Interaction design challenges and solutions for ALMA operations monitoring and control

Emmanuel Pietriga 1, 2, 3, * Pierre Cubaud 4 Joseph Schwarz 5 Romain Primet 6 Marcus Schilling 5 Denis Barkats 7 Emilio Barrios 7 Baltasar Vila Vilaro 7
* Corresponding author
1 IN-SITU - Situated interaction
LRI - Laboratoire de Recherche en Informatique, UP11 - Université Paris-Sud - Paris 11, Inria Saclay - Ile de France, CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique : UMR8623
3 MassData
CIRIC - Inria Chile
4 CEDRIC - MIM - CEDRIC. Médias Interactifs et Mobilité
CEDRIC - Centre d'études et de recherche en informatique et communications
Abstract : The ALMA radio-telescope, currently under construction in northern Chile, is a very advanced instrument that presents numerous challenges. From a software perspective, one critical issue is the design of graphical user interfaces for operations monitoring and control that scale to the complexity of the system and to the massive amounts of data users are faced with. Early experience operating the telescope with only a few antennas has shown that conventional user interface technologies are not adequate in this context. They consume too much screen real-estate, require many unnecessary interactions to access relevant information, and fail to provide operators and astronomers with a clear mental map of the instrument. They increase extraneous cognitive load, impeding tasks that call for quick diagnosis and action. To address this challenge, the ALMA software division adopted a user-centered design approach. For the last two years, astronomers, operators, software engineers and human-computer interaction researchers have been involved in participatory design workshops, with the aim of designing better user interfaces based on state-of-the-art visualization techniques. This paper describes the process that led to the development of those interface components and to a proposal for the science and operations console setup: brainstorming sessions, rapid prototyping, joint implementation work involving software engineers and human-computer interaction researchers, feedback collection from a broader range of users, further iterations and testing.
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Emmanuel Pietriga, Pierre Cubaud, Joseph Schwarz, Romain Primet, Marcus Schilling, et al.. Interaction design challenges and solutions for ALMA operations monitoring and control. SPIE Astronomical Telescopes and Instrumentation, SPIE, Jul 2012, Amsterdam, Netherlands. ⟨10.1117/12.925180⟩. ⟨hal-00735792⟩



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