SIAT - Theses, Dissertations, and other Required Graduate Degree Essays

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Shiro - A language to represent alternatives

Date created: 
2016-12-21
Abstract: 

When people solve problems they explore a variety of potential solutions. Parametric systems have been added to the interaction models of design tools to make it easier to change a design. Just as a cell is changed in a spreadsheet, when a parameter is changed all parts of the design that depend on that parameter update. While tools with parametric systems are powerful, users are limited to single state solutions and are forced to use workarounds like using layers and file naming conventions. These improvisations are caused by tools whose user interface and document models only support a single state. Single-state document models are only designed to represent a single artifact. In this work, I describe Shiro, a declarative, dataflow language for expressing alternatives in parametric systems. It provides a multi-state document model for parametric systems. To make this possible, I introduce the concept of subjunctive nodes, nodes that contain options. Options allow users to vary property values and computations. I demonstrate Shiro with a variety of examples from the designs of design and data analysis. Finally, I discuss what I learned while designing and implementing the language and provide a set of recommendations for future research.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Chris Shaw
Department: 
Communication, Art & Technology: School of Interactive Arts and Technology
Thesis type: 
(Dissertation) Ph.D.

Effectiveness of mobile virtual reality as a means for pain distraction

Date created: 
2016-12-06
Abstract: 

Immersive Virtual Reality (VR) has been shown to work as a non-pharmacological analgesic by enabling cognitive distraction in acute pain patients, including burn patients, dental patients, and chemotherapy patients. However, little research literature exists on the effectiveness of VR for chronic pain patients who suffer from longer-term pain. This thesis aims at contributing to this research gap regarding VR and chronic pain by examining the viability of Cardboard VR– a Mobile VR device. We have conducted two research studies to understand the effectiveness of Cardboard VR in the management of pain. First, we studied how Cardboard affords immersion and its underlying factors compared to a high-end traditional head-mounted display (HMD) – the Oculus Rift DK2, and, the results showed a lot of promise because the difference between the two HMDs was not significant. Next, we conducted a randomized crossover study in a clinical setting with thirty chronic pain patients to understand Cardboard’s effectiveness in pain distraction. We asked the patients to play a VR game on both Cardboard and Oculus Rift. The study results showed that Cardboard VR, coupled with a smartphone, is capable of reducing the patients’ perceived pain intensity significantly compared to the control (pre-VR) condition. However, despite the early findings from the previous studies, Oculus Rift was found to be considerably more effective with pain patients than both the Cardboard and the control condition. The results of this study encourage future research inquiries of Mobile VR in the management of chronic pain. Mobile VR, because of its affordability and ease of use, shows the potential to become an effective tool for pain management for the patients.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Diane Gromala
Department: 
Communication, Art & Technology: School of Interactive Arts and Technology
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) M.Sc.

Focal Point: Analyzing the Shift Of Focus When Prototyping

Date created: 
2016-12-02
Abstract: 

Prototypes are at the core of many interaction design projects. They not only allow designers to formally evaluate their design, but also to explore their project's design space, generate ideas, and discover new design opportunities. This requires the designer to engage in a reflective conversation with her prototypes - closely listening for feedback, combining ideas, and discovering new qualities. This thesis analyzes the prototypes developed for an outdoor light installation, the Urban Data Posts, in order to gain a better understanding of the interplay between designer and prototype. Using a framework to track intentionality and unintentionality in prototypes, this thesis aims to understand how individual prototypes informed the design process and the final design of the Urban Data Posts project. This will provide a better understanding of what prototypes do and exemplify what impact unintentionality in prototypes can have in design. The main contribution of this research is the Focus Framework, which captures intentional as well as unintentional design aspects in a prototype.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Ron Wakkary
Department: 
Communication, Art & Technology: School of Interactive Arts and Technology
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) M.A.

A Computational Framework for Expressive, Personality-based, Non-verbal Behaviour for Affective 3D Character Agents

Author: 
Date created: 
2016-12-13
Abstract: 

Badler defined virtual humanoid characters as computer models of humans that can be used in several applications such as training and entertainment. For the humanoid characters to be credible and human-like, they must exhibit realistic and consistent nonverbal behavior. It is this consistency that ultimately instills in human users a sense that the characters have distinct personalities. Despite this importance, relatively little work has so far been done on the consistency of a 3D character’s behaviour during interaction with human users and their environments. Current 3D virtual character systems lack the ability to maintain the consistency of their behaviour during real-time interaction which can lead to users’ frustration and resentment.This thesis presents the design, implementation, and evaluation of a system named “RealAct” that controls the non-verbal behaviour of virtual characters. To make the virtual characters behave in a believable and consistent manner, the system controls non-verbal behavior such as gaze, facial expression, gesture and posture to give the impression of a specific personality type. The design and development of different modules of the RealAct system, e.g. for controlling the behaviour and generating emotion, is directly modelled from existing behavioural and computational literature. In addition to these core modules, the RealAct system contains a library of modules that are specifically geared toward real-time behavior control needs such as sensory inputs, scheduling of behaviour, and controlling the attention of the character.To evaluate and validate different aspects of the RealAct system, four experimental studies using both passive video-based and presential real-time paradigms were performed. The results of these experiments show that the amount of extraversion and emotional-stability that participants attributed to virtual characters depended on a combination of facial expression, gaze and posture and gestures that they exhibited. In summary, it was shown that the RealAct is effective in conveying the impression of the personality of virtual characters to users. It is hoped that the RealAct system provides a promising framework to guide the modelling of personality in virtual characters and how to create specific characters.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Steve DiPaola
Department: 
Communication, Art & Technology: School of Interactive Arts and Technology
Thesis type: 
(Dissertation) Ph.D.

‘Ah Ha’ Moments: Novice Choreographers Using Defamiliarization in Digital Choreographic Technologies

Author: 
Date created: 
2016-09-19
Abstract: 

Choreography is a complex compositional and embodied creative process that often relies on ‘co-imagining’ between choreographer and dancer, and more recently between choreographer and technology as a strategy in generating new movement ideas. Adding technology into the choreographic process is a unique challenge because choreographers generate, augment and assess movement through and on their bodies. Technology has historically been used as a tool to augment creative opportunities in choreographic process;; often these varied choreographic support tools are designed to function as a ‘blank slate’ for choreography. However, these choreographic tools do not necessarily contribute to the design of creative ideas, instead functioning on low levels mainly as notebooks, annotation tools and idiosyncratic empty canvases. My research investigates the experience of novice choreographer’s ‘ah ha’ moments in their creative process by addressing a gap that exists within current digital choreographic creativity support tools. This gap is the ability to co-imagine novel movement choices between choreographer and technological support system. ‘Ah ha’ moments refer to moments in creative choreographic process that present new insight, understanding or choices and that bridge connections for a choreographer, contributing to a new awareness that results in novel movement material, or novel approaches to structuring movement: reflection of an iterative process. Collaboration is often recognized as a key element in compositional process between choreographers and dancers, and is recently described as a process of ‘Co-Imagination’ by performance theorist Andre Lepecki. Co-Imagination is the process of imagining the creative possibilities interactively together, yet with unequal creative control. While this is a common practice in contemporary choreography, the choreographic strategies of back-and-forth interactions (with mutual participation) is seldom considered and is under researched as a creativity tool for choreography. In the research presented in this thesis, I have explored the concept of applying generative algorithms in the creation of movement catalysts that can propose novel choices to the choreographer. I have designed, implemented and evaluated these generative choreographic procedures (which I have titled ‘Cochoreo’) to the existing choreographic support tool ‘idanceForms’ (idF). Novice choreographers were asked to design short choreographies using idF over a week. Data was collected through observation and focus group discussions and analyzed through grounded-theory inspired thematic methods. The contribution of this work situates the design and practice of interactive choreographic systems within creativity theory to explore future design of iterative and provocative technology for supporting movement, creativity and co-imagination.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Thecla Schiphorst
Department: 
Communication, Art & Technology: School of Interactive Arts and Technology
Thesis type: 
(Dissertation) Ph.D.

A Methodology for the Computational Evaluation of Style Imitation Algorithms

Date created: 
2016-12-05
Abstract: 

We investigate Musical Metacreation algorithms by applying Music Information Retrieval techniques for comparing the output of three off-line, corpus-based style imitation algorithms. The first is Variable Order Markov Chains, a statistical model; second is the Factor Oracle, a pattern matcher; and third, MusiCOG, a novel graphical model based on perceptual processes. Our focus is on discovering which musical biases are introduced by the algorithms, that is, the characteristics of the output which are shaped directly by the formalism of the algorithms and not by the corpus itself. We describe META-MELO, a system that implements the three algorithms, along with a methodology for the quantitative analysis of algorithm output, when trained on a corpus of melodies in symbolic form. Results show that the algorithms’ output are indeed different, although none of them encompass completely the full feature-set belonging to the style of the corpus. We conclude that this methodology is promising for aiding in the informed application and development of generative algorithms for music composition problems.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Philippe Pasquier
Department: 
Communication, Art & Technology: School of Interactive Arts and Technology
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) M.Sc.

Interacting with Design Alternatives

Author: 
Date created: 
2016-05-26
Abstract: 

Many designers tend to work with multiple, simultaneously-available design alternatives. The evidence for this fact can be found in many different domains of design, such as architectural, product, industrial and mechanical design, but also in drawing, painting, sculpting, and fine arts in general. Numerous empirical studies, likewise, report instances of designers developing, and then simultaneously working with multiple design solutions in parallel. The need for alternatives-enabled work can be further confirmed by instances of expert opinion, as well as explained by theoretical accounts based on first perceptual principles, such as those governing the human visual system, or human perception in general. Yet, despite the available evidence confirming the importance of multi-state work, most contemporary computational tools, including computer-aided design (CAD) tools, their important sub-variant (parametric CAD, or pCAD tools), as well as other types of computational tools, are steeply immersed in the single-state paradigm, whereby the user can work with, and modify, just a single computational model at a time. Consequently, since the overwhelming majority of users nowadays still employ single-state tools, they necessarily have to recur to various ad hoc methods when engaging in multi-state work, in order to circumvent the limitations inherent to single-state tools. However, such workaround methods are inefficient, and error-prone. The aim of this work is to address the aforementioned shortcoming of single-state computational tools, while focusing on pCAD tools. The thesis of this work, accordingly, is that ``alternatives-enabled (i.e. multi-state) pCAD tools, designed in concordance with the interaction design guidelines and principles presented in this dissertation, support designing''. I break down my thesis statement further into the following three main research questions, each addressing one separate aspect of the statement: (1) What are the essential system features of novel multi-state pCAD tools that can support design work? (2) What are the design guidelines and principles for building and evaluating multi-state pCAD tools? and (3) What methodological approach can be followed that can help system designers build multi-state pCAD tools? In order to support my thesis, I first conceptualize (or design, develop) the class of multi-state pCAD tools, by first employing both (1) various pre-design methods (such as literature review, and probing of the ``design space'' of feasible interaction designs), as well as (2) by employing various research-through-design methods characterized by the development of numerous models, interactive research prototypes, and design artifacts in general. All these activities provide evidence about the effectiveness of specific, individual features of multi-state pCAD tools. The two main research methods that I use include (a) an expert study whereby six experts voice their opinion on the CAMBRIA 1 prototype and its features, and (b) a cognitive analysis which provides scores of the CAMBRIA 2 prototype evaluated along a number of ``cognitive dimensions''. The experience that I acquire by performing pre-design and research-through-design activities allows me to synthesize high-level bodies of knowledge such as design guidelines and principles, as well as to describe the method that I followed in order to conceptualize multi-state pCAD tools. These, in turn, answer postulated research questions, and thus support the thesis.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Halil Erhan
Robert Woodbury
Department: 
Communication, Art & Technology: School of Interactive Arts and Technology
Thesis type: 
(Dissertation) Ph.D.

Design-in-Living

Author: 
Date created: 
2016-08-04
Abstract: 

This doctoral work aims at articulating and deepening our understanding of how people design and make a space they live in with the goal of informing the design of interactive artifacts. While previous research described the appropriation and transformation of design artifacts through their everyday uses, those descriptions have focused mostly on discrete artifacts or systems. In this doctoral work, my goal is to go beyond unique instances by looking at the relations between design artifacts, ensembles of artifacts, and the spaces they are in. This dissertation puts forward the concept of design-in-living as a way to rethink the design of interactive artifacts and spaces. Design-in-living describes how everyday designers engage in multiple ways of designing by combining unconscious design acts, ad hoc design, and planned design activities in order to construct their built environment. Design-in-living occurs while living in a particular space over time and design acts are motivated by fit between artifacts, ensembles, and the space. As a result, the space is constantly and incrementally built, leading to an invariably unfinished space. The articulation of design-in-living emerged from the findings of four studies. Each study was previously published and the full text of those four studies is presented in this cumulative format dissertation. The four studies include 1) a critical literature review of human-computer interaction (HCI) research on the home, 2) an ethnography inspired study of the practices of design and making of three groups of non-expert designers, 3) the articulation of the conceptual construct of unselfconscious interaction, and 4) an autobiographical design project of converting a cargo van into a campervan. In addition to the conceptualization of design-in-living, this dissertation I pose a critical reflection on how to design for people who live with the Internet of Things, at home and beyond. Moreover, I offer a methodological reflection on the use of autobiographical design as a method of inquiry. Finally, this dissertation is addressed to interaction designers and HCI and design researchers who are interested in designing interactive artifacts that can become part of the making and designing practices in lived-in spaces.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Ron Wakkary
Department: 
Communication, Art & Technology: School of Interactive Arts and Technology
Thesis type: 
(Dissertation) Ph.D.

Breaking Tradition: Recreating Tutorials with Unconventional Techniques

Date created: 
2016-07-11
Abstract: 

Do-It-Yourself (DIY) tutorials have become part of our every day landscape. From IKEA style furniture directions to clothing tags detailing how to wash them, people are surrounded by directions listing the steps required to accomplish a task by themselves. The Maker movement, utilizing this form of instruction, has popularized and standardized the format. HCI research and tutorial makers explore methods of streamlining the creation of DIY tutorials, but very little research has been done to explore alternatives. By applying Research through Design (RtD) techniques, this work seeks to explore twelve alternative approaches to traditional tutorial presentation methods. Both amateur and expert participants were then asked nineteen different open-ended questions pertaining to the designed tutorials. Their responses were coded and sorted utilizing grounded theory, and serve to support the RtD methodologies already applied. The findings of this study reveal a need for identifying a tutorials audience, in addition to better supporting tutorial authors.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Ron Wakkary
Department: 
Communication, Art & Technology: School of Interactive Arts and Technology
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) M.A.

Tangible interactions with intangible heritage: The development and design of ʔeləw̓k̓ʷ — belongings

Author: 
Date created: 
2016-08-16
Abstract: 

Contemporary museums increasingly incorporate technology into exhibits, allowing visitors to engage with information in different ways and in greater depth. One such technology utilized is the digital tabletop. This thesis describes ʔeləw̓k̓ʷ — Belongings, an interactive tangible tabletop at the Museum of Anthropology at the University of British Columbia. The tabletop was designed to communicate the continuity of Musqueam culture, convey the complexity of belongings excavated from an ancient Musqueam village site, and reconnect those belongings to traditional practices and oral histories through tangible interactions with the table. In this thesis, I offer a case study of the collaborative design process shared among the researchers, curators, and the exhibit Advisory Committee, and I highlight key design decisions that resulted from this collaboration, showcasing how cultural values can be shared through tangible interactions. I use this case study to contextualize three collaborative publications on ʔeləw̓k̓ʷ — Belongings, the research outcomes of this project.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Kate Hennessy
Department: 
Communication, Art & Technology: School of Interactive Arts and Technology
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) M.A.