HCI International 2011

9-14 July 2011, Hilton Orlando Bonnet Creek, Orlando, Florida, USA

T02: Cognitive Crash Dummies: Predicting Performance from Early Prototypes

Half Day Tutorial

Bonnie E. John (short bio)
Carnegie Mellon University, USA


Learn to use predictive human performance modelling to evaluate UI design ideas before implementing or even producing a running prototype.


Just as automotive crash dummies save lives by testing the physical safety of automobiles before they are brought to market, cognitive crash dummies save time, money, and potentially even lives, by allowing designers to automatically test their design ideas before implementing them. Cognitive crash dummies are models of human performance that make quantitative predictions of human behaviour on proposed systems without the expense of empirical studies on running prototypes.

This tutorial reviews the state of the art of predictive modelling and presents a tool, CogTool, which integrates rapid prototyping with modelling. Participants use their own laptops to mock-up an interactive system and create a model of skilled performance on that mock-up. The course ends with a review of other tools and a look to the future of predictive modelling.

Participants in this course will

  • Understand the state of the art and the future of predictive human performance modeling.
  • Learn to prototype using CogTool, a free software tool, make quantitative predictions of skilled execution time, and use these predictions for benchmarking, competitive analysis, and requirements setting.
  • Walk away with the skills to use CogTool on their company's projects.

Target Audience

UI Designers, usability professionals and software developers. No prior knowledge of prototyping, psychology or predictive human performance modeling is required.


Dr. Bonnie E. John, a psychologist and engineer, has more than 25 years experience in HCI. A CHI Academy member, Dr. John was the head of CMU's Masters Program in HCI for a dozen years, researches both human performance modeling and software engineering, and consults regularly in government and industry.
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