The i-Solouk Group studies the use of technology in interpreting and modifying humans’ attitude and behavior.
The research tackles the grand challenges of the Qatar National Vision 2030 and contributes to the outcomes of the ‘Educated Population, Healthy Population: Physically and Mentally, and Capable and Motivated Workforce of the Human Development’ pillar and also the ‘Social Care and Protection’ outcome of the ‘Social Development’ pillar.
Together with national and international partner research groups and institutes, we aim to contribute to achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of Good Health and Wellbeing, and Quality Education.
Our set of expertise covers various facets of technology and its interrelationship with behavior, which includes;
The team performs both fundamental and applied research and provides knowledge, methods and tools concerning the informed and regulated relationship between technology on the one hand, and the perception, attitude and behavior of individuals, groups and organisations on the other. The themes of our research and innovation include:
Our work is interdisciplinary and covers multiple basic and applied research areas:
We investigate theory-informed persuasive designs and their applicability on various domains and populations. We also research systematic methods to develop these solutions, test them and evaluate and mitigate their risks, including the ethical risks.
We develop novel solutions to capture data needed for behavior detection and modeling, utilizing the Internet of Things (IoT) and advanced sensing and multimodal sensor data. We work on methods for analyzing the behavioral and emotional state of individuals, groups and collectives and draw patterns that can be then used in detecting deviation and important changes, responding to them in a proactive style. Application domains include security and safety, both in real-world and cyber spaces.
We work on strengthening users' critical thinking and awareness concerning the online intelligent mechanics and persuasive elements used to grab attention and influence behavior and decisions. The aim is to create immunity in users to hasty online decisions, digital addiction, fake news, malicious online interactions, and social engineering.
While digital media is a medium for negative social phenomena, such as bullying, hate speech, and misinformation, it can still provide an unprecedented opportunity to foster the fight against them. We develop software-assisted interventions to promote healthy and civilized interaction on social media and test them via self-reporting, observing actual behavior, and objectively through affective computing techniques.
Adopting healthy habits and lifestyle can be enhanced using digital nudging and persuasive technology techniques. This can be in preventative approaches, e.g. promoting the healthy sitting and water intake in proactive and intelligent ways, or as part of telecare, e.g. to enhance adherence to recovery plans and prevent relapse in problematic behavior.
We propose developing AI platforms developmental monitoring, screening for developmental delays and disabilities are all standard of care, as part of ‘well-baby’ and ‘well-child’ centers. Throughout childhood, there are multiple opportunities to support parents in providing a nurturing environment to promote child development and education, and to provide early interventions for the subset of children that require more intensive support and follow-up.
Gamification has been used to enhance willingness to learn and the pace of learning. Results in the literature were mixed with some claiming success even though they were based on short-lived studies. With AI, personalized feedback, self-monitoring and adaptive goal setting, become much possible. Advances in digital role playing, avatars and alternative reality, e.g. Metaverse, open an avenue for investigating whether we can increase and sustain the willingness to learn through an immersive online environment and furthermore detect learning difficulties and preferences and in a data-driven approach.
We study the role of technology design in triggering and in combating compulsive, impulsive, excessive and hasty usage styles, leading to harm on the individuals and their social circle. The aim is to empower users and increase their resilience so that they remain in control of their relationship with technology and maintain their digital wellness.
We propose solutions to enhance immunity against attempts to persuade violent radicalization. We develop techniques based on online Forum Theatre, empowered with interactivity and data analytics. To report such attempts and enhance the public participation in whistleblowing, we research novel techniques based on visual non-verbal communication.
We focus on data collection and annotation as well as data analytics of social media to infer trends and reactions to certain topical areas which help gauge the public attitude and behavior and inform policy makers and other local stakeholders.
We investigate how diverse stakeholders perceive the outcome of AI models. Through user-centered approaches, we explore how better to present the outcome of AI models in a way that preserves the different explainability factors.
AI and ethics in the Arab socio-cultural framework is a core topic that crosscuts all the aforementioned areas. Ethical concerns are amplified when technology influences people’s opinion and persuades certain choices. Hence, the notion of informed consent and explainability requires revisiting. For example, the explainability of AI shall not concern the characteristics of the algorithm and the process of data collection but, instead, further explain the biases it may trigger in people and who might be more susceptible to them.
The QNRF NPRP Cluster $3.8M project will research the concept of Digital Citizenship, taking a socio-technical perspective and focusing on the population of Qatar and the Arab region. Dr. Raian Ali from the College of Science and Engineering (CSE) is the Program Director.
HBKU’s College of Humanities and Social Science (CHSS) and College of Science and Engineering (CSE) support this project that takes a socio-technical interdisciplinary approach to digital citizenship. HBKU’s research partners are Qatar University (leading two projects); Northwestern University in Qatar (leading one project); Bournemouth University; Doha International Family Institute; Hamad Medical Corporation; Primary Health Care Corporation; Sidra Medicine; University of Padova; and the University of Salamanca. The cluster has six subprojects and involves over 25 PIs/LPIs.
The six sub projects involved in this Cluster will focus on building an observatory for trends and common topics on social media, web-based tools, educational materials and research into digital literacy and wellbeing, gender equality, social inclusion, behavior-based approaches to security and safety, detecting and limiting propaganda and other areas.
These outcomes will broaden current understanding of digital citizenship, while aiming to enhance the inclusiveness and civility of language and dialogue among digital users with a focus on the Arab world and GCC area.
600,000 USD project in collaboration with University of Bristol, Shafallah Center, Mada Assistive Technology Center. The team aims to design a tangible multisensory technology that explores a broad range of sensory modalities and promotes inclusive collaborative play in educational settings. Research into early child development has stressed the social nature and the importance of mutual play and joint action between children as a basis for healthy development. Yet, children with autism often find it challenging to engage in such activities.
Cognitive, behavioral, and educational science has developed frameworks and approaches to support children when participating in playful educational and social interactions. Modern-day technologies, in turn, can have a crucial role in supporting such social and collaborative play and can encourage children to engage a range of senses, including sound, touch, and smell. Also, the project investigates the extent to which cultural contexts influence co-design, social play, and inclusion.
Dr. Dena Al-Thani, Dr. Marwa Qaraqe, Dr. Joselia Neves (HBKU), Dr. Oussama Metatla and Dr. Alison Oldfield (University of Bristol), Dr. Achraf Othman (Mada Center), Ms. Noor Al Sulitit (Shafallah Center)
As technology permeates every aspect of our daily lives, having technology that is useful, inclusive, and safe is essential. Technology products and services are considered not to be neutral, rather, play active mediating roles between humans and the real world, leading to consequences on their lives and future. For this reason, designers of digital platforms, services and devices need to anticipate and minimize possible mental and cognitive costs caused by Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) frictions.
We hypothesize that designers’ attitude towards designing for inclusivity and wellbeing is beneficial, possibly critical, to meet those human-centered requirements. We aim at nudging the designers and broadening their spectrum of attention and interest from the immediate benefit of efficiency and usability, to designing for inclusiveness and maintaining users’ digital wellbeing.
Dr. Reem Al-Mansoori (Postdoctoral Researcher), Dr. Dena Al-Thani (Advisor), Dr. Raian Ali (co-advisor)
The idea of this project builds on the existing work that has been carried out over the last six years. The first version of the serious game prototype provided vocabulary learning of 12 categories (fruits, animals, and birds among others) to children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). The prototype has been extensively tested with the participants over the course of three months and results showed improvement in the children’s vocabulary.
The goal is to transform the learning of vocabulary through mobile augmented reality (MAR). The advantage of using MAR is its ubiquity i.e., learning anything supported through an app, anytime, anywhere. The MAR app could possibly be the first of its kind for the research community as well as for children with ASD in Qatar, their caregivers and teachers.
Dr. Dena Al-Thani (HBKU), Dr. Kamran Khowaja, Siti Salwah Salim (University of Malaya), Asadullah Shah (International Islamic University Malaysia)
This project aims to develop, evaluate, and launch an interactive educational platform utilizing the role of mixed reality (real-time teaching and virtual teaching) by enabling remote learning for children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). The idea of this project is a product of our continuous collaboration with Shafallah and Mada Center in which we have developed an augmented reality (AR) vocabulary learning application for children with ASD in English and Arabic.
The application enables the learning of letters and words in an interactive environment and the learning of letters and words in an interactive environment. Children will be able to have their teacher, and parents online simultaneously; however, in the absence of a teacher, a 3D humanoid talkative avatar would support a child and its parents in a virtual learning environment.
The platform will promote teachers to create tailored content and individualized plans online. It will also allow teachers, specialists, and parents to monitor the child's performance. The application can be used on tablet devices and will be deployed at the centers and special education schools.
Dr. Dena Al-Thani, Dr. Kamran Khowaja, Dr. Younss Ait Mou, Asma Hassan, Mohammed Hassan Hijab
This project aims to develop a mobile application that can help autistic adults to communicate with their friends and family. The objective of this project is to support the inclusion of autistic adults in society and thus encourage independent living.
Mohamed Hassan Hijab, Dr. Dena Al-Thani
Diabetes is one of the leading causes of death in developing countries. The existing mHealth app design guidelines do not support self-monitoring of health status, and behavior change to improve and adopt a healthy lifestyle. This project will focus on the development of a specialized checklist to evaluate the design of such applications.
Dr. Kamran Khawaja, Dr. Dena Al-Thani
Older persons’ use of ICT was found to improve self-esteem, and reduce isolation, and depression; and support health monitoring, thus enabling a sense of control and independent living at home. The aim of this project is to examine the experiences of older persons and their caregivers in the local context and to explore their perspectives on ICT, in supporting caregiving tasks and the independent living of older persons living at home.
In this project, we will address the following research questions, focusing on older persons and their caregivers: What are the opportunities for ICT to support daily activity participation and social inclusion of older persons and their caregivers, and what are the challenges, concerns, and enablers for ICT access and use to meet these opportunities?
Dr. Dena Al-Thani, Dr. Achraf Othman (Mada), Dr. Hajar Chalghoumi (University of Ottawa), Dr. Suzanne Hammad (Ehsan-Qatar Social Work)
The main aim of this project is to develop a technology for supporting and managing chronic patients using online peer support groups mechanisms. The technology will help to create, manage, and support online peer support groups in the form of small social networks of 10 to 15 people, where they can talk to others who are like themselves, and who truly understand their problems and can share the type of practical insights that can only come from first-hand experience.
The technology will consist of a mobile application and a backend that includes a data management platform and an AI-based support engine. It will also continuously monitor the patients’ lifestyle, such as physical activities, nutrition, and vital signs using their smartphones’ embedded sensors, such as gyroscope, accelerometer, magnetometer, and light sensors. to provide real-time recommendations, alerts, and reminders.
Dr. Zubair Shah (Lead), Dr. Raian Ali, Dr. Tanvir Alam, Dr. Dena Al-Thani
The project is a collaboration amongst the Qatar Foundation’s Policy Hub organizations, the World Innovation Summit for Education (WISE), the Doha International Family Institute (DIFI), the World Innovation Summit for Health (WISH) and the iSolouk group at HBKU.
The purpose of this project is to understand the impact of the problematic usage of digital media on family cohesion and relationships within families, the mental health and wellbeing of children and adults, and student learning. Such usage is characterized by being obsessive, excessive, impulsive, and hasty and is colloquially called ‘Digital Addiction’.
This project aims to provide the best practice guidelines for parents and educators and evidence for policymakers to help in addressing this issue in Qatar. Dr. Raian Ali was the scientific adviser of this project.