Usability Issues for Non-visual Interfaces to GI

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by Paul Kelly, Queens University Belfast

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Usability Issues for Non-visual Interfaces to GI

  1. 1. The Power of the Image 2011 Usability Issues for non- visual Interfaces to Geographical Information Presenter: Dr Paul Kelly Electrical & Electronic Engineering, Queen’s University Belfast
  2. 2. The Power of the Image Outline 2011 • Visual and non-visual interfaces – “Products”, end users and the role of the cartographer • Data requirements for non-visual interfaces • Difficulties faced by non-specialists in using geographical information • How cartographers can help
  3. 3. The Power of the Image A Visual Interface to GI 2011 Taken from BCS Website, © Stirling Surveys What is the product? Who are the users? What is the role of the cartographer?
  4. 4. The Power of the Image My Answers… 2011 The Product The printed (or otherwise rendered) map The Users People (walkers) interpreting the information contained in the map Role of the Cartographer To filter and simplify complex geographical data in order to facilitate its communication to the users of the map
  5. 5. The Power of the Image Example non-visual interfaces 2011 Direction Distance Sound – Vibration Patterns “Geiger Counter” GeoMobile GmbH
  6. 6. The Power of the Image Haptic Belt 2011 OFFIS e.V.
  7. 7. The Power of the Image TactiCycle 2011 • Handlebars vibrate • Indicates direction OFFIS e.V.
  8. 8. The Power of the Image Walking Map: Usage Scenarios 2011 Taken from BCS Website, © Stirling Surveys 1. Cyclist (no hands free) 2. Blind person (accompanied or even alone) 3. Walker in wet weather with no map case
  9. 9. The Power of the Image Non-Visual Perceptualisation 2011 Cyclist Upcoming gradients Distance to destination Blind Person Nearby geographical features – streams, lakes, forests, hills Perceptualise landscape without seeing it Path-following if walking alone Walker in bad weather Distance, gradients, upcoming turns No need for anything to get wet
  10. 10. The Power of the For non-visual interfaces, what Image 2011 is… The Product? The perceptualisations, or the software that provides them The Users? Walkers or cyclists, same as before Role of the Cartographer? ??? Pessimistic View!
  11. 11. The Power of the Image More optimistically: 2011 The Product The geographical data that the perceptualisation software uses The Users Human-computer Interface (HCI) software developers Role of the Cartographer Lots of opportunities! Filter and simplify complex geographical data for use by HCI developers
  12. 12. The Power of the Data Requirements for non- Image 2011 visual interfaces Vector Primitives Point LineString Polygon Geometric Queries – Point-in-Polygon – Shortest distance to line – etc.
  13. 13. The Power of the Data actually used by HCI Image 2011 developers Anecdotal evidence from the HaptiMap European project: Mostly just self-generated GPS points: the “waypoint” paradigm Lunds universitet
  14. 14. The Power of the Image Why? 1 – Unfamiliarity 2011 • Unfamiliar Terminology What to ask for – a map? Geographical data? • Unfamiliar Structure Point – linestring – polygon model
  15. 15. The Power of the Image Why? 2 – Data Complexity 2011 • Too many different ways of doing the same thing – doesn’t force data providers to consider usability e.g. ESRI Shapefile has 14 geometry types: Null Shape, Point, Polyline, Polygon, MultiPoint, PointZ, MultiPointZ, etc. • Datasets often structured with only cartography in mind e.g. OS VectorMap Local has street names in an entirely separate layer from the streets!
  16. 16. The Power of the Image OpenStreetMap – any better? 2011 XML interface – inefficient and slow, but human-readable → logical structure of data is obvious without formal documentation Only two geometry types: nodes & ways Simple key/value freeform text attributes – can nonetheless describe complex relationships
  17. 17. The Power of the Image OpenStreetMap again 2011 Not perfect – e.g. latitude & longitude co-ordinates make geometric operations unnecessarily complex Advantages of a projected co-ordinate system are missed But gaining acceptance anyway – convenience of a universal source of large-scale vector data hard to overstate
  18. 18. The Power of the Image Can any lessons be learned? 2011 Strong focus on the XML interface as the public, usable “face” of OSM Rendered maps not the only “product” No need for users to have a GIS in order to read vector data Open, usable vector API facilitates imaginative non-cartographic uses
  19. 19. The Power of the Image Conclusions 2011 Interface between specialist and non- specialist has been pushed back Usability of underlying vector data can sometimes be just as important as usability of the map Cartographers’ knowledge of and focus on data quality, clarity and usability could really be of benefit
  20. 20. The Power Ideas in this presentation were developed of the from work in HaptiMap, a large-scale Image 2011 integrating project funded by the European Commission under the 7th Framework Programme (FP7-ICT-224675).

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