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Paper w78-2010-61:
Toward Adaptive Context-Aware User Interfaces for Better Usability and Productivity in AEC Collaborative Tasks

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Thomas Altenburger, Annie Guerriero, Alain Vagner, Benoit Martin

Toward Adaptive Context-Aware User Interfaces for Better Usability and Productivity in AEC Collaborative Tasks

Abstract: The Architecture, Engineering and Construction (AEC) sector gathers a wide range of stakeholders, roles and activities which may be performed in heterogeneous contexts. By “context”, we mean not only the environment and user’s particularities but also the “cooperation context” associated to the activity to be carried out. The activity in the AEC projects is highly collaborative, particularly uncertain and takes place in a continuously changing “cooperation context” (e.g. due to new plans, new stakeholders, problems on site, etc.). The activity is also characterized by a strong mobility (e.g. workers on the building site) which implies information availability issues. Therefore, we suggest in this paper considering new potential of context-aware technologies to support AEC business tasks. Interactive systems proposed for the sector do not usually address the usability issues implied by the various context changes. So, this paper introduces the use of Adaptive User Interfaces (AUI) for the AEC activity. AUI are particular context-aware applications capable of adapting themselves relevantly to the current context in order to better fit the ongoing task and users. To this purpose, it is firstly required to identify the particular AEC context properties and to characterize them. Based on a state of the art, we propose a classification of contextual information relative to the collaborative aspects. We then suggest reviewing AUI and focusing on their principles and capacity to improve visualization and interaction according to the user’s task. Many technical approaches exist such as the Model-Driven Engineer methods which we cover through a state of the art of AUI systems. Finally, we identify the potential usability and productivity benefits to apply AUI to common AEC tasks. For instance, we consider throughout this article, the cases of construction site meeting and inspection reporting. These two cases are good examples of context variability, both organizational and environmental.

Keywords: interface adaptation, context-awareness, collaborative work

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