Integrating user-centred design with Agile development in SMEs

Silvia Bordin

My research focuses on the adoption of user-centred design by small Agile companies. The work is based on a series of industry case studies: these allowed me to first identify some communication breakdowns that may hinder the integration of user-centred design and Agile development, and that therefore need to be taken into account by the company management willing to support this process; then, based on these focal points, I trained developers on a curated set of design techniques, with the goal of achieving the delivery of usable and useful software. Results show that the proposed approach has improved interface usability, encouraged team communication, and in general supported the enactment of a user-centred mindset at the organisational level.




Behavioral Biometrics for Smartphone User Authentication

Attaullah Buriro

Behavioral biometrics, Unobtrusive, Authentication

Despite being security and privacy critical, smartphones are still protected by traditional authentication mechanisms such as PINs and passwords, whose limitations and drawbacks are well known and well documented in the security community. The recent introduction of physical biometrics like facial, fingerprint and iris recognition, in smartphone authentication, has mitigated the problems with user input, however, they still suffer from other usability and security issues. Hence, new, accurate, and user-friendly authentication mechanisms are required. In this direction, behavior-based authentication solutions have recently attracted a significant amount of interest in both commercial and academic contexts. The underlying principle of our approach is to design solutions that authenticate users with either minimal or no cooperation from the users. We design, prototype and test the proposed authentication mechanisms based on our identified human behaviors, such as how a person holds the phone, lifts the phone, types free-text PIN on the phone, signs her name on the touchscreen, etc. Moreover, we provide a comparative evaluation, based on accuracy, performance, and usability, of our proposed mechanisms with the available state-of-the-art solutions. All of our solutions exploit the existing hardware (avoiding additional hardware requirement) and hence can be implemented on most of the smartphones available in the market today.




Child Orchestra

Designing a digital playground for preschool children

Andrea Conci

Child orchestra is part of the Italian ministry project Inf@nziaDigitales 3.6, it aims to renew the curriculum activities by using new technologies. In particular, Child Orchestra aims to create an agumented space to foster active listening and social activities. The technology was developed following participatory design and HCI methods and tested in a local kindergarten in a period of 7 months.




Engaging participants in the design of a domain-specific collaborative tool

Mercedes Huertas Miguelanez

Computer supported cooperative work, participatory design, user experience, user motivation, lexico-semantic resources

Different collaborative tools have been used in the construction of different technologies aimed at engaging people in the co-construction of resources. However, the lack of contribution is still a major issue in different domains. This research aims at the design and implementation of an online domain-specific collaborative tool. Such tool will be focused on the construction and maintenance of a multilingual lexico-semantic resource as existing ones are experiencing a lack of maintenance and quality control mechanisms over their content. To this aim we will focus on different design techniques and tools that can be used to increase people’s engagement. In particular we aim at identifying individual needs that can motivate people, experimenting with participatory design techniques to increase their sense of ownership of the tools, and studying the relationship between engagement and content quality. The study is grounded on computer supported collaborative work, participatory design and user experience.




Physiological Modelling of Empathic Annotations in Spoken Dialogue

Juan Manuel Mayor Torres

Empathy, perception-action, interoceptive-awareness, N170, N400, EEG, ERP, EPN, HRV, α-asymmetry, contagion, emotion regulation

Spoken dialogues represent a distinctive type of multimodal interaction in which human empathy is not necessarily represented by an unique neural-level source. This considerable ambiguity in empathy’s conceptualization has motivated the development of multiple models to describe emotion regulation and control. Perception-action model has defined empathic accuracy as a result of dynamic flow of self/other-awareness. Thereby, any empathy annotation is then constrained by a series of multidimensional perceptions that human observer relates with other’s emotional states. In spoken dialogue case, an external observer constructs a sequential meta-cognitive response, in order to associate a set of utterances with the corresponding emotional content felt by speakers (target). However, recent studies have considered that perception-action-coupling is conscious and non-automatic, depending on contextual appraisal factors such as in-group/out-group biases, cultural disaggregation and neural-response overlapping. This incremental variability in empathic annotation tasks, supports the idea that contextual representations increase the importance of the observer’s state instead of lexical, acoustic and psycho-linguistic features measured in dialogue. Meanwhile, interoceptive-awareness triggered by medial-cingulate-cortex (MCC), anterior-insula (AI) and anterior-cingulate-cortex (dACC) activations, modulates observer’s cognitive responses, thus attributing evoked neural activity from low-level semantic representations (e.g. N170, N400), until a complete set of interconnected speech-acts (e.g. early-positivities, α- asymmetry). Likewise, primary emotional contagion embodies visceral autonomic activity such as an incremental increasing of vagal tone and heart-rate reactivity, integrating the interoceptive-awareness presented in human-observerswith sympathovagal sensitivity. In summary, the reliability of empathic annotations is highly dependent on multiple observer consensus and the level of automaticity that can be perceived on target’s interoceptive response and its subsequent contextual feedback. In the following proposal, we describe the design of a multimodal framework dedicated to evaluate empathic annotations in real human-human conversations, aligning measurements from central and autonomic activations. Concordantly, we propose to extend the perception-action model, testing two different types of experiments. First an approach without an explicit stimulus onset-asynchrony (SOA), based on a variable-length conversational stimuli and the corresponding α-rhythm’s spiking obtained from observer’s prefrontal responses. And synchronously, integrating speech-acts as a multi-level semantic stimuli, and associating evoked-related-potentials (ERPs) plus early positivities/negativities with fine-grained empathic sequences in an instantaneous gap.




Haptic Feedback for Learning To Climb

Eleonora Mencarini

Haptic feedback, wearable devices, rock climbing, co-design, contextual design

In my PhD project, I investigate the use of haptic feedback for learning sports. I consider climbing as case study, an extreme sport that requires both a high level of self-confidence and control over motor skills. By adopting research methods and practices of Interaction Design (such as Contextual Inquiry, Participatory Design, etc.), I aim at designing a valid device for the community of climbers and, at a broader level, to identify the communicative abilities of haptic feedback.





The design of games for a purpose

a theoretical and methodological framework

Zeno Menestrina

Video Game Design, Serious Game, Participatory Design, Cognitive Training

The training of cognitive processes is supported by tools coming from several years of research. Although their effectiveness is indisputable, when patients belong to a young age group there is a risk that the training could be considered boring and repetitive. A few research on the subject are exploring video games as a possible answer to the problem. An evolution of these training tools may come from a design that gives greater value to the playful experience. The issue that arise is how the two factors, an effective cognitive training and a playful experience, can coexist. Our project focuses on the design and implementation of a computer game for cognitive training, with a full integration of the training within the game mechanics. Not a 'frame of play' around well-defined exercises, but an experience that is as close as possible to classic video games from the entertainment industry. The ludic component should not prevail, otherwise the game has no added value. The training purpose should not force the designer to make a set of cognitive exercises disguised as a game. All these issues should be faced in cooperation with all the stakeholders. As in fact, the game designers know the full potential of the game, it is unlikely that they have the same expertise of the cognitive scientists; neither they can presume capabilities and tastes of the players. The process of design we propose is based on three elements. The first is an in-depth study of video game design principles in order to devise a game based on well-established criterions. The second is a direct involvement of the experts, in our case the cognitive scientists, for a good balance between the playful component and the 'purpose' of the game. The third, inspired by more recent works in the field of serious, is a co-design with players through workshops and focus groups, in order to create a gaming experience based on their tastes and desires.





A game-based framework for investigating the motivations of intergenerational social interaction

Mark Mushiba

Persuasive technology; active ageing; social-isolation; persuasive games; games for elderly, intergenerational social interaction.

Social isolation is a societal challenge. It affects people of all ages but particularly elderly who struggle to maintain social ties into later-life. Persuasive technology has emerged as a promising approach to encouraging social interaction. Despite success in the health domain, the efficacy of persuasive technology is often questioned. This is due to a lack of clear methods for identifying effective persuasive strategies. Interventions to social isolation primarily focus on elderly in clinical care, overlooking the existence of older adults who live independently. These gaps present an opportunity to encourage social interaction between different groups. Intergenerational social interaction is a possible avenue but the motivations of elderly to engage with younger groups are not well-understood. This research proposes an investigation into motivations for intergenerational interaction rooted in persuasion theory. It also explores the use of a game-based tool to elicit and investigate effective persuasive strategies for intergenerational social interaction.




Entity-Centric Visualization of Open Data

Sajan Raj Ojha

HCI, HDI, Visualization, Usability, User Eperience, Open Data, Semantics, Entities

The diversity which is intrinsic to open data affects intuitiveness and acceptance from the end user’s perspective. While the existing visualization techniques provide various ways to exploit open data in different domains, they still lack mechanisms to capture generality and flexibility across highly heterogeneous data representations which are crucial in the open data domain. We propose novel visualization approach that exploits an entity-centric representation of open data. The key idea is that people intuitively perceive things as entities and categorize them according to their similarities and differences. The approach is supported by a UI architecture that allows aligning underlying open data described by the entities with a meaningful user experience.




Designing for senior social activism

Linda Tonolli

Participatory design, Co-Design, HCI

My PhD research focuses on designing for senior social activism, developing a critical perspective on ageing stereotypes in normative and institutional narratives, co-designing with participants contextual tools that foster the creation of commons. Further research interests includes Anthropology, Participatory Design, Critical Theories and DIY.