Usability of emerging technologies: user studies with wearable, multimodal and augmented reality solutions: Dissertation

Iina Aaltonen

    Research output: ThesisDissertationCollection of Articles


    Working life is undergoing a gradual change from using computers to devices that enable access to information anywhere and anytime. The devices once seen only in science fiction films are permeating our homes and workplaces. In the work context, however, the introduction of new technologies has not always been a painless process for the users despite usability improvement efforts. Nevertheless, working life is now facing an abundance of emerging technologies whose suitability for work is as yet unknown. The six user studies of this thesis examine the usability of emerging technologies and their suitability for work in the context of navigation, maintenance, telerobotics, robotic surgery, and e-justice in courts. Additionally, aspects related to their evaluation are considered. The emerging technologies cover wearable, multimodal and augmented reality solutions. Wearable devices are bodyworn computers or interfaces. Augmented reality means that the user is presented with information that enriches what is seen or experienced in the real world. With multimodal systems,the user is presented with feedback through multiple sensory channels or the user interacts using multiple input modes or devices. A requisite for all of these technologies is well-functioning electronic information exchange. The examined technologies were mostly in the early development stages, meaning that the potential of the technologies for the users in the context of work gained more emphasis than usability evaluations in the traditional sense. The qualitative research methods included questionnaires, interviews, observations, focus groups and future workshops. This thesis offers a collection of practical user aspects that need to be considered when designing,developing and adopting these technologies at workplaces. Most of the evaluated technologies were estimated to be useful for work tasks, although their suitability for work contexts was partially limited. Firstly, the issues of robustness and distractibility were raised especially regarding wearables, although wearables otherwise feel easy and natural to use. Secondly, the redundancy offered by multimodal solutions can benefit users with added certainty, but can also cause confusion in multiple ways. Thirdly, augmented guidance is easy to follow, but its usefulness for experienced workers is unclear. Finally, when technologies bear combinations of these characteristics, issues such as mental load, ergonomics, workflow, collaboration and information presentation need careful consideration. Suitable user evaluation approaches are suggested for these technologies, with a special emphasis on the often under-recognised multimodal interaction.The results will facilitate designing future technologies with the user's best interests in mind,benefiting the users in general, but especially future workers and employers, in addition to researchers developing and evaluating these solutions.
    Original languageEnglish
    QualificationDoctor Degree
    Awarding Institution
    • Aalto University
    • Sams, Mikko, Supervisor, External person
    • Laarni, Jari, Advisor
    Award date17 Aug 2018
    Print ISBNs978-952-60-8102-1, 978-951-38-8658-5
    Electronic ISBNs978-952-60-8103-8, 978-951-38-8657-8
    Publication statusPublished - 17 Aug 2018
    MoE publication typeG5 Doctoral dissertation (article)


    • usability
    • user study
    • user evaluation
    • evaluation methods
    • emerging technologies
    • wearable
    • multimodal
    • augmented reality
    • work context


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