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SAE Receives Its First Ever Patent for User Interface Functionality for Digital Standards

Posted: May 11, 2023

Empathy enhances the way we see the world. Our understanding of the people we aim to serve can help guide our processes. This aim to understand, and serve, continues to play a significant role at SAE.

Originally named “Project Warrendale,” User Interface Functionality for Digital Standards became SAE’s first ever patented in-house product. The project began in 2018 and pertains to the display and user interaction of standards.

Senior Software Engineer Michael McCumber discussed the interface’s nuanced ability to search across various properties and produce more accurate, targeted results. 

“All this functionality can inherently lead to an overwhelmingly difficult user experience,” he said. The new interface, however, solved this problem.

Engineering Manager Arijith Roy worked with McCumber—along with SAE’s Principal User Experience Professional John McBride—on the team that built the underpinnings of the OnQue platform. They collaborated to generate a process by which they could optimize the user’s experience when searching for standards.

The team first had to understand the embedded data within the standards themselves. They could then extract and organize it in a way that allowed it to be more searchable, thereby producing more useful results.

As the team worked through developing an enhanced search experience, they discovered the need to do something that hadn’t been done before.

“Normally, we create interfaces by mixing components from our already user tested library. OnQue, however, required many new features not previously designed,” McCumber said.

The team saw potential in the unique design approaches to the project and decided to pursue a patent. Its presence will help establish secure groundwork for future SAE projects. McBride mentioned the “inherited value” of patents, that securing intellectual property can lead to even more innovation down the road.

Being recognized by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office shows the uniqueness and long-term value within a product or design. But without the people behind the scenes, such a project would not have been possible.

McBride discussed how the team knew what types of problems needed solving. They visited 8 physical sites across 6 cities in 2 countries to gather information from potential users and customers. Testers of the new search model worked at some of the top companies in mobility. These companies included Boeing, Honeywell, Airbus, BAE Systems, ADS, Rolls Royce, and Garman.

McBride stressed the importance of user feedback within the realm of UX and UI. He described the entire project as a great example of Design Thinking 101.

“When creating or thinking about new solutions, just ask yourself this very simple question,” McBride said. “How will this product, service, or experience I’m working on help or improve the life of our users?”

And as far as innovating SAE products in the digital space, this team’s just getting started.

McCumber plans to advance Mobilus 4.0, establish updates for PRI’s eAuditNet, DATC Portal, as well as continue UIUX needs for StandardsWorks. Roy is currently working on building and delivering a collaborative work environment for the engineering community, and McBride sets his sights on sustainability and upcoming changes to SAE’s website.

With many new projects underway, SAE sets its sights forward—all with people’s wellbeing in mind.

“Keep the user at the heart of any project and you can't go wrong,” McBride said.