UX lab at Ulster University improving UX to save lives

29 Jul 2015

Ulster University PhD student Andrew Cairns (left) has his brain wave activity monitored alongside UX Lab’s Dr Raymond Bond and HeartSine’s Hannah Torney

A good user experience can determine whether a product or service will succeed or fail. In some cases, this can be a life-or-death situation.

For example, a portable defibrillator that isn’t intuitive and easy to use in the event of an emergency can have catastrophic results.

“To ensure our defibrillators have a significant impact on post-cardiac-arrest survival rates, we must make certain that anyone at any time can follow the instructions and use it effectively,” said Dr Rebecca Di Maio, clinical research manager at HeartSine Technologies.

This is why HeartSine Technologies is working with user experience (UX) researchers at Ulster University’s UX Lab, a state-of-the-art facility established to help businesses explore and improve how users interact with their products and services.

Cross-disciplinary UX research

User experience impacts on everything we, as users, interact with – from mobile apps and games to medical devices and retail interfaces – and a positive experience can make or break a product.

The recently launched UX Lab brings together a cross-disciplinary team of computing, engineering, psychology and design experts from Ulster University.

This research team uses advanced sensor technology to track users’ biometrics, such as eye movement, brain signals, heart rate and facial expressions. This data is then interpreted as a means to understanding user behaviour, information which can be used to develop better, more successful products and services.

‘The usability of a product is directly linked to its success’

UX success for businesses and products

“The usability of a product is directly linked to its success,” said Dr Raymond Bond from the university’s Computer Science Research Institute.

“As technology is constantly evolving, it is vital that businesses create an intuitive user journey that boosts interaction and long-term adoption.”

Ulster University’s UX Lab is inviting all sorts of businesses – be they start-ups or large multinationals – to work with their team to enhance product design and functionality, and to increase user efficency, productivity and satisfaction.

In the case of HeartSine Technologies, this means working with the UX Lab to further develop a portable defibrillator that incorporates audio instructions.

“Working with Ulster University’s UX Lab, we will continue to make this goal a reality with future generations of HeartSine defibrillators using highly intuitive interfaces to enhance user experience while saving lives,” said Dr Di Maio.

The Ulster University UX Lab is funded by the Higher Education Innovation Fund, which supports the collaboration between universities and industry for the economic and social benefit of the region.

Elaine Burke is the host of For Tech’s Sake, a co-production from Silicon Republic and The HeadStuff Podcast Network. She was previously the editor of Silicon Republic.