Researching Usability Design and Evaluation Guidelines
for Augmented Reality (AR) Systems


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Principal Investigators:
Joseph L. Gabbard (231-3559)
Debby Hix (231-6199)

Researching Usability Design and Evaluation Guidelines for Augmented Reality (AR) Systems

Despite the ever-increasing power of computers and hardware rendering systems, the user interaction components of Virtual Environment (VE) and Augmented Reality (AR) applications are often poorly designed and are rarely evaluated with users. The vast majority of VE research and design effort has been on the development of visual quality and rendering efficiency. As a result, many visually compelling VEs are difficult to use and are, therefore, non-productive for their users.

Usability engineering and user-centered design are newly emerging facets of VE/AR design and evaluation. VE and AR researchers are becoming aware of traditional human computer interface (HCI) usability research and are beginning to apply and expand upon those methods. A few efforts have been reported to date; however, user-centered design and usability evaluation in VEs as a practice still lags far behind what is needed.

One important aspect of usability engineering and user-centered evaluation which is notably absent from current VE/AR efforts is the availability of established and recognized design and evaluation guidelines which specifically address usability. While a framework of usability characteristics has been created for VEs, the specific guidelines contained therein are not generally applicable to AR systems. Thus there is a need for design and evaluation guidelines which specifically address usability of AR systems.

To research and identify design and evaluation guidelines which may be specifically applied to augmented reality systems. Since there has not been a concentrated effort to synthesize a set of guidelines specifically for AR, achieving the proposed goal will require the extraction of specific information from sources which may not be specifically citing a particular guideline, but nonetheless, convey some piece of usability-related information that may be directly applied to, or abstracted into, a design/evaluation guideline. Of note are specific usability findings from articles, novel interaction techniques and design suggestions in the literature, and numerous usability problems observed from experience.

Thus, the approach to developing a list of AR design and evaluation guidelines will be to collect and synthesize information from many different sources, so that the list is comprised of a structured collection of otherwise piecemeal findings. These sources include:

The objectives required to achieve the stated project goal are as follows:

  1. Research and identify specific research papers which address AR systems. Review these papers for mention of system or user interface characteristics which affect usability (either positively or negatively). Generalize findings related to usability into a list of specific guidelines. Extend the list to include guidelines identified through experience or observation.

  2. Organize the guidelines into a meaningful structure. The two leading candidates for structuring the guidelines are: 1) the framework of VE usability characteristics developed by Gabbard and Hix, and 2) Bowman's User Interaction Taxonomy. Organizing the guidelines into a meaningful structure will facilitate easy reference and lookup of specific guidelines.

  3. Create a web page detailing how the stated objectives were achieved, what results were discovered, and presents the actual AR design and evaluation guidelines in a structured format. The web page will also include a list of associated references.
Since the project focus is mainly research, the most useful tool will be software. Namely, document editors (such as MS Word) to track the findings and associated references. Multimedia and web development tools (such as an html editor and Photoshop) will be used to create the project web page.

Project Timeline and Milestones:
The project will be completed by February 28th. Due to the condensed timeline, there will be three milestones to be delivered on the following dates:

1January 31Unorganized list of guidelines and references
2February 14Guidelines organized into a meaningful structure
3February 28Project website

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Joseph L. Gabbard Systems Research Center
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