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

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Exploring the usage of drones to assist firefighters during emergency situations

Date created: 
2019-08-28
Abstract: 

In the near future, emergency services within Canada will be supporting new technologies for 9-1-1 call centres and firefighters to learn about an emergency situation. One such technology is drones. To understand the benefits and challenges of using drones within emergency response, I conducted a study with citizens who have called 9-1-1 and firefighters who respond to a range of everyday emergencies. Results show that drones have numerous benefits to both firefighters and 9-1-1 callers which include context awareness and social support for callers who receive feelings of assurance that help is on the way. Privacy was largely not an issue, though safety issues arose especially for complex uses of drones such as indoor flying. The results point to opportunities for designing drone systems that help people to develop a sense of trust with emergency response drones, and mitigate privacy and safety concerns with more complex drone systems.

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

Input devices in immersive environments

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

Recently, Virtual and Augmented Reality (VR and AR) head-mounted displays have become affordable. However, efficient solutions for pointing tasks and text entry in VR and AR remain a challenge. Controllers are the typical input device in VR and many AR systems, but they are not as efficient as the mouse. Here, we investigate a pen-like pointing device that matches or exceeds the mouse's performance. We performed a user study to compare several input devices and our results show that our 3D pen significantly outperforms modern VR controllers in all evaluated measures and that it is comparable to the mouse. Text entry is a challenging task in modern VR systems, yet virtual keyboards are relatively inefficient. We introduce here a keyboard on a hawker's tray worn in front of the user, which affords compact, simple, flexible, and efficient text entry solution. We ran a text entry study with standing users, involving both lower-case sentences as well as symbols. The results show that text entry rates are affected negatively by simplistic keyboard visualizations and that our video-based solution affords desktop text entry rates.

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

Interaction design for socially assistive robots for people with developmental disabilities

Author: 
Date created: 
2019-08-14
Abstract: 

Social robots, also known as service or assistant robots, have been developed to improve the quality of human life in recent years. Socially assistive robots (SAR) are a special type of social robots that focus on providing support through social interaction. The design of socially capable and intelligent robots can vary, depending on the target user groups. In this work, I assess the effect of socially assistive robots' roles, functions, and communication approaches in the context of a social agent providing service or companionship to users with developmental disabilities. In this thesis, I describe an exploratory study of interaction design for a socially assistive robot that supports people suffering from developmental disabilities. While exploring the impacts of visual elements to robot's visual interface and different aspects of robot's social dimension, I developed a series of prototypes and tested them through three user studies that included three residents with various function levels at a local group home for people with developmental disabilities. All user studies had been recorded for the following qualitative data analysis. Results show that each design factor played a different role in delivering information and in increasing engagement, and there are more aspects of HRI to consider besides robot's graphical user interface and speech, such as proxemics and robot's physical appearance and dimensions. I also note that some fundamental design principles that would work for ordinary users did not apply to our target user group. I conclude that socially assistive robots could benefit our target users and acknowledge that these robots were not suitable for certain scenarios based on the feedback from our users.

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

Modeling empathy in embodied conversational agents

Author: 
Date created: 
2019-08-28
Abstract: 

Embodied conversational agents (ECAs) are designed with the goal of achieving natural and effortless interactions with humans by displaying the same communication channels we use in our daily interactions (e.g. gestures, gaze, facial expressions, verbal behaviors). With advances in computational power, these agents are increasingly equipped with social and emotional capabilities to improve interaction with the users. Recently, research efforts are focused on modeling empathy, which is a human trait that allows us to share and understand each other's feelings. The emerging field of computational empathy aims to equip artificial agents with empathic behavior, which has shown great promise in enhancing the human-agent interaction. However, two issues arise in this research endeavor. Firstly, even though a variety of disciplines have extensively examined empathic behavior, there is minimal discussion on how that knowledge can be translated into computational empathy research. Second, modeling and implementing a complex behavior such as empathy poses a great challenge on fluent and automated integration of these behaviors to achieve real-time and multi-modal interaction with ECAs. This thesis aims to model and implement empathy in embodied conversational agents while focusing on both of these issues. To achieve this goal, an extensive literature review of the definitions and models of empathy from various disciplines is provided. Building upon this background knowledge, a model of empathy is presented that is suitable for interactive virtual agents, which includes three hierarchical layers of behavioral capabilities: emotional communication competence, emotion regulation and cognitive mechanisms. This dissertation further provides suggestions on how to evaluate perceived empathy of such a system, as there are no agreed-upon standards or best-practices in this novel field on evaluation metrics. Following the establishment of these theoretical foundations, levels of empathic behavior were implemented into an ECA with real-time spoken conversation capabilities that include synchronized gestural and emotional behavior. Evaluations of this system, which is called M-PATH, showed that the proposed levels of behavioral capabilities resulted in an increase in the perception of empathy as well as the perceived usefulness, human-likeness and believability of the agent. This dissertation further demonstrates that implementing empathic behaviors in artificial agents would not only improve our interaction but can also enhance our understanding of empathy by providing us with a controlled environment to implement and test our theories.

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

Connecting grandparents and young grandchildren over distance

Author: 
Date created: 
2019-01-21
Abstract: 

This doctoral work aims to explore how to best design communication systems to connect distance-separated grandparents and young grandchildren. While previous research explored doing and sharing limited fun activities such as story-telling, they tended to not focus on direct conversation where grandparents and grandchildren might share their personal stories, achievements and experiences. This dissertation is comprised of three research stages: First, I present an interview and diary study exploring the current and desired communication patterns and social situations and challenges in grandparent-grandchild communication over distance. The results describe the focus of grandparent-grandchild conversation over distance and show both parents and grandparents must deal with social issues that arise from potential interference and a lack of truly knowing one’s grandchild (leading to self-consciousness and feelings of perceived annoyance). Second, I outline an iterative design approach that resulted in designing a shared calendar and video messaging system, G2G by using the knowledge gained from the first study. The design focused on providing grandparents and grandchildren with an awareness of each other’s lives to support conversations and design elements to help reduce the need for parent scaffolding. Third, I present a field study that evaluated G2G with two grandparent-grandchild pairs over two months. The result from this study reveals that systems designed around structured communication can help young children develop a routine around staying in touch with their remote grandparents. Autonomy in maintaining awareness can help children to be engaged more easily. This suggests that designs focusing on connecting young children to their grandparents over distance should be flexible yet structured and designing to reduce parental scaffolding can lead to positive effects and strengthened relationships. This dissertation articulates the challenges of connecting young grandchildren and grandparents over distance. The work and insights presented in this dissertation can be used as foundation blocks for future exploration by researchers and designers focusing on family communication and domestic computing in the field of Human-Computer Interaction.

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

Crafting electronics for research products

Author: 
Date created: 
2019-01-22
Abstract: 

The concept of Research Product is a new methodological research approach that implements design research beyond prototyping to inquire into genuine everyday experiences in the domestic context with technological artifacts; experiences that evolve over time. In the context of research through design, a research products holds four interrelated qualities: inquiry-driven, independent, fit, and finish. In recent years, this has gained interest in the HCI community, however, research to investigate how to effectively operationalize this concept as a design practice has been limited. This thesis provides two descriptive case study projects, Tilting Bowl and Slow Game, to illustrate the design of electronics from the perspective of a research product. The contribution of this work will be three-fold: first, to offer an analytical descriptive account of the process of developing and implementing the electronics within two design artifacts that embrace the design concept of research product; second, to interpret and present those insights and challenges in each project; and third, to provide design guidelines based on our insights that can be operationalize by the research community.

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

“Collective wisdom”: Inquiring into collective homes as a site for HCI design

Author: 
Date created: 
2019-02-25
Abstract: 

The home has been a major focus of the HCI community for over two decades. Despite this body of research, nascent works have argued that HCI’s characterization of ‘the home’ remains narrow and requires more diverse accounts of domestic configurations. This thesis contributes to HCI studies of domestic environments through a four-month ethnography of three collective homes in Vancouver, Canada. Collective homes represent an alternative housing model that offers agency to individual members and the collective group by sharing values, resources, labour, space and memory. This research offers two contributions. First, I offer an in-depth design ethnography of three collective homes, attending to the values, ownership models, practices, and everyday interactions observed in the ongoing making of these domestic settings. Second, I interpret and synthesize my findings to provide new opportunities for expanding the way we conceptualize and design for ‘the home’ in HCI.

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

Exploring non-pragmatic visualizations for a residential water conservation game

Author: 
Date created: 
2018-06-21
Abstract: 

Residential water conservation is an ongoing challenge in which eco-feedback techniques can play a significant role. To promote water conservation among residents, especially children, we propose an engaging and informative approach that combines pragmatic and non-pragmatic visualizations, with gamification techniques. We target school-age children because they are beginning to learn about water conservation at school, and they have the influence on their parents at home. To explore the effectiveness of this approach, we conducted two user studies. We conclude that the non-pragmatic visualization is a promising approach in affecting users’ water conservation attitudes. Combining both pragmatic and non-pragmatic visualizations can bring more possibilities to the eco-feedback design. Also, the gamification strategies prove to be effective in motivating water-wise actions and promoting learning. Moreover, we also extract the insight for future design, including the aspects of aesthetic attributes of visualizations, the ambience requirement, and collaborative decision making.

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

RadStream: An interactive visual display of radiology workflow for delay detection in the clinical imaging process

Author: 
Peer reviewed: 
No, item is not peer reviewed.
Date created: 
2018-04-30
Abstract: 

Given the high caseload most radiology departments face on a daily basis, workflow optimization becomes a necessity to avoid delays and poor health outcomes. This requires detailed analysis of workflow data to identify problem areas in the process. Analysis of the clinical imaging process demands an understanding of temporal intervals and temporal event sequences and relationships. Working with radiology staff, we seek to provide a tool to help monitor and improve radiology department workflow in order to increase efficiency and productivity and ensure the delivery of timely clinical imaging reports. In this thesis, I present RadStream: a web-based retrospective, exploratory, interactive data visualization tool that provides a comprehensive overview of the radiology department’s daily activities. I worked closely with radiology staff to analyze the department workflow and classify the analytical tasks required by domain experts in order to inform the design of the tool. Together, we abstracted the steps involved in the clinical imaging process. We also identified factors affecting the workflow (such as personnel, machine availability, and resources) and noted the relationship between the different factors as it plays an important role in increasing productivity. RadStream depicts the steps involved in the process of clinical imaging and shows the flow of processes from one step to the next. The visual representation emphasizes the time intervals between the different steps and uses colour coding to denote the status of aprocess (on time, acceptably late, late) in compliance with standard radiology turnaround times (TATs). The main focus of RadStream is on monitoring performance with special attention to duration, delays, and compliance with standard TATs. RadStream was evaluated by radiology staff using hospital data and real scenarios to evaluate its effectiveness, efficiency, and usability. The initial feedback received was very promising. And based onresults collected from the evaluation studies, I sensed a general acceptance and excitement about the system as a quality assurance tool. I have also collected some constructive feedback to build upon for future releases. Finally, I reflect on lessons l learned from iteratively designing RadStream, and present design guidelines for the design of visual analytics tools for health care.

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

Leveraging Neoliberalism: Participatory Politics in Canada

Author: 
Peer reviewed: 
No, item is not peer reviewed.
Date created: 
2019-08-28
Abstract: 

Over the past two decades, there have been dramatic changes in how people participate in politics. Increasingly, people are turning away from political institutions in favour of more informal and unconventional modes of political participation. These modes are often facilitated by networked communication and allow for more 'participatory' forms of political culture. As a governing ideology that operates on multiple levels, neoliberalism has been central to these transformations. By influencing the values, practices, and institutions in Western democracies, it has transformed ideas of citizenship, publicness and democracy by weakening public institutions and privileging a focus on selfimprovement, private life, individualism, and market-oriented actions.

 

In this dissertation, I focused on emerging forms of political culture in Canada with a concern for the relationship between neoliberalism, the theoretical work on participatory politics and developments in practice. Through a series of three case studies, the aims of my project are to: 1) Demonstrate the diversity of this expanding field of practice in Canada and investigate the key characteristics, practices, and contradictions associated with initiatives; 2) Explain how patterns of participatory politics relate to and sometimes contest patterns of neoliberal governance; 3) Assess the degree to which emerging forms of participatory politics represent consequential approaches to public action.

 

While political participation has changed dramatically over the past two decades, we still lack empirical data on how the dynamics of neoliberalism have reshaped political culture in paradoxical ways that both constrict and widen the opportunities for political efficacy. This is the case despite the urgency to develop new ideas that address younger generations whose retreat from traditional methods of public participation, threatens the legitimacy of formal democratic institutions. There is a need to better understand how participatory politics provides avenues for agency that are currently unavailable through institutionalized politics in neoliberal societies such as Canada. In identifying the similarities, differences and limitations of the case studies, this dissertation will assist in assessing competing claims regarding participatory politics and help to inform interventions in policy and education that aim to foster a more robust democracy.

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