Carleton University

The Human Oriented Technology Lab (HOT Lab) is a unique university-based Human Computer Interaction (HCI) research and training facility that fosters interdisciplinary research, education and training to improve interactive technologies for human endeavors. It was established in 1978 and is, to the best of our knowledge, one of the oldest HCI labs residing in a psychology department in North America.


The HOT Lab is equipped with excellent technical facilities, allowing innovative advanced research. We house fully equipped usability labs and computer supported collaborative work (CSCW) labs including observation rooms with video cameras, audio-video editing equipment, eye tracking devices and touch-sensitive smartboards. This facility supports extensive research in the following areas:

  • Affective User Interface design: the relationship between aesthetics, emotion, trust, risk, and cognition/human performance.
  • Decision making, creative thinking, and problem solving in a wide range of applications including medical diagnostic and prognostic decision support systems.
  • Research and development of information visualization concepts, and advanced interaction approaches such as multi-modal, multi-sensory interfaces.
  • Orientation and navigation in real and virtual worlds.
  • Task- and work environment design focusing on situation awareness, supervisory behavior, safety, human error, training and learning.
  • Research on understanding existing games and hypermedia works, with a focus in narrative, interaction, engagement, and hedonic factors.
  • Usable security, with a focus on user authentication, the role of persuasion in security interfaces, and the nature of identity theft.
  • Semiotics and literary analysis to study communication patterns in software.

Our current laboratory consists of 6 experiment rooms. Each of the experiment rooms has 2+ work stations, PCs and Macs, with both cable and wireless internet access and 2 cameras for specific test sessions. All of our cameras can make close-ups, can swivel and zoom in/out. The recorded videos/pictures can be sampled in various settings: numerous picture-in-picture combinations, as well as different sizes and formats can be produced.

Carleton building
Our building. The new HCI Building was added to our existing facilities in February 2007. It houses a multitude of labs that will be equipped with physiological data collection & analysis equipment, advanced audio- and video recording and analysis equipment, portable usability labs, virtual reality simulators, and much more. Several of the labs are equipped with one-way mirrors to experiment rooms on both sides of the centrally located control rooms, enabling simultaneous monitoring of groups working on the same exercise in different labs.
Carleton video taping
Video taping. For traditional video tape analysis we use JVC audio-video analysis workstations. 

For quantitative analyses data obtained by various means, including task completion, error frequency and user behaviors data collected with The Observer, are exported to Microsoft Excel and to statistical analysis programs such as SPSS. Applications such as E-Prime and DirectRT, form a suite of application allowing data collection, accurate to the millisecond, through data handling and processing of reaction time/response time data. These programs also allow presentation of sound, video, images and text with the same level of precision, as well as obtaining accurate, high-speed response input from keyboards, mice, joysticks, microphones and external hardware.  

Carleton experiment room
Experiment room. The main experiment room is connected to the observation room or control room. Besides a one-way mirror, three cameras mounted to the ceiling keep track of user movements on the screen, finger movements on the keyboard and facial expression. The interactions on the monitor are captured via various screen-capture software applications.
Carleton observation room
Observation room. The observation room is equipped with The Observer workstation for video data capturing and analysis. The software is useful for studies that require the synchronization of various input streams to measure where people are looking, what they are saying and what they are doing. It is when assessments such as visual appeal, perceived usability, web site security, trust and the like are of interest.

The main experiment room houses a Tobii 1750 eye tracker and a workstation as well. The eye-tracking equipment is used for research questions requiring analysis of the users' eye movements. The output of Clearview, an eye tracking software application, includes time stamp, gaze position relative to stimuli for each eye, position in camera field of view of each eye and pupil size of each eye. This tool is useful for studies such as information visualization research and usable security research with a focus on authentication mechanisms such as graphical passwords. It helps to understand how users select passwords and the prevalence of hot spots on different images.

Human Oriented Technology Lab
Department of Psychology
Carleton University 
1125 Colonel By Drive 
Ottawa, Ontario, K1S 5B6 Canada