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BREAKING NEWS From Mauro USABILITY Science – 12/13/21

For IMMEDIATE Release: Geoffroy B. Zose Ph.D., the CEO of NPE Corporation, spoke last week at the annual meeting of the International Society for Human Factors Science In The Design of Global Package Distribution Systems held in Copenhagen. He indicated that his firm’s recent migration from the human-based, dead-reckoning global navigation and package delivery system to Google Maps point-to-point navigation interface was causing serious concern based on a recent usability test conducted with a professionally recruited and validated package delivery crew last month in Norway. He summarized the recent findings from the aforementioned summative usability testing sequence as follows:

1. Lack of aircrew situation awareness (SA): In the summative study conducted by Basic Usability Testing Unlimited Corporation (BUTUCO), it was discovered that use of the new Google Maps interface was resulting in high levels of onboard stress on the part of the package delivery aircrew. This was due primarily to a near complete lack of global situation awareness (SA) caused by the need to repeatedly enter local delivery addresses into the onboard Google point-to-point map system. The problem was apparently made worse by a large number of local addresses that required constant updating during in-flight operations. The Google Maps address storage functions apparently froze at 1,000 addresses when the real-time universe was expected to be about 500 million over the actual 12-hour package delivery period. There was apparently more bad news.

2. High cognitive workload for the aircrew: It was also learned in the final (pre-trip) usability study that the aircrew’s cognitive workload reached exceedingly high levels due to the need to process delivery route location points while simultaneously sorting packages for delivery to each location in real-time. When the aircrew simulated navigation and spot-to-spot delivery of packages, it was found that cognitive workload measured on the NASA Task Load Index (TLX) wildly exceeded acceptable levels. This mental workload (MWL) problem apparently resulted in high commission error rates (wrong packages to wrong locations). There were more potentially big problems noted in the report.

3. Lost wayfinding based on constant scrolling and zooming of Google map display: In a third section of the final test of the new Google Maps navigation system, it was discovered that constantly scrolling and zooming the map display on the primary navigation augmented reality heads-up interface caused the primary navigation officer (designated in the study as EL2) to completely lose orientation, because he was required to both scroll and zoom the Google display at the same time, resulting in disorientation and further loss of situation awareness. This led EL2 to experience disturbing levels of vertigo and related…well…nausea!

4. Small sample size leads to unreliable data: The Principal Investigator for the study, Dr. David. P. Levelson, further commented that the final “pre-flight” research study may have been totally invalid because of the very small sample size involved in the study. In fact, it seems as if only one crew-chief (designated as SC) and 3 crew members (EL 1, 2, and 3) constituted the entire sample for the study, thus leading one to conclude that this may be an unrepresentative sample of users. Surprisingly, the crew chief (SC), who apparently has executed over 300 similar, successful flights, seemed very upset by this section of the final report and noted that the study sample size had been approved by the IRB.

5. The final decision: At the time of this report, it is believed that the final decision to either adopt the new navigation system or return to the prior, human-based, dead-reckoning technology (or lack thereof) was in the hands of the crew chief (SC), who reportedly was leaning toward dumping the whole Google Maps idea. He said in an interview last night on 60 Minutes, in an apparent tip of the hat: “This whole idea of improving my abilities by using this new Google Maps interface seems like a Crock”. Finally, according to unconfirmed sources, the final decision will apparently be made by the crew chief at 11:59 December 24th!

The real deal: If you want to watch the flight crew’s actual progress on Christmas Eve, go to the NORAD (North American Aerospace Defense Command) site, http://www.noradsanta.org/. There you will find a bevy of cool tracking stuff including Santa Claus (SC) trackers from the North Pole Enterprises (NPE) for your cell phone and desktop, and even a 3D Santa tracker using…Yes…You guessed it….Google Earth.

Charles L. Mauro CHFP (Cmauro@MauroUsabilityScience.Com)
Founder and Sometimes President + unnamed Staff who wish to remain anonymous for obvious reasons.
MAURO Usability Science

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