The COVID-19 virus disrupted all aspects of our daily lives, and though the world is finally returning to normalcy, the pandemic has shown us how ill-prepared we are to support social interactions when expected to remain socially distant. Family members missed major life events of their loved ones; face-to-face interactions were replaced with video chat; and the technologies used to facilitate interim social interactions caused an increase in depression, stress, and burn-out. It is clear that we need better solutions to address these issues, and one avenue showing promise is that of Interpersonal Telepresence. Interpersonal Telepresence is an interaction paradigm in which two people can share mobile experiences and feel as if they are together, even though geographically distributed. In this dissertation, we posit that this paradigm has significant value in one-to-one, asymmetrical contexts, where one user can live-stream their experiences to another who remains at home. We discuss a review of the recent Interpersonal Telepresence literature, highlighting research trends and opportunities that require further examination. Specifically, we show how current telepresence prototypes do not meet the social needs of the streamer, who often feels socially awkward when using obtrusive devices. To combat this negative finding, we present a qualitative co-design study in which end users worked together to design their ideal telepresence systems, overcoming value tensions that naturally arise between Viewer and Streamer. Expectedly, virtual reality techniques are desired to provide immersive views of the remote location; however, our participants noted that the devices to facilitate this interaction need to be hidden from the public eye. This suggests that 360$^\circ$ cameras should be used, but the lenses need to be embedded in wearable systems, which might affect the viewing experience. We thus present two quantitative studies in which we examine the effects of camera placement and height on the viewing experience, in an effort to understand how we can better design telepresence systems. We found that camera height is not a significant factor, meaning wearable cameras do not need to be positioned at the natural eye-level of the viewer; the streamer is able to place them according to their own needs. Lastly, we present a qualitative study in which we deploy a custom interpersonal telepresence prototype on the co-design findings. Our participants preferred our prototype instead of simple video chat, even though it caused a somewhat increased sense of self-consciousness. Our participants indicated that they have their own preferences, even with simple design decisions such as style of hat, and we as a community need to consider ways to allow customization within our devices. Overall, our work contributes new knowledge to the telepresence field and helps system designers focus on the features that truly matter to users, in an effort to let people have richer experiences and virtually bridge the distance to their loved ones.
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Laviola II, Joseph
Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)
College of Engineering and Computer Science
Length of Campus-only Access
Doctoral Dissertation (Open Access)
Pfeil, Kevin, "Balancing User Experience for Mobile One-to-One Interpersonal Telepresence" (2022). Electronic Theses and Dissertations, 2020-. 1067.