Sketch-thru-plan: a multimodal interface for command and control

Philip R. Cohen, Edward C. Kaiser, M. Cecelia Buchanan, Scott Lind, Michael J. Corrigan, R. Matthews Wesson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)


An advanced fusion-based multimodal map system called Sketch-Thru-Plan, or STP was developed from 2009 to 2011 under the DARPA Deep Green program, enabling rapid creation of operational plans during command and control (C2) for military ground operations. Each unit symbol has a frame and color, an echelon marking on top, a label or designator on the side(s), and a role in the middle, as well as numerous other markings. In order to cope with the large vocabulary using GUI technology, C2 systems often use large dropdown menus for the types of entities that can be positioned on the map. STP is quick and easy to learn and use and supports many different form factors, including handheld, tablet, vehicle-based, workstation, and ultra-mobile digital paper and pen. The interface takes advantage of and reinforces skills soldiers already have, as they are trained in the standardized language, symbols, and military decision-making process. In virtue of this common ?doctrinal? language, STP users can quickly create a course of action or enter data multimodally for operations, C2, and simulation systems without extensive training on a complicated user interface. The result is a highly usable interface that can be integrated with existing C2 systems, thus increasing user efficiency while decreasing cost.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)56-65
Number of pages10
JournalCommunications of the ACM
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2015
Externally publishedYes

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