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Research Projects & Publications

Thumbnail of a view of a model of the vocal tract fabricated from acyrlic, a part of H. Dewey-Hagborg's student project.

Real-Time Visualizations of the Vocal Tract for Clinical Interventions (VTV)

These research activites are being undertaken by a collaborative team consisting of members from York, University of Tornoto, and OCADU (M. Baljko, Y. Yunosova, P. Faloutsos, N. Tenhaaf, F. Lebouthillier).

Speech impairments arise often due to difficulties controlling and coordinating the tongue, the most important speech organ. In this project, we are devising novel modes of visualization for use in a clinical setting for interventions focused on tongue movements. Our goal is to develop a suite of visualization techniques to provide salient feedback both to clients and to clinicians, for use among the client-clinician therapeutic dyad. The feasibility of this approach is predicated on recently completed work (by a collaborative research team to which the applicant belongs) that provides a sensor-rich alternative to acoustic-to-articulatory inversion, an approach that is based on the Wave system (Norther Digital, Inc.), which is a state-of-the-art enabling technology that can track a patient's tongue with sub-millimeter accuracy.

This work is funded in part by the Centre for Information Visualization and Data-Driven Design (CIV-DDD)

Thumbnail of an image of people walking through an intersection, from a high bird's eye perspective, intended to convey societal participation for all.

Assistive Technology Innovation through Critical Analysis

These research activities have been organized around the following question: Which presumptions of disability are tacit in the designs of assistive technologies and products? Software and hardware researchers and developments infrequently acknowledge the domain of critical disability studies in their work and thus embed their assumptions within their formulations of user requirements. Next, how can knowledge from this analysis be applied to the design of future assistive technologies and products? This research, based on this framework, has produced a series of specific advances and innovations in assistive technology development [See publication list by keyword for relevant publications].

Connected to this component is a program of research that applied principles of soure coding (Huffman encoding) to design optimal text entry interfacces from first principles.

Image of a close-up view of the artwork Push/Pull

Embodiment and Performativity in Interactive Digital Media

This research activity has centered on a multi-year collaboration with New Media artist Nell Tenhaaf (Fine Arts, York), anchored by a New Media Initiative Grant (2005-08) and subsequently funded by SSHRC and CCA grants. This work has taken the form of a collaborative Media Art practice, within which we have built a number of prototypes and interactive artworks (all are interactive digital media-based). These have functioned not only as works for exhibition but also as research outcomes. They not only have been analyzed in terms of their symbolic import for viewers, but also have served as test-beds for hybrid HCI-styled ethnographic and evaluation studies, albeit deployed in museum, gallery, and public display spaces. Embodiment and performativity are core concepts; a number of scholarly analyses have been published on these topics. Other components of this research thread concern the examination of the “Uncanny Valley” phenomena and attributions of agency to artificial life forms by interactants [Kaftarian, 2009].

See the Lo-Fi website for further information.

Thumbnail of an image of threads of from a pieces of a weaving, pinned up on a wall, intended to represent the replationships that draw us into contact with one another.

On-line Identity and Discourse in Social Media

These research activities have concerned the investigation of a number of phenomena, such as: individualization of the avatar as an expression of self in virtual worlds [McArthur, 2010]; terminology usage and discourse around models of disabilities in on-line communities [Tam, 2010]; memorialization and discourse about perinatal loss in web-based discussion fora [Davidson, Baljko, and Letherby, 2012]; and the use of social networks as an enabling technology for collaborative and performative poetry [Hamidi and Baljko, 2012].

Methodological aspects of this work have concerned reflexivity in on-line ethnography, processes around acquiring informed consent from those in on-line communities, and the utility of autoethnography. Specific technology innovations have concerned the adaptation of algorithms for the extraction, processing and analysis of unstructured, heterogeneous data.