Norman’s comments to the committee show how the past reports have been operationalized (Norman, 2011).
The United States has a competitive advantage in the development of human-centered software. However, Siemens AG, a German company, and Delmia, a French company, are the two major suppliers of advanced human simulation software in this arena. Other countries either do not pay as much attention to these issues or are still dominated by an engineering mentality that puts the needs of the machines first and the capabilities of people second. Moreover, Eastern cultures, which emphasize the needs of society over those of the individual, are at a disadvantage in this particular domain in that the individual must often learn to comply with societal demands. This philosophy seldom translates into human-centered software design.
A major concern for this committee is how radical innovation might suddenly appear and redefine cognitive enhancement. Although it is often believed that this is a result of detailed research and the invention of new technologies, that is not necessarily the case.
Two recent examples are pertinent of off-the-shelf technologies that were given amazing new uses:
• Siri, a spinoff venture of SRI International, which launched the product, was bought by Apple one month later and now is a major part of the iPhone.
• Nintendo Wii revolutionized the game industry by using existing technologies that had been ignored by competitors.
Siri integrates Nuance Corporation's speech-recognition system (and text-to-speech) with standard simple artificial intelligence and database techniques, thus leveraging many services that were already on the Web (such as Wolfram's Alpha and Wikipedia) in a software-as-a-service architecture. Wii introduced the use of infrared imaging chips and inexpensive sensors (spurned by other game-makers because they were thinking only of bigger and faster graphics and processing) and redefined the game industry. Microsoft Kinect can be considered a descendant of the Wii concept in that once Microsoft engineers understood the Wii architecture, they were able to put together elements that were already in their laboratories with a commercially available 3-D ranging camera. Both Wii and Kinect have been shown to have HPM applications: Wii has been used for integrated cognitive and physical therapy in assisted-living environments (Rolland et al., 2007), and Kinect has been used to integrate cognitive tasks with physical movement for improvements in learning (Lo, 2012).
History repeatedly illustrates that a lot of so-called revolutionary technology comes about simply through the reframing and redefining of an existing product. New technologies and scientific breakthroughs are not always required. That presents a challenge in identifying and tracking “radical” innovation: when it is simply the result of reimagining what can be done with existing components, little warning is available.
Every technology that is meant to enhance human performance can, under the wrong circumstances, reduce human performance. This degradation of performance may not be deliberate (e.g., cell phone texting while driving) or it may be deliberate. In an example of the latter, two Japanese researchers developed a delayed-speech feedback system (Kurihara and Tsukada, 2012). It uses the well-known phenomenon in speech whereby playing a speaker’s voice back to the speaker with a delay of 0.2 - 0.3 seconds interferes with speech production; it can produce intense stuttering. The Japanese system uses commercial components: a directional