Usability Studies

User Interface Design and Usability Studies for Device Apps
Partners: School of Information and Library Science INLS 718 User Interface Design class
Group: Fei Yu, PhD; class registrants

Muse digital device

Muse Headband

Re-Thinking Meditation in a Digital Age A Muse Headband™ Assessment and Proposal


EarlySense digital device


Early Sense Live Design Assessment


Measuring steps with the activity tracker: a validation and reliability study on Fitbit Alta HR devices
Partners: RTI International and Department of Nutrition, Gillings School of Global Public Health
Group: Robert Furberg, PhD; Derek Hales, PhD; Gayatri Rathod; Fei Yu, PhD; Karthik Adapa, Saba Akbar, Brian Moynihan, Lynn Eades

Presentation on results from the Fitbit Study

The proposed study was to evaluate the validity of Fitbit Alta HR, a commercially available activity tracker using three approaches: orbital shaker testing, human testing during structured activities, and four days of free-living activity. Before being used for intervention purposes, the validity of the commercially available activity trackers needed to be established so that researchers using them can be confident in their utility as behavioral tracking devices. In addition, evaluating the Fitbit Alta HR helps consumers make educated decisions regarding device selection.

Brain VR – EEG-controlled Virtual Reality Flying Game
Partner: UNC-Chapel Hill Computer Science Students (Fall 2017 – COMP 523 – Software Engineering Lab)
Group: Jonathan Monroe, Mark Molinaro, Grady Hale, Ronald Ding

Brain VR combines electroencephalogram (EEG) data with virtual reality, allowing users to use their mind to control a video game in virtual reality. Users train the system by thinking “up” or “down” and then fly across a virtual landscape using only their thoughts. Other demos include a visualization of a user’s brainwaves emanating from a virtual brain and the ability of a user to control a campfire with their brain activity. The group created a configurable open source code library called Sharp BCI that anyone can use to recreate the project or work with EEG data.

Edgar’s Adventure – EEG-controlled Game for Kids
Partner: UNC-Chapel Hill Computer Science Students (Spring 2017 – COMP 525 – Serious Games)
Group: Michael Huang, Vincent Li, Lily Cui, Madhu Vadlamani

Edgar’s Adventure is a game for kids that can be controlled with an EEG headset. It uses the code created by the Brain VR group to power a serious game that is intended to be played by kids in the hospital, engaging them by giving them the power to control the game with their mind.

Alexa Project
Partner: UNC-Chapel Hill Computer Science Students (Spring 2017 – COMP 523 – Software Engineering Labs)
Group: Andrew Davis, David Snedecor, Shuocheng Huang, Brian Dalton

Computer Science students developed applications for UNC Health Care using the Amazon Echo voice controlled personal assistant. They are worked on apps to help physicians with phlebotomy (a decision tree to know which color tubes to use for blood draws) as well as a pediatrics patient quiz application for new parents.

Blood Draw App –
Alexa Parent Reference –

Supported Studies Examples

International Inhaler Studies
Investigator: Delesha Carpenter, Ph.D., M.S.P.H., Assistant Professor in the Division of Pharmaceutical Outcomes and Policy

Delesha Carpenter has started an international collaboration to develop a new youth-centered user-friendly device to assess children’s inhaler technique. CaDHRI provided her team with aerosol inhalation monitors (AIMs). Her team gathered youth feedback on an existing inhaler technique device using AIMs. Dr. Carpenter has been coordinating to gather data on youth’s assessment of the device’s usability with these devices in the U.S., U.K., and Australia.

Behavioral Intervention Study
Investigator: Deborah Tate, PhD, Nutrition and Health Behavior and Lineberger Cancer Center Member

Dr. Deborah Tate is leading a study to identify optimal timing, need and content of intervention messages that promote adherence to self-monitoring behaviors. The study is using a just-intime adaptive intervention model (JITAI).

Phase I has examined predictors of weighing and activity tracking among young adults using Fitbit Aria Wireless Scale data and a smartphone app to query them several times per day about their behaviors, moods, and contexts. Phase II will be a larger study of 120 young adults.

Heart Rate Measurement Study
Investigator: Greg Lewis, PhD, Department of Psychiatry

Dr. Greg Lewis has been designing and testing a noncontact system for measuring heart rate in human subjects for research and health applications. One critical weakness in the current system is its poor performance with the subset of the population that has the darkest skin tones.

Therefore, this study uses a nearinfrared (NIR) enhanced camera to test whether use of the NIR part of the light spectrum improves system performance to make it suitable for all subjects.

Last modified: 01/19/21