Usability [yoo-zuh-bil-ih-tee]: Noun; 1. International Organization for Standardization defines usability as "The extent to which a product can be used by specified users to achieve specified goals with effectiveness, efficiency, and satisfaction in a specified context of use."
Learn more about the Usability Lab by watching the video below.
The Usability Lab is a new facility for students in the Faculty of Media & Creative Arts at Humber College. This “Live Lab” is a full-fledged usability lab where content creators can capture and assess the interaction between user and design. The lab is a custom 48-foot (14.6-meter) trailer with a double-expanding width of 18 feet (5.5 meters). Built like a portable broadcast production facility, the trailer features full pop-ups, media, and an extensive AV system.
The lab features five usability testing booths and a large, central collaboration space with booth monitoring capabilities and enterprise-wide AV system control. Of the five testing booths, the first four are designed for independent use as training and concept testing workstations and the fifth offers comprehensive usability testing as well as monitoring options. The collaboration space features a large conference table that is sectioned into five areas, referred to as Pods.
This Usability Lab is specialized, in that it was purposefully built for usability studies to ensure that the environment does not interfere with the testing. Designed with flexibility at its core, it has been equipped with a broad variety of technology, supporting usability testing at many different levels of sophistication.
What makes this lab unique is the fact that it is mobile. This one-of-a-kind usability lab can be delivered to those who wish to use and evaluate our designs, as well as their own. For our students, they can participate in, and lead experiments that will truly test the designs they have developed, to make sure they work in the manner they have been designed to work.
At the same time, we can push the envelope in usability testing, as designs become more innovative to adapt to a multi-platform environment. In the winter of 2015, the Usability Lab will be used in the Web Development program, Web Design & Interactive Media, Game Programming, , and Multimedia Design & Development, some of the first programs to incorporate usability studies into their curriculum.
Usability defines the user experience. In a marketplace overcrowded with options for consumers, a design that incorporates sound usability principles will make a difference in consumer’s choice. Usability is relevant to every digital product.
To enable monitoring of booth activities from the collaboration space and to distribute AV content throughout the lab, the application uses a modular matrix switcher for HDMI, audio, and control signal switching and distribution to the lab’s local and remote locations. Sources include multiple computers, cable and Apple® TV receivers, GoPro® Hero3 cameras, as well as a Sony® Blu-ray Disc® player, which is a shared resource.
From Pod 5, the instructor is able to monitor and control AV functionality within each booth, as well as the collaboration space, using an Extron TLP Pro 1020M, a 10" TouchLink® Pro Series touchpanel. It provides the flexibility to select between different live views, including from a booth’s GoPro camera and the Eye Tracker system, and sharing subject content plus testing feedback on any combination of displays. Program and live audio are also controlled from this single touchpanel. The wall-mount touchpanel is embedded flush to the table, so as not to be an obstruction during collaborative sessions.
A common requirement across the Faculty of Media & Creative Arts's wide variety of studies is usability, which defines the user experience and ease of interaction with the content. Students receive hands-on instruction and work together to acquire real-world skills through the use of a state-of-the-art usability “live lab” that has the unique feature of also being mobile.
"We required a system capable of effectively handling all of our scenarios, and Extron was able to provide a solution that fully satisfied our needs."
—Guillermo Acosta, Dean of the Faculty of Media & Creative Arts, Humber College
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