Heuristic Evaluation of the Kinesis Module from Dead Space (An exercise in HCI concepts)

Overview:

The kinesis module from the popular video game Dead Space (and it’s sequels) is one of the few instances of a telekinesis system that has been designed as a plausible way to equip humans with the power of thought control. In the game, the main character comes upon the module early on in their adventure, and is expected to use their new telekinetic powers to solve puzzles and defeat enemies.

Image

The kinesis module from Dead Space.

I decided to use this product mainly because there are few telekinetic devices on the market today, and this is one of the more thought out examples that exists.

Evaluation:

  1. Visibility of System Status – 0

When the device is in use, there is a visible “beam” that points out where and what the user will be using their telekinesis on. This is coupled with a reticule incorporated into the user’s HUD, which allows for easy targeting of objects.

The visible telekinetic “beam” -From Moby Games

  1. Match between System and Real World – 0

Though there is little for a user to be able to compare such a revolutionary device to, I feel that the system does work as a user would expect, with a simple “point and click” style of operation.

  1. User Control and Freedom – 0

The user is completely free to activate the device and use it on anything they wish. They are also able to easily shut off the device with the simple push of a button. The user is always in control of the telekinetic field, able to easily guide it with their hand.

  1. Consistency and Standards – 2

Though there is little way to be consistent with standards, since there are currently none for such devices, it seems that the device works similarly to how users believe that it should. Using only a simple on/off switch, coupled with smart targeting by the system’s AI, controlling the device is almost like using a remote control or a video game motion controller.

  1. Error Prevention – 2

The system does not really prevent users from picking up objects they shouldn’t, putting objects where they shouldn’t, or really any sort of trouble that might occur from use of the device. However, the AI included in the system can be used to help prevent some common issues, like prevention of trying to attract objects that are too large, or seem to be structurally necessary.

  1. Recognition Rather than Recall – 0

The controls are simple and natural enough that users can easily pick them up upon use, even for the first time.

  1. Flexibility and Efficiency of Use – 1

The device has little to no customization, but is simple enough that mastery comes quickly, and the only real advancement that users can gain is in the skill of use, not system management.

  1. Aesthetic and Minimalist Design – 0

The UI is extremely minimal, consisting of a single targeting reticule. Activation of the device is controlled by a simple button press, stored in either an application menu, or as a part of the HUD.

  1. Help Users Recognize, Diagnose, and Recover from Errors – 2

There is little the system does to inform the user if they have done something wrong. Though there is not much that can go wrong with the system itself, if the targeting is off or malfunctioning, the system simply won’t activate on the item, with no explanation as to why.

  1. Help and Documentation – 2

There is little in the way of help included on the system, though manuals do exist, and can be obtained.

Conclusions:

The Kinesis Module is a relatively good attempt to make telekinetic powers simple and easy to use. By simplifying the controls down to familiar actions, and including an advanced targeting system, the creators have made a relatively complex procedure into a basic task that any user can perform.

The really useful part of the system is the AI targeting, that helps the user avoid getting into too much trouble with the device. By evaluating the environment, the system attempts to determine if a targeted object can (or should) be target for moving, and either allows or prevents the user from performing the action on that object. This can be a negative thing, though, as the AI is never perfect, and sometimes does not allow users to move something that they should be able to.

Overall, this system is a very solid way to easily allow almost any user to utilize the telekinetic effect of a system. By distilling the amount of controls down to just an on and off button and a pointing of the device, users already know how to use it, and are able to quickly pick up and utilize the device’s full potential. The minimalist design of the UI and controls overall make it a bit hard to customize the system for advanced users, but the ease of use mostly makes up for this small exclusion.

This evaluation has really provided a great look at a successful implementation of a relatively complex idea, and has shown that telekinesis can be utilized by almost anyone. By making our device simple and familiar to control, I believe that we can truly capitalize on this breakthrough technology, and make the telekinetic portion of the IRIS device just as functional as the Kinesis Module.

Reference List:

Video of device in use: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-qS4LDoJaUA

Module information complied on the wiki page: http://deadspace.wikia.com/wiki/Kinesis_Module

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