Reducing the Gulfs in Human-Computer Communication: Exploring the Effects of Non-Verbal Metaphors

PhD Thesis Proposal Defence

Title: "Reducing the Gulfs in Human-Computer Communication: Exploring the
Effects of Non-Verbal Metaphors"


Mr. Zhida SUN


Within every interaction between a human and a computer, there exist the
twin challenges of understanding the computer's current state and figuring
out how to update it. Previous Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) research
has been aware of "the gulf of evaluation" and "the gulf of execution",
and addressed them by applying metaphors. Metaphors are helpful in
reducing users' effort in understanding "what to do" and determining "how
to do it". However, the use of non-verbal metaphors has not been fully
investigated for the development of wider applications and the enhancement
of the user experience.

This thesis proposal explores the effects of using non-verbal metaphors to
reduce the mismatches within the communication between humans and
computers. To assist users to perceive computer feedback and interpret
what it means, we explore the effect of using the visual metaphors with
familiar objects to interpret, introspect, and interact with data. We
first present VideoForest, a visualization system designed with a
tree-like visual summary to support video analysis augmented by danmu
commentary data. We then examine a "postcard from a past food journey"
metaphor to facilitate retrospective reviews beyond users' historical food
posts. Next, we experiment with metaphorical biofeedback visual designs to
support user engagement during a guided stress management practice. To
assist users to manipulate computer controls and plan how to perform
actions, we use embodied metaphors to create meaningful interactions with
everyday gestures. We introduce Metaphoraction, a creativity support tool
that formulates meaningful interaction design ideas to extend gesture

To sum up, this thesis proposal takes metaphors' target domain as the way
to represent a computer's functioning, and the source domain as the users'
mental images with real-world references. The fundamental idea is to
investigate the effects of non-verbal metaphors in reducing the gulfs,
which includes conveying data insights, providing non-judgmental
experiences, eliciting pleasant reactions, support design ideation, and
increasing overall engagement. The studies prove that using metaphors can
move the represented model closer to the user's mental model, and the
resulting conclusions and design considerations benefit futuristic digital
communication between humans and computers.

Date:                   Wednesday, 6 May 2020

Time:                   10:00am - 12:00noon

Zoom Meeting: 

Committee Members:      Dr. Xiaojuan Ma (Supervisor)
                        Prof. Huamin Qu (Chairperson)
                        Prof. Chiew-Lan Tai
                        Dr. Sai-Kit Yeung (ISD)

**** ALL are Welcome ****