World Usability Day at the Science Center 2006

World Usability Day is observed Nov. 14 with events around the globe. The University of Missouri-Rolla is helping to sponsor a World Usability Day event from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 14, at the St. Louis Science Center.

Participants can test their skills at setting various alarm clocks, provide usability feedback about Web sites and experience other hands-on displays.

“Software developers keep creating more and more complex systems, with more and more advanced functions,” says Dr. Richard Hall, professor of information science and technology at UMR. “Unfortunately, designers and developers often forget that the ultimate purpose of these tools is to improve the lives of people, to make work more easy and efficient, and to decrease frustration. The good news is that high tech companies are beginning to recognize the importance of user experience, and the crucial role of user research as a component of the development process.”

UMR’s information science and technology department is one of the few university departments in the Midwest to offer a specialization in human-computer interaction.

John Warmbrodt, a UMR graduate student in information science and technology from House Springs, Mo., will demonstrate a video game called “Journey to the Wild Divine” at the St. Louis Science Center during World Usability Day. The game is operated via a device that detects the heart rate and respiration of the player.

Instead of using a joy stick or keyboard, players control events in the game by consciously changing their nervous system activity. The purpose of the game, according to Warmbrodt, is to teach people to control biological processes that are normally not under conscious control in an effort to reduce the physiological stress response.

Jake Truemper, who recently earned a master’s degree in information science and technology from UMR, will present information about usability and multi-monitor displays. Tuemper, who is from Eureka, Mo., has accepted a job offer from Perficient Inc., an information technology consulting firm.

John Sullivan and Jon Sidarous of Perficient in St. Louis are among the main organizers of the World Usability Day event at the St. Louis Science Center. Sullivan and Sidarous, both UMR graduates, are members of Perficient’s User Centered Design Group. At UMR, they both earned master’s degrees and studied human-computer interaction.

Another sponsor of the St. Louis event is Elsevier, a publisher of scientific, technical and health information products.

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