Verdict Reached for Air France Rio Crash

The BBC has reported the incident analysis of the Air France crash that killed 228 people was due to lack of pilot skill in dealing with a high altitude stall.

Here is a link to the BEA Report from the Bureau d’Enquetes et d’Analyses. It’s a frightening read, as they give a moment by moment analysis of the last minutes in the cockpit. No emergency was ever noted and there did not appear to be any mechanical failures. It appeared that the flight crew thought events were under control the entire time (despite the alarms.)



Photo credit Vin Crosbie at Flickr.

Are we too trusting of GPS automation?

A GPS certainly makes life easier — and although I think many of us might consider what would happen if we were without it or it was unable to identify where we were, it is less often we consider how it may lead us astray.

One of our early postings on the Human Factors Blog was about a bus driver following GPS directions that led under a too-short bridge. His case was augmented by the fact that he had chosen the “bus” setting on the GPS and assumed any route produced was therefore safe for buses. The actual model of the GPS under the bus setting was only to add routes that only buses could take, such as HOV exits, rather than to limit any route.

NPR just posted stories of people in Death Valley who got lost from following GPS directions down roads that no longer existed. In one of the cases, their car got stuck for 5 days and resulted in the death of a child. After hearing numerous stories about inaccurate GPS directions from lost drivers, a ranger investigated the maps used by the GPS systems and found roads included in them that had been closed for years. How accurate and updated do GPS systems need to be to be considered safe? How can they address over-trust in potentially dangerous situations (e.g., death valley)?


HFES Madness 2011

Will you be at the Human Factors and Ergonomics Annual Meeting in September?  If so, and you are presenting, consider doing a 25-second madness presentation.  The theme of “madness” is very appropriate for the conference locale:  Las Vegas!

This year the madness presentations will be right before the opening plenary so you’ll have a huge audience. The purpose of madness is to advertise your talk, panel, or poster.

During the conference we will upload a gallery of images from that session.

Here is the description:

HFES will hold its second “Early-Morning Madness” presentations at the 55th Annual Meeting in Las Vegas, offering exciting 25-second previews of full HFES sessions. This may sound like an impossibly short amount of time to present your work, but we promise that it will be fun and informative. If you are presenting a paper at the meeting, we encourage you to participate in the Madness session. We had a great time last year and are looking forward to applying all that we learned to make Madness even more informative and exciting!

Preparing Your Madness Presentation

In general, you will present a single slide and have 25 seconds to advertise your talk. You can even show a video, as long as it is 25 seconds or less in length. Feel free to be creative! If you exceed the time limit, we will stop you at the 25-second mark, and the next person will walk up to the microphone and begin. Your goal should be to give just the right amount of information so audience members will want to attend your full talk.

All authors will receive an e-mail containing the schedule, details, and requirements for Madness presentations. If you have any questions, please send an e-mail to Don’t miss this chance to advertise your talk—take part in the Madness!

Coming to APA in August: Information Foraging in the Social Web

Peter Pirolli (currently a Research Fellow at Xerox/PARC) will be presenting on Information Foraging Theory. See below for an abstract of his upcoming talk.

Information Foraging Theory is a theory of human-information interaction that aims to explain and predict how people will best shape themselves to their information environments, and how information environments can best be shaped to people.  The approach involves a kind of reverse engineering in which the analyst asks (a) what is the nature of the task and information environments, (b) why is a given system a good solution to the problem, and (c) how is that “ideal” solution realized (approximated) by mechanism.

Typically, the key steps in developing a model of information foraging involve: (a) a rational analysis of the task and information environment (often drawing on optimal foraging theory from biology) and (b) a computational production system model of the cognitive structure of task. I will briefly review work on individual information seeking,  and then focus on how this work is being expanded to studies of information production and sense-making in technology-mediated social systems such as wikis, social tagging, social network sites, and twitter.

In recent years, we have been extending our studies to deal with social interactions on the Web (e.g., wikis, tagging systems, twitter). This has lead to studies of how people assess source credibility (expertise, trustworthiness, bias ) and how user interfaces might affect such judgments.

Check out the full Division 21 program.

Resources: Human Factors Design Considerations in Home Health Technology

The National Academies of Science and Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality have just released two publications.

The first, Health Care Comes Home, is a 200 page report:

Health Care Comes Home reviews the state of current knowledge and practice about many aspects of health care in residential settings and explores the short- and long-term effects of emerging trends and technologies. By evaluating existing systems, the book identifies design problems and imbalances between technological system demands and the capabilities of users. Health Care Comes Home recommends critical steps to improve health care in the home. The book’s recommendations cover the regulation of health care technologies, proper training and preparation for people who provide in-home care, and how existing housing can be modified and new accessible housing can be better designed for residential health care. The book also identifies knowledge gaps in the field and how these can be addressed through research and development initiatives.

The second, Consumer Health Information Technology in the Home: A Guide for Human Factors Design Considerations, is a free designers guide:

Consumer Health Information Technology in the Home introduces designers and developers to the practical realities and complexities of managing health at home. It provides guidance and human factors design considerations that will help designers and developers create consumer health IT applications that are useful resources to achieve better health.

Hope to see you at APA 2011!

There will be an extensive program for the Applied Experimental Division of the American Psychological Association at their conference in D.C. from August 4-7, and I invite all to come! We’ve collected a who’s-who from established to up-and-coming researchers to bring you cutting edge work in human factors, ergonomics, automation, human machine systems, aviation, video gaming, and much more!

Below is a listing of the program. You can find the dates and times on the APA website by selecting Division 21 from the combo box.

Special Talks

1. Presidential Address by Pat DeLucia, Texas Tech University – “Engineering Psychology for Technology”

2. Invited Address by John W. Senders, University of Toronto
Winner of the Franklin V. Taylor Award for outstanding contribution to the field of Applied Experimental and Engineering Psychology – You can read about the talk Dr. Senders gave at APA 2010.

3. Invited Address by new APA Fellow Peter Pirolli, Palo Alto Research Center, CA
“Information Foraging in the Social Web”

4. Address by the winner of the Alluisi Early Career award – Bruce Walker, Georgia Institute of Technology
“Sonification and Auditory Displays for Assistive Technology: Science and Service”

5. Address by the winner of the Briggs Dissertation award – Michael A. Nees, Georgia Institute of Technology
“Flexibility of Representation in Working Memory for Nonspeech Sounds: Theoretical and Practical Implications”

Paper session on the Psychology of Aviation

1. Durso, F. T., Pop, V., Stearman, E. J., & Kazi, S. – “How to Create a Vigilance Decrement in NextGen Air Traffic Control”

2. King, R., Carretta, T. R., & Chappelle, W. – “Ab Initio Selection of Remotely Piloted Aircraft Operators”

3. Krajewski, J., Schnieder, S., Sommer, D., & Golz, M. – “Estimating Fatigue From Simulated Air Traffic Controller Communication”

4. Bleckley, K., & Broach, D. – “Selecting Air Navigation Service Providers for the Next Generation of Air Traffic Control”

5. Gorman, J. C. – “Team Coordination Dynamics in Uninhabited Air Vehicle Operations”

6. Nelson, E., Baker, K., Gee, S., Boehm-Davis, D. A. – “The Party Line: Who’s Listening?”

Paper session focusing on Behavioral Research at George Mason University

1. Baldwin, C. L. – “Design and Examination of In-Vehicle Auditory Collision Warning Messages”

2. Peterson, M. S. – “Guiding Attention”

3. Parasuraman, R. – “Neurogenetics of Individual Differences in Working Memory and Decision Making: Implications for Selection and Training”

4. Thompson, J. – “Recognizing Human Movement”

5. Shaw, T. – “Group-Level and Individual Differences Approaches to the Study of Sustained Attention”

6. Boehm-Davis, D. A. – “Do Pilots Really Need the Party Line?”

Conversation Hour on the Symbiosis of Basic and Applied Research


Doug Gillan, North Carolina State University – “In Psychology, Applied Research = Basic Research = Applied Research = ….”

Tim Nichols, Microsoft Game Studios, Redmond, WA –  “New Technologies and New Modes of Interaction: Collaboration Opportunities for Industry and Academic Researchers”

Invited Address on Current NHTSA Human Factors Research Priorities

Tim Johnson, Department of Transportation, Washington, DC

Symposium session with Games to Explain Human Factors – Come, Participate, Learn, and Have Fun

Chair – Ron G. Shapiro, Providence, RI

Conversation Hour on Electronic Health Records in Clinical Practice


Kelly E. Caine, Indiana University Bloomington

Dennis Morrison, Centerstone Research Institute, Bloomington, IN

Symposium on Human-Automation Interaction in Safety Critical Domains

1. Arathi Sethumadhavan, Medtronic, Inc., Mounds View, MN
2. Julian Sanchez, Medtronic, Inc., Mounds View, MN
3. Poornima Madhavan, Old Dominion University
4. Ericka Rovira, United States Military Academy
5. Richard Pak, Clemson University

Paper Session – Human Factors Potpourri

1. Brown, C. M., Kobus, D. A. – “Changes in Cognitive Performance During Extended Periods of Heavy-Load Carriage”

2. Smarr, C., Serrano-Baquero, D., Cullen, R. H., McBride, S. E., Beer, J. M., & Rogers, W. A. – “Using Knowledge Engineering to Understand Communication Processes in the Mowing of Citrus Groves”

3. Beer, J. M., McBride, S. E., Mitzner, T. L., Springman, J. M., & Rogers, W. A. – “Challenges in Patient Education: Teaching Older Adults Home Health Care Tasks”

4. McBride, S. E., Tsai, W., Knott, C. C., & Rogers, W. A. – “Understanding User Needs for an Osteoarthritis Management Tool”

5. Lane, S., Peterson, J. V., Taylor, E. J., Jackson, J. A. – “Understanding Factors Leading to Computer Loyalty”

Conversation Hour on the Activities of the Board on Human-Systems Integration in the National Academy of Sciences

Barbara Wanchisen, National Academies, Washington, DC
“Human-Systems Integration at The National Academies: Health, Military, and Aviation Applications”


1. Billings, D. R., Oleson, K. E., Chen, J. Y. C., & Hancock, P. A. – “Mitigating Inappropriate Trust in Human-Robot Interactions: A Review of Trust Calibration Strategies in the Literature”

2. Morrow, J., Adler, M. C., Schleicher-Dilks, S., Oliver, T., Andrews, A. P., & Golden, C. J. – “Neuropsychological and Demographic Correlates to Impairment in Simulated Driving”

3. Dan, C. S. – “Effects of Time of Automation Failures and Expectation on Trust in Automation”

“The Capacitive Button Cult Must Be Stopped”

I completely agree:

A capacitive button has no place on a phone, and the people who are pushing it into the marketplace are over-fetishizing visual design to the detriment of the overall experience. Which is a bit of a pet peeve of mine.

Nokia seems to think otherwise.

Design Dare via Daring Fireball