PervaSafe Computing

Pattern-Based Wearable Assistants for Safety-Critical Human-Computer Interaction in Control Rooms

PervaSafe Computing Control room monitors
Photo: Pixabay via

As the "place where an entity has control over a process" (see Hollnagel & Woods, 2005), control rooms are of particular importance for the safety and well-being of people in different areas of life and situations. Whether an ambulance is required, traffic has to be regulated or the uninterrupted supply of electricity, gas and water is taken for granted, control rooms are critical infrastructures and their operators bear a great responsibility. While they have changed considerably over the last 30 years with regard to the available information and communication technologies, the distribution of tasks between man and machine and the degree of automation, the user interfaces and the interaction design are still based on the WIMP paradigm (Windows, Icons, Menus, Pointers) that are available on stationary devices with displays of different sizes.

The main goals of this project are the development of design patterns for scalable interaction design in control rooms and the design of an assistance system to be carried by the operators. The aim is to determine how portable technologies can be used both for the implementation of the design patterns and for the (unobserved) evaluation of their use in the field. Within the scope of these studies, the cognitive load and affective state of operators are modeled on a computer worn on the body and used to influence the flow of information to the user. This attention model is used to adequately represent alarms and other control room events. The portable assistance system also supports users in logging processes / tasks by using sensors that recognize manual actions. The resulting design patterns and their implementation with the help of wearable assistants are validated under realistic, but reproducible conditions with control room personnel and evaluated with regard to usability and user experience. User experience research is based on the question: Do control room operators perceive a portable assistant based on design patterns as paternalism (in terms of autonomy and expertise) or support (in terms of security)?

Consortium University of Siegen (Prof. Dr. Kristof van Laerhoven)
Duration June 2020 - June 2023
Funded by German Research Foundation in the program “Scalable Interaction Paradigms for Pervasive Computing Environments” (SPP 2199)
Funding amount € 607,360; share of Trier University of Applied Sciences: € 311,180

Project management at Trier University of Applied Sciences:

Prof. Dr. Tilo Mentler
Prof. Dr. Tilo Mentler
Professor FB Informatik


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