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Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Copyright © 1998, MCB UP Limited
Ergonomic guidelines for user-interface design
A handy page of design guidelines from the Department of Design and Environmental Analysis at Cornell University suitable for anyone embarking on the design of a new computer/user interface project. The page offers candid if dry advice on the layout of text and graphics in user interfaces, working from the "Principle of least astonishment" through to much underused rules for preparing clearly presented and non-irritating webpages. The page has a number of other links into computer interface guideline sites, most notably the offerings from Apple and IBM; see below for these.
IBM Human-Computer Interaction (HCI)
This is IBM's disarmingly competent computer interaction site where it explains its policies and offers its guidelines to developers and the interested alike. The subject matter ranges over standards, web design guidelines and downloadable resources, and gives an insight into the coming technologies of 3D user interface design. A bibliography of interface design literature is included at the site and there is a section championing the user-centred design philosophy.
Apple Human Interface
More practically than the above, Apple have provided an on line manual (available in all popular formats) explaining the ethos and techniques of interface design. "Macintosh Human Interface Guidelines" provides both general and Mac specific information and guidelines for the designer. The site includes a web design guide with information and guidance, in addition to other related internet resources and a bibliography of webpage design resource material. A resource in its own right, the site's general bibliography has references on graphics, cognitive psychology and language among the 16 categories of reference listed. Not all items are reviewed and the ISBN's are missing, however this is picking fault with a good collection of material.
Institute of Robotics and Intelligent Systems (IRIS)
Part of a federally-funded network of centres of excellence, comprising some 150 principal investigators at Canadian universities, industrial firms, hospitals and other research agencies, the IRIS projects are about developing intelligent systems technologies for industry. Projects are split along the lines of intelligent computation, human-machine interfaces, integrated systems and machine sensing and actuation. Each project of the program has a link from the introductory page above, to its overview. The information for each is largely similar with a summary, personnel details and project documents online; also included are links into other appropriate sites.
German Research Center for Artificial Intelligence
The German Research Center for Artificial Intelligence (DFKI) claims to be the leading German research institute in the field of innovative software technology. Among other areas, the research at the institute covers deduction and multiagent systems, information management and document analysis, intelligent user interfaces and language technology. The site gives access to the projects, including the usual information and links. The "FLUID" project in particular has some useful computer graphics links to other sites and has some freely downloadable graphics utilities.
Motion Commander II, graphical operator interface
This site gives an overview of Motion Commander II, a commercial graphical user interface design package from Greene and Morehead Engineering Inc. Underlying the hyperbole that pervades the company's pages is a package for the design of graphics front ends for product developers. The software allows the inclusion of graphics, virtual instruments and controls and has interface routines to popular motion controllers. Free demos are available on registering, and the site has a selection of example applications.
Human-Robot Interface by pointing with uncalibrated stereo vision
One of the more innovative robot interface techniques can be seen at the above site, part of the department of speech, vision and robotics (SVR) at Cambridge university. The project, outlined in reasonable detail here, is a method of communicating demands to the manipulator by means of the operator simply pointing at the worksurface. Twin cameras track the pointing finger and their images are used to calculate the desired robot movements. The home page of the department gives access to the personnel and project details for the group, both of which connect to quite a lot of report level technical information. The group has a links page that offers a good number of related links within robotics, particularly vision and cognitive science in addition to signal processing and especially wavelets.
The design of man-machine interfaces for use by visually disabled people
Some of the work from the Scientific Research Unit within the Royal National Institute for the Blind (RNIB) aimed to influence and encourage technological research and development of future benefit to visually disabled persons. In addition to their work on man-machine interfaces, the unit work on orientation and navigation systems, computer access and telecommunications. Their pages include descriptions of specific projects in the field in addition to the introduction of the basic issues and principles. There is some useful information in the reports, for example a good overview of GPS technology and its implementation.