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

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

Towards more accurate immersive 3D sketching

Date created: 
2019-08-27
Abstract: 

This doctoral work aims to reduce the gap in knowledge of how users utilize immersive 3D sketching through a better understanding of what affects them while drawing in virtual reality. My first goal is to know more about the reasons behind the reduced accuracy of 3D sketches compared to 2D ones, with an eye towards potential differences between users with different skill levels. While previous research described the various challenges of immersive 3D drawing, those descriptions have focused mostly on identifying the reasons regarding why people draw worse in 3D than 2D. In this doctoral work, my goal is to understand how the perceptual and cognitive limitations of humans affect their behaviours when working in virtual environments. The second goal of this doctoral work is to develop new user interfaces that help novice users draw better using virtual reality. I aim to allow users to express their ideas more easily, through improving stroke quality and global shape likeness, without affecting their stroke expressiveness. The user’s stroke quality measures (locally) how close a drawn stroke is to an intended one and shape likeness measures how (globally) similar a drawn object is to the intended shape. Improving both of these qualities makes sketching a useful tool to share concepts and to aid the user’s memory. My work on these two goals resulted in four different projects. Each project was previously published, and I present the full text of those four studies in this cumulative format dissertation. The four projects include 1) a study of the effect of changing the viewpoint when drawing in 3D, 2) a study of the effect of the depth perception problems of stereo displays on hand pointing in peripersonal space, 3) a system called Multiplanes, and 4) a system called Smart3DGuides. In addition to these projects, I posed a critical reflection on the user interface requirements for immersive 3D drawing systems to inform the design of future interfaces. Finally, I address this dissertation to user interface designers and HCI and design researchers who are interested in using virtual reality as a new medium to sketch.

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

Designing for kinaesthetic experience: A somatic approach to developing soft wearable prototypes to support self-regulation

Author: 
Date created: 
2019-08-30
Abstract: 

This exploratory Research-through-Design thesis investigates a design for self-regulation using kinetic, textile-based feedback to mediate participants’ felt experience of stress-release. Through a somatic approach to designing for self-regulation, my thesis presents insights on how to mediate rich communicative qualities from physical movement into embodied aesthetics to cultivate and deepen a user’s kinaesthetic understanding with their emotions and body cues. The human capacity for kinaesthetic empathy, is a great resource that is underutilized. The ability to sense and train kinaesthetic cues can support greater somatic awareness for self-regulation. Not only are they rich in a meaning-evoking way, they can incite for aesthetic, meaningful experiences that can transform our physical state. This is particularly useful in situations where stress-release is needed. This thesis engaged three iterative design projects that included four design studies and the development of 19 material prototypes, 3 on-table functional tactile prototypes, and 2 upper-body soft wearable design prototypes.

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

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