Dr. Regis Kopper (Computer Science) received funding from the DOC National Institute of Standards and Technology

Posted on May 06, 2020

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Dr. Regis Kopper (Computer Science) received funding from the DOC National Institute of Standards and Technology for the project “Design, Prototyping and Evaluation of Next Generation Public Safety User Interfaces.”

This project addresses Goal 2 of the NIST Public Safety Innovation Accelerator Program – User Interface (PSIAP-UI): Research on the Effectiveness and Transferability of AR/VR Simulations.

The project laid out in this proposal will contribute the design, prototyping, and evaluation of a collection of public safety user interfaces (UIs) leveraging next generation technology which is being enabled by FirstNet and NIST PSCR. These UIs will be made possible by high availability high-speed networks, advanced display systems and precise location services. While many of these technological advancements are not yet available and research and development are currently under way, UIs that make use of these technologies to benefit public safety protocols should be designed, prototyped and evaluated so that they can be implemented as the technology matures.

Researchers propose to use immersive virtual reality (VR) as a simulation platform to evaluate next generation public safety UIs. Through VR, they can achieve high levels of realism with computer simulation. Researchers will leverage Duke University’s highly immersive VR simulation system, the Duke immersive Virtual Environment (DiVE) as a gold standard for VR simulation. Evaluating novel UIs for public safety in the DiVE will allow them to understand user performance in a high-fidelity, highly immersive, projection-based system. The DiVE, however, is a unique infrastructure and expensive to build in other settings. VR headsets such as the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive are highly immersive while being reasonably-priced and widely available, which is consistent with the reality of many public safety organizations.

Researchers will evaluate all UIs designed and prototyped over the course of this project in the DiVE and in available VR headsets. Through comparative analysis between the display types, they will generate guidelines highlighting when it may be worth the cost of a projection-based system and when an HMD will suffice. In order to fully understand the needs and expectations of first responders in all disciplines, researchers will collaborate with Durham Fire Department, Wake County EMS and Hillsborough Police Department.

Researchers will also leverage a partnership with TJCOG, a multi-county council of governments in North Carolina for access to other Public Safety Organizations (PSOs) in the region. This proposal aims to design, prototype and evaluate user interfaces for the next generation public safety ecosystem and its first responders. Researchers will address the goals of this proposal by working with PSOs in four distinct phases: (1) requirement analysis, (2) prototyping and evaluation of interaction techniques for public safety UIs, (3) prototyping and evaluation of comprehensive public safety UIs, and (4) prototyping and initial evaluation of a cross-discipline public safety UI.

Each phase will advance the knowledge necessary to move on to the next one, and the final outcome of the project will have a transformative impact on the adoption of next generation technology for all public safety disciplines by offering a collection of user interfaces demonstrated to be effective and efficient in the context of each PSO specific requirements.

The methods to achieve the goals of this proposal involve working closely with PSOs through the course of the project, utilizing iterative design process with the end user in the loop and performing controlled user studies with the target user population in the public safety community. The results of this research will be disseminated in various ways. Researchers will publish academic research papers to impact the research community. They will make all the code from developed applications, UIs and virtual environments available as open source to facilitate adoption by the community. Finally, a curated website–the Public Safety User Interface Resource Library–will contain all findings from the project, with care to make it accessible to the general population and specifically to public safety stakeholders, including tutorials and other documentation important for the adoption of the products resulting from this project by other entities.

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