Combating the Corona virus: A solution for everyone

July 26, 2020
July 26, 2020 The BMS lab

Combating the Corona virus: A solution for everyone

The researchers that partook in the usability tests, led by Prof. Dr. Lisette van Gemert-Pijnen.

The worldwide outbreak of sars-cov-2 (the novel coronavirus) has changed the world. Not just through the direct impact on the health of people. Its impact on the social interactions of people is significant as well. A great search is underway to learn how to deal with the social implications. One of the pillars in this search is the ability to identify and warn potential virus carriers more quickly. An app that is being developed for the Dutch government could help with this. It uses apple’s and Google’s low power Bluetooth API for COVID-19 to anonymously gather contact data. It can then warn people that run an increased risk of infection. This occurs when they have interactions with infected individuals (Read a Dutch or English analysis). The BMS lab supported and participated in the research on the app’s usability. The lab provided the equipment, technical support and aided with the analysis.

Researchers from the department of Psychology, Health and Technology and the BMS lab conducted a week long series of tests with 48 participants. The main goal was to inventorize and advice on the usability of the – then in early Beta – app amongst groups that are vulnerable to being left behind with technological solutions. These groups consisted of people that acquired a permit of residence (“Statushouders”) and people from relatively poor social-economical-backgrounds, those with mental challenges and the elderly. Moreover, some of these groups, like the “Statushouders” and mentally challenged, would normally be less likely to be consulted and that are important to truly reach wide acceptance of the solution. Furthermore, these groups face often overlooked challenges in both their daily lives and the use of technology.

A week of study

Participants would be asked to use the app in different scenarios that aligned with the expected use of the app. Their comments, difficulties and questions would be recorded and analyzed. Eye-tracking was used to provide unique insights in the participant’s navigational- and reading behaviour. Together, the methods provide an insight in the app’s strengths and weaknesses and provided the developers with the information they needed to improve the app.

The research took a full week to execute with smartphones and recording- and eye-tracking equipment from the BMS lab. Most of the participants were able to visit the campus for the tests. Some were not. These could luckily be reached through the use of the BMS lab’s mobile lab (Experivan). It was taken on the road towards the village of Borne, where a group of mentally challenged employees of a social workplace cafe took part in the study. There the researchers observed where the challenges lie in using the app for this especially vulnerable group. A Dutch newspaper was present during the last day of testing and reported on the process. The researchers wrote a report that was used by the Dutch government to evaluate the app.

Would you like to know more?

Are you an UT researcher or student and in the process of designing a study on usability or eye-tracking? Then do not hesitate to contact the BMS lab. The lab can often provide both advice and equipment on the methodology and the use of equipment.