Archive for February, 2012

Accessible User Interfaces

February 7, 2012

The seminar on “Priorities for Standardisation of Accessible User Interfaces” covered a wide variety of emerging trends in user interaction with a view of trying to identify which of these trends will most influence the need for new standards over the whole range of terminals (bank ATMs, supermarket terminals, ticket and vending machines, home appliances, computer terminals, etc).

The trends in user interfaces include the move towards ‘touch’ as a predominant mode of interaction, the potential for increased use of voice communication, the use of gesturing and emotional communication and the possibility of interaction on large surfaces (tables or windows for example). From an infrastructure point of view, the trends are moving towards having less networks but more services. The bandwidth forecasts underline the rising demands and in particular the growth in bandwidth needed for connected devices, dongles and high-end smartphones over the next 5 years to 10 years.

The latest trends in biometrics indicate that a wide variety of technologies being applied with new user interfaces. Whether it be face, finger, iris, vascular, hand geometry or voice recognition, biometrics are going to play an increasing role as a means of identification in a wide area of applications and contexts. The standardisation of the user interface is likely to be a significant factor for many users of these systems.

The priorities for future research include ubiquitous computing beyond human computer interaction, innovative user interfaces, user modelling and adaptive interfaces, design methodologies and tools, interoperability and research on reducing cognitive load. Supporting research that looks at how to reduce the complexity of user interaction whilst retaining functionality will assist the analysis of the cognitive load of various user interfaces whilst also supporting the development and enforcement of standardized and harmonized remote interfaces

The ability to adapt user preferences and personalisation is of importance to a wide variety of users. The coding of user requirements is addressed in the CEN EN1332-4 standard. The SNAPI project is using this standard to deliver accessibility by allowing users to set up their own preferences. The European APSIS4all project is aiming to personalise public digital terminals through the implementation of EN1332-4. It is planned to extend this standard to include XML coding.

Work on this standard was initiated in 1994 but it has taken up to now for a significant number of applications to be implemented. The ability to demonstrate how the system works is crucial ingredient in the successful uptake and deployment since standards don’t deploy themselves.

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