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FEBRUARY  2016  

©  Foad  Hamidi,  2016

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Digital   living  media  systems  combine   living  media  such  as  plants,  animals  and  

fungi   with   computational   components.   In   this   dissertation,   I   respond   to   the  

question  of  how  can  digital  living  media  systems  better  motivate  children  to  use  

target   applications   (i.e.,   learning   and/or   therapeutic   applications)?   To   address  

this  question,  I  employed  a  participatory  design  approach  where  I  incorporated  

input  from  children,  parents,  speech  language  pathologists  and  teachers  into  the  

design  of  a  new  system.  !"#$%&'is  a  digital  embedded  system  that  uses  the  growth  

of   a   living   mushrooms   colony   to   provide   positive   reinforcements   to   children  

when  they  conduct  target  activities.  The  growth  of  the  mushrooms  is  affected  by  

the  amount  of  water  administered  to  them,  which  in  turn  corresponds  to  the  time  

children  spend  on  target  applications.    

I   used   an   iterative   design   process   to   develop   and   evaluate   three   Rafigh  

prototypes.   The   evaluations   showed   that   the   system   must   be   robust,  

customizable,   and   should   include  compelling  engagement  mechanisms   to  keep  

the  children   interested.   I  evaluated  Rafigh  using   two  case  studies  conducted   in  

participants’  homes.  In  each  case  study,  two  siblings  and  their  parent  interacted

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Figure   21.  Graph   showing   data   from   Phase   B   of   case   study   2   for   P4   and   P5   combined.   The  

horizontal  axis  shows  the  study  sessions  and  the  vertical  axis  shows  the  ratio  of   target  vs.  non-­‐‑

target  application  use.  

Once  the  study  was  completed,  the  mushrooms  were  harvested  by  P4  and  

P5  and  brought  to  the  children’s  school  to  be  shown  to  their  peers.  

Rafigh   Operation.   I   initialized   the   mushrooms   in   Rafigh,   by   soaking   it   as  

described  in  section  the  day  before  bringing  it   to  the  participant’s  home.  

The   irrigation   level   of   Rafigh   changed   during   the   study   as   per   the   protocol  

governing  the  watering  level  based  on  application  use  for  P4  and  P5  combined.  

The  irrigation  level  started  the  default  setting  of  MEDIUM  on  day  1  of  Phase  B  

(day  8  of  the  study).  It  increased  to  HIGH,  in  response  to  a  10%  increase  in  target  

application  use,  on  day  2  of  Phase  B  (day  9  of   the  study).   It  again  decreased  to

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MEDIUM   on   day   4   of   Phase   B   (day   11   of   the   study),   in   response   to   a   10%  

decrease  in  target  application  use.  It  increased  to  HIGH  again  on  day  5  of  Phase  

B   (day  14  of   the  study)   in   response   to  a  10%   increase   in   target  application  use.  

Finally,  it  again  decreased  on  day  7  of  the  study  (16)  to  MEDIUM,  in  response  to  

a  30%  decrease  in  target  application  use,  and  remained  MEDIUM  until  the  end  of  

the  study  (day  17). Post Interviews

In   this   section,   a   summary   of   the   data   collected   during   the   post-­‐‑interviews   is  

provided.  The  full  dataset  is  provided  in  Appendix  D.      

Follow  up   Interview.  With   respect   to   the   experience  of   interacting  with  !"#$%&  

and   participating   in   the   project,   P6   reported   that,   during   Phase   B,   P4   showed  

interest   in   using   the   applications   but   did   not   show   interest   in  !"#$%&   itself.   P5,  

however,  was  very  interested  in  the  mushrooms.  P6  stated  that  on  days  16  and  

17,  P5  noticed  that  the  mushrooms  had  stopped  growing  (the  growth  cycle  was  

finished).   He   was   disappointed   by   this   observation   and   asked   P6   what   was  

wrong  and  why  did   the  mushrooms  did  not  grow  more.  P6  described   that   the  

growth  cycle  of  the  mushrooms  was  over  and  it  is  time  to  harvest  them.  P5  did

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Participant  (s)   Statement/Observation/Action  

RQ1   P4   P4  was  interested  in  the  tablet  applications  from  the  beginning  of  Phase  A.    

RQ2   P4   P4  started  using  target  applications  on  the  iPad  from  the  beginning  of  the  

study  but  did  not  express  interest  in  !"#$%&  at  any  point.  

RQ3   P4    

RQ4   P4    

RQ5   P4    

RQ1   P5   P5  was   interested   in   the  mushrooms   from   the   beginning   of   Phase   B.  He  

told  P6  on  more  than  one  occasion  that  he  had  to  use  target  applications  so  

that   the   mushrooms   would   grow.   He   encouraged   P4   to   use   the   target  

applications  more  so  that  the  mushrooms  grow  more.  During  Phase  B,  he  

checked   the   mushrooms   everyday.   He   was   still   interested   in   the  

mushrooms  6  months  after  the  study  and  asked  P6  to  get  more  mushroom  

kits  to  grow.    

RQ2   P5   P5  was  interested  in  the  mushrooms  from  the  beginning  of  Phase  B  to  the  

end  of  the  study.  He  told  P6  several  times  during  this  time  that  he  had  to  

use  applications  so  that  the  mushrooms  would  grow.  He  even  encouraged  

his  brother  to  use  the  iPad  more  so  that  the  mushrooms  would  grow  more.  

He   checked   them   everyday.   Even   6  months   after   the   study,   P5  was   still  

interested   in   the   mushrooms   and   wanted   them   to   grow   more.   He   had  

started  to  eat  mushrooms  after  participating  in  the  study.  

RQ3   P5   According  to  P6,  P5  grasped  the  relationship  between  !"#$%&  and  his  use  of  

tablet   applications.   P6   had   observed   that   P5   expressed   that   he   had   to  

collaborate  with  P4  in  order  for  the  mushrooms  to  grow.  

RQ4   P5   P5  encouraged  P4   to  play  more   therapeutic  games  and  collaborated  with  

him  in  creating  expressive  stories.  

RQ5   P5   During   Phase   B,   P5   checked   the   mushrooms   regularly,   especially   after  

school  or  in  the  mornings  when  the  growth  was  more  visible.  At  the  end  of  

the  study,  P5  wanted  to  grow  the  mushrooms  again.  He  requested  to  bring

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the  harvested  mushroom  to  the  school  to  show  to  his  friends.  

RQ1   P6    

RQ2   P6   P6  stated  that  the  children  wanted  to  show  Rafigh  to  visitors  and  family.  In  

the   post-­‐‑study   interview,   she   stated   that   P5   was   interested   about   the  

mushrooms’  health  and  asked  why  they  didn’t  grow  larger.  She  believed  

that  it  was  important  that  the  mushrooms  were  real  and  that  otherwise  the  

children   would   have   a   different   experience.   P6   believed   that   using   real  

mushrooms   contributed   to  P5’s   interest   in  Rafigh   and  might  have   caused  

feelings  of  empathy  in  him.  

RQ3   P6   P6  successfully  described  the  relationship  between  Rafigh  and  P1  and  P2’s  

use   of   applications   both   after   the   initial   explanation   I   provided   at   the  

beginning  of  Phase  B  and  in  the  post-­‐‑study  interview.  

RQ4   P6   P6   stated   that   Rafigh   created   opportunities   for   conversation   about  

technology  and  mushrooms  with  the  children.      

RQ5   P6   P6  believed  the  project  was  a  valuable  learning  experience  for  the  children.  

She   said   the   mushrooms   created   possibilities   for   dialogue   and  

conversation   between   her   and   the   children.   She   believed   P5’s   interest   in  

the  mushrooms  was   linked   to   the   fact   that  he  believed  he  was  caring   for  

them.   She   encouraged   the   children   to   show  Rafigh   to   visiting   family   and  

friends.   At   the   end   of   the   study,   she   agreed   for   them   to   harvest   the  

mushrooms  and  bring  them  to  school  to  show  to  their  friends.    

[email protected]=(>R?  Qualitative  data  from  Case  Study  2

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