UI Design for Mobile Technology in a Closed Environment

UI Design for Mobile Technology in a Closed Environment

Kater Oakley (Carleton University, Canada), Gitte Lindgaard (Carleton University, Canada), Peter Kroeger (BRYTECH, Canada), John Miller (BRYTECH, Canada), Earl Bryenton (BRYTECH, Canada) and Paul Hébert (Canadian Medical Association, Canada)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-59904-871-0.ch060
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This chapter reports on a case study linking several technology devices that monitor a range of vital signs in patients recently discharged to a hospital ward from the Intensive Care Unit (ICU). Apart from presenting an interesting technological challenge, this closed environment creates unique logistical and physical ergonomic challenges as well as cognitive and perceptual design problems for mobile technology. Devices include desktop computers, touch monitors, and several types of remote mobile devices including PDAs. A number of important design issues are addressed, such as deciding which visual details can be safely eliminated from a small display, or if permission should be given to turn off the alarm functions, among others. Lack of direct access to users compromised the ecological validity of several parts of the evaluation and alternative evaluation methods had to be devised.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Heuristic Evaluation Violation: Occurs when one of the recognized usability principles (the “heuristics”) is not complied with during typical user tasks. Such usability problems are categorized according to their estimated impact on user performance or acceptance and provide important feedback to the developers on the extent to which the interface is likely to be compatible with the intended users’ needs and preferences.

User-Centered Design (UCD): Broadly defined as a design philosophy and a multi-stage problem solving process in which the needs, wants, and limitations of the end user of an interface is given extensive attention at each stage of the design process. This approach requires designers to analyze and foresee how users are likely to use an interface, as well as to test the validity of their assumptions in real world tests with actual users. This approach tries to optimize the user interface around how people can, want, or need to work, rather than forcing the users to change how they work to accommodate the system or function.

Usability: A term used to denote the ease with which people can employ a particular tool or other human-made object in order to achieve a particular goal effectively with efficiency and satisfaction. In the human-computer interaction context of this chapter, usability refers to the elegance and clarity with which the interaction with a Web site is designed

Usability Test: The controlled experimental measurement of the ease with which a person can use a product or piece of software to achieve a specified goal in a particular context. Usability testing generally involves measuring how well test subjects respond in four areas: time, accuracy, recall, and emotional response

Tether-Free Mobility Device: Refers to a wireless communication device that receives and transmits physiological data.

User Interface Design: The design of computers, gadgets, appliances, machines, mobile communication devices, software applications, and Web sites with the focus on the user’s experience and interaction. Unlike traditional design where the goal is to make the object or application physically attractive, the goal of user interface design is to make the user’s interaction experience as simple and intuitive as possible—what is often called user-centered design. In this chapter, the interface design is limited to mobile communication devices and associated software application.

Heuristic Evaluation: An informal inspection method used in the field of human-computer interaction to identify any problems associated with the user interface (UI) design.

Physiological Sensor Pod (SPOD): An external non-invasive sensing device that detects bodily signals such as blood pressure, heart rate, and respiration rate.

User Needs Analysis: Provides a way to understand the gaps between what a person needs from a system and what the system actually provides.

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