By selecting a multimedia systems environment and an office type system’s environment, discuss the following in the context of each interface’s typical users. The use of sound enhances interface design It is a fact that most of the technological innovations rely upon User Interface Design in order to elevate their complexity to a usable product. Technology may not be accepted by users on its own. Unfortunately, the key factor for this acceptance is the user experience and how the user experiences the product (User Interface Design & Usability Testing,2005).
This is where User Interface Design gets involved. User Interface Design is also known as the Human-Computer Interaction or HCI. While people often think of Interface Design in terms of computers, it also refers to many products where the end-user interacts with controls or displays (reference). Airports, audio equipment, military aircrafts can be shown as an example of products that apply User Interface Design. The most important point of a User Interface Design can be defined as the difference between the product acceptance and rejection in the market.
The product will not be successful if the users of the product find it hard to use or too complex. Being easy to understand and usability are the most effective points for a good interface design. In everyday life people communicate using all their senses, with information in one sensory modality being backed by data from the others (Stephen Brewster, Providing a Model For The Use Of Sound In User Interfaces). When it comes to computers, the interaction is mostly based on the visual channel.
It can be said that the aim of most multimedia interfaces is to make the human-computer interaction more natural and to provide a more transparent interface by using various forms of inputs and outputs. Unfortunately, it is hard to see the use of sound in most of the computer interfaces apart from the error beeps. It is a fact that humans acquire a great deal of knowledge through their ears. Unfortunately, many multimedia developers do not take the advantage of using this sense into their multimedia products. Sound enhances multimedia applications by supplementing presentations, images, animation, and video.
In the past, it was considerably hard and expensive to have sound recording equipment and facilities which could produce high-quality, digital sound. Nowadays, computers and synthesizers make it extremely easy for the average person to produce high-quality sound and music. It is generally thought that accessibility means providing text alternatives to graphical and multimedia content. This might be true for many people but for those who have difficulties in reading or understanding a textual content, such as people with dyslexia or some other learning difficulties, it is definitely not.
In this case, audio can be considered as an accessibility enhancement to textual information. Accessibility can be defined as making something usable by everyone. Therefore, as it has been mentioned in the last sentence, a document that is as accessible to everyone, will help an individual with a disability to retrieve information for themselves in a suitable way. The interface can be considered as the heart of a video or computer game. It is the most important part that allows a player to interact with the game. In order to create a good interface, audio aspects should not be forgotten.
It is a fact that sound and music are one of the most important issues in gaming. In fact, generally the mark of superior sound design is that you do not even consciously notice it at all. Instead, it goes to work on you subconsciously as it can heighten the tension, manipulate the mood, and takes you into the world of game faintly but inexorably. It is possible to say that the main purpose of sound usage in most games is to increase the feeling of immersion. Hence ambiance sound and music are generally a main focus of this work.
The diversification of foley effects is also important to avoid boring feeling of repetition due to short loops of music (Processes and Tools for Sound Design in Computer Games). Additionally, spoken dialogues between the characters of the game are common features. The dialogues between the characters are generally real human voices which are recorded. Music and the sound of the ambience generally relies on some midi file loops. As most of us have all experienced, most video games jump from scene to scene and background music provides continuity.
When the player moves from a scene to another scene, the sound must move from one set of loops to another. Many games use non-interactive animations, called cinematic, to present the narrative aspects of the game. This part of the sound design is similar to the work done in the classical audio visual fields (Processes and Tools for Sound Design in Computer Games). We can consider the terrific ambient sounds of the game “Resident Evil”, the effects of which compound the tension and horror as you attack the zombies.
Even early games like Space Invaders earned much of their addictive appeal by getting into your head with thumping, repetitive sound schemes. As the aliens got faster and closer, the music got faster and louder. Properly designed, sound and visual cues work together to produce an experience greater than the sum of their parts (McDonald, A Brief Timeline of Video Game Music). Unfortunately, gaming becomes more exciting when the auditory sound matches the pace and energy level of the visual image.
The game “Tetris” ,which has used the auditory cues in order to mention the player that the time was running out, can be shown as an example. I have chosen computer gaming as a multimedia systems environment and therefore I have briefly outlined the key issues of audio and sound usage in computer games and its advantages within the concept of its users. As it has been clearly stated above, sound enhances the gaming interface incredibly. It is likely to be unthinkable to play computer games without the various advantages of sound. It is a fact that sound brings the interface one step closer to reality in gaming platforms.
In this part of the assignment, I will be talking about the Microsoft Outlook 2003 and some of its new features which can be considered as “enhancing the interface” in the context of its typical users. Microsoft Office Outlook can be defined as a personal information manager and communication program that gives you a unified place to manage e-mail, calendars, contacts, and other personal and team information (Microsoft Office Outlook 2003, 2005). Outlook 2003 introduces the first considerable change in its user interface since Outlook 97.
The aim of this change is to make the interface easier for new users to find key features and for all users to spend less time while managing their e-mails. One of the most important features that this big change has brought along is the desktop alert facility. This feature has improved on the New e-mail message alert. The desktop alert fades in subtly with the sender’s name, subject, and a short text preview, so you can immediately see whether the new message is urgent, should be marked for follow-up, or can be safely ignored without interrupting your work in another program (Microsoft Office Outlook 2003, 2005).
The Desktop Alert contains the buttons which are to open, flag, or delete the e-mail message. As Buxton (1989) says that “we are all visually disabled at various times”; if the vision channel of a human being is over loaded ” we are impaired in our ability to assimilate information through the eyes”. It is possible to not to notice an e-mail if you have been sitting in front of the computer for hours. The desktop alert feature can be an extreme advantage in situations like above.
Additionally, if your organization uses Microsoft Windows SharePoint Services or Microsoft SharePoint Portal Server to store and manage documents on a Web site, you can receive an e-mail notification when content on the Web site changes (Microsoft Office Outlook 2003, 2005). Alerts will notify you from changes to the documents, list items, surveys, or even search results, in order to make you more effective by easily staying up-to-date with relevant information.
As well as that, you can also create alerts for lists and libraries, as well as for individual items. It is also possible to specify what kind of changes you would want to be notified of. For example, you can receive a warning when a file is added or deleted (Microsoft Office Outlook 2003, 2005). In order to summarize, Microsoft Outlook 2003, seems to have the potential to be a good product in the context of its new improved user interface. I believe most of the users will find it excellent in terms of the user interface.