The human factors of automatic speech recognition in control room systems

  • Christopher Baber

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


This thesis addresses the viability of automatic speech recognition for control room systems; with careful system design, automatic speech recognition (ASR) devices can be useful means for human computer interaction in specific types of task. These tasks can be defined as complex verbal activities, such as command and control, and can be paired with spatial tasks, such as monitoring, without detriment. It is suggested that ASR use be confined to routine plant operation, as opposed the critical incidents, due to possible problems of stress on the operators' speech.
 It is proposed that using ASR will require operators to adapt a commonly used skill to cater for a novel use of speech. Before using the ASR device, new operators will require some form of training. It is shown that a demonstration by an experienced user of the device can lead to superior performance than instructions. Thus, a relatively cheap and very efficient form of operator training can be supplied by demonstration by experienced ASR operators. From a series of studies into speech based interaction with computers, it is concluded that the interaction be designed to capitalise upon the tendency of operators to use short, succinct, task specific styles of speech.
From studies comparing different types of feedback, it is concluded that operators be given screen based feedback, rather than auditory feedback, for control room operation. Feedback will take two forms: the use of the ASR device will require recognition feedback, which will be best supplied using text; the performance of a process control task will require task feedback integrated into the mimic display. This latter feedback can be either textual or symbolic, but it is suggested that symbolic feedback will be more beneficial.
Related to both interaction style and feedback is the issue of handling recognition errors. These should be corrected by simple command repetition practices, rather than use error handling dialogues. This method of error correction is held to be non intrusive to primary command and control operations. This thesis also addresses some of the problems of user error in ASR use, and provides a number of recommendations for its reduction.
Date of AwardAug 1990
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorRobert Stammers (Supervisor)


  • human factors automatic speech recognition
  • process control
  • feedback
  • training

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