Intuitive User Interfaces for Task-Tailored Planning

The Situation

FA 18C HornetPowerful support tools have been developed to help Navy pilots plan and replan mission activities. Although these planning systems offer advanced functionality, they are typically plagued by user interfaces (UI) that are overly complex and unwieldy, which leads to significant cognitive work demands and underutilized functionality. Critically, these tools do not provide efficient, tailored access to the core functions necessary to support particular mission types, such as loading mission cards or setting waypoints. Instead, pilots must dive into deep menu structures to find relevant—but hidden—functionality, and work across multiple spatially and semantically disjointed components to perform key mission planning tasks. Even simple tasks, such as loading waypoints, typically require pilots to access information and actions across multiple screens and through complex menu navigations. These processes are cognitively demanding, brittle, and prone to error by novice users. For expert users, these processes are time-consuming, repetitive, and tedious.

The Charles River Analytics Solution

In the Intuitive User Interfaces for Task-Tailored planning effort, or INTUIT, scientists and software engineers at Charles River Analytics created a novel, card-based UI, modular interface components that bring together tailored display and input methods in simple optimized forms, for more efficient mission planning. INTUIT’s card-based UI increases the usability of planning systems and the efficiency of operators with varying skill levels across a range of vehicles, mission contexts, and unique tasks. INTUIT enables pilots with varying skill levels to take full advantage of underlying mission planning technologies by providing clear and predictable interaction methods that can be readily tailored to specific roles and tasks. This card-based user interface fluidly exposes opportunities for advanced planning functionality when appropriate, and provides straightforward, task-relevant access to many diverse tools within a single planning interface. INTUIT’s interface, shown below, supports linear and non-linear workflows cueing operators to advanced functionality as appropriate.

INTUIT UI
INTUIT’s card-based UI provide a streamlined role-tailored interface to enable more effective and efficient mission planning

The Benefit

INTUIT increases the usability and efficiency of planning systems across a range of unique vehicles, mission contexts, and planning tasks. Its card-based UI provides targeted, streamlined support to novice and expert mission planners by adapting to operator, task, and mission needs. It also provide pilots with a consistent and cohesive interface design across many different types of tools. This interface can also support users with relevant data validation and provide embedded, actionable help when needed. INTUIT’s card-based UI solution provides pilots with quick access to a wide range of different mission planning tools without navigating complex, deep menu structures.  It represents a significant step forward in modernizing the Navy’s mission planning system interfaces.


This material is based upon work supported by the US Navy, Naval Sea Systems Command, under Contract No. N68335-15-C-0158. Any opinions, findings and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the US Navy.

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