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GUIDE for TV application developers

GUIDE develops software to support TV developers in creating multi-modal interactive and personalisable services. 

The GUIDE Virtual User Simulator allows developers to perceive their service UI through the eyes of a virtual user (see figure below). A prototype of the Simulator can be downloaded on the GUIDE website for public experimentation.

Figure: GUIDE Virtual User Simulator: Exploring a user interface "through the eyes" of a virtual user (left: Normal UI, right: simulated view)

The GUIDE UI Adaptation Framework enables TV applications to efficiently use multi-modal interaction and benefitting from managed UI personalization and adaptation. GUIDE basically supports any application based on common web technology standards (HTML, JavaScript, CSS, Widgets), as depicted in the figure below. The GUIDE Framework will be further developed as an open source project in 2012, and be freely available to interested companies.

Figure: The GUIDE UI Adaptation Framework layered architecture


 Benefit of GUIDE

“Through GUIDE service personalisation will become more efficient and convenient for the industry.”

The GUIDE Framework provides a unique service to application and service platform developers. It can generate user profiles that represent individual needs and impairments of various user groups, for example elderly citizens which become more and more relevant as a target group in the future. From the user profiles, GUIDE can adapt a multi-modal user interface to the needs of the user, and perform automatic configuration of the UI. This makes it obsolete for the user to deal with complex menu structures and hidden system settings.

“GUIDE focusses on state-of-the-art and future web technology.”

The GUIDE Framework provides a software solution that can be integrated into legacy and future Connected TV applications. As discussions with developers during the project, the approach of GUIDE is feasible as it only requires low interference with existing development processes and tools. It has the potential to drastically simplify development of automatically personalised user interfaces for heterogeneous user groups. Many developers see the future in web browser environments and HTML (and associated technologies like CSS and JavaScript), as they are for example represented in platforms like HbbTV, SAMSUNG Connected TV, or TIZEN etc., therefore GUIDE decided to focus on this direction. 

“GUIDE can in principle support any application environment or middleware.”

Despite the project focus on generic web application environments, the GUIDE Framework is basically open to any application environment (e.g. native middleware solutions, Java, etc.), by relying on a generic language for user interface representations. This feature is crucial as nowadays many TV device manufacturers still maintain individual proprietary application environments (Google Android). 

“The GUIDE Framework will be freely available as an open source project and maintained by a strong community.”

The GUIDE framework will go into an open source development project in the third year of the project, which will make the whole source code and documentation available to interested parties. GUIDE partners will invite companies to do initial experimentation, supported by the project. Being a partner in the AALOA association, GUIDE will benefit from a large open source community and its visibility, and will continue its evolution in the context of large AAL initiatives like UNIVERSAAL and related projects.

“GUIDE can make user-centred design more efficient by virtual users and simulation.”

GUIDE will change the way how developers perform user-centred design during application/service development. As initial discussions with the industry have shown, virtual user simulation is not yet well perceived and understood by developers. Nevertheless, people are very interested in using the tools to avoid (expensive) involvement of real users in the design. A design tool that can be used to iteratively refine an accessible user interface is seen as a very important tool in the design process. It has the potential to drastically decrease cost in a user-centred design process, when relying on virtual users instead of real users. The GUIDE user simulator can support this virtual user centred design process. It provides the developer a look “through the eyes” of the user, to identify design faults and better consider user requirements.

“GUIDE will make design knowledge and accessibility reachable for the industry.”

Knowledge about proper user interface design, especially in the areas of interactive TV, multimodal user interfaces and accessibility is still limited in the industrial world. Knowledge resources are hard to spot, are fragmented across various sites and or do not specifically address the issues of TV related issues. GUIDE will create design recommendations from the experience in its user studies and developments, and distribute it for developers on a public web portal.

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