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Identifier 000402822
Title Supporting young children in ambient intelligence environments
Alternative Title Υποστήριξη μικρών παιδιών σε σύγχρονα περιβάλλοντα διάχυτης νοημοσύνης
Author Ζηδιανάκης, Εμμανουήλ Γεωργίου
Thesis advisor Στεφανίδης, Κωνσταντίνος
Reviewer Σαββίδης, Αντώνης
Ζαμπούλης, Ξενοφών
Abstract Ambient Intelligence (AmI) is a vision of the future information society stemming from the convergence of ubiquitous computing, communication and intelligent user - friendly interfaces. Many AmI applications aim to improve and enhance everyday living activities for a variety of target user groups, including non - traditional users of interactive technologies. However, the potential benefits and impact of AmI technologies for children is under - investigated. This work aims to build an Ambient Intelligence (AmI) environment which is capable of supporting the development of young children through playing. In order to achieve this goal, this thesis proposes an AmI technological framework to support the design, development and deployment of innovative games. These games are capable of monitoring and evaluating children’s skills and abilities, while, on the other hand, enhancing children playing experience as they adapt to meet the continuously changing playing maturity. At the same time, children’s needs for activity, exercise and pleasure are optimally covered while also providing opportunities for creativity. The proposed technological framework facilitates the creation of smart games that share unique features such as: a) being adaptive to children’s s kills and abilities, b) being able to establish the appropriate communication channels with children (verbal or non - verbal) c) allowing children to have the control so that with practice they are able to play unsupported and thus develop their self - esteem and independence, d) improving motivation, and f) reducing fear of failure. For producing the proposed technological framework, the stakeholders (i.e. young children, their parents as well as early intervention professionals) were initially identified and their requirements were collected and analyzed. This resulted into the elaboration of functional and non - functional requirements allowing the definition of interaction scenarios within the context of AmI environments. Regarding the framework implementation, a service - oriented architecture was conceived, along with the elaboration of various subsystems. The various components were designed and built based on a generic architecture, so as to support knowledge management annotation and extraction, alternative ambient interaction techniques, personalization and adaptation. Furthermore, the proposed framework facilitates the automated extraction of knowledge regarding children’s skills, abilities and overall development based on interaction monitoring, so as to offer indications regarding the children developmental state, maturity level and skills. As a result, the provided technological infrastructure allows the detection of potential developmental issues to be further investigated and diagnosed if necessary. To this end, the parents are provided with general information (in a pleasant and practical way) about their child’s physical and mental development progress, as well as indications of a possible skill immaturity. Finally, early intervention professionals are provided with extensive data in addition to the full interaction history for reasoning about whether the child is meeting all the necessary developmental milestones. At the same time, this technological infrastructure is employed with the help of occupational therapists to create innovative ways to use new technology in their practice. In the context of an AmI environment, the practical usage of the framework has been validated through the design and implementation of a number of augmented artifacts to act as physical or digital means facilitating interaction between children and the system. These artifacts include an augmented interactive children’s table, an augmented chair, a digital pen, digital dice, etc. Furthermore, several physical artifacts such as puzzle pieces, identity cards, toys, etc., that typically contain no technology, were augmented using the framework. For the provision of augmented interaction channels several applications were created including a three - dimensional virtual playfellow, digital reproductions of famous games such as puzzles, card games, etc. These applications act as the required software layer to host the novel interaction channels proposed by this research work. For both parents and early intervention professionals to administer these applications and the system, several content editing and interaction monitoring tools were implemented to support each stakeholder group’s needs based on the extracted requirements. Finally, the framework itself is a ready to use tool for developers who wish to develop novel applications to support playful interaction within AmI environments. In this respect, the framework provides a number of tools for the creation, interaction scripting, monitoring and integrating of augmented artifacts, so as to radically decrease the required development effort. The aforementioned framework was deployed within a simulation space in the FORTH’s AmI Facility and a two - phase evaluation with children, parents and early intervention professionals was conducted in order to identify potential usability barriers prior to the practical exploitation of the concepts. The first phase of the evaluation was conducted early on and after implementing the basic technological infrastructure, so as to primarily measure user acceptance as well as the ergonomic design of the settled artifacts. Participants of this evaluation were children aged from three to six years old. The second phase of the evaluation was conducted after the complete deployment of the framework, i n order to assess its value for each targeted stakeholder. Therefore, the evaluation user base was expanded, including young children in the age range of three to seven years old, their parents and early intervention professionals.
Language English
Issue date 2015-05-12
Collection   Faculty/Department--Faculty of Sciences and Engineering--Department of Computer Science--Doctoral theses
  Type of Work--Doctoral theses
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