Designing Attention-Centric Notification Systems: Five HCI Challenges

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Department of Computer Science, Virginia Polytechnic Institute & State University

Through an examination of the emerging domain of cognitive systems, with a focus on attention-centric cognitive systems used for notification, this document explores the human-computer interaction challenges that must be addressed for successful interface design. This document asserts that with compatible tools and methods, user notification requirements and interface usability can be abstracted, expressed, and compared with critical parameter ratings; that is, even novice designers can assess attention cost factors to determine target parameter levels for new system development. With a general understanding of the user tasks supported by the notification system, a designer can access the repository of design knowledge for appropriate information and interaction design techniques (e.g., use of color, audio features, animation, screen size, transition of states, etc), which have analytically and empirically derived ratings. Furthermore, usability evaluation methods, provided to designers as part of the integrated system, are adaptable to specific combinations of targeted parameter levels. User testing results can be conveniently added back into the design knowledge repository and compared to target parameter levels to determine design success and build reusable HCI knowledge. This approach is discussed in greater detail as we describe five HCI challenges relating to cognitive system development: (1) convenient access to basic research and guidelines, (2) requirements engineering methods for notification interfaces, (3) better and more usable predictive modeling for pre-attentive and dual-task interfaces, (4) standard empirical evaluation procedures for notification systems, and (5) conceptual frameworks for organizing reusable design and software components. This document also describes our initial work toward building infrastructure to overcome these five challenges, focused on notification system development. We described LINK-UP, a design environment grounded on years of theory and method development within HCI, providing a mechanism to integrate interdisciplinary expertise from the cognitive systems research community. Claims allow convenient access to basic research and guidelines, while modules parallel a lifecycle development iteration and provide a process for requirements engineering guided by this basic research. The activities carried out through LINK-UP provide access to and interaction with reusable design components organized based on our framework. We think that this approach may provide the scientific basis necessary for exciting interdisciplinary advancement through many fields of design, with notification systems serving as an initial model. A version of this document will appear as chapter 3 in the book Cognitive Systems: Human Cognitive Models in Systems Design edited by Chris Forsythe, Michael Bernard, and Timothy Goldsmith resulting from a workshop led by the editors in summer 2003. The authors are grateful for the input of the workshop organizers and conference attendees in the preparation of this document.

Human-computer interaction