The University of Idaho Human Factors program focuses on improving the ways in which people interact with their environment – ranging from designing more human-friendly technology and safer workplace environments to innovative display technologies in modern aircraft cockpits or large industrial control rooms.
Our faculty specialize in a variety of applied research domains. One of our emphases is the design of visual displays to quickly and efficiently convey important information – be it in the forms of alarms, navigational displays, dynamic maps, or innovative peripheral displays which use the periphery of the visual field to allow for additional information to be processed while the center of the visual field is left uncluttered. Display technology developed at the University of Idaho has implications for the design of heads-up cockpit displays in aviation, navigational aides in modern cars, or for decision support tools in process control.
Another research area concerns safety. Through a unique developmental life-span perspective faculty at the University of Idaho are trying to understand the risks children face in normal traffic situations and how to improve children’s safety as traffic participants. In addition, many other safety issues, like the use of audible cues in identifying approaching traffic, warning labels, or alarm systems are being investigated. Through the use of neurophysiological methods, University of Idaho faculty are also trying to identify levels of human workload and stress. Research in this area might lead to the earlier detection and mitigation of human error.
In the area of human-computer interaction, faculty at the University of Idaho are working on creative, new ways to enhance computer security through graphical authentication systems, improving user experiences through different types of feedback strategies, and the creation of new display types.
In addition to their applied work, most of the faculty within the program are also working on basic problems in experimental psychology and cognitive neuroscience.