Interaction Engineering

Designing the user interface

Designing the user interface

Making the tool fit the task

We always keep in mind that any tool is ultimately aimed at serving people's purposes, no matter if a huge industrial machinery or a car dashboard is concerned. 

When our customers ask us to support them in designing a user interface for a machine, the first step for us is to go to the field and understand what tasks operators are supposed to carry out with it. We also go through scientific papers, international standards, regulations, and guidelines, according to each industrial domain, but nothing could replace getting in touch with the real users.

Once we know what is supposed to happen, we move on to making it happen, by identifying the best way to match users needs to the user interface's structure. Just like anything, you build it from the foundations, by designing the general concept and the interaction structure. 

General concepts have bugs, too: that's why we keep on reviewing them with customers until the whole structure has been defined.

We also take care of the user interface's look and feel, by involving designers and letting them put some style into the project, while respecting customers' guidelines.

HMI Development

HMI Development

From the design concept to a reliable product

When we re-design a product or develop a new one, our first task is to understand how can we "help machines help people".

We do that by working on the Software, Hardware and graphical layout of the HMI by applying a model based design approach. 

Our team is a mix of ergonomics, usability and technical competences.

We support our clients not only in selecting the most suitable target (HW and SW), according to their market needs, but especially in optimizing Human-Machine Interaction by making the most out of the selected target - being that a Desktop, Mobile or Embedded application. 

Our HMIs are tailored for different industrial domains, with an in-depth knowledge and expertise in safety critical domains, such as automotive, avionics, agriculture, earth-moving machineries, manufacture, household appliances, and biomedical.

Applying a Model Based Design approach means that the prototype development process is based on the user needs, requirements and specifications of the graphical and logical layout of the HMIs: in fact, they are included in the development of the prototype, through the automatic generation of the software code. 

HMI Evaluation

HMI Evaluation

Measuring the impact on the end user since the very early stage of development

We think that a great job, in particular when based on a conceptual work such as interface design, is a job that produces tangible outputs by answering specific questions, such as: 
" How do people interact with technologies?"
"How can the interaction be improved?"
"What is the best choice I can make?". 

Those evaluations are made by considering the level of acceptance of a technology, the related workload, and the trust level. In other words,we askourselves if that technology will be used, how much effort is required to use that, and if the customer will trust such product.

Indeed, every product or service has a user and he or she will be the final evaluator.

For this reason, since the very early stage of development, we try to understand if the final product will be appreciated by the end user. We do that by testing the usability and user experience in terms of effectiveness, efficiency, and pleasantness. 

Tests and measuraments become a major step for justyfing specific company decisions, in preventing misplaced features at any time in the development process, thus leading the re-design process.

The RE:Lab researchers apply a scientific method, by designing experiments in order to get qualitative and quantitative data to be analyzed. 

Short term and long term tests are carried out with data gathered in laboratory testing (i.e. room observation or simulations) or in a naturalistic context (e.g. in real driving conditions for the automotive HMI). 

Comparative usability tests are also carried out to enable a data-driven choice between different design solutions. RE:Lab also evaluates complex HMI design solutions through "expert reviews" based on the so-called usability evaluation heuristics, applying both Nielsen-Molich or ISO 9241-11 methods. These ergonomic methods allow to go through all user interface elements and interaction patterns pointing out criticalities and reporting about most relevant aspects that need to be reviewed in the phase of  redesign.

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