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

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Experience Before Construction: An Immersive Virtual Reality Design Tool for Architectural Practice

Author: 
Date created: 
2015-08-05
Abstract: 

In architectural design, understanding and communicating how a building will be experienced is an ongoing challenge. However, recent developments in Immersive Virtual Reality (IVR) technology are revealing a new design representation tool capable of providing realistic experiences of computer-generated spaces. Still, the question of how such design representation tools should be designed is a subject of ongoing debate. Here we first outline potential usage scenarios and system requirements based on interviews and focus groups with practicing architects, then describe how this information was used to inform the design of a foundational IVR representation interface that encompasses these scenarios and requirements, and lastly experimentally evaluate the interface according to the system requirements outlined initially. Our findings indicate that our embodied interface provided users with an immersive experience of the space without requiring a significant investment of set up time. Finally, design lessons and future design goals of our interface are discussed.

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

Varying Effects of Learning Analytics Visualizations for Students with Different Achievement Goal Orientations

Date created: 
2015-11-06
Abstract: 

Through advancements of Technology-Enhanced Learning an opportunity has emerged to provide students with timely feedback using Learning Analytics in the form of visualizations. To afford actual impact on learning, such tools have to be informed by theories of education. Particularly, educational research shows that individual differences play a significant role in explaining students’ learning process. However, limited empirical research has investigated the role of theoretical constructs such as motivational factors that are underlying the observed differences between individuals. In this work, we conducted a field experiment to examine the effect of three designed Learning Analytics Visualizations on students’ participation in online discussions in authentic course settings. Using hierarchical linear mixed models, our results revealed different effects of visualizations on the quantity and quality of messages posted by students with different Achievement Goal Orientations. Findings highlight the methodological importance of considering individual differences and pose important implications for future design of Learning Analytics Visualizations.

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

Harvesting the Interactive Potential of Digital Displays in Public Space: The Poetics of Public Interaction

Author: 
Date created: 
2015-11-27
Abstract: 

A digital public display is a platform of media architecture that can either take the form of a large-size stand-alone screen, which relies on LED, LCD or plasma technology, or else a video projection that illuminate the façades of buildings in dark settings. Like nondigital advertising billboards since the nineteenth-century, digital public displays typically tend to be used to deliver commercial content, publicize news and offer context-relevant information in accordance with the elementary one-way transmission model of communication. As a result, until recently, most public media displays remained non-interactive. But now that computational systems can support digitally-mediated interactions on this platform, interactive screen technology is becoming an increasingly common component of new urban digital infrastructures in semi-public and public space. This doctoral research examines how the interactive potential of digital public displays might be unleashed at the scale of the built environment if designers were to focus on their public vocation and their social affordances. In the past decade, display-based systems have mostly been studied, designed and produced top-down style by experts. However, some researchers have called for new methodologies that could help effectively bridge the gap between the top-down prescriptive design approaches and the bottom-up appropriative digital practices that shape the in situ usages of this urban technology. This doctoral work strives to take up this challenge by demonstrating that multisited design is an approach that can be used to shape the conception and function of interactive digital public displays in the context of urban infrastructural planning. An interpretive outcome of participant observation, this dissertation also reports on field observations made over two years, presented as a narrative punctuated with micro-analyses on design research. This further contributes to the literature by, first, implicitly suggesting throughout that the concept of real time public interaction can provide an abstraction that facilitates thinking about the design of interactive digital public displays; second, presenting thick descriptions that evoke four new possible purposes for this platform; and third, developing the concept of social affordances tailored to public space.

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

From Caribou Hide to Pixels: Digital Heritage and Interaction Design in the Virtual Museum.

Author: 
Date created: 
2015-09-23
Abstract: 

In this thesis I perform close readings based on my experience interacting with three different versions of an object – a traditional Inuvialuit parka in the Smithsonian’s collection, and the garment’s respective digital representations on two sites: 1) on the Inuvialuit Living History project and 2) on the Smithsonian Institution’s online database. My analysis is based on common principles between Activity Theory (AT) and the premise of Intangible Cultural Heritage (ICH). AT claims human activity as the foundation in meaning making (Kaptelinin & Nardi, 2006), while ICH is defined as ensembles of actions considered as meaningful traditions and practices beyond utilitarian purposes (Kurin, 2007). The close reading attempts to understand how these principles may inform effective design practice for representations of digital cultural heritage. In particular, how they are manifested in the digital heritage interface through the analytical lenses of: 1) new media narrative; 2) interactivity; and 3) spreadability of meanings.

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

A Code of Many Colours: Rationale, Validation and Requirements for a Sound-Based Letter Colour-Code that Might Support Some Children with Dyslexia in Spelling Certain Words

Date created: 
2015-08-06
Abstract: 

Dyslexia is a severe impairment in reading and spelling. Despite receiving best-practice remediation, many children with dyslexia fail to surpass the 30th percentile in reading and spelling. A major impediment to children’s remediation is poor attention, which motivates the development of stronger attentional supports. One intriguing candidate is dynamic colour-coding. We have developed a tangible software system (PhonoBlocks), which could leverage dynamic colour-coding. The present study was undertaken to better understand how to use dynamic colours to support children with dyslexia in learning through PhonoBlocks. I develop a theoretical framework for designing dynamic colour-codes and implement and assess it in a mixed-methods study with PhonoBlocks. My framework addresses a general knowledge gap in how to apply dynamic colour to literacy acquisition in software. I use my findings to identify individual and interface factors that affected children’s use of the colours, and recommend general design counter-strategies with specific applications to PhonoBlocks.

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

Virtual Reality Game Design for the Reduction of Chronic Pain Intensity in Clinical Settings

Author: 
Date created: 
2015-07-02
Abstract: 

Virtual reality applications have been shown to reduce discomfort and pain in acute pain patient demographics including dental patients, chemotherapy patients and burn patients. Currently little research literature exists on the effectiveness of virtual reality applications for chronic pain patients, who suffer from longer-term persistent pain experiences. This thesis outlines the testing of virtual environments designed to distract chronic pain patients from their embodied pain experiences. Their designs are influenced by contemporary game design theory, cognitive psychology and immersion frameworks. In a randomized crossover clinical study, twenty chronic pain patients spent ten minutes in Cryoslide, a virtual environment, using a head-mounted display, and ten minutes in a control condition. Cryoslide significantly reduced perceived pain intensity in chronic pain patients in the experimental condition. This shows that Cryoslide can be effectively used as an analgesic activity by chronic pain patients to lessen chronic pain intensity in short-term durations. The immersive design of Cryoslide contributes to the pain research community by directly addressing the lack of virtual reality research for chronic pain patients in the research literature. The results of Cryoslide’s clinical testing encourage future research inquiries into virtual reality applications designed for chronic pain patients with kinesiophobia, and virtual reality applications on mobile devices for at-home patient use.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Gameplay video
Gameplay video
Senior supervisor: 
Diane Gromala
Chris Shaw
Department: 
Communication, Art & Technology:
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) M.A.

Tools and Tasks: How Designers Make and Use Tools for Design Explorations

Author: 
Date created: 
2015-08-21
Abstract: 

Design exploration is a complex creative activity that has common characteristics across disciplines. The lack of a unified theory of design exploration poses challenges for designing Computational Design Tools (CDTs), especially with respect to how designers make and use exploration tools in different task environments. Through three related studies, I aim to understand how designers act in the exploration processes. Study 1 investigates conceptual sketching in webpage design explorations. Study 2 comprises interviews of architecture practitioners about their use of exploration tools. Study 3 is a lab study of the architecture schematic design exploration process given a large number of CDT generated alternatives. Experimental interactive visualizations were built to assist with design exploration and data analysis. From these studies, we conjecture that overloaded design exploration presents a task environment distinctly different from the non-overloaded case. This thesis concludes with system interaction design suggestions for future CDTs from our findings.

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

Family Communication Technology Design in Rural and Low Income Parts of Kenya

Date created: 
2015-05-28
Abstract: 

This dissertation focuses on understanding how families communicate over distance when using technology in Kenya, and how we should think about designing technology to support family communication over distance between rural and urban settings of the country. It is divided in two parts with first part exploring family communication practices in rural and urban Kenya, while the second uses the results from the first part to inform the design of communication technology for these families.Results from the first part of this dissertation reveal that family communication focuses on economic support, well-being, life advice, and everyday coordination of activities. However, infrastructure challenges and social factors such gender and reduced access to technology complicates family connection efforts using technology. As a result, families living in rural and low income urban regions of Kenya are not able to share experiences beyond phone and textual exchanges. I help address this problem in the second part of the dissertation by using findings from the first part of this dissertation to inform the design of a photo-sharing application and service called TumaPicha. TumaPicha supports rural and low income urban families to share common experiences and feel connected with each other using intermediaries to overcome connectivity and literacy issues. TumaPicha also supports rural families in using technology to capture activities in the village and share these experiences with relatives who live in urban areas. The results, together with the five design recommendations presented here, articulate the opportunities that designers will face while exploring family communication technologies in rural and low income urban areas of Kenya. This work shows promise for simple media sharing applications in Kenya that rely on a mixture of technology opportunities and existing social processes.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Carman
Department: 
Communication, Art & Technology:
Thesis type: 
(Dissertation) Ph.D.

Performing Political: Precarious Aesthetics of Digital Video in Capturing Activist Performance Art

Author: 
Date created: 
2015-05-04
Abstract: 

This thesis raises the question of the fundamental relationship between image legibility and the generation of viewer’s embodied reception and involvement in the context of activist performance art. The documentation of politically-engaged performance sets outto capture the body acting in a real, non-theatrical settings. The significance of the body’s corporeality, especially its representation on the screen and operation on the viewer is central to understanding how that actor’s body intervening in a public space functions to elicit corporeal response from the viewer. I argue that the limitations of technology particularly the imperfections present in networked digital video such as glitch, interruptions and blurred images, elicit active participation of the viewer based on their familiarity with these digital aesthetics of video poverty. I reflect upon the complexities behind the electronic images that in media aesthetics are referred to as precarious aesthetics. Based upon my proposition I selected and analyzed two video artworks documenting activist performance. My analysis was guided by the understanding that the low-fi quality of networked digital video activates the viewer’s sensory responses to video poverty building a sensory embodied bridge to the video performer.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
This is one of the videos I analyzed in my thesis. It is mentioned in the appendices and approved for use (see copyright memo
This is the second video I analyzed in my thesis. It is mentioned in the appendices and approved for use (see copyright memo
Senior supervisor: 
Thecla Schiphorst
Department: 
Communication, Art & Technology: School of Interactive Arts and Technology
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) M.A.

The Poetics of Stereoscopic 3D Cinema: Narrative, Attraction, and the Design of Cinematic Space

Date created: 
2015-08-19
Abstract: 

This study examines the poetics of stereoscopic 3D cinema through the close reading of scenes drawn from four exemplary works of 3D cinema: Dial M for Murder, Avatar, Hugo and Life of Pi. The thesis identifies and analyzes the forms of creative decision-making that are used to construct a stereoscopic cinematic space within each of these films. These spaces are designed to support the needs of storytelling and narrative immersion. In addition, these creative decisions can also be used to support another type of viewing experience: the “cinema of attractions”. These moments of stereoscopic attraction can support narrative intent, but they can also provide a different form of engagement: cinematic spectacle and visual pleasure. The thesis details the application of stereoscopic visual design decisions in conjunction with the more standard cinematic techniques of composition, lighting, and an array of monocular two-dimensional depth cues.

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