User Interfaces for Digital Television: a Navigator Case Study

Leena Eronen Helsinki University of Technology P.O.Box 9700, FI-02015 HUT Finland Tel. +358-9-451 5130 leronen Petri Vuorimaa Helsinki University of Technology P.O.Box 9700, FI-02015 HUT Finland Tel. +358-9-451 4794 Petri.Vuorimaa @
has to be positioned to the right place with the arrow keys on the remote control. The information content of the digital television and its applications has a lot of audio and video material.

Digital television user interfaces are composed of text, graphics and video. Usability issues that arise include information visualization, searching and navigation. This paper introduces two user interface prototypes for digital television. Both prototypes were tested with real users and the test results are discussed.

1.1 Aim of the Study
In this study, we wanted to design and implement new user interfaces for the digital television. We also wanted to know what features contribute to usability in digital television environment (cf. Section 2.). While implementing the new user interfaces, we took advantage of the pragmatic and action oriented approach of usability engineering [1]. Two Navigator prototypes were implemented and they are presented in Section 3. The Navigator prototypes were tested in user tests and the results are found in Section 4. The area of research included: * * Information searching in EPGs Navigation in digital television environment

Digital television, navigation. usability, user interfaces, prototypes,

Digital television is a promise of better video and audio, hundreds of channels, WWW browsing, email, games and other interactive services. The challenge of digital television is to introduce, adapt and implement the new technology for the mass TV market where both content and technology must gain consumer acceptance. Set-top box is an important part of the new technology. It gives software developers a means to develop entertaining and compelling applications for the digital television environment. Navigator is the main user interface of the digital television. Navigator is the 'system software' in set-top boxes that gives access to Electronic program guides (EPG), text TV pages and Channel information. It is also used to tune the TV channels, configure the set-top box and launch applications like WWW browser and email client. The idea of a 'system software' resembles the personal computer. However, there are three main areas where the digital television is different from the personal computer. These are the display technology, the input device and the information content. In digital television, the TV screen is designed for displaying moving images to be looked at from a distance. Unlike the personal computer, the TV screen is not good at displaying detailed images. The remote control is an interaction device that can not be used to point at an arbitrary object on the TV screen. The cursor
Permission to make digital or hand oopie of all or part of this work for personal or classroom use is granted without fee provided that copies are not made or distributed for profit or commercial advantage, and that copies bear this notice and the full citation on the first page. To copy otherwise, to republish, to post on servers or to redistribute to lists, requires prior specific permission and/or a fee. AVI 2000, Palermo, Italy. © 2000 ACM 1-58113-252-2/00/0005..$5.00

Conclusion and discussion are found in Section 5. Some important areas of digital television research are not included in this study. For example, research on the interactive applications taking advantage of the return path or information searching in large video-on-demand services are not included.

Users of the digital television have both entertainment and information search oriented tasks. Usability research of the digital television is needed for many reasons: • User's needs vary from passive content viewing for relaxation to more specific information searching. The user should be able to switch back and forth between channel surfing, text TV pages, EPG information and Navigator views. The user should be able to launch applications like banking, WWW browser and email. The digital television should support both individual use and working in groups as TV watching often takes place in a family. • An average user is not interested in interaction with technology. He is interested in watching TV: "What's on tonight at 21.30"? The user interface should be simple and intuitive, as the main use of the digital television will be for entertainment. • Users are a heterogeneous user group. It is estimated that about 15 % of the European population has a disability, including difficulties due to old age. Within three decades, about a third of the population will be over 60 years. The digital television should support users with varying physical and cognitive skills and abilities.


within the interactive applications and the switch from one application into another. A subset of TV channel broadcast and the SI data constitute a multiplex (MUX). video. and multiple selections can be visualized at the same time. 18:30 r Well Woman 18:55 19:30 The Wings Of The Dove Cricket: CGU National Le. PROTOTYPES AND TEST METHODS Two Navigator prototypes were implemented for the purposes of the study. A simple access to information services should be provided: TV programming information. 20:10 v Tiny Time: Dappledown E. As stated in Section 1.. as the movement of the cursor can be seen instantly on the TV screen. The implementations were done with the aid of a multimedia authoring program Macromedia Director that was run on Windows 95/98/NT computer. 277 .... The TV programming information is taken from the DVB (Digital Video Broadcasting) Service Information (SI) data fields [4].e. The Navigator is often confused with EPG. Channel information). 2. In our approach. According to this study. Channel Up/Down buttons are used in approximately 52% of the remote control button presses. EPG is included in the Navigator as one of the applications. whereas EPG has information for several days ahead. a graphical designer and a multimedia programmer. the navigation must be redesigned as well. The prototypes were accessed with a remote control. All information searching should be easy and natural. approximately 77% of TV viewers hold the remote control in one hand and press the buttons with a thumb [2]..he digital television should maintain the familiar living room TV experience.. 17:00 v Liverpool v Manchester U. 22:30 v Grotbags Jake's Progress Heart Beat Secrets Of World War U 1 23:10 r Collectors' Corner (a) (b) Figure 1.. navigation and scrolling is based on the remote control.. advertising.. At the moment... When either functionality or content of the user interface changes. Navigation can not be designed independently from the two...1 Prototypes As discussed in Section 1. (b) Quick guide. The output was shown on a TV screen with the aid of SCART connector to a graphics card.and digits (0-9) are used in approximately 19% and 17% of the remote control button presses respectively [3]. the input device and the information content are different from the personal computer. The data indicates that the remote control for the digital television should support the 'thumb navigation'. Channel 4 ( o k ) . This is in contrast to personal computers where large information structures 3. The estimated workload for prototype implementations and the user tests was 12 man months. The cursor movement with arrow keys completed with the "ok" key is the most intuitive type of navigation.. the Navigator is the main user interface of the digital television. The Navigator provides information about the current and next available TV shows (i. The prototypes were tested with real users. product offerings and various other services. The prototypes included an 8-day television programming information database of 12 TV channels and 12 live TV shows which were simulated with the aid of short videoclips. The infrared signals were sent to an infrared signal receiver and further translated for Macromedia Director.. this tow-budget gem of a movie (22:00 stars Sissy Spacek as Carolyn and Nick Nolle as her hush. There are three types of remote control buttons in use: • • • arrow keys (Up/Down/Left/Right) and "ok" key color keys (Red/Green/Yellow/Blue) digits (0-9) 3. Based on the 21:00 autobiography of artist and 21:45 writer Carolyn Casstdy. the display technology.1 Navigation and Scrolling in digital Television Navigation and scrolling in digital television is different from the personal computers and the traditional GUIs. i. Volume +/."I. It is therefore concluded that navigation is part of the functionality and content.remind. the most important activity is to surf the channels. Heart Beat. Prototype A: (a) Main menu. sports statistics. Prototype A and Prototype B were implemented in a three-member team which included a usability engineer. As the TV screen is not good at displaying detailed images. the amount of information in sight must be decreased. At present. Navigation and scrolling takes place in the channel surfing.

20. (a)). Prototype A or Prototype B. all TV programming information is shown in lists. it is faster and easier to read than a grid. There was an assumption that the user wants to stay in one appfication while browsing the television programming information. 3. The tasks represented users' information needs from everyday life: 1. Movie called "Chain Reaction" starts on "Movie" channel tomorrow at 00. a remote control. The applications are selected and activated with the arrow keys and the "ok" key on the remote control. six tests show 90 percent of the usability bugs in an average user interface. "Please explain what you see at the moment" and "Please explain how the system works as a whole". "Down" and "Up" are activated with the color keys on the remote. Quick guide and TV program types. a PC. The three buttons "Back". As the tasks were completed. there is no live TV show in Prototype B. 1. user preferences and development ideas were collected in a brief discussion. What's on in " W S O Y " channel at the moment? 2. Fig. The main design idea in Prototype B was efficiency. When the user changes a Channel or a Type value from the four color keys on the remote.00. Fig. a list takes less space on the TV screen than a grid. (a)). The Main menu is activated with the "Navig" button on the remote control. they felt they were testing digital television applications rather than a PC. the program information is updated on the left. In your opinion. As the test users were dealing with a remote control and a TV set. A live TV show can be seen on the upper left comer. an infrared signal receiver. the television programming information is available in three applications: Channels. The number of user tests was kept small (six) as it is known that a small number of tests can catch the majority of user interface problems. a video camera and a microphone. 2. Our aim was to test which of the two user interface approaches. (b) The main design idea in Prototype A was simplicity. which o f the movies is more inleresting ? Why ? Half of the users started with Prototype A and the other half with the Prototype B. The Quick guide gives information about individual programs (cf. 1. Please take a look at the program information o f both movies. In our opinion. 2.2 User Tests The user test setup included a TV set.(a) Figure 2. is more applicable i n d i g i t a l television environment. The TV set was placed on a table and the PC was hidden from the view. this information is available in one application. None of the users had taken technology related courses in universities or had any other training in the field. the TV screen is not good at displaying detailed images. It is accessed from the Main menu (cf. starts a movie called "Weekly Western" on "TV2" channel. In Prototype B. Video recordings and notes were made during each test. the Program guide. Our test users were under 25 years old: two women. As stated in Section 2. The selections "This channel" and "All channels" both open up a view into the Program guide (cf. You want to see a movie. (b)). Therefore we decided not to use the popular 'grid' layout common in existing EPGs and past research done in the area [5]. the program information is updated on the list. The list is scrollable. In both prototypes. Fig. A think-aloud evaluation protocol was used to provide insight into the user's intentions. Short questions were made during each test: "'Please explain how you got to this page". A t almost the same time.¢pes. What's on in "City T V " channel tomorrow at 21. According to a study [6]. Prototype B: (a) Main menu. There was an assumption that the user wants to complete one task at a time and the number of selections on the TV screen should be kept to a minimum. three men and two children (which made the test together). The Program guide gives information about individual programs. 278 " . (b) Program guide.15? 3. (b)). at 23. In your opinion. The list is scrollable. These are accessed from the Main menu (cf. what is the most interesting sports program the day after tomorrow? 4. Every user was given four short tasks to be completed with both protoV. Also. When the user moves the focus on the list on the right hand side. In Prototype A. Fig. Unlike Prototype A. The Date value is changed with "Left" and "Right" arrow keys on the remote.

students Juha Vierinen and Wesa Aapro. Massachussetts. Ferrier C.. For Prototype B. the amount of information in sight in Program guide must be decreased. 5. users did not like to switch the navigation from arrow keys to color keys and back. Sep 14-18 1995.. the four color keys were in connection with the user interface colors.Sc. 5. the users should not be forced to form mental models of the applications they use. REFERENCES [1] Nielsen. and Productivity. The huge amount of sites (applications) makes it difficult for the user to recall the multiple sites. The user tries to eliminate the links that seem obviously wrong and pick the ones that are left. It was not possible to conclude which of the two prototypes was more efficient to use or had a better usability.-E. users do not form mental models of the sites they have visited.. but it made users hesitant to try the color keys. This turned out to be true. and Tazine N. http://www. According to users. What features contribute to usability when the amount of applications grows? In a way. 1997. Schroeder W. An interesting topic for future research is the user's navigation between multiple applications. [6] Landauer T.. second printing. Boston. In general. 279 .. 1997. based on the information in sight at a given moment. Living room culture . 413. The prototypes were tested with real users and the test results were discussed. The user interface should give enough hints for the user and an instant feedback. Web Site Usability: A Designer's Guide. [7] Spool J. of Helsinki University of Technology for their efforts in creating the two prototypes. IEE Conference Publication No. Usability. Proceedings of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society. All users read the texts on the TV screen carefully. Jourdan anthropological study of television usage behaviors. the user is forced to navigate "in the moment". The authors would also like to thank their other colleagues from the Future TV project for valuable comments on prototype designs and the test users for participating in the user tests. and it can not be designed independently from the two. J. Two Navigator prototypes were designed and implemented. In Prototype A. Oct 24-28 1994.L. as the Program guide was difficult to use when the user wanted to change the Date and Channel values. Design of simplified television remote controls: a case for behavioral and emotional usability. Massachussetts Institute of Technology. MA. In user interfaces..1 Discussion Results of this study are used in the design and implementation of future Navigator prototypes. Based on this data. the Quick guide was users' favourite application as it was very simple to use. H.. Neither of the prototypes was faster to use than the other. You can change a channel'.. ACKNOWLEDGMENTS The authors would like to express their appreciation for M. According to a study [7]. If this is the case. Oct 9-13 1995. it is assumed that TV viewers will utilise the "eliminate and pick" navigation style for television environment as the number of applications grows. Usability Engineering. It was also supposed that Prototype B will be efficient to use but hard to learn. Augaitis S. this resembles the WWW environment where every WWW site can be considered a separate application. J.. the change of Date and Channel values should be easier as it was very difficult for many users to change these values. chapters 1-3. The amount of applications was not a problem for the users as the simple Main menu helped them to found the information they were looking The Trouble With Computers: Usefulness. This was not true. 1995. The users liked scrolling in program listings except when the list was very long. User Interface Engineering. Augaltis S. Miller R. and Renk T. Snyder C. In Prototype A. Also. 'This is where you see what's on in which channel.A guideline for the use of the DVB specifications and standards.4. navigation is considered a part of the functionality and content.. It must be stated though that the users were delighted in the presence of the live TV show and the simple application designs in Prototype A. The users also wanted to see a general picture of the available TV shows.W... They examined the arrow keys before considering the color keys. and TV program types. This also turned out to be true. Therefore it is concluded that both approaches had their strengths.. It is anticipated that there is two things that can be done to make the prototypes faster to use: for Prototype A. chapter 13. we wanted to design and implement new user interfaces for the digital television.. CONCLUSION In this study.. the television programming information was available in three applications: Channels. According to users. K. AP Professional. Without a mental model. RESULTS The general result from user testing the Navigator prototypes was t h a t the users were not so interested in finding some specific information on the TV screen. European Telecommunication Standardization Institute (ETSI). [3] Logan R. the number of applications available in the Main menu must be decreased. M. Some users preferred Prototype A over Prototype B as it included the live TV show. Quick guide. [2] Logan R. It was supposed that Prototype A will be fast and easy to use. and Wehmeyer K. 'You don't want to lose what you were watching at'..ebu. Proceedings of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society 38th Annual Meeting. 1994. J. Digital Video Broadcasting (DVB) . Scanlon T. The presence of the live TV show was one of the reasons for some users to say that 'Prototype A was more like TV and Prototype B was more like PC'. and they were equally fast to use. Users spent 22 minutes on the average on the tasks with both prototypes A and B. and DeAngelo T.htm [5] Cooper R.. they would have liked to browse through the alternatives. User interface for multichannel television. Instead. every digital television application should support user's navigation "in the moment". In users' opinion.. The area of research was restricted to information searching in EPGs and navigation in digital television environment. [4] ETSI TR 101 200. Instead.