Human Performance Laboratory,
Faculty of Environment and Information Studies,
Keio University

To Experimentally Verify Various Human Performance from Psychological and Physical Aspects Using a Variety of Evaluation Methods
UC-win/Road Introduced for Research on Driving, Linked with Eye Movement Recording and Motion Analysis etc.

Human Performance Laboratory,
Faculty of Environment
and Information Studies,
Keio University
Location: Fujisawa-shi, Kanagawa
Research and development contents:
To verify a wide range of human
performance by a variety of
evaluation methods based on
ergonomics and sport psychology

Takaaki Kato, Associate Professor,
Faculty of Environment and
Information Studies, Keio University

"Our laboratory (Human Performance Laboratory <HPL>)" has been studying (diverse) human performance by obtaining data through (measurement of) eye movement, motion analysis, and measurement of other biological reactions based on sport psychology and ergonomics."

In general, each of seminars in a university has an overall theme determined in advance. Students divide the theme accordingly and do research focusing on the specialized themes for each of them. In contrast, Takaaki Kato, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Faculty of Environment and Information Studies, Keio University says that in HPL he leads, students decide the themes they want to study with a wide-ranging human performance as the target, and that they proceed individual studies using available methods freely in the seminars. In other words, students think of their theses, design study policies, and practice them at their discretion, as he describes its unique aspect.

Former captain of Keio University baseball club and having played in the minor league under MLB Chicago Cubs, Associate Professor Kato has been specializing in sport as his main special field. As part of this, he studied on "the difference between good players and bad players" from the viewpoint of expertise in sport psychology, and paid attention to possibility of expanding such method to the field of driving. When a student with knowledge about this field (who already graduated) joined HPL, the idea of Associate Professor Kato started to materialize. He felt his way toward preparation of the research foundation needed for this.

Further, in the process of making research with focus on the human side during driving at full swing through joint research with external researchers and researches by students in HPL, it was required to build up a more advanced simulator environment. Following this, they introduced two products of FORUM8 last autumn: a driving simulator (DS) based on the three-dimensional real-time VR "UC-win/Road", and "Oculus Rift Plug-In" that realizes more highly qualified driving simulation by improving immersion into 3D spaces. He says that he would like to utilize research methods they have been fostering in HPL including these in the future, and make clear drivers' performance depending on every sort of situations.

 SFC to Realize Spirit of Jitsugaku

It takes about 20 min. by bus from Shonandai Station to Keio University Shonan Fujisawa Campus (SFC), after threading its way through business and residential areas. Beyond the bus stop is the vast and gently undulating site, where uniquely designed buildings, each of which named after letters of the Greek alphabet and composes SFC, are functionally laid out.

The origin of Keio University goes back to a school for Dutch studies established by Yukichi Fukuzawa in 1858. In 1890, Keio University established a college with three departments (as the first private general university), and started in 1920 as the first private university under the University Ordinance. Keio Univ. is currently organized by 10 Faculties of Letters, Economics, Law, Business and Commerce, Medicine, Science and Technology, Policy Management, Environment and Information Studies, Nursing and Medical Care, and Pharmacy; and 14 Graduate Schools of Letters, Economics, Law, Human Relations, Business and Commerce, Medicine, Science and Technology, Media and Governance, Health Management, Pharmaceutical Sciences, Business Administration, System Design and Management, Media Design, and law; and so on. With more than 2,200 full-time faculty members covering over 33,000 students in undergraduate and graduate courses altogether, Keio Univ. performs educational and research activities at 6 campuses including SFC and at Mita, Hiyoshi, Yagami, Shinanomachi, and Shiba-Kyoritsu, as well as plural town and city campuses.

SFC was established in 1990 in the form of reflecting the spirit of Jitsugaku (scientific approach to solving issues by thinking critically in order to reveal the empirical truth) that has been taken over continuously since its foundation and embodying the spirit. SFC aims to "resolve problems by integrating technology, science, design, and policy" across existing academic schemes, for the society that is diversifying and getting complicated.

SFC is home to three Faculties of Policy Management, Environment and Information Studies, and Nursing and Medical Care; and two Graduate Schools of Media and Governance and Health Management. The total number of undergraduate and graduate students in SFC is about 5,000 altogether, and the number of full-time faculty members about 140 (as of May 2017).

 Stance of Faculty of Environment and Information Studies and Unique Approach of Seminars

Faculty of Environment and Information Studies was established in 1990 along with that of Policy Management at the time of opening SFC. They were set up based on the idea that they would learn various things together in an interdisciplinary style by removing the wall between exiting disciplines. The division of roles was planned that the former covers the contents of science courses and the latter humanities courses relatively.

"Faculty of Environment and Information Studies is apt to be considered to have natural environment as its theme from its name." However, since both Faculties have the same curriculum in common and allow students to learn by going to and fro freely between the two Faculties, in reality there are little difference between the two once the students enter the Univ., as Associate Professor Kato says. From a viewpoint of "affordance" in psychology, considering not only natural environment but also what surrounds people "environment", the Faculty's mission is to learn about "information" that forms the foundation of human behavior in the said "environment", and to lead it to solving problems, as he says.

Under the consistent philosophy of SFC "to create new learning to open up a new era" and "to do research that passes muster in the world over", both Faculties introduced Self-recommended admissions (A.O. Nyushi in Japanese) as early as their establishment before others did. In addition, they started GIGA program from 2011, which allows students to acquire creative and governance ability in the field of ICT (information and communication technology) to be able to deal with global problems in English only.

Associate Professor Kato mentions the style of the above-mentioned seminars, which is different from seminars of other universities etc. as the greatest characteristics of SFC. Great importance is attached on research activities for fostering practical problem-solving ability through collaboration with external organizations and active approaches on the students' own. Their research fields are diverse, and it is possible for students from both Faculties and from freshmen to take part in the associations. Moreover, the relationship between faculty members and students as equal partners is also unique, intended to pursue advanced research activities and specialization.

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Research contents in HPL (Human Performance Laboratory)

 Evaluation Method to Characterize HPL and Diverse Researches

HPL, which studies various issues about human performance in a wide range of domains from psychological and physical aspects, verifies human activities experimentally by approaches based on sport psychology and ergonomics.

The methods taken there are divided largely into the "subjective evaluation method" and the "objective evaluation method". The former compares and make data on human's subjective views through questionnaires and interviews, and the latter obtain biological reactions and behavior that the subject cannot be conscious of such as eye movements and biological signals as data.

The latter is a concept that Professor Emeritus Tadahiko Fukuda, former teacher of Associate Professor Kato advocated, and also a method to characterizes HPL as a seminar. For example, in representing a situation hard to describe verbally, such as the one in which "the body reacts spontaneously", as often said in sport communities, the viewpoint movements of experts and ordinary people are measured. Effectiveness of discussion on the skills and knacks of experts based on the difference was expected.

Furthermore, since environment concerned with human performance includes a wide range of things and human relations etc., research targets of HPL also range widely from sport to art, business, and human relationship. Among them, great importance is attached on appropriate utilization of above-mentioned kinds of evaluation methods. In particular, reflecting the stance of SFC that attach weight on using cutting-edge ICT, students who take part in HPL are required to freely use the technology for measuring eye movements and biological signals as well as for movement analysis such as motion capture.

Every year about 50 students take part in HPL including several graduate students with undergraduate students from both Faculty as its core. Half of the students belong to athletic clubs such as of baseball, volleyball, figure skating, and automobile driving, aiming at leading the research in HPL to improvement of their own performance.

In January this year, NTT started a sports brain science project of searching for ways of training brains to support "mind" and "skill" to win by integrating a research approach of brain science with advanced ICT. In collaboration between the Baseball clubs of Tokyo University and Keio University, Associate Professor Kato, who also serves as Deputy director, Keio University Athletic Association, is leading the endeavor of Keio's side. Moreover, He cooperated in academic terms with "21_21 DESIGN SIGHT Exhibition 'ATHLETE'" held from Feb to June this year, supporting an attempt to connect art and athletes.

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Verifying human behavior by approaches using sport psychology and ergonomics

 Possibilities to Expand Through Linking UC-win/Road DS with Methods Owned by HPL

As mentioned at the beginning, since Associate Professor Kato originally specialized in human performance through sports, he developed the research field into the automobile field by utilizing the methods accumulated in HPL. In that process, there was an increase in needs to build up a simulator environment as close as the reality without spending much cost.

Then a few years ago, they developed a simple simulator by connecting a racing game for PC to a projector. It was difficult to create an original course at that time, so they used data created and published by the users of the game the world over. Consequently, both of the course and vehicle behavior were based on the specifications for racing. Then they were faced with restrictions in simulation, which assumes general vehicles. This made them to search for what realizes the simulator environment usable for experiments and was capable of creating courses as easily as possible.

In the field of drivers, teachers in other universities had already achieved a plenty of results in researches in relation to vision such as eyeball movement since Prof. Kato was a student. Thus, he was thinking that he should not step into the field. However, the actual circumstances were revealed one after another that suggest "all the details may not actually be known." Following that a student who intends to do research on driving joined HPL, research on driving in HPL was embodied. Moreover, it was decided to start a joint study with an external organization to with a focus on the human side during driving, leading the research in this field to get into full swing.

They began searching for a DS that satisfied such requirements since about October 2016, and introduced UC-win/Road DS in November after comparative investigations over plural systems on some points including easiness of creating VR spaces and representability with reality. First, students made experiments to find out the difference between beginner and expert drivers in "what they see" when traveling on a curve by linking the DS and measurement of eyeball movement. Giving instructions on VR to allow the beginners to learn the expertise of expert drivers, they verified what kind of effects this had, and completed a paper by December. At that time, they were able to construct the planned experimental environment comparatively in a short time with the DS, though it had been hard to create a new course before. In addition, compared with the traditional projector, Associate Professor Kato felt clear and smooth images of movement on the 4K monitor used with the DS.

UC-win/Road Drive Simulator using a 4k monitor

He and others are newly focusing the human side during automated driving. As an extension of their own researches so far, they currently progressing discussions such as "what is a human doing in a vehicle (on the stage a little bit before perfect automated driving)" or "what kind of reaction a human makes when he or she senses danger".

After that the DS improved its functions including support for acquisition of CAN data. More advanced linking with various experimental equipment owned by HPL attracts attention. Furthermore, extension of new possibilities of utilization can be expected, such as creation of diversified scenario, liaison with subjective evaluation methods, or discussions on human performance through dual task setups etc.

(Written by Takashi Ikeno)
(Up&Coming '17 Summer issue)