• A Tablet-based Virtual Environment for Neurosurgery Training

      John, Nigel W.; Phillips, Nicholas I.; ap Cenydd, Llyr; Coope, David; Carleton-Bland, Nick; Kamaly-Asl, Ian; Grey, William P.; University of Chester, Leeds General Infirmary, Bangor University, University of Manchester, Cardiff University (MIT Press, 2015)
      The requirement for training surgical procedures without exposing the patient to additional risk is well accepted and is part of a national drive in the UK and internationally. Computer-based simulations are important in this context, including neurosurgical resident training. The objective of this study is to evaluate the effectiveness of a custom built virtual environment in assisting training of a ventriculostomy procedure. The training tool (called VCath) has been developed as an app for a tablet platform to provide easy access and availability to trainees. The study was conducted at the first boot camp organized for all year one trainees in neurosurgery in the UK. The attendees were randomly distributed between the VCath training group and the Control group. Efficacy of performing ventriculostomy for both groups was assessed at the beginning and end of the study using a simulated insertion task. Statistically significant changes in performance of selecting the burr hole entry point, the trajectory length and duration metrics for the VCath group, together with a good indicator of improved normalized jerk (representing the speed and smoothness of arm motion), all suggest that there has been a higher level cognitive benefit to using VCath. The app is successful as it is focused on the cognitive task of ventriculostomy, encouraging the trainee to rehearse the entry point and use anatomical landmarks to create a trajectory to the target. In straight-line trajectory procedures such as ventriculostomy, cognitive task based education is a useful adjunct to traditional methods and may reduce the learning curve and ultimately improve patient safety.
    • Thermophoresis effect on the free convective flow in a differentially heated square cavity

      Pop, Serban R.; Grosan, Teodor; University of Chester; Babes-Bolyai University of Cluj Napoca (Begell House, 2015)
      A numerical analysis is made for thermophoretic transport of small particles through the convective flow in a differentially heated square cavity. The governing gas-particle partial differential equations are solved numerically for some values of the considered parameters to investigate their influence on the flow, heat, and mass transfer patterns. It is found that the effect of thermophoresis can be quite significant in appropriate situations.
    • Throwing sheep in the bandroom: Visualising a social and economic network of musicians in Cheshire and North Wales

      Southall, Helen; University of Chester (2012-07-25)
      The aim of this session is to apply some of the visual and technological tools of 21st-Century online social networking, e.g. network visualisation using "friend wheels", to a densely interconnected network of jazz and dance band musicians active in the Chester (UK) area in the 1950s, as revealed by research on the "hidden history" of live music in the area. Over 30 interviews with musicians, dancers and promoters have been collected, plus more than 200 photographs from personal collections, and an M.U. diary/address book belonging to local bandleader Wilf Field. The recent dramatic growth of online social networks such as Facebook, LinkedIn and MySpace has led to a revival of interest in the economic importance of social networks; Fraser and Dutta’s "Throwing Sheep in the Boardroom" provides an interesting survey of the issues, and was an inspiration for this session. But working musicians have long known the importance of knowing (and impressing) the "right people" in order to get work. Have social networks changed fundamentally since the advent of Web 2.0, or were they always there, and just a little harder to visualise when held in a pocket diary, rather than displayed on a Facebook wall?
    • Total war and its effects on the live music industry in Cheshire and North Wales

      Southall, Helen; University of Chester (University of Chester, 2014-10-03)
      Given the profound effect which World War II had on the economy of the UK as a whole, it would be surprising if specific areas of that economy – such as live music in the provinces – were not affected as well. How did ‘total war’ affect the live music industry on a local level? Evidence I have collected for a study of musicians active in and around Chester during the period suggests that the large number of military bases in the area, combined with the effects of other wartime factors such as conscription, rationing and the need to maintain both military and civilian morale, did indeed affect the size and nature of the market for live dance music locally. For instance, the large US Air Force base at Burtonwood was a source of work for local musicians, as well as an opportunity to mix with American musicians and music fans. As well as presenting information obtained through interviews with musicians and their relatives, I will also look briefly at what happened to the musicians and the bands after the war, when economic and social conditions changed again, at the same time as advances occurred in music-related technology.
    • Towards Organisational Learning Enhancement: Assessing Software Engineering Practice

      Fannoun, Sufian; Kerins, John; University of Chester (Emerald Publishing Limited, 2018-12-17)
      • Purpose – Issues surrounding knowledge management, knowledge transfer and learning within organisations challenge continuity and resilience in the face of changing environments. While initiatives are principally applied within large organisations, there is scope to assess how the processes are handled within small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and to consider how they might be enhanced. This paper presents an evaluation of practice within an evolving software development unit to determine what has been learned and how the knowledge acquired has been utilised to further organisational development. These results provide the basis for the design and implementation of a proposed support tool to enhance professional practice. • Design/methodology/approach – A small software development unit, which has successfully delivered bespoke systems since its establishment a number of years ago, was selected for analysis. The unit operates as a team whose actions and behaviours were identified and validated by the following means: in-depth interviews were carried out with each member of the team to elicit an understanding of individual and collective development. Interview data were recorded and transcribed and subjected to qualitative analysis to identify key themes underpinning knowledge acquisition and utilisation. Samples of project documentation were scrutinised to corroborate interview data. After analysing the data, a focus-group meeting was held to validate the results and to generate further insights into learning within the team. • Findings - Qualitative analysis of the data revealed key changes in thinking and practice within the team as well as insight into the development of individual and collective contextual knowledge, tacit understanding and learning. This analysis informed the proposal of a bespoke, lightweight, web-based system to support knowledge capture and organisational learning (OL). This approach has the potential to promote resilience and to enhance practice in similar small or start-up enterprises. • Research limitations/implications – Purposeful sampling was used in selecting a small software development team. This enabled in-depth interviewing of all members of the team. This offered a rich environment from which to derive awareness and understanding of individual and collective knowledge acquisition and learning. Focusing on a single small enterprise limits the extent to which the findings can be generalised. However, the research provides evidence of effective practice and learning and has identified themes for the development of a support tool. This approach can be extended to similar domains to advance research into learning and development. • Practical implications – Results of the work undertaken so far have generated promising foundations for the proposed support tool. This offers software developers a system within which they can reflect upon, and record, key learning events affecting technical, managerial and professional practice. • Originality/value – Small enterprises have limited resources to support OL. The qualitative research undertaken so far has yielded valuable insight into the successful development of a single software development team. The construction of a support tool to enhance knowledge acquisition and learning has the capacity to consolidate valuable, and potentially scarce, expertise. It also has the potential to facilitate further research to determine how the prototype might be extended or revised to improve its contribution to the team’s development.
    • Training Powered Wheelchair Manoeuvres in Mixed Reality

      Day, Thomas W.; John, Nigel W.; University of Chester (IEEE Xplore, 2019-09)
      We describe a mixed reality environment that has been designed as an aid for training driving skills for a powered wheelchair. Our motivation is to provide an improvement on a previous virtual reality wheelchair driving simulator, with a particular aim to remove any cybersickness effects. The results of a validation test are presented that involved 35 able bodied volunteers divided into three groups: mixed reality trained, virtual reality trained, and a control group. No significant differences in improvement was found between the groups but there is a notable trend that both the mixed reality and virtual reality groups improved more than the control group. Whereas the virtual reality group experienced discomfort (as measured using a simulator sickness questionnaire), the mixed reality group experienced no side effects.
    • Traversing social networks in the virtual dance hall: visualizing history in VR

      Southall, Helen; Beever, Lee; Butcher, Peter; University of Chester (IEEE Conference Publications, 2017-09-20)
      Digital recreations of historical sites and events are important tools both for academic researchers and for public interpretation. Current 3D visualization and VR technologies enable these recreations to be increasingly immersive and engaging. This poster describes a case study based on a mid-twentieth century Chester dance hall, examining the possibilities and limitations of 3D VR for recreating a public music venue which no longer physically exists, and also for visualizing and analyzing the professional network of musicians who played there, and at many other local venues.
    • The Use of Stereoscopy in a Neurosurgery Training Virtual Environment

      John, Nigel W.; Phillips, Nicholas I.; ap Cenydd, Llyr; Pop, Serban R.; Coope, David; Kamaly-Asl, Ian; de Souza, Christopher; Watt, Simon J.; University of Chester, Leeds General Infirmary, Bangor University, University of Manchester, Salford Royal NHS Foundation Trust, Cardiff University (MIT Press, 2017-03-15)
      We have previously investigated the effectiveness of a custom built virtual environment in assisting training of a ventriculostomy procedure, which is a commonly performed procedure by a neurosurgeon and a core task for trainee surgeons. The training tool (called VCath) was initially developed as a low fidelity app for a tablet platform to provide easy access and availability to trainees. Subsequently we have developed a high fidelity version of VCath that uses a stereoscopic display to immerse the trainee in the virtual environment. This paper reports on two studies that have been carried out to compare the low and high fidelity versions of VCath, particularly to assess the value of stereoscopy. Study 1 was conducted at the second annual boot camp organized for all year one trainees in neurosurgery in the UK. Study 2 was performed on lay people, with no surgical experience. Our hypothesis was that using stereoscopy in the training task would be beneficial. Results from Study 1 demonstrated that performance improved for both the control group and the group trained with the tablet version of VCath. The group trained on the high fidelity version of VCath with a stereoscopic display showed no performance improvement. The indication is that our hypothesis is false. In Study 2, six different conditions were investigated that covered the use of training with VCath on a tablet, a mono display at two different sizes, a stereo display at two different sizes, and a control group who received no training. Results from this study with lay people show that stereoscopy can make a significant improvement to the accuracy of needle placement. The possible reasons for these results and the apparent contradiction between the two studies are discussed.
    • Using and Validating Airborne Ultrasound as a Tactile Interface within Medical Training Simulators

      Hung, Gary M. Y.; John, Nigel W.; Hancock, Chris; Hoshi, Takayuki; University of Chester (Springer International Publishing, 2014-10)
      We have developed a system called UltraSendo that creates a force field in space using an array of ultrasonic transducers cooperatively emitting ultrasonic waves to a focal point. UltraSendo is the first application of this technology in the context of medical training simulators. A face validation study was carried out at a Catheter Laboratory in a major regional hospital.
    • Using Virtual Reality to Experience Different Powered Wheelchair Configurations

      Day, Thomas W.; Headleand, Christopher J.; Pop, Serban R.; John, Nigel W.; Dobson, William; University of Chester, University of Lincoln (2017-09)
      This paper presents recent additions to our Wheelchair-VR application, in particular the use of different drive configurations. We have previously shown that Wheelchair-VR can be used to improve driving skills. Here we consider the utility of the application in allowing users who are in the process of purchasing or upgrading a wheelchair to experience different configurations and options in a cost-effective virtual environment. A preliminary study is presented, which suggests that this approach can be effective.
    • Virtual Reality Environment for the Cognitive Rehabilitation of Stroke Patients

      John, Nigel W.; Day, Thomas W.; Pop, Serban R.; Chatterjee, Kausik; Cottrell, Katy; Buchanan, Alastair; Roberts, Jonathan; University of Chester; Countess of Chester Hospital NHS Foundation Trust; Cadscan Ltd (IEEE, 2019-09-04)
      We present ongoing work to develop a virtual reality environment for the cognitive rehabilitation of patients as a part of their recovery from a stroke. A stroke causes damage to the brain and problem solving, memory and task sequencing are commonly affected. The brain can recover to some extent, however, and stroke patients have to relearn to carry out activities of daily learning. We have created an application called VIRTUE to enable such activities to be practiced using immersive virtual reality. Gamification techniques enhance the motivation of patients such as by making the level of difficulty of a task increase over time. The design and implementation of VIRTUE is presented together with the results of a small acceptability study.
    • Visualization beyond the Desktop--the Next Big Thing

      Roberts, Jonathan C.; Ritsos, Panagiotis D.; Badam, Sriram Karthik; Brodbeck, Dominique; Kennedy, Jessie; Elmqvist, Niklas; University of Chester (IEEE, 2014-11)
      Visualization researchers need to develop and adapt to today’s new devices and tomorrow’s technology. Today, people interact with visual depictions through a mouse. Tomorrow, they’ll be touching, swiping, grasping, feeling, hearing, smelling, and even tasting data.
    • VRIA - A Framework for Immersive Analytics on the Web

      Butcher, Peter; John, Nigel W.; Ritsos, Panagiotis D.; University of Chester and Bangor University (ACM, 2019-05)
      We report on the design, implementation and evaluation of <VRIA>, a framework for building immersive analytics (IA) solutions inWeb-based Virtual Reality (VR), built upon WebVR, A-Frame, React and D3. The recent emergence of affordable VR interfaces have reignited the interest of researchers and developers in exploring new, immersive ways to visualize data. In particular, the use of open-standards web-based technologies for implementing VR in a browser facilitates the ubiquitous and platform-independent adoption of IA systems. Moreover, such technologies work in synergy with established visualization libraries, through the HTML document object model (DOM). We discuss high-level features of <VRIA> and present a preliminary user experience evaluation of one of our use-cases.
    • Wheelchair-MR: A Mixed Reality Wheelchair Training Environment

      Day, Thomas W.; University of Chester (IEEE, 2017-09-20)
      In previous work we have demonstrated that Virtual Reality can be used to help train driving skills for users of a powered wheelchair. However, cybersickness was a particular problem. This work-in-progress paper presents a Mixed Reality alternative to our wheelchair training software, which overcomes this problem. The design and implementation of this application is discussed. Early results shows some promise and overcomes the cybersickness issue. More work is needed before a larger scale study can be undertaken.