Pilot study for an Italian Human-Centered Design (HCD) Strategy

In occasione del World Congress on Railway Research (tenutosi a Milano dal 29 maggio al 2 giugno 2016), abbiamo presentato il lavoro “Pilot study for an Italian Human-Centred Design (HCD) Strategy” sviluppato insieme a ErgoCert Srl, Bombardier Transportation Italy S.p.A., Rete Ferroviaria Italiana S.p.A., Sapienza Università di Roma.

Abstract:
Current railway Automation & Control Systems allow centralizing the traffic management for a growing number of rail network nodes by using increasingly robust features both for operational and safety interventions. To adequately manage such large set of data it will be necessary to take into account the interaction between Dispatchers and technology. Indeed, a great variety of parallel stimulation (e.g. visual vs. auditory, digital vs. analogical) must be correctly deployed for keeping the operators on adequate situation awareness and safety levels, but also for meeting the desired timeliness and meaningfulness information to passengers. With that in mind, we devised an exploratory study adopting Human Factors and Ergonomics methodologies and tools for the analysis and optimization of cognitive and physical interactions within an Operation Control Center (OCC). Interviews and instrumental measurements (i.e. eye-tracking and motion capture) allowed us to model operators’ interaction with their workstations in different scenarios (e.g. time of the day, traffic loads) and the physical and cognitive outcomes of such interaction (e.g. fragmentation of the information flow, use of the cervical spine). The log file data analysis allowed us to identify peaks that may be suggestive of a periodicity in performance. This finding could be eventually used to check whether the cyclical pattern found reflects the allocation of mental resources. Overall, the present exploratory study served as a basis for devising an innovative Italian railway Human-Centered Design (HCD) vision which could allow defining novel requirements as well as assessment strategies and certification protocols. The activity carried out so far confirmed that an HCD approach can improve operators’ performance and the acceptance of novel technology.

A Simple(r) Tool For Examining Fixations

Abbiamo presentato il lavoro “A Simple(r) Tool For Examining Fixations”, sviluppato insieme alla Sapienza Università di Roma, all’interno della quarta uscita del 2016 del Journal of Eye Movement Research (JERM).
 
Abstract:
This short paper describes an update of A Simple Tool For Examining Fixations (ASTEF) developed for facilitating the examination of eye-tracking data and for computing a spatial statistics algorithm that has been validated as a measure of mental workload (namely, the Nearest Neighbor Index: NNI). The code is based on Matlab® 2013a and is currently distributed on the web as an open-source project. This implementation of ASTEF got rid of many functionalities included in the previous version that are not needed anymore considering the large availability of commercial and open-source software solutions for eye-tracking. That makes it very easy to compute the NNI on eye-tracking data without the hassle of learning complicated tools. The software also features an export function for creating the time series of the NNI values computed on each minute of the recording. This feature is crucial given that the spatial distribution of fixations must be used to test hypotheses about the time course of mental load.
 

Mental workload assessment using eye-tracking glasses in a simulated maritime scenario

In occasione del meeting annuale della Human Factors and Ergonomic Society - Europe Chapter del 2015, abbiamo presentato il paper “Mental workload assessment using eye-tracking glasses in a simulated maritime scenario” che presenta parte delle attività che abbiamo svolto all’interno del progetto di ricerca europeo “CyClaDeS - Crew-centered Design and Operations of Ships and Ship Systems”.

Abstract:
The primary goal of this study was the assessment of maritime operators’ mental workload in simulation scenarios designed for containing typical traffic situations to be handled by officers during usual routine ship navigation. Taskload was manipulated throughout the sessions to analyse changes in ocular activity during complexity peaks. Specifically, it was tested the viability of implementing a dynamic analysis of eye movements collected through eye tracking glasses (while the operator was freely moving on the bridge) and using the distribution of eye fixations as an indicator of mental workload. Another objective of the present study was to assess the relation between attentional control and the mental workload as perceived by the operators. Results showed that the distribution of eye fixations changed with taskload and that individuals showing high attentional control reported low workload. Furthermore, frequent eye movement transitions have been found between the instruments monitored, suggesting that the information they provide could most usefully be integrated for improving the operators’ performance.

Keep calm and don’t move a muscle: Motor restlessness as an indicator of mental workload

In occasione del meeting annuale della Human Factors and Ergonomic Society - Europe Chapter del 2013, abbiamo presentato il paper “Keep calm and don’t move a muscle: Motor restlessness as an indicator of mental workload” che presenta parte delle attività che abbiamo svolto all’interno del progetto di ricerca europeo “CyClaDeS - Crew-centered Design and Operations of Ships and Ship Systems”.

Abstract:
Subtle motor activity of the gluteal muscles and legs of the operator sitting in a chair can be obtained by using capacity sensors applied to the seat itself, thus making viable to easily record variations in motor restlessness during the execution of a task. The present study was aimed at studying the relation between variations in mental workload and variations in motor activity that are unrelated to the task to perform. Preliminary results from a laboratory study employing behavioural, ocular, subjective and motor measures show that motor restlessness can be considered as a promising indicator that can be usefully integrated in any data collection procedure for assessing the operator functional state.

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Attraverso la conoscenza delle caratteristiche psico-fisiche degli utenti e lo studio dei loro comportamenti ed esigenze, supportiamo i nostri clienti nello sviluppare prodotti di consumo e professionali, ambienti lavorativi ed extralavorativi e servizi a misura d’uomo, al fine di renderli accessibili, sicuri, usabili e confortevoli.

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