What Needs to be Done to Help NBIC Make Contributions in the Spatial Domain

• If space is to be used as a metaphor for database construction and management, and if human wayfinding/navigation practices are to be used as models for Internet search engines, there are a host of spatial cognition research activities that need to be pursued. First there is a need for a concept-based common vocabulary. There must be a sound ontology, an understanding of spatial primitives and their derivatives, and a meaningful way to communicate with a computer using natural language and its fuzzy spatial prepositions (i.e., a common base of spatial linguistics, including a grammar).

• We need to find matches between information types and the best sensory modalities for representing and using each type of information.

• We need an educated and IT-enlightened science and engineering community that understands spatial thinking and reasoning processes.

• We need to change educational and learning practices to produce an NBIC-enlightened public and an IT-enlightened set of decision makers. Part of this need can be achieved by producing spatially aware professionals who understand and use actual or enhanced sensory and cognitive capabilities to understand and react to different situations and settings.

• We need to explore the cognitive processes used in risky decision making and use innovative IT practices to develop databases, management systems, and analytical techniques that are cognitively compatible with these processes (Montello 2001).

• We need to develop new realtime dynamic human-computer interfaces (both input and output) that facilitate collaborative decision making. This may involve building virtual environments suited for real-time collaborative image exchange and simultaneous use, analysis, modification, and representation of data, even when researchers are continents apart.

• We need to determine what dimensions of cyberspace are compatible with perceptualization and visualization, particularly in the spatial domain.

• We need to define the impacts of selecting specific scales and levels of resolution for visual or perceptual representation of information.

• We need to explore the value of changing network representations and displays of information in cyberspace to grid layout or configurational displays — the expansion from 1- to 2- or 3-dimensional information representations would facilitate a higher level of abstract thinking and reasoning to be implemented in analyzing configurational displays.

• The explosion of interfaces built upon visualization has produced too many graphic interfaces that do not maximize cognitive capabilities of users, and have further disadvantaged disabled groups such as the blind or sight-impaired. This latter fact is continuing the computer alienation of aged populations, where over 70% have low vision or other sight problems. There are, according to census estimates, over 52 million disabled people in the United States. Approximately 3-4 million of these are blind, legally blind, or severely vision-impaired. A further 80+ million people have low vision. We cannot ignore these groups or exclude them from use of future technology.

• We need to determine optimal output interfaces for wearable computers that do not limit the user to visually reading complex displays (e.g., maps) on tiny screens. This carries with it the various cartographic representation problems of choosing scale, resolution, degree of simplification, generalization, and accuracy. This is not just a computer graphics problem, but a problem for cartographic theorists, empirical researchers, and researchers in spatial perception and spatial cognition, and it may involve innovative nanotechnology to build "fold-out" or "expandable" screens.

• There is a need to explore interfaces that can meaningfully display dynamic data at various scales and degrees of resolution.

• There is a need to examine whether nano- or biotechnology can alter the senses and cognitive capabilities of humans to enhance HCI. In particular, can nano-biotechnology enhance our tactual and auditory capabilities (e.g., sensing gloves and ear implants) to ensure that information processing becomes perceptually and cognitively less biased and error ridden?

• There is a need for distributed national learning and research networks to be developed to encourage timely transfer of information from the research to the educational domains; otherwise, the current 3-5 year lags needed for much of this transfer to take place will continue.

• As we learn more about how the mind stores data, there is a need to examine if we can use the mind as a model to enhance efforts to build a national network of digital libraries.

• There is a need for solving problems associated with using immersive virtual environments (e.g., motion sickness) so that their real potential in research and decision making can be exploited and evaluated.

• There is a need to explore ways to increase the effectiveness of human-environment relations. This may involve

- developing personal guidance and spatial information systems that allow people to carry with them in a wearable computer all the local environmental information that they need to undertake daily activities (Fig. B.3)

- developing smart environments that allow people to access wireless information (e.g., infrared-based auditory signage or locally distributed servers that allow immediate access to the Internet and webpages) (Fig. B.4).

Figure B.3. Personal guidance system.

• Since environmental information is filtered through our senses and consequently is biased, individually selective, and related to stage of cognitive development, we need to know to what extent human sensing is dependent on perspective or point of view for encoding spatial relations. Attention must be paid to the roles of alignment, frames of reference, and scale or resolution (e.g., asymmetries of distance, orientation error, or locational inaccuracy), which produce information not always consistent with metric geometries and logically based algebras used to unpack information from data about the real world. Perhaps a new subjective mathematics is needed to interpret our cognitive maps.

• We need to determine if knowledge of wayfinding in the real world can help us find our way in cyberspace. Spatial knowledge in humans develops from landmark ^ route ^ configurational understanding. Much high-order spatial knowledge in humans concerns understanding spatial relations embedded in configurational or layout knowledge, whereas much of the knowledge in IT is link- and network-based, potentially reducing its information potential by requiring human ability to integrate information obtained from specific routes in cyberspace.

Figure B.4. "Smart environments."

There are two dominant ways for NBIC to impact the 52+ million disabled people in the United States:

1. free them from the tyranny of print and other "inaccessible" visual representations

2. help them obtain independence of travel

Enacting measures like the following will increase mobility, employability, and quality of life:

• changing computer interface architecture so that disabled groups (e.g., blind, sight impaired, dyslexic, arthritic, immobile) can access the Internet and its webpages as transparently and quickly as able-bodied people

• enabling wearable computers for use in everyday living (e.g., finding when the next bus is due or where it is now) (Fig. B.4)

• developing voice-activated personal guidance systems using GPS, GIS, and multimodal interfaces that will enable people to travel in unfamiliar environments (Fig. B.4)

• improve speech recognition for input to computers

• use infrared-based remote auditory signage systems (RASS) (e.g., talking sign technology) to facilitate wayfinding, business or object location identification, recognition of mass transit services and promotion of intermodal transfer, and for defining other location-based services and information systems

0 0

Post a comment