens.
Efficient access to knowledge with substantial cost reductions are expected in industrial development and testing, if large and complex documentations on “written paper” are replaced by modern information navigation systems. Information navigation in complex maintenance areas (e.g. maintenance of airplanes and industrial installations) is another interesting application area of Information Navigation, since it ensures direct access to expert knowledge all over the word in critical situations.
S. Pfleger, P. Krauß

GeoSol: Decision Support in Monitoring Water Quality and Crisis Management

Along with starvation, sickness and war, pollution is considered as a problem of the twentieth century. Besides the toxic substances and the phenols, other extremely dangerous contaminators e.g. detergents, pesticides, hydrocarbons, oil products and radioactive wastes affect the quality of drinking water.
Monitoring and control of the pollution of the surface water courses allows the supervision of the natural processes of dilution and self-purification, and also to take appropriate purification actions for re-establishing the equilibrium between self-purification and pollution processes. Continuous evaluation of the environmental monitoring data and support of the human operator in emergency situations are the main objectives of computer-based Decision Support Tools.
This paper presents the advanced decision support tool GeoSol (Geographical Solution) together with its experimental application in monitoring water quality of the Rhine river in Germany, and its benefits in solving environmental crisis situations. Running on PC (Personal Computer, MS-Windows, INFORMIX database facilities) and with access to GIS (Geographical Information System) it allows the continuous interpretation of water analysis data in the temporal and spatial domains. The technical solution of the GeoSol prototype adopted the principles of the client-server architecture, based on the requirements generated within two European projects developed by Siemens Nixdorf and its project partners, ESPRIT 7522/6339 GeoWorks and ENS project E2008 ENVIRONET.
S. Pfleger, R. Klebe, M. Rabels, A. Pöhlmann, H. Schießl, I. Mirel, M. Giurconiu, D. Chivereanu, A. Carabet

User Support for Estimating the Passenger Flow in Airport Terminals

Appropriate techniques and prototype simulation tools which help the airport services to predict and optimize the passenger traffic flow have been developed for the new Munich Airport, with the aim of ensuring the technical base for analysing and predicting terminal efficiency, and to allow the optimization of the terminal capacity. The performed preliminary simulation tasks at the Munich Airport are here presented and the functionality of the simulation tools discussed, together with generic interfaces of the tools which will allow the adaption of the simulation package to the IT-systems used in airport operations.
T. Heyde, J. Behne, G. Dettweiler, F. Neumann

DIADEM: A Method for User Interface Development

The paper describes the major industrial stakes related to user interface development that the providers of information systems have to face. The DIADEM method is then presented. This method provides an appropriate way for domain experts to express their needs, for software developers to express their constraints, and for human factors specialists to express their knowledge, giving them all the possibility to integrate their analysis with a common understanding, which is supported by simple formalisms and early prototyping. The method is widely used internally in the Thomson Group.
The goal of the ESPRIT project DIAMANTA is to validate the DIADEM approach in a wider range of application domains and contexts before performing a full integration of this method in the partners’ development process. Furthermore, a framework for the deployment of the method in new projects and organisations is prepared. Finally, one of the applications developed in the scope of the DIAMANTA project is described together with its expected benefits. This application was developed by ISA, and provides both graphical and telephone-based user interfaces. It will use and customise the DIADEM method in order to generally define the dialogues for both parts of the user interface.
Philippe Boutruche, Michael Kärcher

Transferring Research Results from the Laboratory to the Market by Means of Intelligent Decision Support

This paper describes a system that was built as a proof-of-concept demonstrator for Amodeus 2. The project researched ways and means of developing tools and techniques to aid the interface designer from the point of view of system, user and design considerations. As these products were the results of upstream research, it was also part of the project to find ways of transferring these results to the design community. One way was the DDAS (Designers’ Decision Aiding System) whose purpose was to enable designers with specific interface problems to find which technique(s) would be the most appropriate for them to use. The system was designed using an approach based on Soft Systems Methodology (SSM) and fuzzy reasoning, and Intelligent Decision Support Systems (Intelligent DSS).
The usefulness of the system is that it provides a means of transfer of the modelling techniques in direct relation to the concern of the designer. In addition, a beneficial feature of the system is that it encourages designers to think about their problems and to understand them better. It is also a great advantage that the problem descriptions are expressed in natural language which allows the user more degrees of freedom, while at the same time the evaluation procedures are not constructed around quantifying processes thus ensuring that the initial freedom is retained to a large extent until the end of the decision making process. Finally, the system is generalisable to other situations where problems exist, where tools and methodologies exist to help out in those problems, but where a means of helping the problem owner decide what is appropriate for him is lacking. The work described below was carried out as part of the ESPRIT Basic Research Action Project 7040, Amodeus 2.
John Darzentas, Jenny Darzentas, Thomas Spyrou

Coordination of Multiple Input Modes in User Interfaces

User interfaces of many application systems have begun to include multiple devices which can be used together to input single expressions. Such interfaces are widely labelled multimodal, since they use different types of communication channels to acquire information. In such cases, interface designers have not only to decide on which input modes should be supported, but also how to fuse them into a single representation format that can be processed by the underlying application system. Several informal criteria have been proposed in the literature in order to characterize fusion processes; they allow to analyse and compare existing multimodal interfaces beyond the level of surface aspects. When developing new interfaces, however, full insight into the structure of a fusion process must be guaranteed. In this paper, we show how fusion processes can be characterized by applying methods for formal process modelling. The presented approach can be applied to analyze and compare fusion processes in existing systems, as well as an aid for interface designers, who have to verify the behaviour of their systems.
G. P. Faconti

Developing User Interfaces for Hypermedia Data Bases

Implementing hypermedia applications is becoming an organized, engineered and efficient process, supported by methodologies, models and tools. One of the main results of HIFI (EP 6532) is the structured approach to hypermedia design. HIFI considers design as the task of specifying representation structures, dynamic behaviour, navigation patterns and layout features. The goal is to provide a guideline to make hypermedia design more systematic and to improve consistency and usability of the resulting complex applications. The technical relevance of HIFI stems from the possibility of using a hypermedia navigational interface in order to access external data Bases, possibly managed by traditional Data Base tools, and supporting traditional, operational Information Systems. The HIFI approach allows end-users to access, much more easily and effectively both already existing Data Bases, and new applications alike.
Umberto Cavallaro, Paolo Paolini, Franca Garzotto

Achieving Comfort and Security in the Use of Software Systems

The terms “comfort” and “security” when applied to a software system refer respectively to the sensations of the user and to attributes of the user‘s performance. Comfort describes the user‘s feeling of ease when interacting with the system, which can be partly achieved by familiarity, e.g. a consistent look-and-feel with other systems, but at a deeper level requires that the user be happy (at some sufficient level of understanding) with the workings of the system, the significance of its outputs, etc. Security means that the user is less likely to make mistakes due, for example, to a flawed understanding of the system‘s limitations. These qualities can be achieved by the provision of co-operative explanatory behaviour, which is the goal of the I-SEE project (ESPRIT P6013). The detection of and response to implicit information needs, the tailoring of the response to the user‘s knowledge and interests, and the justification of system reasoning in domain terms are all important ways of achieving this behaviour.
Simon Lambert, Gordon Ringland

OPX2 Intelligent Help: an Example of Intelligent Interfaces

Intelligent interfaces are the result of continuous evolution of man-machine interfaces. The aim of an intelligent interface is to communicate actively and cooperatively with the user, and to give him the information he needs in order to achieve his tasks efficiently. The company SYSECA participated to the ESPRIT project 6013 I-SEE (Interactive Self-Explanation Engine) and developed intelli­gent interfaces within a customized framework. The developed Intelligent Help System for the OPX2 environment uses the I-SEE toolkit, which allows users to access quickly and selectively the required information. An individual access is also supported, since the user is allowed to describe his requirements by a focussed question. The access is fast, since the Intelligent Help for OPX2 is able to extract information from its knowledge base quicker than an usual consultation of the manual.
Jean-Yves Quéméneur, Florent Brossier

Interaction Objects for Explanation

The ability of a computer system to provide intelligent explanation about its output and reasoning methods is important for user confidence. In this context user interface tools that enable the definition of interaction objects dynamically are essential. This is due to the unpredictable nature of the dynamically produced explanations. It is therefore impossible to fully pre-define the dialogue and determine which interaction objects will be required for any given explanation. User modelling within the explanation system compounds the indeterminate nature of the dialogue. This paper describes how the FOCUS (ESPRIT 2620) User Interface System, which offers dynamic dialogue definition, has been used to front end explanation tools in the I-SEE project (ESPRIT 6013). Using this approach, the explanation system can create output for the user in a form determined “on the fly”. The results are illustrated by examples from an explanation system connected to the OSIS application.
D. W. Thomas, E. A. Edmonds, R. M. Junes, J. L. Cunningham

Haptic Interfaces for Improving Interaction in Virtual Environments

Present developments of Virtual Environments outline the importance of the Interaction Component of the VE system: by means of the interface system, the user can directly interact with the simulated entities, belonging to the virtual scenario. In order to achieve a high degree of realism during the interaction, it is important that the interface system can accurately record the movements of the human operator as well as provide him adequate sensory stimuli as occurs in real activities. In the control of the physical interaction with virtual objects, the interface system should provide to the user both tactile and force information related to the contact conditions. An interesting research trend in the field of Virtual Environments deals with the design of haptic interfaces: these are interface systems devoted to replicate cutaneous stimuli to the human hand. In this paper we indicate the functionalities that a haptic device should possess and, by taking into account specific applications, introduce some considerations for its design. In particular force and tactile feedback systems will be analyzed and the systems developed by PERCRO in the framework of the Information Technology of the European programmes are presented.
Massimo Bergamasco

Facial Interaction for Human Machine Interface

Interaction in graphical systems is becoming more and more multimodal. Use of the conventional mode of 2D widget-mouse or keyboard interaction is not very natural for many applications. For the comfort of disabled persons who may not be able to use the hand input devices, it is necessary to explore means for interactive controls for them. In this paper, we discuss real time interaction through facial input and face-to-face communication in a virtual dialogue. The paper presents our method of extracting dynamic facial movements which can be hooked as controls for a desired application. For example, in performance driven facial animation, the method enables recognition of facial expressions of a real person which are appropriately mapped as controlling parameters to simulate facial expressions of a synthetic actor in real time. In other applications, the extracted parameters can provide real time estimates of positions and orientations in a virtual scene. The method requires a video camera input and extracts motion parameters through a small set of visually tracked feature points. In the face-to-face virtual dialogue, recognition acts like a module for acquiring emotional states of a real actor. This can be integrated with other modules for the interpretation of the response with voice and emotions of the virtual actor. This gives potential for an interface system with human like agent interacting with user in spoken language with facial expressions.
P. Kalra, I. S. Pandzic, N. Magnenat Thalmann

A Comparison of Design Strategies for 3D Human Motions

Three-dimensional character animation and especially human animation becomes everyday more popular for simulation, multimedia applications, and games. However the specification of human motion in a computer animation system is still a tedious task for the user in most commercial systems. Based on the experience on the ESPRIT projects HUMANOID and HUMANOID-2, we compare in this paper the various strategies for describing and interacting with complex motions of the human body. We especially analyze the advantages and disadvantages of the associated interfaces. A case study of object grasping and handling is detailed within the framework of the TRACK system.
Ronan Boulic, Zhiyong Huang, Daniel Thalmann


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