Sandia researching human, data interaction

Sandia National Laboratories announced Thursday that it has signed a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement with Eye Tracking Inc. to study how users interact with videos and still images.

In the field of intelligence analysis, personnel are engaged with images, video and other forms of data to detect threats to security. The cooperative research aims to lead to the development of software and other tools that will allow analysts to find pertinent information more efficiently.

“Our core problem is designing computational information systems that make people better at getting meaningful information from those data sets, which are large and diverse and coming in quickly in high-stress environments," Laura McNamara, a Sandia applied anthropologist, said.

With a monitor, Eye Tracking measures indicate where users are most focused and what areas are often ignored or receive little attention. These tools also determine the number of times a subject blinks. Through this research, Sandia hopes to be able to advance research into cognitive science and to determine the effects of a subject's expertise in their visual cognition, which could influence the way analysts are trained and the design of the programs and systems they use.

“Where this could end up going is ensuring that as we invest money on information and analysis environments for intelligence analysts who are facing this firehose of information, we don’t give them software that increases their cognitive and perceptual load or that they just can’t use,” McNamara said.

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Sandia National Laboratories

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