Firefighter

INVESTIGATING EMERGENCY RESPONSE PERFORMANCE WITH VR-BASED INTELLIGENT USER INTERFACES

The goal of the IntelliVisor project is to investigate how intelligent user interfaces should be designed, developed, and used to facilitate optimal task performance in emergency response situations. The adaptive support offered by intelligent user interfaces holds significant promise for first responders. By using artificial intelligence functionalities to recognize users’ goals, intelligent user interfaces can provide context-sensitive information to improve performance, reduce mental workload, and facilitate effective decision making. Given the physical and mental demands placed on them, first responders frequently face extraordinarily stressful situations that require decision making under time pressure. In these situations, cognitive resources and time are limited. An intelligent user interface that can recognize first responders’ goals and prioritize the types and sources of information needed for their tasks may significantly improve the performance of first responders

The project’s research centers on two aims. The first aim is to develop a VR-based scenario that will serve as a testbed for evaluating the impact of intelligent user interfaces on first responder performance. The VR-based scenario simulates a subway fire and includes a data-driven intelligent user interface that provides first responders with critical information tailored to their goals and situational contexts. Within the scenario, users must navigate through a smoke-filled subway, communicate and coordinate a rescue plan under poor radio communication conditions, and extract any passengers that need assistance.

The second aim is to conduct a set of formative evaluations to investigate whether the intelligent user interface offered through the VR-based scenario improves task performance, reduces cognitive load, increases presence, and improves usability compared to a conventional user interface that does not offer intelligent assistance.

To support these tasks, the project team is conducting focus groups, interviews, and pilot testing with first responders from the Washington Metro Area Transit Authority. The intelligent user interface will be formally evaluated with a sample of 150 first responders in 2019.

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