News 1998 Army Science and Technology Master Plan

13. Human Systems Interface

Human systems interface (HSI) technologies leverage and extend the capabilities of warfighters and maintainers to ensure that fielded systems will exploit the fullest potential of the warfighting team. The primary goal is to maximize information throughput from sensors, processors and displays to warfighters. HSI technologies are organized into four subareas: information management and display (IMD), performance aiding, system supportability, and design integration.

Most developed nations have significant research efforts in HSI. Interest in this area is driven by multiple requirements, including the need for improved presentation of information to match human cognition and improved representation of human performance to improve realism and fidelity of CGFs and "actors" in both simulations and operational systems. Important trends in foreign technology are summarized in Table E–16, and additional information on each technology subarea are discussed in the following paragraphs.

Table E–16.  International Research Capabilities—Human Systems Interface


United Kingdom




Asia/Pacific Rim


Other Countries

Information Management & Display 1s.gif (931 bytes) VRIs; soldier–system interface 1s.gif (931 bytes) Display; soldier–system interface 1s.gif (931 bytes) Soldier–system interface 1s.gif (931 bytes) Displays; VR; robotics     Israel

5s.gif (958 bytes) HMD


1s.gif (931 bytes) VR display

Performance Aiding 1s.gif (931 bytes) HPM 1s.gif (931 bytes) Ergonomics; performance modeling 1s.gif (931 bytes) HPM       Israel, Sweden, Netherlands

4s.gif (949 bytes) Human performance measures

System Supportability   1s.gif (931 bytes) Ergonomics          
Design Integration 1s.gif (931 bytes) Performance modeling 1s.gif (931 bytes) Performance modeling 1s.gif (931 bytes) Performance modeling 4s.gif (949 bytes) Automated industry/enterprise design      
Note: See Annex E, Section A.6 for explanation of key numerals.


a. Information Management and Display

IMD develops methods and media to process and deliver task–critical information to individuals, teams, and organizations. Maximizing the flow of information depends on developing time–sensitive, supportable information handling and display components that serve as visual and auditory HSI for both weapons and support systems. Developing simulation interfaces is another area of keen interest. Simulations must be of sufficient fidelity to enhance mission planning and to permit diagnostic examination of emerging technologies and concepts. Model development is an important aspect of this work.

The major problem is that vast amounts of information, ranging from low to high degrees of certainty and veracity, threaten to overwhelm the human capacity to monitor, query, and act upon. Technical challenges include:

Improve alerting, warning, situational awareness, and identification of friend or foe (IFF)

Improve techniques for data fusion data using visual, auditory, and tactile displays

Develop individual VR displays

Improve voice recognition for computer control in the battlefield environment

Improve communications links for teleoperation, communications, and display.

A number of foreign countries have significant capabilities in HSI technologies. The United States has ongoing efforts with France and Germany in soldier–system interfaces, especially related to teleoperations. The U.K. has noteworthy capabilities in soldier–system interfaces, and VR interfaces (VRIs), and Canada in VR and HMDs. Israel also has unique expertise in HMDs. Japan is a leader in displays, VR, and robotics, all of which are needed for teleoperations.

b. Performance Aiding

The goals of performance aiding technologies are to enable soldiers to operate well beyond normal mental, physical, and perceptual capabilities, and to enhance performance in stressful, hazardous, time–constrained, inhospitable, and remote environments. Areas of particular interest include computer–aided crisis management decision support, unmanned robotic vehicles, and mobile manipulator platform control. In addition, concepts for battlefield synchronization, on–the–move collaborative techniques, real–time decision making, and visualization for distributed problem solving are becoming increasingly important.

Technical challenges related to decision aiding and collaborative aiding include better understanding of the mechanisms of complex decision making and team collaboration, devising reliable diagnostic and performance measures, and developing models and methods to understand the internal and external motivating factors. Key elements are workload, uncertainty, coordination strategies, and real–time structural reconfiguration needs. Real–time, on–the–move C2 is an essential element.

Physical and perceptual aiding, including teleoperations, faces difficult challenges in computer–assisted map storage, retrieval, and reading, as well as developing practical–sized designs for powered exoskeletal machines to be worn by soldiers and controlled by kinematic sensors. This would allow significantly increased capabilities for lifting, carrying, and mobility. Another important area related to teleoperation is providing stabilized systems that can operate in mixed–terrain without losing their balance. To aid in perception, technologies that provide textural, shape, color, and stereo effects for information presentation are needed.

The overall challenge in HSI is integrating the various aids into working systems and platforms.

Human performance modeling is a critical factor in meeting future Army requirements. Such modeling contributes to enhanced soldier–system battlefield performance through low–risk, quick–turnaround simulation, permitting rapid assessment of proposed systems concepts. Human performance modeling ranges from anthropometric models of impulse and acoustic detection by the human ear, through cognitive and physical workload assessment, up to decision making under stress. France is recognized as a key international source for cooperative research in these aspects of HSI. Negotiations are underway with France on auditory research and ergonomics issues. The U.K. and Germany also have very strong capabilities in human performance modleing, and to a lesser but still significant extent, Israel, Netherlands and Sweden all have capabilities.

c. System Supportability

System supportability includes improving affordability, availability, operability, maintainability, and logistical supply to reduce life–cycle support costs. The Army must be able to provide early estimates of manpower, personnel, and training (MPT) as well as associated human performance requirements and costs for HSI, so they can be fed into the acquisition and design process. The set of manpower and personnel integration (MANPRINT) methods and tools are key elements in this effort. The goal is to have validated techniques that are robust enough to permit quantitative tradeoff analyses among various MPT variables and design options. This will allow decision makers to examine variations in systems performance as a function of MPT investment.

The increasing complexity of weapon systems makes it increasingly difficult to support those systems with personnel who can effectively operate and maintain them. Research is needed to determine the limits of attention saturation, mental workload, and manpower utilization in order to balance soldier resources and requirements with emerging technologies. This is essential to maintaining full military readiness, availability, sustainability, and effectiveness.

No specific foreign capabilities have been identified in support of this subarea, however, the cooperative effort with France mentioned above, related to ergonomics is directly related. The French are sharing modern ergonomic performance measuring instrumentation and techniques while the U.S. is sharing its MANPRINT suite of soldier–system performance enhancement tools.

d. Design Integration

Developing and producing a fully integrated crew weapon or information system demands effective design tools, HSI models and databases, and performance metrics. Human–system performance and cost variables must be part of the design process. Technology capabilities are required in human performance assessment and modeling, tools for enhancing physical accommodation, methods for human error and reliability assessment, and tools for crew station design and testing. Major technical challenges include:

Managing the magnitude of existing and emerging anthropometric and human–system accommodation databases

Modeling and predicting complex human behavior

Simulating and quantifying battlefield effects on human mobility, sustainability, and performance

Integrating the diverse and fragmented technical disciplines required

The lack of industry or government standards and methodologies for HSI and crew system integration

Integrating human performance algorithms into semiautomated and fully automated forces simulation.

The MANPRINT efforts will play an important role in the design integration subarea. Foreign capabilities are similar to the IMD subarea described above. The U.K., France, and Germany offer the most capabilities in terms of performance modeling. Some of the world–class work that Japan is doing in automating industry and enterprise design may be applicable to the challenging aspects of integrating system–of–systems.

AMC POC: Dr. Rodney Smith
Army Materiel Command
5001 Eisenhower Blvd.
Alexandria, VA 22333–0001

IPOC: Dr. Stephen L. Goldberg
Chief, Army Research Institute’s Simulation Systems Research Unit
12350 Research Parkway
Orlando, FL 32826–3276

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