Overcoming Data Overload
By: Joe Wortkoetter
By: Joe Wortkoetter
In the complex environment of today’s workplaces, workers must be able to successfully complete multiple tasks and manage multiple responsibilities at the same time. The amount of stimuli and displays can often be overwhelming. Students from the Crossmodal Links Between Vision and Audition Creative Inquiry work to improve the connection between humans and technology. The Creative Inquiry, led by Dr. Sara Riggs, assistant professor in the Department of Industrial Engineering, utilizes cognitive engineering, algorithms and various sensory channels to address and mitigate data overload.
Currently, the team is investigating how to utilize senses other than sight for displays. “Multimodal display, or presenting information through various sensory channels, has been shown to be a promising means of addressing the idea of data overload,” Riggs commented. For example, if a visual sign or stimulation can be converted into a vibration or tactile stimulation, this could offload from the often overburdened visual channel.
In addition, the team is pursuing the concept of adaptive displays. Led by senior industrial engineer, Shannon Devlin, this project focuses on creating displays that can be altered based on the cognitive state of the user at that specific time. To better understand how people respond to different tasks, Devlin recently completed a study involving eye-tracking of a subject in a simulation regarding Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV). “Eye-tracking of the subjects during the experiment allows us to see how humans transition between tasks and to determine whether or not there is a mathematical modeling method we can create to predict this behavior,” Devlin elaborated. While the experiment was based on UAV and military application, creating a mathematical model for how humans react to multiple stimuli can be expanded to many tasks.
Knowing and predicting how someone will react in a given situation and how to reduce sensory overload has numerous implications in nearly every field. Telemedicine, the expanding field of using telecommunications to provide healthcare, could benefit from adaptive displays to ensure patients and doctors receive the correct information at the proper time. Specialized and variable manufacturing processes, like those used in the mass production of customizable cars, require complete attention from workers to assemble components and parts properly. Better understanding of how humans receive and perceive information and instructions can help reduce manufacturing errors that are seen in high-option, high-content manufacturing. As the field of cognitive engineering progresses forward, applications of research done by the team continue to be relevant and aid in overcoming data overload.
Eye tracking measures where the eye is focused or the motion of the eye while a person views a target (e.g., a display or webpage)
Eye tracking requires special software to generate data on pupil focus and movement.
Barbara J. Speziale