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

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ʔeləw̓k̓ʷ – Belongings: Embodied cultural values in tangible interaction design

Date created: 
2018-04-10
Abstract: 

In this thesis through an exploratory study I investigate the ways that an interactive tangible tabletop about aboriginal heritage enabled museum visitors to experience intangible cultural values. Belongings is a tangible tabletop that uses replicas of ancient and modern belongings of the Musqueam people to interact with digital activities and content. I situate my research by describing the system and a previous study that lead to the redesign of the tabletop. I then describe the field interview methodology for my study that took place at the Museum of Anthropology (UBC) with 20 visitors. Based on thematic analysis of responses, I present 10 themes, from which I derive design guidelines for tangible tabletop design for intangible culture heritage. Guidelines highlight the importance of the fidelity of replicas, breaking museum practices and using objects that visitors can relate to in order to enable visitors to experience aboriginal values through tangible interaction.

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

Feeling you close to me: Mediating an infant's presence through an exploration of tactile interaction

Author: 
Date created: 
2018-04-19
Abstract: 

Touch is invaluable in parent-infant interactions, but there is a lack of research and design supporting tactile interaction in baby monitors. An exploratory study was conducted in the homes of 10 parents to understand the usage of baby monitors in everyday child-care routines. Parents’ responses revealed that the unfiltered videos in baby monitors require significant cognitive effort to interpret vital signals of their infants. In this thesis, I utilize a research-through-design approach that explores how tactile interaction can support a more direct communication channel to inform parents of their infants’ well-being and enhance presence in the computer-mediated connection. Four usability studies were conducted on four wearables prototypes that were iteratively designed. The final prototype, ombex, iterates from previous shortcomings and adopts pneumatic feedback to construct a more convincing association to breathing. Findings affirm that the tactile interaction using pneumatic feedback in ombex elicited an endearing connection as if a loved one is close by.

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

Visual analytics on large displays: Exploring user spatialization and how size and resolution affect task performance

Author: 
Date created: 
2018-03-28
Abstract: 

Large, high-resolution displays (LHRDs) enable increased productivity over conventional monitors. Previous work has identified the benefits of LHRDs for Visual Analytics tasks, where the user is analyzing complex data sets. However, LHRDs are fundamentally different environments, presenting both usability challenges and opportunities, and need to be better understood. There is thus a need for additional studies to analyze the impact of LHRD size and display resolution on content spatialization strategies and Visual Analytics task performance. I present the results of two studies of the effects of physical display size and resolution on analytical task successes and also analyze how participants spatially cluster visual content in different experimental 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.

Light weight look ahead: Eco-dialogues between buildings and their inhabitants

Date created: 
2018-04-16
Abstract: 

How do people interact with buildings? A building is a system, with many components affecting energy use and thermal comfort. Designers and engineers using energy simulation typically assume inhabitants’ interaction to be fixed, scheduled or rule-based, as opposed to being active. Post-occupancy evaluations have shown that inhabitants are a key reason for vast differences between predicted and actual energy consumption. Engineers and designers are constrained in their work by lack of knowledge and models of how people use buildings. On the other hand, inhabitants do not comprehend the effects of their interactions with building systems and elements, in relation to comfort and energy, because data on both usage and control is not visible in appropriate forms, places and times. Inhabitants experiencing discomfort have multiple options from which to choose but have insufficient information about the effect these options would have on energy usage and comfort. We propose “Light Weight Look Ahead Options,” an eco-dialogue focused on how personal choices impact comfort and energy use in buildings. We propose three modes of interaction. First “I feel”. Here an inhabitant expresses how (s)he feels in a room, for example, “I feel very cold.” Second, “If buildings could talk”: here the building proposes interaction when inhabitants have been inactive over a long period and the building’s environment differs from norms. Third, “What if?”: inhabitants explore what happens when they interact with different elements, for example, turning the thermostat down or opening windows. A qualitative study shows that inhabitants found each model potentially useful, but preferred the “I feel” model. The system helps them to learn, negotiate and weigh choices.

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

The role of action videogame training in spatial cognition: A study of training and transfer effect

Author: 
Date created: 
2018-04-11
Abstract: 

Spatial skills are a strong predictor of success in learning in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) areas. There is ample research investigating whether playing videogames (specifically action games) can alter spatial performance. This dissertation presents a study that investigates the training effect of playing action games (specifically first-person shooter (FPS) games) - a game genre that has received the most attention in gaming literature - compared to playing non-action videogame on basic and complex spatial performance. The spatial abilities studied are: (1) spatial attention (or the useful field of view) as a basic skill; (2) mental rotation as a complex skill; and (3) navigation as a complex skill. After selecting the games, 32 participants were randomly assigned to two groups to play one of the assigned games for an average of 11 hours within one month. Both groups (action and non-action videogames) showed significant improvement compared to their baseline levels in spatial attention and mental rotation. Navigation did not improve. Also, results showed participants were able to maintain their improved performance for one month after the training. Training was beneficial for both males and females as they both improved similarly. The improvement in performance after training with both action and non-action games was surprising. There are possible explanations for this finding, and they were discussed in this dissertation.

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

Game design: motivating physical movement in aging adults using VR

Date created: 
2018-03-28
Abstract: 

I present the design intentions and process of Lumapath, a virtual reality (VR) game designed to encourage movement in aging adults, with and without arthritis, in a safe and controlled way. I demonstrate how user testing was a crucial part of the design decisions and present the results of a pilot study that was conducted using the game and 28 participants. Overall, my results show that VR has a lot of potential as a tool for motivating aging adults to be physically active. While the specific needs of any group should be taken into consideration, the limitations of aging emerged as extremely important factors because of how these factors can fundamentally affect or frame the way these users experience their virtual surroundings. Future considerations that emerged from the design and testing of this VR project are also discussed. These range from issues of how the user testing can be improved to more wide-ranging considerations of what should be taken into account when designing for this demographic.

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

FitViz-Ad: A non-intrusive reminder to support and encourage rheumatoid arthritis patients with physical activity

Author: 
Date created: 
2018-03-02
Abstract: 

Advancement in wearable devices has allowed users to easily capture and monitor their physical activity data. There is a growing interest in using the data captured by these devices for self-management of chronic diseases. However, wearable devices in the market today are generally designed for people with no physical restrictions who try to get fit. Wearable devices like Fitbit and Jawbone UP recommend users to take 10,000 daily steps. Fitbit sets this as a default recommended goal for its users. However, this recommended goal is not appropriate for people with chronic pain such as people living with rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Currently, this group of people lack appropriate health and fitness tools to help them collect and manage their activity data without having to customize multiple settings with the tools available on the market today. People with RA struggle to be physically active because of the pain caused the inflammation around one or more joints in the body. This inflammation causes significant discomfort for them to be physically active. Doctors tend to encourage patients to achieve certain activity goals every day to keep their muscle strong and joints flexible. When one is not physically active or tend to avoid physical activity, their muscles get weaker and they lose flexibility in their joints. Thus, people with RA are encouraged to be physically active to help manage and maintain the disease. We developed a non-intrusive reminder as a Chrome browser extension called “FitViz-Ad” to help arthritis patients track exercise and measure if they are meeting the activity goals set by their doctors. FitViz-Ad replaces online advertisements with reminders for the users to get up and walk around if they have been sedentary for too long. We conducted a usability study to evaluate FitViz-Ad as a non-intrusive reminder by recruiting fourteen healthy participants for a 2-week study. Participants were required to wear a Fitbit tracker for the duration of the study which their physical activity data was collected and analyzed. Each participant was then interviewed at the end of the study about their experience and thoughts on the extension. Results from the study showed no significant increase in participants’ physical activity while using FitViz-Ad, however qualitative results from the interviews showed that participants were more aware of their physical activity during the study.

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

Investigating the role of social eye gaze in designing believable virtual characters

Author: 
Date created: 
2017-12-19
Abstract: 

A crucial issue in computationally modeling believable characters is determining the connection between high-level character attributes and the appropriate non-verbal behaviour such as gestures, head position, eye gaze and facial expressions that would display these attributes in a given situation. Current industry practice is to have artists animate characters, occasionally based on motion capture from actors. In order to procedurally adapt a character's behaviour to a situation, a general, valid, computationally tractable, model for non-verbal behaviour must be developed. This computational instantiation must preserve the aesthetic qualities of the incorporated material while presenting a usable set of interaction modalities. This dissertation examines how to capture the most relevant parts of social exchanges so that they can be modeled within a computational model, and then implemented within an interaction model. Most specifically, I investigated the ability to send social signals related to status through a virtual human’s eye gaze. Gaze is a critical component of social exchanges, and serves to make characters engaging or aloof, as well as to establish character’s role in a conversation. Based on the foundations of gaze behaviour from psychological literature, I have constructed a verbal-conceptual computational model of gaze for virtual humans that links several behaviour qualities to the concept of status from improv acting. This cross-domain model provides the basis for the social behaviour of procedurally animated characters. This dissertation validates aspects of that model related to length of looks, movement velocity, head posture, and mutual gaze. First, I evaluated the mode through four Amazon Mechanical Turk studies, which asked 50 participants in each to compare two different videos of a scripted scenario between characters animated using the SmartBody procedural animation system. These studies found some significant differences in how participants evaluated the characters’ status. Second, I designed an interactive system that incorporated eye tracking, dialogue, and control of a character in the SmartBody environment. This allowed 34 participants to practice hiring interviews, during which I varied the social gaze model of the character. Again, significant differences in perception of status were found.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Appendix G. A Demonstration of the Eye Tracking Setup for the Virtual Human Study
Appendix H. The Author Interacts with a Prototype of the Virtual Human System
Senior supervisor: 
Steve DiPaola
Department: 
Communication, Art & Technology: School of Interactive Arts and Technology
Thesis type: 
(Dissertation) Ph.D.

A Planning-Based Approach for Generating Narrative Events in Video Games

Author: 
Date created: 
2017-10-11
Abstract: 

This project is an attempt to find a solution for the replayability problem in video games from a narrative perspective. The project's goal is to improve replayability in narrative-focused video games by providing variations in the narrative experience. The outcome of this project is a game prototype that takes the form of a detective adventure game, in which the player needs to find the murderer. This game prototype uses a combination of scripted narrative and generative narrative with computational approaches. The generative narrative part uses a probability-based random event scheduler combined with STRIPS planning to generate narrative components in order to provide variety in narrative. The outcome of this project is a first step to revealing the possibilities of building narrative-focused games with some generative narrative aspects to enhance variety in narrative and thus enhance replayability.

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

Robotic User Interface for Telecommunication

Author: 
Date created: 
2017-08-08
Abstract: 

This thesis presents a series of efforts formulating a new paradigm of social robotics and developing prototype robot systems for exploring robotic user interfaces (RUIs) designs in the context of robot mediated telecommunication. Along with four academic articles previously produced by the author, this thesis seeks to answer how one could create a technological framework for designing physically embodied interpersonal communication systems. To provide an understanding of interpersonal robot mediator systems, the thesis introduces a concept of Bidirectional Telepresence Robots and presents the technical requirements of designing such robotic platforms. The technical architecture is described along with the development of anthropomorphic social mediators, CALLY and CALLO, that implemented robot gesture messaging protocols and robot animation techniques. The developed robot systems suggest a set of design insights that can guide future telepresence robot developments and the RUI designs. As for technological achievements from the study, the details of the robot design, construction, applications, user interfaces, as well as the software structure for the robot control and information processing are described. A thorough literature review on social robotics and multi-modal user interfaces are provided. This work is one of the earliest takes that not only opens up academic discussions on bidirectional telepresence robots and mobile phone based robot platforms but also inspires the industry new markets for robotic products with artificial personalities.

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