Summary

Given the impact optimal usability can have on medical devices, intragenic errors and patient safety, this research may increase uptake of Connected Health devices within Healthy Communities. It may influence health and innovation policy. It relates to Sustainability (Digital Futures) where technology has the potential to shape future standards.

Introduction:

The usability of a device is of vital importance. Usability is a significant predictor for determining the uptake or adoption of a device or software application amongst its target user population [2]. Sub optimal usability is the main reason why several technologies have not been widely adopted in the past. In medical settings, clinician-friendliness of devices are imperative given counter intuitive machine interfaces can have a fatal impact on patient lives and indeed healthcare staff. For this reason, the FDA, MHRA and other regulatory bodies have put in place statutory mechanisms that enforce medical device manufactures to validate the usability of their devices before they are introduced into routine healthcare. However, the current standard usability testing protocols, which are empirical, use self-rated Likert and semantic differential scales which are presented in the form of subjective qualitative surveys and given to a small sample of users.

Objectives:

To review state of the art usability testing protocols and current usability standards.

To compare subjective and objective metrics as well as quantitative and qualitative approaches to user research.

To propose a new methodology for capturing and quantifying the user experience.

To trial this new methodology to record data from a population of users.

Utilize the data collected to develop new statistical models of which the industry can adopt to objectively quantify the usability of devices in disciplines such as medical device manufacturing, aviation, web design, games design and mobile computing.

Description:

This PhD proposal will look to define metrics that best discriminate between good and bad user experiences. This may also involve an evaluation of including objective psyho-physiological measurements (biometrics) derived from wearable sensors and eye tracking metrics that perhaps can be used to capture a more complete picture of the user’s experience and satisfaction level when interacting with a device or software application. The PhD researcher can then use their proposed method to acquire data from a range of users to assess changes/improvements in individual performance, building statistical models and probability distributions. These new models informing international guidelines development for objective quantification of device usability. This may have a significant impact on international usability standards and policies.  Working partly in a Living-Lab setting which is a real test bed and an experimentation environment where users and producers can co-create innovations.  The living lab allows for different innovation methods, such as user evaluation, to be applied in collaboration with various stakeholders to find and evaluate new solutions.

The supervisors have significant experience in New Product Development (Magee), usability testing (Bond, Boyd, Magee), training on medical devices (Magee, Bond) and design thinking methodologies (Boyd, Magee).


Essential criteria

  • To hold, or expect to achieve by 15 August, an Upper Second Class Honours (2:1) Degree or equivalent from a UK institution (or overseas award deemed to be equivalent via UK NARIC) in a related or cognate field.
  • Sound understanding of subject area as evidenced by a comprehensive research proposal
  • A comprehensive and articulate personal statement
  • Research proposal of 2000 words detailing aims, objectives, milestones and methodology of the project

Desirable Criteria

If the University receives a large number of applicants for the project, the following desirable criteria may be applied to shortlist applicants for interview.

  • Completion of Masters at a level equivalent to commendation or distinction at Ulster
  • Practice-based research experience and/or dissemination
  • Experience using research methods or other approaches relevant to the subject domain
  • Work experience relevant to the proposed project

    The University offers the following awards to support PhD study and applications are invited from UK, EU and overseas for the following levels of support:

    Vice Chancellors Research Studentship (VCRS)

    Full award (full-time PhD fees + DfE level of maintenance grant + RTSG for 3 years).

    This scholarship will cover full-time PhD tuition fees and provide the recipient with £15,000 maintenance grant per annum for three years (subject to satisfactory academic performance). This scholarship also comes with £900 per annum for three years as a research training support grant (RTSG) allocation to help support the PhD researcher.

    Vice-Chancellor’s Research Bursary (VCRB)

    Part award (full-time PhD fees + 50% DfE level of maintenance grant + RTSG for 3 years).

    This scholarship will cover full-time PhD tuition fees and provide the recipient with £7,500 maintenance grant per annum for three years (subject to satisfactory academic performance). This scholarship also comes with £900 per annum for three years as a research training support grant (RTSG) allocation to help support the PhD researcher.

    Vice-Chancellor’s Research Fees Bursary (VCRFB)

    Fees only award (PhD fees + RTSG for 3 years).

    This scholarship will cover full-time PhD tuition fees for three years (subject to satisfactory academic performance). This scholarship also comes with £900 per annum for three years as a research training support grant (RTSG) allocation to help support the PhD researcher.

    Department for the Economy (DFE)

    The scholarship will cover tuition fees at the Home rate and a maintenance allowance of £15,285 per annum for three years. EU applicants will only be eligible for the fee’s component of the studentship (no maintenance award is provided). For Non-EU nationals the candidate must be "settled" in the UK. This scholarship also comes with £900 per annum for three years as a research training support grant (RTSG) allocation to help support the PhD researcher.

    Due consideration should be given to financing your studies; for further information on cost of living etc. please refer to: www.ulster.ac.uk/doctoralcollege/postgraduate-research/fees-and-funding/financing-your-studies



The Doctoral College at Ulster University


Reviews

Profile picture of Yong Xie

I am Dean and Professor of Fine Arts School, Shenyang University. I received my undergraduate in Graphic Design at Luxun Fine Arts Academy and Masters of Applied Art at Luxun Fine Arts Academy too. My research is about art and social actions.It is one of the best experiences for me to study PhD at Ulster in Belfast. No words can express how much I learned and gained from my supervisors and colleagues and how much I feel grateful to them. They have broaden my views and deepen my understanding about art and art practice. With their help, my work "Cyber Cocoon Kids" was exhibited at UN in New York in 2018, which was one of my proudest moment. What a luck that I am from China, Shenyang, sister city of Belfast. I love Belfast and I would like to contribute to cooperation of the two cities in the future. With this PhD experience, I put what I learned into practice.

Yong Xie - PhD by Published Works in Art and Design


Profile picture of Jacqueline Wylie

The PhD training programme and regular supervision contacts have provided the direction and support necessary to ensure that I deliver a quality thesis in a timely manner.I have thoroughly enjoyed the experience of working at Ulster University and feel it has put me in a better position to sustain a full time career as an artist and academic in the years to come.

Jacqueline Wylie