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

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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.

Exploring User Experience and Affect to Enhance Creative Artificial Intelligence Systems

Author: 
Date created: 
2015-07-15
Abstract: 

In recent years, Creative Artificial Intelligence Systems (CAIS) have transformed the nature of creative practices. This transformation has created a need for research on the importance of the human collaborator, the user experience (UX) and practical applications of CAIS.This dissertation addresses the need for research in this respect through three interrelated studies, that focus on supporting the collaboration between users and CAIS in the generation of creative artefacts. The first study investigates the adaptation of a research based autonomous CAIS within a practical design environment from a UX design perspective. This study focuses heavily on redefining modes of creative practice through co-creation with the system. The second and third studies broadly explore the role of affect in the creative process. Specifically, they focus on integrating an affective model within CAIS to acknowledge artistic intention and support the user's reflection and emotional expression throughout the creative process. These studies inform the future design and possible practical applications of CAIS within various domains, such as interactive art, art education, health & well-being and movement visualization.This dissertation enriches our understanding of practical uses of CAIS by emphasizing the role of the human collaborator through an exploration of affect and UX principles.

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

Eliciting user-sourced interaction mappings for body-based interfaces

Author: 
Date created: 
2015-07-08
Abstract: 

Thanks to technological advancements, whole-body natural user interfaces are becoming increasingly common in modern homes and public spaces. However, because whole-body natural user interfaces lack obvious affordances, users can be unsure how to control the interface. In this thesis, I report the findings of a study of novice and expert users mock controlling a balance-based whole-body natural user interface during a Think Aloud task. I compare the strategies demonstrated by participants while controlling the whole-body natural user interfaces and match them with known categories of interaction mappings (metaphoric, isomorphic, and conventional). My findings indicate that designing whole-body natural user interfaces around conventions is useful for novice users, while expert users are more likely to expect metaphors.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Alissa Antle
Carman Neustaedter
Department: 
Communication, Art & Technology:
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) M.A.

Hierarchical representation of tagged data for visualization, aggregation and navigation

Author: 
Date created: 
2015-08-04
Abstract: 

Digital social networks generate massive amounts of data that are sometimes tagged by their users. In this work we have developed an analytic pipeline to extract and visualize a hierarchical representation of the data for navigation and aggregation purposes.For this thesis, we gathered a collection of Q&A forums containing millions of tagged ques- tions. Our objective is to create a navigable structure from the data that provides a con- tinuum of views from the big picture, down to the details.We also devised a new algorithm to prune the data while preserving the important parts and relationships among data for very large datasets. We also showed a recursive aggregation approach to generate labels and timelines for intermediate nodes in the hierarchy.

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

Encouraging Physical Activity with Gamification Approaches: Goal-setting, Social Community, and “FitPet” Game-based Mobile Application

Author: 
Date created: 
2015-08-17
Abstract: 

Wearable trackers and mobile applications can facilitate self-reflection of doing physical activity. The gamification process incorporates game design elements with persuasive systems in order to encourage more physical activity. However, few gamification strategies have been rigorously evaluated; these investigations showed that using the same gamification mechanism to promote physical activity could have contradictory effects. Therefore, I developed FitPet, a virtual pet-keeping mobile game for encouraging activity. I evaluated its effectiveness, and compared it with the goal-setting and social community strategies in a six-week field study. The findings revealed social interactions were the most effective intervention. Contrary to prior research, goal-setting was not perceived as an effective way to provide motivation compared to social interactions overall. Although FitPet was not able to promote significantly higher activity, participants showed great interests in this approach and provided design insights for future research: implementing social components and more challenging gameplay.

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