Project Director: Paul M.A. Baker, Ph.D. (GT)
Task leaders: Task 1 Nathan Moon, Ph.D. (GT); Task 2 Maribeth Gandy Coleman, Ph.D. (GT); Task 3 Young-Mi Choi, Ph.D. (GT)
Next-generation (NG) wirelessly connected technologies, including the Internet of Things (IoT) and wearables, offer the potential to enhance community living and participation for people with disabilities, better realized if barriers to their adoption such as privacy, security, and data ownership are minimized, and factors that facilitate their adoption, such as accessibility and usability, are maximized (Baker & Moon, 2008; Baker, et al., 2015; Stock et al., 2008).
Task 1: Foundational Research for IoT Design Factors
Lead:Georgia Tech, Nathan Moon, PhD.
This task will be undertaking foundational research to determine how wireless technology design and its responsiveness to social and cultural expectations affect adoption or rejection by users with disabilities.
Wirelessly connected technologies have incorporated a new generation of devices ranging from wearable computing devices (wearables) to physical objects such as appliances constituting an “Internet of Things” (IoT) with applications and uses for people with disabilities (Domingo, 2013; Nussbaum, 2006). The design of these technologies remains open and unfixed, thus presenting an opportunity for the participation of people with disabilities alongside designers, developers, and manufacturers (Baker, et al., 2015). A socially and culturally sensitive design process may proactively ensure acceptance of these technologies and help counter their abandonment or outright rejection (Scherer, 2005; Parette, et al., 2004; Parette & Brotherson, 2004; Crabtree et al., 2004). For people with disabilities, community engagement, participation and self-determined living enhanced by wireless technologies have assumed a new importance (Atzori, et al., 2010; Jara et al., 2013). Effective design of components of the IoT wireless ecosystem, requires an approach that includes elements such as privacy, security, data ownership, technology integration, and universal design. IoT associated devices offer the potential to connect users with disabilities with their work, home, and other environments to support community participation, and health and functional independence (Domingo, 2012).
This task will conduct research to address two key issues for IoT wireless technologies: a) identification of barriers and facilitators—factors that might prevent new wirelessly connected technologies from being adopted and specific use cases that might support adoption and use, and b) unmet needs, latent demands, and user expectations—how currently available IoT wireless devices support physical accessibility and social inclusion within domains such as education, employment, and community participation. A focus-group protocol will be developed to address issues of usability, accessibility, and social and cultural acceptability (i.e. privacy and security, identity and representation) in response to the two identified concerns. Pre-selected IoT and wearable technologies will be available as part of the focus groups to determine how well existing wearable and IoT technologies meet user expectations.
Task 2: Sociocultural Design for Wearables
Lead: Georgia Tech, Maribeth Gandy Coleman PhD.
This task will investigate social and cultural design factors for wearable display, sensor, and input/output (I/O) to produce future wearable authoring tools to support wireless technology development for people with disabilities. Wearable technologies offer possibilities that transcend the passive sensing of current fitness trackers and health monitors by augmenting the abilities of users and assisting them throughout their daily lives. Wearables may offer contextually aware, just-in-time information or support for primary tasks ranging from using public transportation to working on an assembly line to meeting friends at a restaurant. Currently available devices offer few, if any, input and output (I/O) options, limited to watches with small visual displays (and simple tactile output) and touch input, and just a few head-mounted display options that display text and images in a monocular eye display and offer touch or speech input. However, smart clothing, implantables, and unobtrusive multi-modal display “accessories” could offer users with disabilities greater non-intrusive IoT choice.
This team will generate qualitative data regarding potential services and I/O for wearables and IoT technologies and develop taxonomy of wearable services, including information type, update rate, bandwidth, precision, priority, and location, and parameters for the types of input required, such binary yes/no, text, audio, pointing/directional, and selection from a set. A “Wizard-of-Oz” (WOz) simulation (Dow et al., 2005; Klemmer et al., 2000; Dahlbäck, et al., 1993), will allow participants with disabilities to experience potential wearable services as part of the prototyping phase for these services. The “wizards” findings will lead to development activities built around wearables and people with disabilities uses and expectations of the same.
Task 3: Augmented Reality as a Design Tool
Lead: Georgia Tech, Young Mi Choi PhD.
This task will investigate the use of augmented reality (AR) as a platform for performing usability evaluations for socially inclusive awareness of wirelessly connected technologies.
An important factor in the success of new products is gaining an understanding of user needs and expectations and integrating them into the New Product Design (NPD) process (Bruseberg & McDonagh-Philip, 2002; Moultrie et al. 2007). This is a particular challenge when developing novel and innovative products for new technologies such as products for managing IoT devices and validating that they are accessible and barrier free (Creusen, 2011; Sleeswijk Visser, et al., 2007). Numerous design process methods have been developed over the years, while these improvements are important, the overall market success rate of new products has not changed much over the last 25 years (Barczak, et al., 2009). A largely unexplored area is the reliability of user/stakeholder input that is gathered and used during the design process. Augmented reality (AR) can be a tool for soliciting early design input and usability evaluation for people with disabilities (Choi & Mittal, 2015; Purdy & Choi, 2014). AR refers to a view of real or physical world in which certain elements of the environment are computer generated. AR can be a useful tool since it is quick and easy to create digital models of a product concept or interface early in the design process compared to a physical prototype. If testing based on this type of product representation is shown to be valid, it may significantly increase a designer's ability to obtain reliable information about a product very early in the design process and identify design/usability problems when they are much easier to fix or explore more radical/transformative design ideas than would otherwise be feasible.
This project will research and test interventions for the expedient and responsive design of wireless technologies for people with disabilities using AR. An online survey on the state of AR use in design and a review of mobile devices with features commonly utilized by people with mobility, dexterity, and cognitive disabilities will be undertaken. The survey will identify an existing product that will be mocked up for this study based on initial criteria of user adoption, user familiarity, and commonly used accessibility features. Mockups corresponding to other kinds of commonly utilized design representations, such as 3D renderings and physical appearance models will also be created. The appearance model and other types of mockups represent methods that are often used in the design process for viewing, demonstrating and testing a concept. The research will seek to validate the use of AR for usability evaluation with respect to characteristics such as effectiveness, efficiency, satisfaction, expectations and stigma. Evaluations of the other mockups will provide important benchmark comparisons with other data in existing usability literature. The most widely used method of design evaluation is usability testing (Lewis, 2006; Petrie & Bevan, 2009; Bastien, 2010), so it will be important to know that the various characteristics of a usability evaluation based on a particular mockup reliably indicate how the product will be evaluated in its realized form. It is anticipated that there may be barriers in the use of AR for different user groups that cause evaluations of an AR product to be different than a fully physical product. Nonetheless, research findings will contribute to data on differences in usability evaluations, identifying potential barriers to the use of AR in product evaluation, and testing if AR may be a reliable tool for early evaluation of wireless products. Also this project will generate a base of evidence that identifies key gaps in design of emerging and NG wirelessly connected devices for people with disabilities and result in guidelines for use of AR usability testing as well as the testing of these methods to increase the reliability of input by users with disabilities gathered during the new product design process for wireless technologies. These research products will enable designers to identify usability problems while they still may be addressed prior to full-scale production or to facilitate exploration of more radical/transformative design ideas.