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Challenges of Usability Evaluations in the Emerging Multimedia Environment

Margherita Pagani


The rapid development of mobile devices, PDAs, and other wireless technologies over the past decade has engendered a plethora of portable devices for data transmission and processing applications. Moreover, the development of digital television and the opportunities opened by interactive digital TV applications has motivated TV producers and consumer electronic manufacturers to invest their research efforts in usability areas in order to help drive the design of future interactive services and devices. The integration of devices allows to improve the mobile experience by integrating cell phones with PCs, the Web, TVs., and so on. The ergonomics challenges for these devices involve tradeoffs between increasing levels of miniaturization, and the relative size of the human hand and visual acuity of the human eye (for mobile applications) which require relatively large user interfaces for successful technology access. In such environment new digital delivery mechanisms must be straightforward to use with minimum effort required (Agarwal & Prasad,1998; Dabholkar, 1996; Lederer, Maupin, Sena, & Zhuang, 2000; Meuter et al., 2000; Seffah, Donyaee, & Kline, 2004). The ease of  orientation, navigation, and understanding are crucial (Seffah, Donyaee, & Kline, 2005). Multimedia technologies (in particular digital TV and 3G wireless technologies) require significantly more attention to human factors and a progressive re-examination of the traditional usability engineering concepts and evaluation methods.

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