The Application

Mobile Assistant for Task Execution

The culmination of our process is the Mobile Assistant for Task Execution, or MATE. MATE presents four key features: the crewmember’s list of daily activities (the “home view”), a dedicated activity view for each activity (the “activity view”), persistent notetaking, and a ground communication panel.

Home View

The home view gives a crewmember an overview of his or her day as well as relevant contextual information— including recent notes, scheduled lapses in communication, and the most recent daily planning summary.

Home View

Activity View

The activity view provides the crewmember with all of the information needed to execute a scheduled activity. Features such as progress-marking and step folding help reduce cognitive load during execution, while a built-in timer helps the crewmember stay on schedule without feeling rushed.

Activity View


The notetaking interface lets crewmembers create persistent notes for long-term communication and later use. On the home view, crewmembers can record notes and reminders on the entire day. On an activity view, crewmembers can author notes about a specific step for their own use or make a shared note for other crewmembers to see.


Ground Communication

Ground communication, a text-based message center, allows crewmembers and ground crew to communicate with one another asynchronously. Non-intrusive visual notifications also inform crewmembers of incoming messages.

Ground Comm

Further Considerations

Further Considerations

Even after MATE’s core functionality was decided upon, various elements were removed or altered with each new iteration. An unfortunate, albeit inevitable, result of this process was that many fascinating features and ideas had to be left unexplored. Here, we present the most interesting of these discarded concepts.

Embedding Rich Media

Contextual references help minimize procedure errors. By providing crewmembers with the capability to add their own photos, videos, and audio recordings, we free them to leave relevant notes in the most useful format.

Alternate Orientations

It would be useful to allow the device to be used when turned in either orientation. Some users expressed a preference for typing in a landscape mode, while our device is fixed to a portrait orientation. We decided to keep the formatting consistent and to focus establishing core functionality that could later be adjusted for either orientation.

Passively gather information for training and procedure authoring

More passive data could be gathered from the procedure, such as by automatically measuring time to complete each task in order to make better estimations in the future.

Conduct field test with NASA analog missions

Usability tests in the future could be conducted during NASA’s NEEMO or Desert RATS analogue missions, the next best thing to testing in space.

Investigate physical constraints in real environments

While our tests attempted to simulate crowded conditions, we were not able to test our application in an actual space vessel. Testing on the Deep Space Habitat, for example would be useful to discover whether the core functionality supports execution in real contexts.