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Expanding System Engineering: Technology AND Human Resources 精选

已有 8670 次阅读 2013-9-2 09:29 |系统分类:海外观察

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This is a guest blog by long time NASA investigator and independent consultanht for Air Traffic Control, Dr. James Poage. I invited him to talk about his expertise.

 

Today computer-based devices and applications are increasingly assisting human users in business

and consumer activities, and this is broadening the idea of what constitutes a system and of what constitutessystems engineering.Recently, I was having lunch with Professor Yu-Chi Ho, who was my thesis advisor

in the 1970s when I completed my Ph.D. in control theory and pattern recognition, and describing

the work I am doing with Decision Support Tools for Air Traffic Control and with a head-mounted computer for commercial and consumer use. We discussed how to me the notion of a “system”has expanded beyond being mainly technological to being viewed as technology and human users working together as a larger system.In turn, there is anexpansion in systems engineering to consider issues such as appropriate roles for human users and for the technology, technology accounting for human user behavior, need for a system to be robust to work within a range of operating environments, and the need for style and flair in the technology usage to engage users. Professor Ho has kindly offered me the opportunity to share on his blog some observations about these new aspects of systems engineering and some techniques I use to conduct systems analysis on these technology/human systems. If there is interest and discussion by others who are interested in these issues, more information can be discussed in future blogs.

 

First, let me explain what is involved in these systems with Decision Support Tools and a head-mounted computer.Decision Support Tools are being developed for Air Traffic Control to recommend aircraft trajectory changes to air traffic controllers and pilots for routing aircraft around adverse weather or to avoid a loss of separation between aircraft. These computer-generated trajectories will plan extended paths for multiple aircraft that are difficult for humans to plan. The extended trajectory planning horizon provided by the computer-generated trajectories will save flying time, save fuel, and increase capacity for more aircraft to fly in a particular airspace. Issues beyond the specific technology pieces are allocating roles and responsibilities between humans and the technology, Human Factors considerations of user workload, and accounting for cognitive models humans have of acceptable solutions to enable safe and efficient execution by controllers and pilots.

 

For a head-mounted computer, as well as for other consumer devices such as tablets and smart phones, successful products provide users with meaningful experiences, provide ease in navigating the device to obtain the meaningful experiences, and provide style and flair to excite users. Apple and recently Samsung are masters at providing these elements in their products while other manufacturers are lagging. Systems engineering for such consumer devices needs to cover the physical design of the device, software for navigating on the device, software for applications, user experience design, and providing the means to obtain desired content (e.g., apps from Apple’s App Store and Google Play, music from iTunes, streaming video through Netflix and Amazon, etc.). In addition, these items need to provide a “wow” factor to excite users.

 

Systems engineering has traditionally been an interdisciplinary field drawing from such disciplines as industrial engineering, optimization and control, project management, and risk management. Recent developments have made it necessary to add new disciplines such as what does it mean to optimize a system with human users, how to integrate human behavior with technology so both work as partners in a system, engaging the emotional response of users, and how to account for the wide range of operational environments in which mobile technology is asked to work. Here are a just a few techniques to deal with these issues.

 

Integratinghuman behavior with technology – User Experience Design is currently used to design user interactions with technology to be simple and efficient, but often a broader view of the overall tasks and activities surrounding the use of technology is needed, such as safety in Air Traffic Control systems or intensive use of mobile devices over a lengthy time period. Adapting principles from Human Factors provides a robust way to view the technology and humans as partners in obtaining the system benefits.One example of adapting Human Factors techniques is to divide user workload into categories of cognitive (e.g., understanding, analysis, and decision-making), visual (e.g., reading a device screen), auditory (e.g., listening to messages), and mechanical (e.g., holding a device and entering keystrokes).

 

Use scenarios– Scenario planning is used by business and government organizations to plan for actions in response to possible future events. Various assumptions are made as to future trends, and responses to these trends are planned. Use scenario planning can be useful in systems engineering whereby desired user activities are assumed, possible user responses explored, and responsive system designs formulated so that the system is robust enough to be successful in a variety of possible situations and operating environments.

 

Style and Flair– New consumer and even commercial electronic devices are expected to have style, flair, charm, taste, spirit, or any other word that indicates something that conveys happiness and joy to engage the user emotionally. Style and flair are not what we normally associate with systems, but they are essential to today’s consumer electronic devices. Putting in style and flair begins with understanding the “essence” of the product or service and how it will bring joy to users. For example, I think that the essence of Apple’s iPod is that the joy of music is always with you. This is differentfrom viewing the iPod as a mobile musicdevice. Viewing the essence as providing the joy of music led to its robust yet simple design for navigation of play lists and for easily obtaining music from iTunes. To define the essence, keep asking what your system does for the user until you cannot go any deeper and until the “essence” reflects an emotional connection. Then design your product or service so it is simple and enjoyable for customer to experience the “essence.”

 

(Note added 9/16/2013: Please note the guest blogger's response to comments by geffer [#3] where the URL for Dr. Poage's new blog pages is listed. I have tested it and it works)

 

 



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