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

Receive updates for this collection

Musical agents based on self-organizing maps for audio applications

Author: 
Date created: 
2019-05-28
Abstract: 

Musical agents are artificial agents that tackle musical creative tasks. Musical agents implement the technologies of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Multi-agent systems (MAS) for musical applications. Musical agent studies situate in the interdisciplinary studies of Musical Metacreation (MuMe) with a focus on the agent architectures. Metacreation and MuMe combine the artistic practice of Generative Arts with the scientific literature of Computational Creativity. We define Musical Metacreation as an interdisciplinary field that studies the partial or complete automation of musical tasks. In this work, we concentrate on an audio-based musical agent architecture with unsupervised learning while presenting the literature review of musical agents. Our review of musical agents surveys seventy-eight musical agent systems that have been presented in peer-reviewed publications. Building on our literature review, we propose a typology of musi- cal agents in nine dimensions of agent architectures, musical tasks, environment types, number of agents, number of agent roles, communication types, corpus types, input/output types, human inter- action modality. Our typology of musical agents builds on the AI terminology and agent architecture typology in MAS. In comparison to agent typology of MAS, the categories that we present in our typology address the specific phenomenon that appear in the agent-based applications of musical tasks. Our survey of musical agents indicated a possibility of research on an audio-based musical agent architecture with unsupervised learning. The implementations of musical agents that we present in this thesis utilize audio recordings with unsupervised learning because a variety of musical styles are available in the audio domain. Audio recordings are accessible; thus, the curation of a corpus for agent learning is easier. amount of work to gather the training data. To address this research possibility, we proposed an architecture called Musical Agent based on Self-Organizing Maps (MASOM) for audio applications. We were inspired by Edgard Varèse’s definition of music, which suggested that music is “nothing but organized sounds.” We put the notion of music as organized sounds into practice by combining autonomous audio latent space generation with musical structure modelling. This unique combination suggests that an audio-based musical agent architecture requires two kinds of sound organization: organizing sounds in latent sonic space to differentiate sound objects and organizing sounds in time to create temporal musical structures. We present two main real-time applications of Musical Agents based on Self-Organizing Maps: architectures for experimental electronic music with machine listening and an architecture for virtual reality applications with respiratory user interaction. Our applications exemplify the strengths and possibilities of audio-based musical agents in the artistic domain. We believe that MASOM architectures can be useful for the applications of “musical creativity as it is.” We also propose that the innovative perspective of MASOM architectures provide an exploration of the “musical creativity as it could be.”

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

Connecting urban commuters and communities using location-based technologies

Author: 
Date created: 
2018-09-05
Abstract: 

This doctoral work aims to explore how working professionals living in urban cities want to gain location-specific knowledge of their community through technology. While previous research has explored location-based systems and urban informatics, much of the work has focused on social and community life, and systems to support it. In this doctoral work, my goal is to go beyond social and community engagement by exploring organizational routines in the home, and designing a location-based technology to put community information in the context of the locations in which they occur. This includes exploring the facets of domestic life that involves community awareness and routine travel via public transit in urban cities. This dissertation is comprised of four studies presented in a cumulative format. The four studies include, 1) a mixed-methods study exploring the usability of city portals, 2) an exploratory study investigating the community information needs and routines of families, 3) an iterative design process that produced a community information system: a location-based game, City Explorer, and 4) another qualitative study that evaluated City Explorer by way of a field deployment. This work poses a critical reflection on how to design for people in urban cities and the role that mobile technology plays in people capturing, sharing, and viewing community information. Moreover, I offer a reflection on the changing definitions of community and the complexities that arise with the emergence of the Internet of Places and location-sharing. I conclude with a methodological reflection on the research methods used throughout my doctoral work. Finally, this dissertation is addressed to HCI and mobile computing researchers who are interested in designing location-based technologies to support community awareness and engagement.

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

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.