Thursday, November 10, 2011

We, as the HCI community, all owe a lot to Steve Jobs.

Steven P. Jobs, co-founder of Apple Inc., a man who transformed computer industry from computers to smartphones, music and movies, passed away in October. He was 56 years old.

Obviously, a lot has already been said about this charismatic technology visionary by the media, personalities around the world, and even Apple users who leave post-it notes on the windows of Apple stores worldwide. We will not repeat what has already been said about him. As practitioners in the field of HCI and usability engineering, we would simply like to add and underline how this man so critically impacted our profession.

Steve Jobs and Apple computers, by investing in products that are easy to use by anyone, have changed the way that user experience is perceived in both technology and computer companies. People working in the field of HCI often make a prime example of Apple products as a standard for a device that has good user experience, while also being commercially successful.

We all owe a lot to him for bringing attention to the philosophy of focusing on the ease of use as an important attribute to a product and “the design that works”. As he said himself, “Most people make the mistake of thinking design is what it looks like. People think it’s this veneer – that the designers are handed this box and told, ‘Make it look good!’ That’s not what we think design is. It’s not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works,” (New York Times, November 30, 2003).

Thank you, Steve Jobs.

New York Times, November 30, 2003,
Published in: HCI International NEWS - Nov. 2011 - Number 50

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

HCI International 2011 is over

We would like to thank all of you who attended the HCI International 2011 Conference in Orlando, FL, USA that was held from the 9th to the 14th of July. To those of you who were not able to participate this year, we look forward to seeing you in Las Vegas in 2013.

Over 2000 people from 60 countries attended the Conference. In 212 sessions, 1354 papers were presented, and 241 posters were displayed during specific sessions.

The number of authors who submitted contributions to the conference is 4039 from 67 countries. Having that many people, institutions and countries collaborating has been a huge achievement for the HCII Conference.

HCII 2011 was organized under the auspices of 12 distinguished international boards of 302 members from 34 countries.

Professor Ben Shneiderman (University of Maryland, USA) addressed the keynote at the Opening Plenary Session. In his talk he highlighted “the potential for employing social media for national priorities such as disaster response, healthcare/wellness, community safety, and energy sustainability.” Prof. Shneiderman also noted that “for the first time in history much of what we do is online, and for the first time in history it is possible to access that information, analyze it, and visualize it to see patterns, relationships, and conflicts.”

With hundreds of papers and sessions to consider, it is truly difficult to choose an area that stood out in popularity and interest. Yet there were a variety of different researches in brain monitoring, cognitive modeling, virtual reality and healthcare which were among the many well-attended sessions.

Looking forward to seeing everyone at Las Vegas in 2013.


Published in: HCI International NEWS - September 2011 - Number 49

Visit HCII 2013 website at:

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Human Factors Issues in the Air France Flight 447 Crashes

Almost two years after the Air France Flight 447(Airbus A330-200 jet)¬, a well-maintained modern airplane, crashed, the key components from the flight recorders and cockpit voice recorder were finally found. The plane was originally en route to Paris from Rio de Janeiro into the ocean, and unfortunately all passengers were killed.

According to The Wall Street Journal “The pilots of an Air France jet that crashed into the Atlantic Ocean two years ago apparently became distracted with faulty airspeed indicators and failed to properly deal with other vital systems, including adjusting engine thrust, according to people familiar with preliminary findings from the plane's recorders."
In another article Spiegel, citing the experts who have participated in the analysis of the Black Boxes data reports, stated that at the time the first alarm sounded, the pilot was not in the cockpit.

Following these revelations, and despite the fact that a formal investigative report is not yet published by Bureau of Investigations and Analyses, or B.E.A. , "Pilot Error " is vigorously condemned by the Syndicat de Pilotes d'Air France (SPAF).

According to New York Times "… the sequence of events captured on the recorders is expected to highlight that the jet slowed dangerously shortly after the autopilot disconnected. The pilots almost immediately faced the beginning of what became a series of automation failures or disconnects related to problems with the plane's airspeed sensors,…", "The crew methodically tried to respond to the warnings, according to people familiar with the probe, but apparently had difficulty sorting out the warning messages, chimes and other cues while also keeping close track of essential displays showing engine power and aircraft."

According to the NYT, “…pilots seemingly were confused by alarms they received from various automated flight-control systems as the plane passed through some turbulence typical on the route from Rio de Janeiro to Paris. They also faced unexpectedly heavy icing at 35,000 feet. Such icing is renowned for making airspeed-indicators and other external sensors unreliable."
All these notions hint at many human factors issues related to design, safety training, and hardware failure. A few questions that require a proper answer include:

• Why were the alarms confusing?
• Why were the warning messages difficult to sort out ?
• Why and how were the cues on the displays unclear?
Related Press Reports
"Crash du Rio-Paris : il n'y aurait pas eu d'erreur de pilotage, " LEMONDE.FR, May 19, 2011.

"Rio-Paris : les syndicats de pilote dénoncent les "fausses allégations, "LEMONDE.FR May 24, 2011.

“Air France Flight 447,” , May 16, 2011

Reports of Pilot Error in Air France Crash Are Condemned,", May 24, 2011.

“Absturz von Air-France-Flug 447,” Spiegel, May 22, 2011.,1518,764083,00.html  

“Report on Air France 447 crash deepens mystery,”, May 27, 2011.

The Applied Human Factors and Ergonomics International NEWS – June 2011- Number 26

Monday, April 11, 2011

Fukushima Nuclear Plant Disaster: Are there any human factors issues to look for?

Japan's recent earthquake and tsunami crisis in which the Fukushima Nuclear
Plant was deeply damaged, raised a variety of issues regarding safety
throughout the rest of the world's nuclear power plants. This disaster,
along with the severe amount of casualties and unknown effects of
contamination in the population and environment, bring up several major
questions that are directly and indirectly related to human factors.

For instance, is it possible to predict all risk factors for a nuclear power
? If not, is it wise for humanity to use a technology when we know that
its accidental failure can have a dangerous toll on humanity and can
contaminate the environment forever? The Fukushima Nuclear Plant Disaster
illustrates that all risk factors were unevaluated, and that the plant was
not prepared to equip any human help in the event of a nuclear accident.
There are reports of cases where the emergency workers did not even have
basic necessities in such a situation, such as boots. However a silver
lining remains in the fact that this catastrophe did not occur in a third
world country, but in one of the most advanced countries in the world:

This accident, the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in Gulf of Mexico, and other
reports that many active nuclear power plants have shut down and must be
closed, reveal a deeper problem. The ravenous world hunger for energy and
the push to get it as fast as possible while ignoring possible accidents
fails to consider the long term consequences. Isn't it time to invest in
renewable energy and the long term life of our planet, rather than the short
term gains of gas or power energy companies?


The Applied Human Factors and Ergonomics International NEWS - April 2007 - Number 1

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Book Review: Smart Clothing: Technology and Applications

If you only know a little about Smart Clothing, this book will be a real eye-opener into the concepts of the technology and its applications. If you already know about this area, then this book will be a real resource in providing readers with a good review of all aspects of the technology. In the introductory chapter, the book provides a well-rounded review of smart clothing technology (Chapter 1), followed by an ample explanation of the design processes and development (Chapter 2). Chapter 3 reviews all aspects of the smart clothing standardization, which includes trends, patents, methods, and evaluation techniques. Chapters 4 to 8 go over interfaces, hardware and software, and materials. The next chapter continues on with an evaluation of methods for wearable computing. The last chapter gives a brief overview of solar cell and its usage in the smart clothing textiles that are discussed, providing a good perspective of how fascinating this technology might be.

All contributors of this book offer very well explained chapters with extensive research reviews and reference lists.
Reviewing this book was a very enriching experience, although it occasionally appears as a very futuristic science and technology, though with its authors smart writing manages to convince that it is a real and advancing technology.

Smart Clothing: Technology and Applications, Edited by Gilsoo Cho, CRC Press, 2010, ISBN 978-1-4200-8852-6
Published in:HCI International NEWS - January 2011 - Number 45