Improving Awareness of Automated Actions Using an Interactive Event Timeline

Digital tabletops provide an opportunity for automating complex tasks in collaborative domains involving planning and decision-making, such as strategic simulation in command and control. However, when automation leads to modification of the system's state, users may fail to understand how or why the state has changed, resulting in lower situation awareness and incorrect or suboptimal decisions. We present the design of an interactive event timeline that aims to improve situation awareness in tabletop systems that use automation. Our timeline enables exploration and analysis of automated system actions in a collaborative environment. We discuss two factors in the design of the timeline: the ownership of the timeline in multi-user situations and the location of the detailed visual feedback resulting from interaction with the timeline. We use a collaborative digital tabletop board game to illustrate this design concept.