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Posts Tagged ‘Interfaces

Guess what my job is: Human Factors in Engineering?

Posted on June 25, 2009 (Written in November 13, 2005)

“Guess what my job is”

It would be interesting to have a talk with the freshly enrolled engineering students from all fields as to the objectives and meaning of designing products, projects and services.

This talk should be intended to orient engineers for a procedure that might provide their design projects the necessary substance for becoming marketable and effective in reducing the pitfalls in having to redesign for failing to consider the health and safety of what they produced and conceived.

This design behavior should start right at the freshman level while taking formal courses so that prospective engineers will naturally apply this acquired behavior in their engineering career.

In the talk, the students will have to guess what the Human Factors discipline is from the case studies, exercises and problems that will be discussed.

The engineers will try to answer a few of the questions that might be implicit, but never formally explicitly explained or learned in engineering curriculums, because the necessary courses are generally offered outside their traditional discipline field.

A sample of the questions might be as follows:

1. What is the primary job of an engineer?

2. What does design means?  How do you perceive designing to look like?

3. To whom are you designing?  What category of people?

4. Who are your target users? Engineer, consumers, support personnel, operators?

5. What are your primary criteria in designing?  Error free application product?

6. Who commit errors?  Can a machine do errors?

7. How can we categorize errors?  Any exposure to an error taxonomy?

8. Can you foresee errors, near accidents, accidents?  Take a range oven for example, expose the foreseeable errors and accidents in the design and specifically the display and control idiosyncrasy.

9. Who is at fault when an error is committed or an accident occurs?

10. Can we practically account for errors without specific task taxonomy?

11. Do you view yourself as responsible for designing interfaces to your design projects depending on the target users?

12. Would you relinquish your responsibilities for being in the team assigned to design an interface for your design project?

13. What kinds of interfaces are needed for your design to be used efficiently?

14. How engineers solve problems?  Searching for the applicable formulas? Can you figure out the magnitude of the answer?  Have you memorized the allowable range for your answers from the given data and restriction imposed in the problem after solving so many exercises?

15. What are the factors or independent variables that may affect your design project?

16. How can we account for the interactions among the factors?

17. Have you memorize the dimensions of your design problem?

18. Have you been exposed to reading research papers? Can you understand, analyze and interpret the research paper data? Can you have an opinion as to the validity of an experiment?

19. Would you accept the results of any peer-reviewed article as facts that may be readily applied to your design projects? Can you figure out if the paper is Not biased or extending confounding results?

20. Do you expect to be in charge of designing any new product or program or procedures in your career?

21. Do you view most of your job career as a series of supporting responsibilities; like just applying already designed programs and procedures?

22. Are you ready to take elective courses in psychology, sociology, marketing, and business targeted to learn how to design experiments and know more about the capabilities, limitations and behavioral trends of target users?

23. Are you planning to go for graduate studies?  Do you know what elective courses might suit you better in your career?

Google launched an initiative to improve how users work with artificial intelligence

  • The research initiative will involve collaborations with people in multiple Google product groups, as well as professors from Harvard and MIT.
  • More informative explanations of recommendations could result from the research over time.
| Monday, 10 Jul 2017 | 12:00 PM ET

Google CEO Sundar Pichai speaks during Google I/O 2016 at Shoreline Amphitheatre

Justin Sullivan | Getty Images

Alphabet on Monday said it has kicked off a new research initiative aimed at improving human interaction with artificial intelligence systems.

The People + AI Research (PAIR) program currently encompasses a dozen people who will collaborate with Googlers in various product groups — as well as outsiders like Harvard University professor Brendan Meade and Massachusetts Institute of Technology professor Hal Abelson.

The research could eventually lead to refinements in the interfaces of the smarter components of some of the world’s most popular apps. And Google’s efforts here could inspire other companies to adjust their software, too.

“One of the things we’re going to be looking into is this notion of explanation — what might be a useful on-time, on-demand explanation about why a recommendation system did something it did,” Google Brain senior staff research scientist Fernanda Viegas told CNBC in an interview.

The PAIR program takes inspiration from the concept of design thinking, which highly prioritizes the needs of people who will use the products being developed.

While end users — such as YouTube’s 1.5 billion monthly users — can be the target of that, the research is also meant to improve the experience of working with AI systems for AI researchers, software engineers and domain experts as well, Google Brain senior staff research scientist Martin Wattenberg told CNBC.

The new initiative fits in well with Google’s increasing focus on AI.

Google CEO Sundar Pichai has repeatedly said the world is transitioning from being mobile-first to AI-first, and the company has been taking many steps around that thesis.

Recently, for example, Google formed a venture capital group to invest in AI start-ups.

Meanwhile Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Microsoft have been active in AI in the past few years as well.

The company implemented a redesign for several of its apps in 2011 and in more recent years has been sprucing up many of its properties with its material design principles.

in 2016 John Maeda, then the design partner at Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, pointed out in his annual report on design in technology that Google had been perceived as improving the most in design.

What is new is that Googlers are trying to figure out how to improve design specifically for AI components. And that’s important because AI is used in a whole lot of places around Google apps, even if you might not always realize it.

Video recommendations in YouTube, translations in Google Translate, article suggestions in the Google mobile app and even Google search results are all enhanced with AI.

Note: with no specific examples to understand what Justin is talking about, consider this article as free propaganda to Google

Article #9, April 6, 2005

”Besides displays and controls, what other Interfaces do you design?”

Human Factors professionals are hopefully directing their efforts into designing interfaces between systems and end users and focusing their research into collecting useful data that can be directly applied by engineers and designers.

As mentioned in the previous articles, the two main interfaces that common people might guess are the displays that inform a user of the status of the system and the control devices which allow the end-user to modify the status of the system to a normal functioning behavior.

Since end users are the target and they do determine the success of any systems, consequently, for any system to be accepted, purchased and retained the end-user has to be able to operate the product easily, efficiently, without undue training, be relatively affordable and safe for use by the intended users.

Let us consider the various stages that the designs of a system go through in order to effectively deliver on its purposes and objectives:

First:  To define the objectives and specifications we have to determine the user’s needs and characteristics, organizational structure, work flow, and human performance measurement procedures and parameters. An expert ergonomics is trained to study and analyze all these requirements.

Second:  Next, we have to define the functional and operational requirements.  An expert ergonomics can and should participate in this stage.

Third:  The basic design stage of function allocations to operators or machines, work procedures and performance feedbacks are intrinsic knowledge to ergonomics.

Fourth:  Designing interfaces and work areas are the primary training of ergonomics engineers.

Fifth:  Designing facilitator material such as developing staffing, instructions, performance aids and training are the expertise of ergonomics.

Sixth:  Evaluating and testing specifications and performance are within the training of human factors/ergonomics professionals.

All interfaces that help a user operate a product or subsystem according to the above criteria are part and parcel of the responsibilities of Human Factors professionals.

Consequently, the interfaces within the Human Factors professionals’ capabilities and training are mainly, workstation design, instruction manual, job aids design, training programs and evaluation of systems.

Many other job descriptions during the first stages of system design and operation are within the knowledge and training of Human Factors as well: mainly, task analysis, operation-sequence diagrams and allocation of functions and task to either human operators or machine, or automated sections in systems.

Obviously designing an interface for a mandated trained user like an airplane pilot or a nuclear power plant engineer is easier, complexity of the system being comparable, than designing for common people of all gender differences, stature, age, race and cultural variety.

Designing operation and maintenance manuals attached to any product is an important job description that could promote the acceptance and usage of a specific product.

Usually, the instruction manuals contains safety signs, messages and pictorial for the main steps in the operation and thus enhancing safety and avoiding unnecessary litigations down the road.

Designing training programs for the operation, maintenance and repair of products for targeted personnel are within the job description of Human factors graduates.

Evaluating systems’ performance for essential criteria, including training time, safety built-in design, understandability of the manuals and acceptability are within the training proficiency of Human Factors graduates.

One of the widely promoted job descriptions is designing workstations.

Workstations design is not about just chairs, tables, keyboards, computer screens and the dozen other gizmos related to a fully functional workstation from communication to printing to audio-visual facilities.

A functional workstation has to account for the tasks involved, the positions of the operators, the arrangement, the lighting environment, and the entrance and egress facilities that could harm the operator.

A Human Factors should evaluate a workstation on the health and safety criteria of a designed workstation as well as its operability.

For example, we have already talked about repetitive trauma disorders, pains in various parts of the body and permanent health problems.

Note:  A student version found that designers of menu interface had difficulty with 91% of the guidelines. Analyses of the cause of the users’ errors were studied for recommendations.


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adonis49

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