BBN Technologies gets Air Force human-computer interface work

The Air Force Research Laboratory's Human Effectiveness Directorate will work with BBN Technologies to enhance interfaces for duty officers at the Air Mobility Command.

The goal of the project is to enable greater efficiency and productivity, improve the decision-making process and increase overall situational awareness for airlift operations. The Air Force awarded the company a $1.7 million contract to perform the work.

Air Force personnel often must integrate information from several sources, including weather conditions and airfield and mission data, to help them make mission-critical decisions. The interfaces, running over Air Mobility Command's data systems, will support duty officers in planning and replanning more efficiently when dealing with complex, unforeseen operations, such as moving a critical patient to medical facilities at a distant location.

To plan that kind of operation a duty officer would need to identify, assign, and possibly relocate both the medical crew and the flight crew as well as identify the necessary medical equipment and supplies required for their transportation.

Using cognitive engineering methods called Work Centered Support Systems, the interfaces map out the decisions with views of missions and their resource constraints on a common timescale.

As the Work Centered Support Systems is updated with near real-time AMC mission data, duty officers are able to rapidly understand the meaning of an alert and "see" the factors affecting mission viability and possible solutions.

Using this visualization technology, duty officers will be able to see the overall situation in a single interface without consulting numerous databases, allowing them to navigate the information more quickly.

The directorate is located at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio. BBN Technologies is based in Cambridge, Mass.

About the Author

Doug Beizer is a staff writer for Washington Technology.

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