Usability Engineering of Cognitive Applications

usability engineering
COGNITIVE APPLICATIONS

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CHILDREN BCI EXPERIENTIAL IMPACT ON USABILITY ENGINEERING OF COGNITIVE APPLICATIONS

1.1 Emotional importance in usability of cognitive application

1.1.1    Children Cognitive Application

Understanding the emotions of human beings is important as it can help to tell how people usually think. To properly study the human emotions, then children aged 4-6 years old can be used in the study. Children in this age bracket are particularly important for use in the study since they cannot tell what really emotion or feeling is from the things they interact with (Ekman, 1992). In essence, the main aim of this study is to delve into the impact of the emotional of children in usability of technologies designed for children aged from 4 to 6 years old. The thesis also seeks to evaluate the usability of cognitive application – based on the children emotions at three stages in the software development process.

1.1.2    Brain Computer Interfaces (BCI) technology

Brain computer interface (BCI) headset technology would be used as a pathway between human and computer, and it will determine the emotion of the user – such as engagement/boredom, frustration, meditation, instantaneous excitement, and long-term excitement – to really understand the emotion of the target user and to predicate the effectiveness of these emotions in usability engineering of this game based on tree cycles testing. From a usability perspective, the researcher is interested in the following aspects:

(i) Effectiveness: the relative effectiveness of different mnemonic actions of children to reach an intended goal;

(ii) efficiency: time taken to complete tasks related to allocation of resources and usage; and

(iii) satisfaction: measures emotional of children reaction by the Emotiv Epoc headset in different emotions such as instantaneous excitement, long term excitement, meditation, engagement and frustration.

This research is particularly important because of the outcomes that would come out of it: the findings will reveal the children emotional impact in usability engineering of cognitive applications with the use of BCI headset. Moreover, the findings will reveal the emotional reactions of children, the usability engineering methods, and the brain-computer interaction technology; the results will also reveal what the suitable interactive design of memory games for children is; and the extent to which the designed game meet the usability requirements by expert review evaluation and heuristic inspection of experts.

Emotions are of great importance in enhancing or improving any system interaction (Brave & Nass, 2003). Previously, systems used to be developed aesthetically and with no regard or response to the emotional influence which they possessed (Papanek, 1985). In addition, system designers have reported that in the past, interactions with technology, computers in particular, were sterile and unemotional (Brave & Nass, 2003).

Nevertheless, design philosophers, scholars, neuroscientists and psychologists have pointed out that nowadays, emotion plays an integral role in how people interact with technology, which include computers as well as the interfaces that have developed to interact by means of this medium. According to (McCarthy & Wright, 2004), designers of interfaces and interactive systems need to recognize and centralize the emotional-volitional nature of any system.

In addition, it is important that designers understand they do not design emotions, but instead they design for the optimum experience that results from personal interaction with the objects experienced in everyday life. It is worth mentioning that an extensive array of emotions play influential roles in almost every goal-oriented activity (Brave & Nass, 2003).

Emotions are essentially built from plain reactions which easily promote the survival of an organism, hence could easily succeed in evolution (Damasio, 2001). Interestingly enough, (Damasio, 2001) gave a description about the ordering of feelings and emotions. Damasio (2001) pointed out that emotions managed to withstand the evolution test. He added that first, human beings have emotions, and then feelings come second after emotions given that evolution initially came up with emotions and later on feelings followed (Damasio, 2001).

In general, human beings ultimately concern themselves with emotions, those which are made public. Emotions are actions that take place mainly in the public as they are visible to other people considering that they occur on a person’s voice, face, or even in certain conducts. Conversely, feelings of a person are normally concealed, like all mental images necessarily are, and are hidden to anyone save for their owner, the most private property of the organism in whose brain they take place (Damasio, 2001).

Emotion is one of the integral elements that are involved in education and learning (Parkinson, 1996). It affects a person’s decision making, communication and even a person’s capacity to learn. Parkinson (1996) pointed out that emotions influence the decisions that individuals make, how effectively they learn and the way they communicate with other people. Psychologists define emotion as a disorganized, intuitive response, which is caused by a lack of effective adjustment (Cannon, 1927; Schachter & Singer, 1962).

Valence is understood as the amount of negativity or positivity that an individual feels toward something. Conversely, arousal is considered as what gets the attention of an individual. In the field of computing, emotion is integral considering that it has the potential of influencing the effectiveness of learning (McCarthy & Wright, 2004). In this research study, the researcher will look into the kinds of situations which bring about emotions within a learning environment.

As such, in this project, the researcher proposes to utilize an electroencephalography (EEG) device known as the Emotiv EPOC – as conducted in the Software and Knowledge Engineering Research Group (SKERG) at King Saud University – to sense or perceive the emotions of a user through brainwaves in cognitive application game. This will allow the researcher to determine positive or negative emotional impact of this game on children and to establish and understand the usability of these kinds of cognitive applications in childhood.

EEG is essentially an electrophysiological monitoring technique for recording the brain’s electrical activity. This monitoring method is usually non-invasive as the electrodes are placed along the scalp. In specific applications however, invasive electrodes are at times utilized (Tatum, 2014). EEG measures fluctuations of voltage that result from ionic current in the brain’s neurons. Emotiv EPOC – developed by Emotiv Systems – is a neuroheadset which lets the players to control game-play with their emotions, expressions and even their thoughts. It is worth mentioning that the Emotiv EPOC, as Shende (2008) pointed out, is an innovative and pioneering high-fidelity Brain-Computer Interface device for the video game market.

The neuroheadset itself is an easy-to-utilize, glossy and lightweight wireless device that features a number of sensors which are capable of detecting conscious thoughts, expressions, as well as non-conscious emotions basing upon electrical signals around the person’s brain (Shende, 2008). The technology basically processes these signals, allowing the players to be able to control the actions or expressions of their in-game character and influence game-play with the use of their emotions, expressions and thoughts.

The Emotic EPOC can non-invasively detect brain activity with the use of EEG, a measure of brain waves, through external sensors all along the individual’s scalp which detect the electrical bustle in different areas of the furrowed surface of the cortex of the brain, a section which is responsible for handling higher-order thoughts (Sergo, 2008).

The Emotiv EPOC can detect in excess of thirty dissimilar emotions, expressions as well as actions including emotional detections like frustration, exctitement, immersion, tension and meditation; facial expressions like anger/eyebrows furrowed, wink, shock/eyebrows raised, wink, smirk, grimace/clenched teeth, horizontal eye movement, and smile; and cognitive actions like rotate, drop, push, lift, pull on 6 dissimilar axis (Shende, 2008). Owing to these detections, the player enjoys a more lifelike, immersive experience.

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1.1.3    Software Usability Engineering

Emotions, as Parkinson (1996) pointed out, are one of the most important factors for creating highly developed educational systems that are adaptive to the needs of the user. Emotions are vital in a lot of areas of learning including creative thinking, motivation, concentration, and even inspiration. A big part of the presently available educational systems do not consider the effects which the emotions of a user could really have on their learning. As such, this study will improve the usability of user interfaces by applying the tree cycle to measure the user’s emotion in each experiment.

Usability Engineering (UE) is understood as the methodical approach that is used to improve the usability of user interfaces by applying various established techniques during the system development lifecycle (SDLC) (Nielsen, 1993). Five qualities of usability have been identified by (Nielsen, 1993), which include efficient to utilize, easy to learn, error prevention, easy to remember, and satisfying.

As per the standard document ISO 9241-11, usability should cover 3 important things: satisfaction, efficiency and effectiveness. Usability is essentially defined as the degree to which a product could be utilized by specific users to attain specific objectives with satisfaction, efficiency, and effectiveness within a specific context of use.

Satisfaction: this encompasses positive emotions, attitudes and comfort that rise from the utilization of a given service, product or system. Attitudes comprise the degree to which the expectations of the users are attained. An individual user’s satisfaction is a part of his or her experience. This measure of usability is measured using a brief questionnaire basing upon Lewis (1991).

Efficiency: according to ISO 9241, efficiency is defined as the total resources that are used up in a given task. It is the relationship between the outcome attained and the resources utilized. This measure of usability is measured through task times. The metrics of efficiency include the number of keystrokes or clicks which are needed or the total time on task. In general, the task needs to be defined from the perspective of the user and not as a single, granular interaction (Nielsen, 1993).

Navigation design aspects for instance links, menus, keyboard shortcuts, in addition to other buttons have an impact on efficiency. When the designer designs them very well, with actions that are expressed clearly, then less amount of effort and time would be required for users to make action and navigation choices. All in all, making the correct choices for efficient utilization of the software is contingent upon an understanding of the users and the way users prefer working.

Effectiveness: this is understood as the completeness, accurateness, and lack of negative outcomes with which the user achieves specific goals (Lewis, 1991). Effectiveness is established by examining whether or not the goals of the user were attained successfully and whether all work is correct. The usability measure of effectiveness is measured through the number of errors and also through task completion.

ISO 9241-11 describes how to find the information needed to consider when assessing or spelling out usability in terms of measures of user satisfaction and performance. There is explicit guidance on how to explain the context of usage of the product as well as the measures of usability.

Usability testing will be conducted to validate the research using the Emotive EPOC headset tool. The levels of effectiveness, efficiency and satisfaction will represent the usability of a cognitive application in the field; the memory game would be designed and implemented by the researcher. The results obtained would show the viably of the approach adopted to conduct a usability testing of a computer game.

1.2 Problem Definition

Emotions are crucial in improving any system interaction. Researchers have reported that emotion plays a fundamental role in the way that individuals interact with technology such as computers. Using youngsters aged 4-6-years-old, this study seeks to gain an insight into the impact of the emotional of children in usability of technologies designed for children aged from 4 to 6 years old.

The researcher will also investigate to determine the impact of these emotions in usability of this game with usability engineering by using BCI headset because this target – the 4-6 year old children – cannot tell really what they feel. The researcher proposes to employ an electroencephalography (EEG) device, the Emotiv EPOC, in detecting the emotions of a user through brainwaves in the cognitive application game to demonstrate that the emotional responses of people could actually vary.

The problem is to understand the impact of children’s emotion in the cognitive application game: children aged 4-6 years. This is significant considering that children cannot really explain their emotion. Therefore this research would help to determine the impact from the children’s minds rather than through conversation since these children cannot actually give good explanation of their young age. Moreover, the researcher will determine how this cognitive application game can be used to improve learning in children rather than just using this innovative technology without any benefits to the users.   

1.3 Research Scope

Target user

Target users are basically the individuals or persons who are expected to use the device the researcher is proposing in the study. This study will focus on samples of children aged from 4 to 6 years old from Saudi Arabia; hence the sample will comprise Saudi children only from the Saudi society. These children are the target users. The researcher plans to use them to determine their emotions in usability of technologies designed for them.

Hardware / Software

In this study, usability testing will be conducted for the purpose of validating the research using the Emotive EPOC headset tool. The levels of effectiveness, efficiency and satisfaction will represent the usability of a cognitive application in the field of memory game, which would be designed and implemented by the researcher in this research project. It is worth mentioning that the results that would be obtained may show the viably of the approach adopted to carry out a usability testing of a computer game.

1.4 Aims and Objectives

The major aim of this research study is to gain insight into the impact of the emotions of youngsters in usability of technologies designed for children aged from 4 to 6 years old. In addition, this research study seeks to evaluate the usability of cognitive application – based on the children emotions at three stages in the software development process.

  • Preliminary Study:

Study1: Design a memory game for children emotional impact Interaction (Low-fidelity prototype phase).

  • Study2: Usability evaluation for the Low-fidelity prototype game by Expert Review and heuristic Inspection (High-fidelity prototype phase).
  • Study3: Usability evaluation for the High-fidelity prototype game by BCI headset and Cognitive walkthrough Inspection (High-fidelity prototype phase Improve).

1.5 Research Questions

The main question of this research study is: What is the most effectively Children emotional Impact in Usability Engineering of Cognitive Applications using BCI headset?

The sub-research questions as the following:

  1. What are the children emotional reactions, the usability engineering methods and what is the brain computer interaction technology?

How the researcher will understand and investigate the terms of the application for this research is articulated in Chapter 2 – Literature Review.

  • What is the suitable interactive design of memory games for children?

The empirical study 1 will be carried out as reported in Chapter 3 – Study 1: Designing a memory game for children emotional impact Interaction.

  • What extent does the designed game meet the usability requirements by expert review Evaluation and heuristic Inspection of experts?

From a usability perspective, the researcher is interested in the following aspects: effectiveness: the relative efficacy of different mnemonic actions of experts to reach an intended aim; efficiency: time taken to carry out and finish tasks relating to allocation of resources and usage; and satisfaction: measures in quantitative surveys from experts (Lewis, 1991). The researcher will investigate applying usability engineering activity to evaluate the Low-fidelity prototype game; this study 2 will be examined exhaustively and reported in Chapter 4 – Study 2: Expert Review and heuristic Inspection.

  • How can conducting UE with BCI technology evaluation?

From a usability perspective, the researcher is interested in the following aspects: effectiveness: The relative effectiveness of different mnemonic actions of children to reach an intended goal. Efficiency: Time taken to complete tasks related to allocation of resources and usage. Satisfaction: measures emotional of children reaction by the Emotiv Epoc headset in different emotions such as instantaneous excitement, long term excitement, meditation, engagement and frustration.

The researcher will investigate applying different usability engineering activities different from Study 2 with BCI technology to evaluate the High-fidelity prototype game; this Study 3 will be examined fully and reported in Chapter 4 – Study 3: Cognitive walkthrough.

1.6       Research Methodology

The aim and objectives would be achieved through three interrelated studies. The Masters of Science thesis emphasizes concepts and processes related to usability engineering. The design and development of the cognitive game done by the researcher goes beyond the scope of the MSc thesis. The three studies in the project lifecycle are:

  • Study 1: designing a memory game for children emotional impact interaction

The researcher conducted previous study in designing cognitive game for children – case study – and with semi-structured interviews with neurologists, psychiatrists and education specialists in order to gather information about the current practice in memory game.

  • Study 2: Expert Review and heuristic Inspection

The researcher conducted usability evaluation inspection methods on Low-fidelity prototype. The experiment focused on the usability of interface/interaction design to engage the expert in the side of cognitive program. Intensive validity testing sessions have been conducted in every field, and challenges faced by the different user groups iteration.

  • Study 3: Cognitive walkthrough

The researcher conducted usability engineering processes during the development iterations of the game. The Emotiv Epoch EEG headset and Windows platform were selected for the development of the application to ensure usability for the different children groups. The development focused on both the emotion impacts and usability of interface/interaction design to engage children in the cognitive program. Intensive validity testing sessions have been conducted in all development iterations.

1.7 Outline of the Thesis (Document Structure)          

Chapter 2 is a review of literature related to the children emotions and usability engineering methods and usability aspects, brain computer interface (BCI) technology and the Emotiv Epoc headset tool. In Chapter 3, Preliminary Study that covers the designing of a memory game for children emotional impact Interaction is discussed. Chapter 4 describes Study 2, the usability evaluation for the Low-fidelity prototype game by Expert Review and heuristic Inspection. I

n Chapter 5, the researcher discusses Study 3 by presenting usability evaluation for the High-fidelity prototype game by BCI headset and Cognitive walkthrough Inspection. Chapter 6 provides a discussion of the results from each of the 3 studies. The thesis is concluded in Chapter 7 by presenting how all the objectives of the three studies have been achieved during the work in this thesis.

References

Brave, S., & Nass, C. (2003). Emotion in Human–Computer Interaction”. In J. Julie & A. Sears (Eds.), The Human-Computer Interaction Handbook. (1st. ed., pp. 81-96). Hillsdale: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

Cannon, W. B. (1927). The James-Lange theory of emotion: A critical examination and an alternative theory. American Journal of Psychology, 39, 10-124. Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org/stable/1415404?seq=1#page_scan_tab_contents

Damasio, A. R. (2001). Fundamental feelings. Nature, 413, 781.ISO/DIS 9241-11. Ergonomics of human-system interaction — Part 11: Usability: Definitions and concepts.

Ekman, P. (1992). An argument for basic emotions. Cognition and Emotion, 6, 169–200. 1992.

Lewis, J. R. (1991). Psychometric evaluation of an after scenario questionnaire for computer usability studies: The ASQ.SIGCHI Bulletin, 23, 78-81. Retrieved from https://www.researchgate.net/publication/230786769_Psychometric_evaluation_of_an_after-scenario_questionnaire_for_computer_usability_studies_The_ASQ

McCarthy, J., & Wright, P. (2004). Technology as Experience. The MIT Press.

Nielsen, J. (1993). Usability engineering. New York: Oxford University Press. Retrieved from https://www.nngroup.com/books/usability-engineering/

Papanek, V. (1985). Design for the Real World: Human Ecology and Social Change. Academy Chicago Publishers.

 Parkinson, B. (1996). Emotions are social. British Journal of Psychology, 87, 663–683. Retrieved from http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.2044-8295.1996.tb02615.x/abstract;jsessionid=1B1141E227EB4D393BBBE4E306696882.f01t01

Schachter, S., & Singer, J. E. (1962). Cognitive, social, and physiological determinants of emotional state. Psychological Review, 69, 379-399. Retrieved from https://www.researchgate.net/publication/9090242_Cognitive_Social_and_Physiological_Determinants_of_Emotional_State_In_Psychological_Review_695_379-399

Sergo, P. (2008). Head games: Video controller taps into brain waves. Scientific American, 15(9): 2-11. Retrieved from http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/head-games-video-controller-brain/

Shende, S. (2008). Emotive unveils world’s first brain-controlled video gaming headset. Emotiv Systems. Retrieved from http://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20080220005408/en/Emotiv-Unveils-Worlds-Brain-Controlled-Video-Gaming-Headset  

Tatum, W. (2014). Extraordinary EEG. Neurodiagnostic Journal 54.1: 3–21. 2014. Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24783746

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