SBC Laboratories

The SBC Laboratories Human Factors Lab has four individual observation/subject rooms with a separate waiting room. The first three observation rooms are open to one another. Lab 1 is an office setting, lab 2 is a home setting, lab 3 is a home office setting, and lab 4 is a general lab which contains our eye tracking equipment.

We conduct many different types of usability tests for SBC Communications and its family of subsidiaries including websites, phone services (voice mail, wireless, etc.), DSL installation, and self service, phone based applications (call routers, etc.).

The lab was designed by the SBC Human Factors Group and was built by general contractors using the group's specifications. Each lab has several microphones and an intercom, 2-4 cameras, wireless headsets, and scan converters. All of this feeds into a central mixing unit which records to DVD. At this point we are recording analog video/audio to the DVD. Each lab has a one way mirror and we cover the participant side with an open blind. We have found that this helps the participants forget about the mirror and the experimenters on the other side.

For data collection, we use The Observer Video-Pro in post-test analysis using video recorded on DVD. We export the data collected to Excel, and then to SPSS when it is needed. We also use Pocket Observer with a handheld computer to conduct time and motion studies in our call centers with call center agents. Using Pocket Observer, we time key aspects of interactions pre and post the target software enhancement to quantify any associated benefits. This allows us to quickly time events using the stylus, and is less obtrusive to our call center agents. Even seconds mean a lot when you have 60k call center agents.

The observation sides of the first three labs. The rack in the left front of the picture is the audio/video distribution equipment. It lets us send any of the audio/video back and forth between the labs and their recording equipment. The rack in the left of the picture rear is our patch panel. It lets us outfit any of the labs with phone lines, DSL lines, Ethernet lines, etc. It also lets us tap a phone line and record its audio to DVD.
We are using a scan converter to record the participant's computer screen to video.

SBC Laboratories Inc.

Human Factors Group
9505 Arboretum Boulevard
Austin, TX 78759