Focus of Project:
Goal 1: We will develop a VR emergency response scenario that will serve as a testbed for evaluating the impact of intelligent user interfaces on performance. Specifically, we will develop an incident scenario that depicts a Subway Fire (Scenario 3 of the NISTIR 8181) and a data-driven intelligent user interface that provides first responders with critical information tailored to their goals and situational contexts.
Goal 2: We will use the VR emergency response scenario as a testbed to empirically investigate whether the intelligent user interface improves task proficiency and reduces cognitive load compared to a conventional interface that requires first responders to manually select information from a menu of options presented on the heads-up display.
Potential Impact: This project will impact how intelligent user interface technologies are designed to benefit first responders. It will provide foundational knowledge that will help transition intelligent user interfaces into first responders’ head-mounted displays. Further, it will provide guidance on how to design these displays to reduce cognitive load and improve usability.
Significance: Heads-up displays can deliver critical information to first responders. For example, they can provide firefighters with information about oxygen tank levels, temperature, and way points, all at a glance. However, as data become increasingly available through these displays, they pose a significant challenge: how can interface designers ensure that first responders receive the right information, in the right format, and at the right time? Further, designers must also ensure that first responders can use these interfaces efficiently and effectively in a broad range of environments.
Approach: The adaptive support offered by intelligent user interfaces holds significant promise for first responders. By using artificial intelligence functionalities to recognize users’ goals, intelligent user interfaces can provide context-sensitive information to improve performance, reduce mental workload, and facilitate effective decision making. Given the physical and mental demands placed on them, first responders frequently face extraordinarily stressful situations that require decision making under time pressure. In these situations, cognitive resources and time are limited. An intelligent user interface that can recognize first responders’ goals and prioritize the types and sources of information needed for their tasks could significantly improve the performance of first responders.