CHI+MED is a six year project funded by the EPSRC to find ways of making interactive medical devices safer. We’ve just returned from our fourth annual meeting in which we reported back to our Steering Committee and Advisory Group. That involves a physical report outlining the areas of research we’ve been developing and our new publications and also as a series of presentations in front of the whole group.
Some of the presentations have mentioned particular papers or referenced material on the web and so I’ve added links below. Because most of the people reading this post probably won’t have been at the meeting I’ve included a bit of background information.
There were a series of sessions throughout the day and some of the output from these will appear in subsequent posts.
First session: Understanding and improving data entry
Sarah Wiseman (UCL Interaction Centre)
Sarah talked about her paper ‘Using checksums to detect number entry error’ (1) and her work testing error checking by comparing two ways of entering information into an infusion pump. There are typically three bits of data that the pump needs: the volume of fluid to be infused, the rate at which the fluid is infused and the length of time that the infusion should take. These numbers are interdependent (the rate is the volume divided by time) and Sarah investigated whether asking users to enter two numbers and respond to the device asking ‘is this the number you were expecting?’ resulted in more or fewer errors than asking them to enter all the numbers and respond to the device which announced an ‘error’ if the numbers didn’t match.
CHI+MED Hack day
Sarah then talked a little about our recent CHI+MED hack day which was held in Swansea looking at number entry interfaces. Sarah played around with Sifteo game cubes and came up with a program that let her manipulate numbers on the screens, controlling them as single digits but also as a combined number. In single digits the number 38 will become 39 and then 30 if you increase the final digit independently. If you treat 38 as a number rather than independent digits then increasing it will result in 39, 40, 41 and so on. You can see the output in the brief video below.
Taking advantage of the design freedoms that touchscreen devices offer (no buttons!) Karen Li from Swansea University developed some creative and sometimes colourful approaches to number entry interfaces. These screenshots are based on some of her preliminary work.
In the first picture the 10 digits (0-9) are differentiated by colour, position and also shape – each number is entered sequentially.
In the second picture below each number has an up and down ‘button’ below it enabling each number to be increased or decreased independently.
Sarah also talked about some of her work in public engagement. She’s taken part in a number of Bright Club comedy events where she incorporates her number entry research into a standup comedy routine that also included talking to the audience about the Errordiary project (a CHI+MED spinoff project that looks at everyday error). She’s written about some of her activities in Pioneer, the magazine from the EPSRC (who fund CHI+MED).
Numberphile has a YouTube channel with videos about numbers and maths and Sarah got in touch with them to talk about her own number entry research and also some historic research done when telephones were changing from rotary dials to using buttons to key in numbers. See also The Atlantic’s ‘The 17 designs that Bell almost used for the layout of telephone buttons‘ which mentions Sarah and Numberphile too; Sarah’s video is below.
(1) Wiseman, S., Cox, A. L., Brumby, D. P., Gould, S. J. J., & O’Carroll, S. (2013). Using checksums to detect number entry error. Proceedings of the 2013 Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI-2013), 2403–2406. New York: ACM.