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ItemSupporting the User Experience of Running with Mixed Reality StoriesKan, Aleksandr ( 2019)Mixed reality stories (MRS) are stories designed to create a mixed reality experience with particular activities, such as running. A wide commercial success of a mixed reality stories designed for running suggested that such a format could provide unique benefits compared to other kinds of mixed reality systems. Yet little is known about how the user experience of running with mixed reality stories can be supported. This thesis aims to address this problem. To reach this aim I conducted three empirical qualitative studies. Study 1 explores the experience of running with an existing commercially successful mixed reality story. In this study, 11 participants ran with the MRS for three weeks and reported on their experience via semi-structured open-ended interviews before and after the trial, along with keeping a running diary throughout the study. The study helped to evaluate which aspects are most significant for constructing the user experience of MRS, how runners balance different aspects on the go, the importance of participants’ attitudes towards running, and also indicated that MRS format is different from both conventional audiobooks and traditional mixed reality systems. Study 2 focuses on how creative writers address running when working on the stories. During this study, three writers created three distinct stories with different approaches to connecting the physical and virtual worlds. Semi-structured discussions with the writers, along with the analysis of the stories they created helped to understand the differences between the approaches they used, and how writers repurpose familiar story mechanics for addressing running. Finally, Study 3 examines how runners perceive mixed reality stories. In it, 36 participants completed 45 runs with the three MRS created in the previous study. Similarly to Study 1, their experience was captured via semi-structured open-ended interviews after their runs. The findings of the study introduced four stages of story perception and revealed how such perceptions depend on participants’ personal relationships with running. Moreover, Study 3 validated, clarified, connected and extended findings from the first two studies, thus bringing the thesis to closure. Overall, this thesis addresses the gap in our understanding in how the user experience of running with mixed reality stories can be supported by clarifying how MRS are different from both traditional stories and other mixed reality systems, and how they enhance running by providing welcome distractions and by changing the meaning of the running. It suggests how runners balance different aspects of a complex experience by voluntarily engaging when it suits them. Finally, it breaks down the three most significant aspects of the MRS experience—running, story and MRS elements—to provide more understanding of how they work, and suggests how these insights could be used in practice.
ItemDigital technologies and encounters with zoo animalsWebber, Sarah Ellen ( 2019)Zoos worldwide are beginning to deploy digital technologies for both visitors and animals. Such installations include interactive signage for visitors and touchscreen computers for animal cognition research. Zoos present animals in carefully crafted settings, with the aim of inspiring visitors’ respect and concern for wildlife. However, little is known about the effects that digital technologies can have on visitors’ encounters with zoo animals. This thesis addresses this knowledge gap by investigating the design of digital technology that might support zoos in shaping visitors’ perceptions of animals. Through four studies, different methodological approaches are brought to bear on this question. This thesis commences by surveying the broader context of the zoo, through a first study which investigates digital technologies at a selected zoo. This case study examines the deployment and use of interactive systems against deeper themes relating to the zoo’s mission and exhibit design intentions. The outcomes of this study reveal tensions related to the introduction of digital displays within the naturalistic setting that zoos construct. The second study focuses on a particular design project to identify the special considerations relating to design of animal interactives, digital technologies to be used by zoo animals. Research through design approaches are adopted to examine the co-design of an interactive installation for use by orangutans. From this study emerge twelve considerations for designing animal interactives in zoos. These considerations respond to zoos’ visitor engagement strategies, animal interaction aims, and constraints associated with conducting iterative design in the zoo setting. The third study continues the trajectory of design, providing a formative evaluation of the animal interactive. This study, conducted as part of the design process, examines how the design intentions manifest in Study 2 were realised in visitors’ responses to the installation. Interviews conducted with visitors at the exhibit reveal a variety of cognitive and emotional forms of empathetic responses. Study 3 brings into focus the concept of belief in animal mind as a significant aspect of people’s responses to seeing animal interaction, motivating the subsequent evaluation of effects on perceptions of animal minds. The fourth study comprises a systematic evaluation of the effects of the animal interactive on visitors’ perceptions of animals. Study 4 combines qualitative methods to probe deeper notions of belief in animal mind, and quantitative methods to measure the effects of the animal interactive. This final study of the thesis entails a field experiment, to compare perceptions of visitors who witnessed use of the animal interactive to those of a control group who did not. In the final Discussion, four themes are developed which transect the studies. Addressing the social dimensions of animal-human-computer interaction, digital technology in naturalistic settings, anthropomorphism, and interactive design with animals, these themes respond to contemporary challenges for the field of animal-computer interaction.
ItemPerformances and publics while watching and live-streaming video games on Twitch.tvRobinson, Naomi Eleanor Isobel ( 2019)Twitch.tv is a video live-streaming website that launched in 2011 with content centred mostly, but not exclusively, on the playing of video games. Streamers or broadcasters play games in real-time often accompanied by a face camera and audio, while viewers or audiences watch them and interact through a text chat. This study responds to the small, but growing literature surrounding Twitch, and addresses the relative lack of ethnographic research on the topic. Previous research on the platform has focussed thus far on technical aspects of the platform, however user-focused qualitative research on the platform has started to emerge, making this research both timely and relevant. This thesis considers how, and to what extent, the social practices of users contribute to the concepts of ‘networked publics’ and ‘social performance’. It draws on the work of danah boyd and Erving Goffman and considers the usefulness of their theoretical contributions to help contextualise the forms and amendments associated with platforms like Twitch. The analysis emerges from an ethnographic study conducted completely online that features reflexive participant observation, semi-structured, open-ended interviews conducted via email, and in-depth observations of participants’ channels. The thesis is divided into three thematically-organised main data chapters that then feed into a discussion that draws them together to consider a larger conceptual framework. The first such data chapter, ‘Twitch as a Social Media Platform’, argues that the platform demonstrates its role as a social networking site through evidence of matchmaking and mental health. The second main chapter, ‘Twitch as a hobby-profession’, addresses casual and serious leisure and considers the platform in terms of personal investment, branding, and streamer motivation. The third main chapter, ‘Interactions of Streamers and Viewers’, considers the different types of interactions displayed between various users including parasocal relationships and how audiences may hold power on Twitch. Overall, the thesis offers insight into platform use and it characterises Twitch as a user-led participatory space for like-minded individuals who interact in particular ways in a shared community of practice. The interactions exist along a flexible continuum of differing levels of intimacy where users can lurk, actively participate, and network on both personal and professional levels. Audiences are critical for the platform to function, for communities to flourish, and for streamer success. Streamers build rapport and construct ‘authentic’ brands to attract viewers and promote loyalty and sincerity, and users are seen to actively shape and shift extant social structures and practices over time. Ultimately, users find meaning, produce a sense of community belonging, forge social networks, and shape their own identities in relation to others. The thesis concludes that Twitch somewhat paradoxically is both fleeting and robustly sustained by its contemporary community of practice. This community is produced and maintained through interaction and performance that shapes the construction of Twitch’s publics, with Twitch itself acting as a large participatory public as well. Performative sociality and networking are understood as key driving forces for Twitch, offering a rewarding space to make relationships, participate in self-care, share in leisure, and build potential livelihoods, with entertainment becoming a pleasing secondary function.
ItemDesigning a tangible user interface for the learning of motor skills in spinal mobilisationChacon Salas, Dimas Antony ( 2018)Current techniques in the learning of psychomotor skills in physiotherapy, especially in spinal mobilisation, follow the traditional classroom approach: an expert performs a demonstration and students try to emulate the task by practising on each other while receiving mostly verbal feedback from the instructor. The introduction of a tailored tangible user interface would overcome the limitation of requiring the presence of a tutor and an extra fellow student, improving the scalability of the teaching delivery, and provide more objective feedback. Inspired by this opportunity, this work presents SpinalLog, a visuo-haptic interface that replicates the shape and deformable sensation of a human lower spine for the learning of spinal mobilisation techniques by employing conductive foam. This smart material is used simultaneously to sense vertebral displacements and provide passive haptic feedback to the user, emulating the flexibility of a spine. However, there is a need to understand the impact of the feedback provided in the learning of spinal mobilisation. Therefore, this work aims to design and implement SpinalLog to improve the teaching of this activity, and to investigate the effect of visual feedback, deformable haptic perception and shape fidelity in the learning of this delicate psychomotor task. We evaluated each of these three features—Visual Feedback, Passive Haptic Feedback, and Physical Fidelity—in the first part of an experiment to understand their effects on physiotherapy students' ability to replicate a mobilisation pattern recorded by an expert. Whereas in the second and last part of the experiment we presented the full features of our system to the students to gather their viewpoint for future improvement. From the first part of the experiment, we found that simultaneous feedback has the largest effect, followed by passive haptic feedback. The high fidelity of the interface has little quantitative effect, but it plays an important role in students' perceptions of the benefit of the system. From the second part of the experiment, we found that students had a favourable view on the SpinalLog suggesting improvements for the shape fidelity and the visual components.