Improving efficiency and safety of ATM users interfaces with visual animation and sound

by IntuiLab in collaboration with Intactile design (Toulouse – France) - Project leader Christoph Mertz, Intuilab

In the past years, the development of tools for air traffic control was considered by all as a task for ATC experts, software engineers, and human factors specialists. Meanwhile, the times have changed for the computer industry. Nowadays, thousands of designers work on interactive software for cars, aircraft cockpits, office systems or games, because they help to make better and more usable systems. The role of software engineers fades back to making systems that work, not designing their interface.

At the same time, as user interface technology grows more mature, it offers possibilities that can improve the efficiency, naturalness and even safety of operation of interactive software. This comes at a time when new air traffic management concepts and tools are flourishing and thus are raising the need of a carefully designed information environment for air traffic management operators.

The ANIMS project will study the benefits and conditions of use of two related design-intensive interface technologies: animation and sound. Research and experience in the last decade has shown how what appeared as futile details, namely interaction styles and visual design, could determine the success or failure of an ATC system. In the same way, recent research shows that the quality of feedback and alarms, however subtle they are, has a notable influence on situation awareness, mutual awareness and safety.

ANIMS, carried out by IntuiLab experienced researchers in user interfaces in collaboration with visual and sound designers (from Intactile Design), aims at demonstrating the potential of well designed sound and animation in HMIs for air traffic management. It also aims at providing the EUROCONTROL agency with means for popularizing that technology among ATC providers and helping the industry to do actual work with designers: design guidelines, methods for specifying animated and sound notifications, guidelines for adding them to existing HMI software architecture. In the first year, the project will produce a demonstrator based on actual situations chosen with ATC experts. Candidate situations include the display of downlinked TCAS alarms, collaboration situations in control teams or between traffic managers, STCA/MTCA (alarms). The study will also lead to improved collaboration with other domains where safety and efficiency of user interaction is important, or where working with designer is a habit, through the organisation of workshops with actors from other industries (Renault and Apple).

IntuiLab is a French SME specialised in the development of user interfaces, involving advanced technologies combining sophisticated graphics, gesture and speech recognition, natural language interaction, IntuiLab carries out 50% of its activity in research.

Intactile Design is a SME based in Montpellier, specialized in, Signialitics, Graphic design and Sound design. They design and realise multi-modal interfaces.


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Last validation: 22/01/2008