Using Brain Measurement to Evaluate Emerging Computer Interfaces (NOTE: TIME CHANGE)

February 28, 2007
3:05 pm - 4:20 pm
Halligan 111
Speaker: Leanne Miller, Tufts University
Host: Diane Souvaine


Acquiring quantifiable data about computer users is a continual challenge in Human Computer Interaction (HCI). Although we can accurately measure completion time and accuracy for a given task, measuring factors such as user mental workload has traditionally been accomplished by qualitatively observing subjects or by administering subjective surveys. These surveys are often administered after a task has been completed, lacking valuable insight into the userís changing experiences throughout the task. As computer use shifts from the desktop into our surrounding environment, the need for techniques to accurately evaluate and drive the design of interfaces has become an increasingly pressing issue within HCI. This research addresses these evaluation challenges by using a new technology for brain activity measurement called functional near infrared spectroscopy (fNIRs). fNIRs is safe, portable, less invasive than other imaging techniques, and can be implemented wirelessly, allowing for use in real world environments. The tool, still a research modality, poses great promise for researchers interested in monitoring computer users in their real working environments. In this talk I will discuss prior research in Reality Based Interaction that served as a catalyst for this work. Iíll also discuss background information on mental workload and on brain imaging devices and Iíll review the process that led to our first experiment using fNIRs. Next, Iíll present the experiment and initial results. Finally, Iíll talk about future research using user workload as an evaluation metric for human computer interfaces.