By Nancy Wick: Rethinking work environments through interaction design. Art meets engineering when Axel Roesler’s students help redesign and airplane’s flight deck.

Interaction Design graduate student Kris Martin finishes his M.F.A Thesis on real time documentation for the development of an mobile device-based medical emergency black box information system (MEBBIS) with Prof. Axel Roesler and Dr. Brian Ross, Bala Nair, and Alan Au at the UW School of Medicine’s Institute for Simulation and Interprofessional Studies (ISIS). MEBBIS supports the real time documentation of Code Blue events.

In hospitals, Code Blue is generally used to indicate that a patient requires immediate resuscitation, most often as the result of a cardiac arrest. Within the medical field, such an event is known as a “code”. For the doctors and nurses working to save lives, distractions from the task at hand resulting in delays or mistakes literally may make the difference between life and death. Medical professionals are required to address the emergency, and revive the critically ill patient but also, as importantly, to produce documentation that is critical to the hand off the patient to other healthcare teams along the chain of care. As can be expected, in the rush to provide lifesaving interventions, real-time clinical documentation can take a back seat.

The existing protocol for documentation of code blue events requires the second nurse to arrive to record every significant event in written form. Observation of code blue drills at the hospital revealed that the demands of the situation do not permit everything to be captured in real time. In most cases, the documenter is only able to take brief notes which serve as an outline. Studies of similar real time documentation tasks show that in order to bridge missing information as result of the time pressure generated by cascading events during recording, additional information is added retrospectively after the conclusion of the event. As a result, documentation errors and omissions can occur.

In the course of this ongoing 2-year research project we are exploring how a work-centered interaction design approach can improve the documentation of medical emergencies – How can we faciliatate the real time recording of dynamic events, implemented into an interactive system to effectively support the care of the patient by enhancing the caregivers’ access to relevant information, and simultaneously generate a record of the sequence of conditions, treatments, and decisions made along the way.

UW Interaction Design graduate students Shweta Grampurohit and Nate Landes have received research associateships at Intel Labs Seattle. During Winter Quarter 2010 Nate worked with Intel’s Dr. Beverly Harrison and UW Computer Science Ph.D student Ryder Ziola on the interaction design for OASIS – Object Aware Situated Interaction System. OASIS examines a vision of using low-cost combinations of cameras and micro-projectors to create interactive “islands” or hotspots for gestural surface interaction, situated in locales of interest. Examples within the home include kitchen countertops, coffee tables, or bedside night stands.

OASIS focuses on interaction design challenges that naturally result from sensor-based perception and object awareness. The system treats physical objects as tangible encapsulations of context. From the perspective of an interaction grammar, objects are thus nouns to which we can bind virtual actions (i.e., verbs). In this hybrid physical- virtual system, actions are always virtual and are not physically instantiated. The home is especially well-suited to this style of application because it is an object-rich and activity-rich environment where activities and context can often be inferred from visually observable data. The OASIS system blends physical objects with virtual actions to create new everyday in-home applications. OASIS is illustrated using kitchen-based examples, but the system and interaction methods are designed for a broader range of hybrid physical-virtual applications. Interactive elements of the system include linking a single physical object to multiple possible actions, smoothly mixing virtual and physical objects, creating new objects, deleting objects, saving instances for later use, and grouping physical and virtual objects into collections.

OASIS has been featured in WIRED, MIT Technology Review, and PC Magazine. Watch a video demo of OASIS here