Operational Console Modernization Tool
Navy SBIR 2014.1 - Topic N141-049
NAVSEA - Mr. Dean Putnam - [email protected]
Opens: Dec 20, 2013 - Closes: Jan 22, 2014

N141-049 TITLE: Operational Console Modernization Tool

TECHNOLOGY AREAS: Information Systems

ACQUISITION PROGRAM: PMS505, Littoral Combat Ship Fleet Introduction and Sustainment Program Off

OBJECTIVE: The objective is to develop an innovative tool that is tailored to assess and predict performance impacts of potential changes to a ship combat system operational console.

DESCRIPTION: Operating with a minimally manned crew is only possible by relying on extensive cross-training. In an environment which requires personnel to perform a high level of multi-tasking, any change that may result in additional workload or reduced crew performance must be carefully considered. A predictive tool for synthetic environments, such as a virtual reality training facility, is sought in order to evaluate prospective changes for performance impact prior to actual shipboard implementation. There are several commonly acknowledged uses of cognitive models in synthetic environments. These include but are not limited to: testing existing doctrine, testing new doctrine, testing possible future procurements (Ref 1.) Testing possible future procurements is the focus of this effort. A design tool that accurately models the impact of console on a minimally manned crew can forestall unanticipated adverse performance impacts that are realized only after equipment is installed, requiring the costly redesign and replacement of equipment to maintain performance standards.

Many human factors and ergonomics tools and technologies have evolved over the years to support early analysis and design of the effects of change in a work environment, such as a ship�s combat system console. Two specific types of technologies are design guidance and high-fidelity rapid prototyping of user interfaces. Design guides have the shortcoming that they do not often provide methods for making quantitative trade-offs in system performance as a function of design and have limited value for providing concrete input to system level performance prediction. Rapid prototyping, on the other hand, supports analysis of how a specific design will affect system-level performance but is usually slow and costly. What is often needed is an integrating methodology that can extrapolate from the base of human factors and ergonomics data, as reflected in design guides and the literature, to support system level performance predictions as a function of design alternatives. A prime candidate for this integrating methodology is computer modeling and simulation. (Ref 2)

Design methods and analytical tools that enable the integration of complex, and often contesting, disciplines into effective and efficient platforms are essential. The development of design tools capable of rapidly analyzing and evaluating platforms with advanced system performance characteristics is a high priority. Design decisions should take into account the full Human Systems Interface implications and constraints, including the significant life cycle costs attributed to manpower as well as performance characteristics.

The desired tool will include a model of the operational console and permit evaluation of potential changes to the console by modeling the impact on computer processing load, individual operator cognitive performance, and the overall tactical performance of the console and operator pair within the combat system. The computer-based tool shall be capable of analyzing environments for their multitasking requirements, creating multitasking synthetic environments based on the current shipboard configuration and potential modifiers, and include the means to assess human performance and to elicit feedback, including suggestions, from operators on improvements to the console.

PHASE I: The company will develop a concept for an operational console modernization tool that meets the requirements described above. The company will demonstrate the feasibility of the concept in meeting Navy needs and will establish that the concept can be feasibly developed into a useful product for the Navy. Feasibility will be established by analytical modeling. The small business will provide a Phase II development plan which that addresses technical risk reduction and provide performance goals and key technical milestones.

PHASE II: Based on the results of Phase I and the Phase II development plan, the small business will develop a prototype for evaluation. The prototype will be evaluated to determine its capability in meeting the performance goals defined in Phase II development plan and the Navy requirements for the Operational Console Modernization Tool. System performance will be demonstrated through prototype evaluation and modeling or analytical methods over the required range of parameters including deployment cycles (if available). Evaluation results will be used to refine the prototype into an initial design that will meet Navy requirements. The company will prepare a Phase III development plan to transition the technology to Navy use.

PHASE III: The company will be expected to support the Navy in transitioning the technology for Navy use. The company will develop a tool to assist in Operational Console Modernization according to the Phase III development plan. The company will support evaluation of the tool to determine its effectiveness in an operationally relevant environment. The company will support the Navy for test and validation to certify and qualify the system for Navy use.

PRIVATE SECTOR COMMERCIAL POTENTIAL/DUAL-USE APPLICATIONS: The negative consequences of on-the-job multitasking are well documented. Many different multitasking work environments, such as air traffic control, emergency nursing, and emergency dispatching, produce increased human performance error, burnout, stress, high drop-out rates during training, and post-training attrition.

1. Gray, Wayne D. "Simulated Task Environments: The role of high-fidelity simulations, scaled worlds, synthetic environments, and laboratory tasks in basic and applied cognitive research" Cognitive Science Quarterly, Vol 2, 2002. p205-227.

2. Laughery, Ronald K. Jr. Modeling Human Performance in Complex Systems. Handbook of Human Factors and Ergonomics. Wiley, John & Sons, Incorporated. 2006.

KEYWORDS: Environmental simulation; cognitive modeling; design and impact analysis tools; human performance measurement; computational and behavior models, virtual reality and synthetic environments

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