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

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Visual analytics in personalized health: A study of the expert analyst – health consumer relationship in a direct-to-consumer service

Date created: 
2020-04-21
Abstract: 

In the era of “big data analytics” for healthcare, the personalized medicine promise offers a shift to the provision of care enabled by our technical ability to quantify and assess large volumes of biomedical data. This message however, often seems to strengthen a notion of healthcare from a “biomedical positivism framework”, that is, that diagnosis of disease, medical image analysis, integration of devices, and ultimately, the selection of the appropriate therapy is empowered by volumes of data and algorithmic accuracy, thus improving the patient’s illness. In this research program, we approached expert biomolecular analysts, recorded their sensemaking process, and analyzed the role of data visualization technologies while they performed analysis of multi-omic data for a direct-to-consumer service of personalized health. We uncovered the nature of the analysts turning to their human-interaction skillset to address the health reality of each consumer they worked for. Assertions about the scientific validity and the amount of data, often emphasize the claims of this personalized health approach, but in practice, the analysts turned to attend goals, preferences, to find actionable evidence in the data, and to frame a relatable health summary story for the clients. The role of technology design in scenarios like this one will be fundamental in properly translating and bridging the effort from these emergent providers (the analysts) in communication with the end consumers. Our findings suggest that both parties benefit from analytic capacities to explore and understand the strength of each piece of evidence in the case, including the evidence that is provided by the clients themselves beyond their biological samples. We believe that this work, along with the research methodologies deployed in work-settings, are a contribution to the Visual Analytics community to support the tasks of bio scientists in personalized medicine, as much as an HCI initiative in support of evidence-based models of preventive healthcare with large amounts of data.

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

Connecting family members across time through asynchronous audio stories

Date created: 
2020-04-06
Abstract: 

This dissertation studies the exploration of asynchronous audio technologies and the design, creation, and evaluation of a system created for connecting family members in different time zones. The related literature on domestic technology for families in different time zones is mainly focused on synchronous usage of different mediums for connecting family members or using video for asynchronous communication. In this doctoral work, my goal was to explore and gain insights on design factors which are important in designing systems for connecting family members across time and over distance through shared audio-based media. This dissertation consists of two studies that I conducted during my doctoral work which is presented in a cumulative format. For my doctoral research, I first conducted a qualitative study which explored the usage of a successful asynchronous audio technology called Podcasts through semi-structured interviews. Results pointed to the characteristics that made podcasts suitable for supporting people’s ability to be alone yet still feel like they were connected to others. Second, I designed and built an asynchronous media sharing web application called Mimo that allowed family members to capture and share moments with each other using audio narratives as a way to connect together. I conducted a study of Mimo and found value of connecting family members in a one-to-one, private fashion and how personalization was necessary in such system. Third, I conducted an iterative design process for a system called FamilyStories that contained three different computational artifacts which allowed family members to share activities and experiences over distance in different time zones. The three technology probes connected family members through sharing asynchronous audio messages with different playback features specific to each of the devices. I evaluated the usage of FamilyStories with a five-week field deployment with four participants. The methods used includes semi-structured interviews, diaries, and data logs for data collection. Results showed the value of slow, flexible, and non-suggestive interfaces for asynchronous audio communication. Overall, my work illustrates the importance of delayed communication; ephemerality being helpful in expressing emotions; the specialness of dedicated in-home devices; and, how time delayed messages can ‘synchronize’ time zones in asynchronous audio communication. This work holds value in exploring design features that have potential to be beneficial for family communication across different time zones.

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

How’s that sound? Co-designing neurofeedback game audio with children

Date created: 
2020-04-20
Abstract: 

Many children struggle with mental health challenges such as anxiety and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Neurofeedback games, like Mind-Full, use portable brain-computer interfaces to help children cope by developing self-regulation skills. These games work by receiving electroencephalographic (EEG) input and relaying that information to users. In theory, feedback may be visual, auditory, tactile, or some combination. In practice, most games are visual. As users gain focus, the game visuals respond on-screen in real time. The reliance on visual feedback can create difficulties in the field—schools are often noisy and filled with distractions, and some children are uncomfortable sitting in silence with adults. Incorporating sound into neurofeedback games could improve usability and, potentially, outcomes. However, there is a basic problem–adult researchers cannot assume to know what sounds might appeal to young users. This prompts important questions: How can children contribute to the co-design of sounds for a neurofeedback system? What sounds do children think would be suitable for each game? In this thesis, I look to children to guide the development and evaluation of sounds for neurofeedback games. I report findings from a co-design study to create sounds for Mind-Full. I worked with 16 children as design partners over five sessions at a school in Vancouver, Canada. I present results from each session, discuss limitations, and review theoretical implications. In this work I find that children can participate in the co-design of sound via ideation, clarification and elaboration of ideas, and evaluation of sounds. The contributions of this work are a set of practical guidelines for co-design with children, an enhanced version of Mind-Full Wind, a summary of the ways in which children can contribute to the co-design of sounds, and insight into the tension between teacher's roles as design partners and facilitators. This work may be helpful for future researchers and designers interested in running co-design studies related to sound.

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

Exploration of students’ perception and usage of personalized reminder feedback in their time management

Author: 
Date created: 
2019-11-20
Abstract: 

Time management is one of the important components involved in self-regulated learning (SRL). It becomes more important in the context of multi-week assignments where students need to adopt regulation strategies to reach their goals and finish their tasks. Feedback may help students in adjustment of these strategies during this process by enhancing their self-reflection. While many systems have designed to support students’ self-reflection and awareness, there is a lack of empirical research about the real effect and usefulness of these systems. In this study, I introduced a trace-data driven personalized reminder feedback system to support time management of students during multi-week assignments by providing insight about their behavior and recommendations. I conduct in-depth interviews with students and use qualitative methods to evaluate how this system helped students with their metacognitive processes involved in their time management. Implications for future research and guidelines for practice are provided.

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

Eye-hand coordination training in virtual reality

Author: 
Date created: 
2019-12-12
Abstract: 

Reaction time training systems are being used to improve athlete performance for different sports, including boxing, football, and even the Formula 1. Until now, such setups used physical, flat surfaces, such as a 2D touch screen or buttons mounted on a wall or frame. Here, we investigate a Virtual Reality version of such an eye-hand coordination training system and also show that Fitts' law can be used to assess user performance more accurately. We conducted three user studies to investigate different aspects of such VR-based training environments for sports training. In the first one, we explored different target arrangements and showed that user performance is maximized with the dominant hand and a vertical target plane. In the second, we studied different combinations of visual and haptic feedback and how they affect user performance for different target and cursor sizes. Results illustrated that haptic feedback does not increase user performance when it is added to visual feedback. We also used the effective throughput measure of Fitts' law and the associated throughput measure to show that user performance in eye-hand coordination tasks can be accurately assessed with this method, independent of user behaviors. In the third experiment, 12 participants performed an eye-hand coordination reaction test in three conditions: in mid-air with or without a VR controller as well as with passive haptic feedback through hitting a soft-surface wall. We also altered target and cursor sizes and analyzed user performance again with the throughput measure. According to the results, subjects were slower and their throughput was lower when they hit a solid surface to interact with virtual targets. Our results show that Fitts' model can be applied to VR-based eye-hand coordination training systems to measure and assess participant's performance. We believe that our work will inform system development for professional and amateur athletes' performance assessment systems.

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

Understanding how to translate from children’s tangible learning apps to mobile Augmented Reality through technical development research

Author: 
Date created: 
2019-12-17
Abstract: 

In this thesis, I discuss the design and development of two Augmented Reality (AR) applications derived from two tangible systems. In this technology development research, I explore if it is feasible to port tangible systems to mobile (tablet-based) AR systems so that these systems can be more widely deployed as research prototypes and eventually as products. I use two existing tangible systems (Youtopia, PhonoBlocks), which have been validated empirically, as case studies. To do this, I begin by determining the key requirements that each AR system must have – those known through theoretical design guidance or shown in previous studies to be important for the effectiveness of the tangible system. I designed and implemented design and technical AR solutions for each requirement. For some features, I explore possible solutions and provide a rationale for the selection of a solution. For other features, I present one solution that is feasible. In this way, I explore feature by feature if it is feasible to create AR applications that are more affordable and scalable than the tangible systems while keeping the core design requirements. Future work would need to include the integration of these features and creating fully functional systems. I discuss the technical and design challenges for each of the applications and possible considerations to make when making similar applications. I also contribute preliminary design guidelines for creating new tabletop AR learning applications. Overall, my result contributes to new techniques that may be used to create a tablet-based AR application, which is more affordable and scalable for technology-enabled learning research and development than tangible systems or AR through head-mounted displays.

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

VizInteract: Rapid data exploration using multi-touch and interactive construction of multidimensional visualizations

Date created: 
2020-02-05
Abstract: 

VizInteract is an interactive data visualization tool for touch-enabled displays. It affords rapid construction of multidimensional data visualizations through multi-touch gestures, which supports efficient data exploration. Creating and analyzing multidimensional data visualizations with current tools typically involve complex user interfaces. Building on primitive visualization idioms like histograms, VizInteract addresses the need for easy data exploration by affording the rapid construction of multidimensional visualizations, such as scatter plots, parallel coordinate plots, and radar plots through simple touch gestures. Touch-based brushing-and-linking and attribute-based filter-bubbles also support “diving down” into the data and performing analyses. I conducted two explorative studies to demonstrate the usability of VizInteract on a tablet and on a large touchscreen. I present the results of both studies and analyse the usage patterns that emerge from participants conducting data exploration VA tasks in both conditions.

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

Technology-enhanced learning: Using learning analytics to unveil students’ use of multiple devices in blended learning

Author: 
Date created: 
2019-11-26
Abstract: 

In recent times, there has been a substantial interest in capitalizing on the abundance and the ubiquity of mobile and personal technologies for their educational use. Even though use of emerging technologies in education is associated with emerging educational practices, their role in educational setting is still largely under-researched. This doctoral research aims to bridge this gap in knowledge by understanding the learning habits and behaviours of students using different devices (such as desktops, tablets, mobile) for learning. Our first goal is to explore how mobile devices are used when regulating learning via learning management systems (LMS) in the context of blended learning. To do so, we examine the extent to which various technological modalities (including mobile devices, tablets, desktops) are either used sequentially and/or simultaneously to influence the overall academic performance and study habits at various learning activities. Next, with the intent of understanding associations between temporal patterns and modality preferences, our second goal is to assess how learning takes place during different times of the day and on weekdays/weekends. Further, given the substantial differences between utility of each modality for a learning activity, the fourth goal is to demonstrate how considering the modality for learning actions can lead to improvement in predictive power of learning models generated from student engagement data. Our fifth and final goal is to investigate whether preferences for a modality evolve over time and, if so, analyze the role it plays in consistency of work habits and student persistence in learning. Each of these goals has been previously published or submitted for review to a peer-reviewed journal/conference. The full texts of these studies are included in this cumulative format dissertation. In each of these studies, the log data for analyzing the aforementioned research questions was collected from undergraduate students at our university from courses that followed a blended delivery format, utilizing the university's learning management system (LMS), Canvas, to support learning activities and students' overall schoolwork. The overall aim of this thesis is to extend current theoretical understanding of the way students move between technological modalities, physical and temporal contexts and learning activities.

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

Object sliding and beyond: Investigating object manipulation in 3D user interfaces

Author: 
Date created: 
2019-09-23
Abstract: 

3D manipulation is one of the fundamental tasks for interaction in virtual environments. Yet, it can be difficult for users to understand the spatial relationships between 3D objects and how to manipulate them in a 3D scene, as, unlike in the physical world, users do not have the same visual cues for understanding scene structure or can leverage constraints and affordances for interaction. My goal is to create better user interface for 3D manipulation platforms, with a focus on positioning objects. I designed efficient, accurate, and easy-to-use 3D positioning techniques for both desktop and virtual reality (VR) systems. My work also contributes guidelines for designing and developing 3D modelling software for desktop and VR systems, and enable 3D content designers, game designers, or even novice users to benefit from improved efficiency and accuracy for 3D positioning tasks. Much of my thesis work builds on a 3D object sliding technique, where objects slide on surfaces behind them, which helps with some positioning tasks. First, I improved 3D positioning on a desktop system, with the mouse and keyboard as input devices. I presented two new techniques that significantly outperform the industry-standard widget- based 3D positioning technique for tasks involving floating objects or objects that can be at multiple positions in visual depth. Second, I proposed a new technique that allows users to select and position hidden objects. The new technique also outperformed 3D widgets. Then, I applied my techniques in a VR system with a head-mounted display (HMD) and compared the performance of different input devices. I found that the combination of the mouse with my new positioning technique is still the best solution, even in VR. In the remainder of my thesis work, and focusing on tasks involving more distant objects, I investigated manipulation techniques in VR that do not rely on the availability of a mouse. I designed and implemented a technique that significantly improved the accuracy for 3D positioning tasks for targets that were in contact with the scene.

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

Perceptron Redux

Author: 
Date created: 
2019-08-29
Abstract: 

The Mark I Perceptron was a landmark achievement in machine learning and it remains an iconic symbol of neural networks. At the same time, the operations of the machine itself are poorly understood. This thesis describes the Mark I, drawing from a variety of published and previously obscure sources. The Mark I was highly dependent on human interaction for its operations. To fully explain the Mark I's operations also requires recovering a plausible description of the distributed cognitive system that surrounded the Mark I while it was used for experiments at the Cornell Aeronautical Laboratory. Modern machine learning systems are largely autonomous unless they have been specifically designed for interactivity. The Mark I required human operators to function, but it was it was also designed leverage this interactivity so that researchers could explore novel techniques for training neural networks. A study of the interfaces and procedures of the Mark I provides useful interpretive tools to understand modern artificial intelligence and machine learning systems.

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