• Factors for successful Agile collaboration between UX designers and software developers in a complex organisation

      Avis, Nick; Kerins, John; Jones, Alexander J (University of Chester, 2019-07-23)
      User Centred Design (UCD) and Agile Software Development (ASD) processes have been two extremely successful methods for software development in recent years. However, both have been repeatedly described as frequently putting contradictory demands on people working with the respective processes. The current research addresses this point by focussing on the crucial relationship between a User Experience (UX) designer and a software developer. In-depth interviews, an online survey, a contextual inquiry and a diary study are described from a sample of over 100 designers, developers and their stakeholders (managers) in a large media organisation exploring factors for success in Agile development cycles. The findings from the survey show that organisational separation is challenge for agile collaboration between the two roles and while designers and developers have similar levels of (moderately positive) satisfaction with Agile processes, there are differences between the two roles. While developers are happier with the wider teamwork but want more access to and close collaboration with designers, particularly in an environment set up for Agile practices, the designers’ concern was the quality of the wider teamwork. The respondent’s comments also identified that the two roles saw a close – and ideally co-located – cooperation as essential for improving communication, reducing inefficiencies, and avoiding bad products being released. These results reflected the findings from the in-depth interviews with stakeholders. In particular, it was perceived that co-located pairing helped understanding different role-dependent demands and skills, increased efficiency of prototyping and implementing changes, and enabling localised decision-making. However, organisational processes, the setup of work-environment, and managerial traditions meant that this close collaboration and localised decision-making was often not possible to maintain over extended periods. Despite this, the studies conducted between pairs of designers and developers, found that successful collaboration between designers and developers can be found in a complex organisational setting. From the analysis of the empirical studies, six contributing factors emerged that support this. These factors are 1) Close proximity, 2) Early and frequent communication, 3) Shared ideation and problem solving, 4) Crossover of knowledge and skills, 5) Co-creation and prototyping and 6) Making joint decisions. These factors are crucially determined and empowered by the support from the organisational setting and 3 teams where practitioners work. Specifically, by overcoming key challenges to enable integration between UCD and ASD and thus encouraging close collaboration between UX designers and software developers, these challenges are: 1) Organisational structure and team culture, 2) Location and environmental setup and 3) Decision-making. These challenges along with the six factors that enable successful Agile collaboration between designers and developers provide the main contributions of this research. These contributions can be applied within large complex organisations by adopting the suggested ‘Paired Collaboration Manifesto’ to improve the integration between UCD and ASD. Beyond this, more empirical studies can take place, further extending improvements to the collaborative practices between the design and development roles and their surrounding teams.
    • Interactive Three-Dimensional Simulation and Visualisation of Real Time Blood Flow in Vascular Networks

      John, Nigel; Pop, Serban; Holland, Mark, I (University of ChesterUnviersity of Chester, 2020-05)
      One of the challenges in cardiovascular disease management is the clinical decision-making process. When a clinician is dealing with complex and uncertain situations, the decision on whether or how to intervene is made based upon distinct information from diverse sources. There are several variables that can affect how the vascular system responds to treatment. These include: the extent of the damage and scarring, the efficiency of blood flow remodelling, and any associated pathology. Moreover, the effect of an intervention may lead to further unforeseen complications (e.g. another stenosis may be “hidden” further along the vessel). Currently, there is no tool for predicting or exploring such scenarios. This thesis explores the development of a highly adaptive real-time simulation of blood flow that considers patient specific data and clinician interaction. The simulation should model blood realistically, accurately, and through complex vascular networks in real-time. Developing robust flow scenarios that can be incorporated into the decision and planning medical tool set. The focus will be on specific regions of the anatomy, where accuracy is of the utmost importance and the flow can develop into specific patterns, with the aim of better understanding their condition and predicting factors of their future evolution. Results from the validation of the simulation showed promising comparisons with the literature and demonstrated a viability for clinical use.
    • Virtual and Mixed Reality Support for Activities of Daily Living

      John, Nigel; Day, Thomas W. (University of Chester, 2019-05-14)
      Rehabilitation and training are extremely important process that help people who have suffered some form of trauma to regain their ability to live independently and successfully complete activities of daily living. VR and MR have been used in rehabilitation and training, with examples in a range of areas such as physical and cognitive rehabilitation, and medical training. However, previous research has mainly used non-immersive VR such as using video games on a computer monitor or television. Immersive VR Head-Mounted Displays were first developed in 1965 but the devices were usually large, bulky and expensive. In 2016, the release of low-cost VR HMDs allowed for wider adoption of VR technology. This thesis investigates the impact of these devices in supporting activities of daily living through three novel applications: training driving skills for a powered wheelchair in both VR and MR; and using VR to help with the cognitive rehabilitation of stroke patients. Results from the acceptability study for VR in cognitive rehabilitation showed that patients would be likely to accept VR as a method of rehabilitation. However, factors such as visual issues need to be taken into consideration. The validation study for the Wheelchair-VR project showed promising results in terms of user improvement after the VR training session but the majority of the users experienced symptoms of cybersickness. Wheelchair-MR didn’t show statistically significant results in terms of improvements but did show a mean average improvement compared to the control group. The effects of cybersickness were also greatly reduced compared to VR. We conclude that VR and MR can be used in conjunction with modern games engines to develop virtual environments that can be adapted to accelerate the rehabilitation and training of patients coping with different aspects of daily life.