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Remote consoles

Remote consoles


Gregg Vanderheiden, TRACE Centre, University of Winsconsin-Madison, Kevin Carey, humanITy, RNIB/World Blind Union and Dr. Mark Magennis, National Council for the Blind of Ireland - NCBI Centre for Inclusive Technologies (CFIT)

Section Summary
People interact with a wide range of technology products every day. Different products use different user interface elements and the design of the elements can vary quite a lot, so a person may find one device easy to use but another one difficult or even impossible. One solution to this is separating the user interface from the product and putting it into a remote console. A Universal Remote Console can be used to handle multiple products, and can handle specific users needs, for example, a deaf person can use a console that displays text on a visual display, whereas a blind person can use one that outputs the same text as speech.

The challenge:
People interact with a wide range of technology products every day. Anything from televisions to ticket machines. Each of these has what is called a user interface that takes inputs from the user and provides outputs. This user interface typically consists of a display screen, a set of buttons, knobs or switches, some lights and various sounds. Different products use different user interface elements and the design of the elements can vary quite a lot, so a person may find one device easy to use but another one difficult or even impossible. Different people need different user interfaces. People who cannot see may need auditory outputs, people who cannot hear may need visual outputs and people with limited dexterity may need larger, wider spaced controls than others. Sometimes, these needs are mutually exclusive. For example, some users need a feature-rich interface to deal with complexity while others need something simple. In order to meet the needs of all users, a user interface will therefore have to allow multiple interaction methods. This presents a problem for designers and manufacturers of mainstream products. Producing a user interface that allows all these interactions in a way that is usable by everyone may be difficult, costly, or even impossible.

The solution:  
One solution is to separate the user interface from the product, putting it into a remote control held by the user. The remote control then takes the users inputs and communicates them to the product. In return, the product communicates the outputs to the control which presents them to the user. These controls are called remote consoles.

By defining a standard communication protocol, it is possible to create Universal Remote Consoles (URCs) that can be used to interact with many different products. Individual users can then choose URCs that meet their own unique interaction needs and be able to operate all those products, using whatever input and output mechanisms are most suitable for them. A deaf person can use a console that displays text on a visual display, whereas a blind person can use one that outputs the same text as speech. The console could come in many forms, such as a purpose built device like a TV remote control, some hardware and software built into a wheelchair, or even a software application running on a standard mobile phone. If all mainstream products supported URCs, then users with special needs could carry a personal interface device with them, perhaps built into their phone or assistive technology, and use it to operate any product they encounter.

The technology underlying URCs is based on the concept of user interface sockets and pluggable user interfaces that allow an alternate interface to be used instead of the default one on a product. Researchers have proposed a number of different approaches to achieving this. Currently the most widely supported one is ISO/IEC 24752 "Information technology - User interfaces - Universal Remote Console".

This section lists a number of resources that will be of use to product developers, procurers, legislators, end users and others. These describe the important accessibility features of remote consoles and how they can be implemented in various application areas. The resources range from introductory materials to technical specifications, giving guidance on appropriate design features and practicalities of implementation and use.

 

Accessibility features available from remote console manufacturers

OpenURC Alliance Website
Summary: Provides an overview of existing standards, communities and projects related to the Universal Remote Console (URC) technology.
Reference:
http://www.openurc.org/
Keywords:
Universal Remote Console (URC); Standards; Developer Community
Target audiences:
Device Manufacturers; Software Developers; User Representatives; Policy Makers


User Interface Standards - Towards Coherent, Task-Oriented and Scalable User Interfaces in the Home Environments
Summary: This paper looks at some existing products for remote user interfaces for home appliances, with regard to their coherence, task orientation and scalability.
Reference:
Zimmermann, G. (2007, Sep). Open User Interface Standards - Towards Coherent, Task-Oriented and Scalable User Interfaces in the Home Environments. In: Proceedings of 3rd IET International Conference on Intelligent Environments (IE07), Sep. 24-25, 2007, Ulm University, Germany, p. 36ff. The IET, 2007.
Key words:
Task-Based User Interface; Universal Remote Console (URC); Task Model Description
Target audiences:
Developers in the Digital Home Area; Researchers


URC Technical Primer
Summary: Read-me-first document for people interested in the URC technology and related standards, tools and resources that are available
Reference: http://www.openurc.org/TR/urc-tech-primer1.0-20121022/index.html
Keywords: URC; UCH; Resource Server
Target audiences: Device Manufacturers; AT Vendors; Researchers


Automatically generating personalized user interfaces with Supple
Summary:
Long paper describing the SUPPLE system that generates user interfaces that are adapted and personalized to the needs and preferences of individual users. Various implementation examples and case studies are presented.
Reference:
Krzysztof Z. Gajos, Daniel S. Weld, and Jacob O. Wobbrock. Automatically generating personalized user interfaces with Supple. Artificial Intelligence, 174:910-950, 2010.
Keywords:
automatic user interface generation; optimization; adaptation; personalized user interfaces; ability-based user interfaces; SUPPLE
Target audiences:
researchers


Improving the performance of motor-impaired users with automatically-generated, ability-based interfaces
Summary:
SUPPLE project on automatically generated user interfaces. People with motor impairments are faster, more accurate, and strongly prefer automatically generated ability-based user interfaces to the manufacturers' baselines.
Reference:
Krzysztof Z. Gajos, Jacob O. Wobbrock and Daniel S. Weld. Improving the performance of motor-impaired users with automatically-generated, ability-based interfaces. In Proceedings of CHI'08, Florence, Italy, 2008.


Accessibility features most desired by persons with disabilities


Meeting the Needs of Diverse User Groups: Benefits and Costs of Pluggable User Interfaces in Designing for Older People and People with Cognitive Impairments
Summary:
This paper reports on the experiences of the European project i2home in which the Universal Remote Console (URC) framework was implemented and studied in the context of devices and appliances to be accessible for older people and people with cognitive impairments. Claimed benefits of the URC technology are investigated on the basis of three subprojects: elderly people in Prague, Czech Republic; Alzheimer patients in san sebastian, Spain; and people with brain injuries in Sweden.
Reference:
Zimmermann, G.; Alexandersson, J.; Buiza, C.; Urdaneta, E.; Diaz, U.; Carrasco, E.; Klima, M. & Pfalzgraf, A. (Sep. 2010). Meeting the Needs of Diverse User Groups: Benefits and Costs of Pluggable User Interfaces in Designing for Older People and People with Cognitive Impairments. In: Soar, J. & Swindell, R.: Intelligent Technologies for Bridging the Grey Digital Divide, pp. 80-93. Information Science Publishing. ISBN-10: 1615208259, ISBN-13: 978-1615208258.
Keywords:
User needs; older users; users with cognitive impairments; Universal Remote Console (URC); Universal Control Hub (UCH); i2home.
Target audiences:
Designers; Software Developers; Researchers


Vanderheiden, G. C., “Accessible and Usable Design of Information and Communication Technologies.” In C. Stephanidis, (ed.) The Universal Access Handbook, (in press) CRC Press
Summary: This chapter lists the basic and essential needs of users to be able to use devices. Different strategies for the design process are also discussed.
Reference:
in press
Keywords:
User Needs; Design Process; Accessibility
Target audiences:
Designers; Researchers


Raising the Floor: Current Master List
Summary: This web page lists major topics and strategies for enhancing Internet access with short descriptions and links to related papers, projects, and research.
Reference: http://raisingthefloor.net/projects/masterlist/currentmasterlist
Keywords:
Internet Access, Resources
Target audiences:
Developers; Researchers


Smart homes, smart appliances

Platforms for AAL Applications
Summary: Overview on existing platforms and architectures for the development and runtime of applications in Ambient Assisted Living (AAL). The results of various Eureopan research projects related to AAL are described, including Universal Remote Console (URC).
Reference:
Fagerberg, G., Kung, A., Wichert, R., Tazari, M.-R., Jean-Bart, Br., Bauer, G., Zimmermann, G., Furfari, F., Potortì, F., Chessa, S., Hellenschmidt, M., Gorman, J., Alexandersson, J., Bund, J., Carrasco, E., Epelde, G., Klíma, M., Urdaneta, E., Vanderheiden, G., & Zinnikus, I. (Nov. 2010). Platforms for AAL Applications. In: Lukowicz, P., Kunze, K., & Kortuem, G. (Eds.): Smart Sensing and Context. Lecture Notes in Computer Science (LNCS) 6446, Springer, Berlin Heidelberg, 2010. ISSN: 0302-9743, ISBN-10: 3-642-16981-3, ISBN-13: 978-3-642-16981-6.
Keywords: AmI. AAL, Platform, OSGi, URC, Smart Hornes, Healthcare, Software Platform, Open Source Policies. Standards, reference platform, standardization, Platform. Application, Policies, Universal Remote Console (URC), Web Service Description Language (WSDL), personal user interface, pluggable user interface, OpenURC, Alliance, Platform for Accessible User Interfaces. ISO. ICT, e-Inclusion.
Target audiences: Device Manufacturers, Researchers


Universal Remote Console-based next generation accessible television

Summary: This paper provides an overview of the state of the art on TV accessibility. It introduces the Universal Remote Console (URC) framework, and proposes an accessibility architecture as a solution for making the TV content, its remote control and interactive services accessible for people with disabilities. An implementation based on Microsoft Windows Media Center is describedontroller to provide a way for users to slowly transition both themselves and their houses from current technologies to smart technologies and environments.

Reference: Epelde, G., Carrasco, E., Zimmermann, G., Alexandersson, J., Neßelrath, R., & Dubielzig, M. (Dec. 2011). Universal Remote Console-based next generation accessible television. In: Journal on Universal Access in the Information Society. ISSN: 1615-5289 (Print), 1615-5297 (Online). DOI: 10.1007/s10209-007-0108-6. Springer Berlin/Heidelberg. Paper available online: http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10209-011-0266-4
Keywords: Accessible TV, ISO/IEC 24752 , Universal Remote Console, URC,  Universal Control Hub, UCH , Multimodal interaction , Pluggable user interfaces
Target audiences: TV Manufacturers; Developers in the Digital Home Area; Researchers


Non-homogenous Network, Control Hub and Smart Controller (NCS) Approach to Incremental Smart Homes
Summary:
Proposed is a model for using a mixture of non homogeneous network technologies, a control hub and a smart controller to provide a way for users to slowly transition both themselves and their houses from current technologies to smart technologies and environments.
Reference:
Vanderheiden, G., and Zimmermann, G. (2007, Aug). Non-homogenous Network, Control Hub and Smart Controller (NCS) Approach to Incremental Smart Homes. In: Springer LNCS, Volume 4555/2007. Universal Access in Human-Computer Interaction. Ambient Interaction. Pages: 238-244. ISSN: 0302-9743 (Print) 1611-3349 (Online). DOI: 10.1007/978-3-540-73281-5. ISBN: 978-3-540-73280-8. Springer Berlin / Heidelberg, 2007.
Keywords: Remote User Interfaces; Task-Based User Interfaces; Digital Home
Target audiences: Developers in the Digital Home Area; Researchers


Studying The Use of Handhelds to Control Smart Appliances
Summary: Paper on CMU Pebbles project, reporting about better efficiency and reduced errors when users used remote user interface for stereo and telephone.
Reference: Jeffrey Nichols and Brad A. Myers. "Studying The Use of Handhelds to Control Smart Appliances". International Workshop on Smart Appliances and Wearable Computing. IWSAWC 2003. In the Proceedings of the 23rd IEEE Conference on Distributed Computing Systems Workshops (ICDCS'03). May 19-22, 2003, Providence, Rhode Island. pp. 274-279.
Keywords: Personal Universal Controller; Usability of Remote User Interfaces
Target audiences: User Interface Researchers


Remote User Interfaces

A Dream: The Universal Remote Console
Summary: This article provides an overview of the Universal Remote Console (URC) standard (ISO/IEC 24752), and how it can make everybody's life easier.
Reference: Zimmermann, G., and Vanderheiden, G. (2010, February). A dream... The universal remote console. ISO Focus+, Feb. 2010, 11-13. Article available online: http://trace.wisc.edu/docs/2010-URC-ISOFocus/.
Keywords: Remote User Interfaces; ISO/IEC 24752; Universal Remote Console (URC).
Target audiences: Device Developers; Managers; Researchers


The Universal Control Hub: An Open Platform for Remote User Interfaces in the Digital Home
Summary: This paper describes the application of an international user interface standard in the digital home in a gateway-based approach: The Universal Control Hub.
Reference: Zimmermann, G., and Vanderheiden, G. (2007, Aug). The Universal Control Hub: An Open Platform for Remote User Interfaces in the Digital Home. In: Springer LNCS, Volume 4551/2007. Human-Computer Interaction. Interaction Platforms and Techniques. Pages: 1040-1049. ISSN: 0302-9743 (Print) 1611-3349 (Online). DOI: 10.1007/978-3-540-73107-8. ISBN: 978-3-540-73106-1. Springer Berlin / Heidelberg, 2007.
Keywords: Remote User Interfaces; Task-Based User Interfaces; Digital Home
Target audiences: Developers in the Digital Home Area, Researchers


Abstract representations as a basis for usable user interfaces
Summary: This paper examines four XML languages for abstract user interface representation: UIML, XIML, XForms and AIAP.
Reference: Trewin, S.; Zimmermann, G.; and Vanderheiden, G. (2004, Apr). Abstract representations as a basis for usable user interfaces. In: INTCOM1417, Interacting with Computers Special Issue: Universal Usability Revisitied - Edited by M.Zajicek and A.Edwards. Vol 16/3 pp 477-506. Elsevier, 2004.
Keywords: Abstract User Interface; Device-independence; Modality-Independence
Target audiences: Developers in the Digital Home Area; Researchers


Universal Control Hub (UCH) specification
Summary: This document specifies the "Universal Control Hub" architecture, a profiling of the Universal Remote Console technology in the context of a Remote User Interface scenario.
Reference: http://www.openurc.org/TR/uch1.0-20121022/index.html
Keywords: Universal Control Hub
Target audiences: UCH Developers; Researchers


URC-HTTP Protocol specification
Summary: This document specifies the "Universal Remote Console on HTTP" protocol (short "URC-HTTP protocol").
References: http://www.openurc.org/TR/urc-http-protocol2.0-20121022/index.html
Keywords: UCH; URC-HTTP
Target audiences: UCH Developers; Researchers


Universal Remote Consoles

International Standards on Universal Remote Console
Summary:
ISO/IEC 24752 is a 5-part international standard on the Universal Remote Console (URC) framework.  Compliant devices are accessible by people with sensory disabilities.
References:
ISO/IEC 24752. Standard on "Universal Remote Console". ISO, 2008.
Keywords: Accessibility; Electronic Devices; Compliance
Target audiences: Device Manufacturers; AT Vendors; User Interface Designers

Note: This standard is currently being revised, and a new revision is expected to be issued in 2013.


Huddle: Automatically Generating Interfaces for Systems of Multiple Connected Appliances
Summary: Paper reporting about latest developments of the Pebbles project on a Personal Universal Controller (PUC).
Reference:
Jeffrey Nichols, Brandon Rothrock, Duen Horng Chau, Brad A. Myers. "Huddle: Automatically Generating Interfaces for Systems of  Multiple Connected Appliances," In Proceedings of UIST'2006. October 15-18. Montreux, Switzerland. pp. 279-288
Keywords: Remote User Interfaces; Multi-appliance Systems; Content Flow Models
Target audiences: User Interface; Researchers


Sample of regulations

Federal Government (USA): Electronic and Information Technology Accessibility Standards (Section 508); 2000
Summary: This U.S. federal law describes accessibility requirements for federal agency procurement, development, and maintenance of electronic and information technology products and services.
36 CFR Part 1194 (Code of Federal Regulations)
Keywords: Regulations; Accessibility; Federal Procurement
Target audiences: Developers; Procurement Agents


Federal Government (USA): Telecommunications Act Accessibility Guidelines (Section 255); 1998
Summary: This U.S. federal law describes accessibility requirements for telecommunications products and services.
47 C.F.R. Part 7 (Code of Federal Regulations)
Keywords: Telecommunications; Accessibility; Regulations
Target audiences: Developers; FCC


Access Board (USA): Telecommunications and Electronic and Information Technology Advisory Committee Report to the Access Board: Refreshed Accessibility Standards and Guidelines in Telecommunications and Electronic and Information Technology; 2008
Summary:
This list of proposed regulations was presented to the U.S. Access Board for the purpose of refreshing the Section 508 and Section 255 accessibility laws.
Keywords: Regulation; Accessibility
Target audiences: Legislators; Procurement Agents; Developers


Access Board (USA): ADA Accessibility Guidelines for Buildings and Facilities (ADAAG 2002)
Summary: ADAAG is U.S. law that mostly deals with accessibility of physical spaces. Some public access electronics are also included in the regulations.
Keywords: Accessibility; Physical Spaces; Public Access
Target audiences: Architects; Product Designers; Enforcement


Access Board (USA): ADA and ABA Accessibility Guidelines for Buildings and Facilities (ADAAG 2004)
Summary: The updated ADAAG (not currently U.S. law) mostly deals with accessibility of physical spaces. Some public access electronics are also included in the regulations.
Keywords: Accessibility; Physical Spaces; Public Access
Target audiences: Architects; Product Designers; Enforcement


Vanderheiden, G. C., “Standards and Guidelines.” In C. Stephanidis, (ed.) The Universal Access Handbook, (in press) CRC Press
Summary: This chapter outlines various types of standards and guidelines and the process for writing them. The chapter includes a list of accessibility standards.
References: in press
Keywords: Standards; Process; Accessibility
Target audiences: Researchers