Designing and Evaluating Control Modes for a Wearable Workspace, 07-R9758

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Principal Investigator
Warren C. Couvillion, Jr.

Inclusive Dates:  10/01/07 – 03/01/08

Background - This research project addresses the problem of information access and usability in industrial and other workplaces, in which up to 50 percent of working hours are spent searching for information. The project is especially concerned with accessing information in restricted physical spaces where bulky paper manuals or monitors may be difficult to access. Fortunately, a constellation of new technologies has now made possible a practical and relatively inexpensive means of designing a truly portable electronic workspace with easily accessible information in a wide range of work environments.

Approach - A "wearable workspace," device is being developed for displaying text and diagrams to the user via a head-mounted display (HMD). In the wearable workspace, the user can navigate through information without using his or her hands. By attaching a noise-canceling microphone and an orientation sensor to the HMD and interpreting these inputs on a wearable, ultra-mobile personal computer (UMPC), the user can control the display of technical data via voice commands and head motions. To evaluate the wearable workspace, a user study will be conducted to determine if the device improves technicians' abilities to perform tasks.

Accomplishments - A prototype wearable workspace device was built using commercial, off-the-shelf (COTS) hardware and a mixture of COTS and custom software. The software consists of a suite of applications that detects phrases spoken by the user and particular head motions, and translates them into mouse and keyboard messages understood by the UMPC's operating system. This allows the user to control the display of information without using his hands.

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