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MTU takes part in World Usability Day

November 10, 2012
By GARRETT NEESE , Houghton Daily Mining Gazette

HOUGHTON - For the fifth year, Michigan Tech University held a series of activities on campus Thursday in conjunction with World Usability Day.

The worldwide event, now in its eighth year, is devoted to promoting user-friendly technologies. Events at MTU included an open house from the Humane Interface Design Enterprise group, a panel discussion about Online at the Library - a program aimed at increasing digital literacy - a poster session on usability and technology research and a presentation on user interface design for patient safety.

Tech's Humane Interface Design Enterprise group displayed work it is doing with Chrysler. The group is in the second year of a three-year contract to test and reduce driver distraction with the U-Connect, Chrysler's in-vehicle communication system.

Article Photos

Andrew Timmerman, a member of Michigan Tech University’s Humane Interface Design Enterprise group, tests a driving simulator Thursday in Rekhi Hall at the group’s open house for World Usability Day. (Houghton Daily Mining Gazette photo by Garrett Neese)

On display for testing was the group's driving simulator, where drivers took turns attempting to navigate the car as a radio played Billy Joel and Chicago; a flash model of the U-Connect panel was stationed to the driver's right.

Still to come are eye-tracking software and a data collection system for the U-Connect and driving simulator. Another task is developing a user-friendly Android app that would allow users to control car temperature, fan speed and fan mode.

"One thing we're going to be testing this semester is how well that application works," said Margo Waller-Carter, HIDE co-president and a graduate student in applied cognitive science and human factors.

Another possible app for the group is a fish-tracking app where local anglers could record and upload data on where they caught a fish, its size and the tactics used.

The group's 13 members are split between development, evaluations and mobile apps. There's a mix of psychology focus from students such as Waller, while others come from a computer science or engineering background.



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