Physical interfacing & social interaction

One of the aspects we wanted to research is what happens to social interaction when people are offered an interface to interact with computers in a physical way. Once again we reflect research done with touch screens onto 3D interaction.

As an experiment a big touchscreen was placed in a zoo to provide the visitors of more information. This screen enabled multiple users to work on it at the same time, but what happened? Because they were using a single big interface, some interactions had to take place near or in the other users’ operating area. Interfering with the ongoing interaction of another user results in a conflict (I cannot interact, or I will bother the other user).

When interfacing via a 3D interface, the borders of personal space are harder to detect. Estimating how far you have to physically move to reach a virtual object is harder when the object (and you) are scaled to fit on the screen. Especially during intense interactions (games), where people are watching at the screen and not at each other, conflicts could arise. It is the challenge of the software that is receiving the data to use that conflict and transform it into a positive experience. You could compare it to a game of twister, where the conflict is the biggest part of the game: it makes it more interesting.

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