Human Computer Interaction
ERCIM News No.46, July 2001 [contents]

User-Centred Methods for New Application Domains, New Users, New Interaction Media

by Dominique Scapin and Noëlle Carbonell

In order to face the challenges of a widespread usage of information technology, ergonomics and HCI research is needed. This is the scope of the MErLIn research group at INRIA.

Thanks to recent research advances, most hardware and software obstacles to the advent of a world wide information society are being overcome. However, unless universal software accessibility is achieved, this major social evolution may increase social exclusion. Appropriate ergonomic design guidelines, recommendations and standards are needed, particularly for meeting the requirements and expectations of users:

These issues are at the centre of the research activities of the MErLIn project (INRIA, LORIA, University Paris V). MErLInís research is focused on the study of human-computer interaction, using a pluridisciplinary user-centred approach, and capitalising on the methods and techniques developed in cognitive ergonomics, artificial intelligence and user interface engineering. The main objective is to contribute to the optimisation of the ergonomic quality of interactive software.

On the one hand, the project aims at integrating ergonomic results into the software design process by designing user centred methods and support software for the ergonomic evaluation and design of interactive software. On the other hand, it aims at acquiring the ergonomic knowledge required for improving the utility and usability of novel computer applications, that is software relating to new application domains, promoting new contexts of use, and/or intended for new categories of users.

In the area of user centred design methods and support, research topics include:

In the area of new multimodal interaction languages, ie, for new application domains, new users, and new interaction media, the research aim is to identify and tackle new ergonomic issues stemming from technological innovation, using specific ergonomic methods and techniques, such as observation, experimentation, user testing, evaluation of mock-ups and prototypes. Ongoing research projects include:


Please contact:
Dominique Scapin — INRIA
Tel: +33 1 39 63 55 07

Noëlle Carbonell — LORIA
Tel: +33 3 83 59 20 32