Blog Posts for the Building City Dashboards Project at NUIM, Maynooth.

I’ve recently published two blog posts (here) for the Building City Dashboards Project at the National Centre for Geocomputation (NCG), Maynooth University.

On the road to addressing the interaction problems that city dashboard projects are currently facing, I have attended a couple of conferences and written about how these interdisciplinary subjects can be called upon to assist the project. The aim of my role is to create effective multimodal platform analytics; to explore optimal data representations for different devices and platforms; to develop augmented reality and other alternative data presentations; and to improve user experience and social interaction with data.
Follow @dashbuild for more updates about the BCD Project:

“The Building city dashboards (BCD) project seeks to determine how to build more extensive and effective city dashboards. It aims to develop new tools that extend beyond data visualisation tools to provide robust data analysis and decision support frameworks that can be used by experts and citizens alike.”

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NIME 2017

I’m pleased to announce that my research paper “A Qualitative Analysis of Haptic Feedback in Music Focused Exercises,” will appear in the 2017 NIME conference proceedings. New Interfaces for Musical Expression (NIME) is a highly respected, international conference dedicated to academic research applied in the development and investigation of creative applications of technologies and their role in artistic conceptualisations, expression, and performance. During the conference, researchers and musicians will gather to share their knowledge and recent work on new interface designs and evaluation techniques. I will be presenting at the conference on Wednesday, May 17th in the Papers 6: Musical HCI strand at 11:00 – 12:30.

See you there!

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Haptics in Music: The Effects of Vibrotactile Stimulus in Low Frequency Auditory Difference Detection Tasks.

You can now read my latest research paper in the IEEE Transactions on Haptics Journal!

The IEEE Transactions on Haptics (ToH) is a scholarly archival journal that addresses the science, technology and applications associated with information acquisition and object manipulation through touch.

You can get the Early Access article from the IEEE ToH website (Here) or (Here). Early Access articles are made available in advance of the final electronic or print versions. Early Access articles are peer reviewed but may not be fully edited. They are fully citable from the moment they appear in IEEE Xplore.

Haptics in Music: The Effects of Vibrotactile Stimulus in Low Frequency Auditory Difference Detection Tasks.


We present an experiment that investigated the effect of vibrotactile stimulation in auditory pitch discrimination tasks. Extra-auditory information was expected to have some influence upon the frequency discrimination of auditory Just Noticeable Difference (JND) detection levels at 160 Hz. To measure this, the potential to correctly identified positive and negative frequency changes for two randomly divided groups was measured and then compared. The first group was given an audio only JND test and the second group was given the same test, but with additional vibrotactile stimulus delivered via a vibrating glove device. The results of the experiment suggest that in musical interactions involving the selection of specific pitches, or the detection of pitch variation, vibrotactile feedback may have some advantageous effect upon a musician’s ability to perceive changes when presented in synchrony with auditory stimulus.
Published in: IEEE Transactions on Haptics ( Volume: PP, Issue: 99 )
Page(s): 1 – 1
Date of Publication: 29 December 2016
Print ISSN: 1939-1412

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PhD Thesis Available.

My PhD thesis is now available to read on the UCC CORA website:

Human-Computer Interaction Methodologies Applied in the Evaluation of Haptic Digital Musical Instruments.

Developments in Music Technology have seen major changes in the manner in which artists, performers, and creatives interact with digital technology; this is arguably due to the increasing variety of digital technologies that are readily available today. Digital Musical Instruments (DMIs) present musicians with performance challenges that are unique to Computer Music. One of the most significant deviations from conventional acoustic musical instruments is the level of physical feedback conveyed by the instrument back to the user. Currently, new interfaces for musical expression are not designed to be as physically communicative as acoustic instruments. DMIs are often void of physical feedback and therefore lack the ability to impart important performance information to the user. Moreover, there is currently no standardised way to measure the effects of this deficit. In a design context, best practice would expect that there should be a set of methods to effectively, repeatedly, and quantifiably evaluate the various elements of functionality, usability, and user experience involved in a DMI interaction. Earlier applications of haptics have tried to address device performance issues associated with the lack of feedback in digital device designs and it is argued that the level of haptic feedback presented to a user can significantly affect the user’s overall emotive feeling towards a musical device. In my research I explored a number of techniques in which physicality could be reintroduced to digital interactions with musical devices. I conducted psychophysiological studies that measured the effects of vibration, designed an evaluation framework that could be applied to musical instruments, and presented functional and longitudinal studies that applied the framework in the evaluation of haptics applied in Computer Music.

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Irish HCI 2016

Very pleased to have been able to contribute to the days proceedings at iHIC 2016 in Cork.

I was first up to present my research “Usability Testing of Video Game Controllers: A case study” and after that I discussed The Design of Tangible Digital Musical Instruments in the poster session that followed.




A very interesting day with friends new and old.

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The Design of Tangible Digital Musical Instruments: Mustwork2016

I’m very pleased to have been a part of the Mustwork2016 workshop that was held on Friday June 10th 2016 in the Michael Smurfit Business School, UCD, Carysfort Avenue, Blackrock, Co Dublin. The workshop was intended to allow for the presentation of scientific research and to highlight industrial, employment, and research opportunities in the area of music computing, technology, and analytics in Ireland.

My collaborative paper “The Design of Tangible Digital Musical Instruments” was presented to the delegates to offer guidelines that highlight the impact of haptic feedback upon the experiences of computer musicians using Digital Musical Instruments (DMIs). It was proposed that by following the guidelines presented in the paper, haptically enabled DMI designs can be fully communicative to all senses and present computer musicians with an array of carefully designed tools for their own artistic endeavours.

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EuroHaptics 2016

Many thanks to the organisers and attendees at EuroHaptics 2016. I had a great time at all the workshops and thoroughly enjoyed presenting to the delegates of the Musical haptics: use and relevance of haptic feedback in musical practice workshop. A few pictures from the day can be seen here and my presentation abstract can be seen below.

Quantifying The Effects of Haptic Feedback on DMI Functionality, Usability, and User Experience.
Interactions with acoustic musical instruments require musicians to be fully aware of how the instrument is reacting to their gestures in real-time. This is achieved by the musician’s awareness of instrument feedback. Arguably, the most important aspect of acoustic instrument feedback is delivered in the form of auditory responses and haptic feedback. In many virtual or digital instruments, this closed feedback loop is not present. Therefore, musicians are forced to rely on fewer of their senses to gauge the effect of their interaction upon the device they are using. In haptically enabled DMIs this is no longer an issue as feedback can be simulated via the inclusion of specific actuators and transducers in the device design process. With the separation of these elements, we are now able to explore the individual effects of each haptic element upon a user’s perception of functionality, usability, and the overall user’s experience. To achieve this, it has been observed that conventional HCI techniques can be applied in DMI analysis. However, these techniques are themselves restrictive in their application to creative endeavours. In this workshop, questions will be raised relating to the different analysis techniques that can be applied in a device analysis along with the possibility of quantifying the various aspects of devices that are used to create music with. It is hoped that through the discussion of device evaluation techniques applied in other areas of digital technology, validated evaluation practices for haptic DMI devices may be formulated and a formal measure of effects of haptic feedback in this area can be achieved.

Gareth Young
University College Cork, Ireland

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Games User Research: A Case Study Approach

Are you interested in computer games and learning more about how research is applied in real-world usability testing?

You can now purchase “Games User Research: A Case Study Approach” from CRC Press! Please check out our contribution in Chapter 7 (Usability Testing of Video Game Controllers: A Case Study, G. W. Young, A. Kehoe, and D. Murphy).


This chapter presents an investigation that compares the performance of game controllers in two-dimensional pointing tasks as defined in the international standard that specifies the requirements for non-keyboard input devices, ISO 9241-9. In addition, we discuss the evaluation of usability and user experience with these devices during game-play. We compared performance measurements for controllers while varying the user’s exposure to the different feedback elements contained within each controller device. We assessed the performance of the controllers according to the ISO 9241-9 evaluation recommendations. The devices used in the study included a Logitech mouse and keyboard, a Logitech Bluetooth Touchpad and keyboard, a Sony Playstation DualShock 4 controller, and Valve’s first-generation Steam controller. Besides performance testing, we measured user experiences with the controllers while playing a popular first-person video game. Participants were asked to complete game levels for each type of controller and answer questions outlining their experience.

Here’s a run down of what else to expect in the book…


  • Provides case studies on intermediate to advanced usability testing of video games on various platforms
  • Describes pragmatic techniques, implementation guidelines, and case discussions on how to improve the usability and user experience of video games
  • Focuses on multidisciplinary approaches to usability testing of video games, covering points of view and supporting information from areas such as interaction design, human/computer interaction, cognitive science, and others
  • Shows proven and effective usability methodologies and techniques for evaluating video game interfaces


“Fundamentally, making games is designing with others, everyone contributing from different angles towards the best possible product. Conclusively, Garcia-Ruiz has chosen a collection of chapters that demonstrates several different aspects of working in gaming and working with others that stands to raise the level of expertise in the field.”
—Veronica Zammitto, Senior Lead Games User Research, Electronic Arts, Inc., from the Foreword

Usability is about making a product easy to use while meeting the requirements of target users. Applied to video games, this means making the game accessible and enjoyable to the player. Video games with high usability are generally played efficiently and frequently while enjoying higher sales volumes.

The case studies in this book present the latest interdisciplinary research and applications of games user research in determining and developing usability to improve the video game user experience at the human–computer interface level. Some of the areas examined include practical and ethical concerns in conducting usability testing with children, audio experiences in games, tangible and graphical game interfaces, controller testing, and business models in mobile gaming.

Games User Research: A Case Study Approach provides a highly useful resource for researchers, practitioners, lecturers, and students in developing and applying methods for testing player usability as well as for conducting games user research. It gives the necessary theoretical and practical background for designing and conducting a test for usability with an eye toward modifying software interfaces to improve human–computer interaction between the player and the game.


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New Recording from Paul O’Donnell

Very pleased to have worked with Paul O’Donnell and Tadgh Kelleher at the Western Gateway Building Studio UCC last year. The CDs and digital copies will be available very soon, watch this space!

Paul O’Donnell’s Jazz World Ensemble (a sample of what’s on the new album).

Paul O’Donnell – Keyboard/Acoustic Piano
Niwel Tsumbu – Guitars
Eamonn Cagney – Percussion
Peter Erdie – Bass
Shane O’Donovan – Drums

Nick Roth – Soprano/Alto Sax
Claudia Schwab – Violin

All compositions by Paul O’Donnell
Engineered, mixed, and edited by Tadgh Kelleher and Gareth Young at the Western Gateway Building, UCC, November 2014 and February 2015.

Mastered by Tadgh Kelleher.
Produced by Paul O’Donnell.
Executive Producers: Tadgh Kelleher, Gareth Young, and Paul O’Donnell.
Graphic Design by Brian O’Shaughnessy.

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Picteilín 2016

I will be presenting at the Picteilín Creative Media Conference at DkIT on the 22nd of January. Look for “Usability Testing of Game Controllers” in Stream C if you are attending.

Picteilín 2016 Creative Media and Game Studies Conference.

Narrative, Interactivity, and Emergent Digital Practices.

January 22nd, Dundalk Institute of Technology, Dublin Rd., Louth.

Venue: P1081 & 1139 & 1135 in the PJ Carroll Building.


Picteilin Website

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