‘living-room2’ intends to create a new user experience, a simultaneous perception of the virtual, physical and mediated space as one ‘reality’. The project deliberately uses the space of a living room, a space we are all familiar with. What happens when our daily environment is suddenly transformed, when we can visually extend it with our desires, fears and fantasies of that room: when it becomes a new room? Will this be our future experience of ‘home’?
‘living-room2’ has been developed to support the user’s experience of this hybrid living room. The main question is: how does the visitor perceive space, objects, sound and visuals of a hybrid home in one view?
This specific user experience is enhanced by the synchronous design of the interior, of visuals and sound, of interaction and interface and by ‘cross-world’ narrative. ‘living-room2’ proposes different scenarios to explore these aspects of experience and perception.
The Museum of Communication in Bern exhibited the installation during two month in spring 2007. The research team used this period for user evaluations. Students from the School of Arts in Bern attended the installation, wrote down their observations in a logbook and asked the visitors to give feedback by completing a questionnaire.
The main interests in the questionnaire are about personal acceptance, design issues, understanding interaction, context, story telling and the exhibitions sitiuation according to their personal background, age and gender.
Additionally a surveillance camera recorded the user behaviour. The images displayed on the headset during the visit were recorded simultaneously. It helps to evaluate the video sequences afterwards as a neutral observer out of the exhibition situation. The observer can carefully review the scenes as many times as necessary and since the two simultaneously recorded sequences are automatically composed in a single Quicktime file they can be evaluated within the same field of view.
This method allows to capture unconscious user behaviour, to measure time spans and the outcome can be compared to the answers from the questionnaire. About 120 videos have been recorded and analysed. A sample can be downloaded below.
Click the image or icon to download the video clip (50MB, Foto - JPEG, 640 x 240 Bit, 22.050 kHz).
By comparing the comments of the seven assisting students and by analysing more than 350 questionnaires and the video recordings some design relevant conclusions could be made.
- People often try to touch the virtual elements.
- Many people don’t understand the augmented reality (AR) approach and just play with the virtual elements. The scenarios should be simpler and closer to the border between the real and the virtual.
- Gamers, software engineers and designers consider the tools to be underneath state of the art. They focus on the development of the graphical user interface (GUI), the quality of the 3D-models and the computer performance instead of experimenting with AR specific issues.
- Children understand very fast and generally accept the approach quickly.
- Women and children accept and appreciate assistance more than men of any age do.
- Older people and children get dizzy sometimes and are the only user groups that sometimes can’t make the distinction between real and virtual elements.
- Older people and young parents often condemn the installation and sometimes even become aggressive since they think that there is a big danger for the future to live in virtual worlds.
- Some adolescents consider the installation a good replacement for drugs.
- People don’t take the same amount of time to experiment when they come in a group.
- Groups of adolescents suffer from trying to be “cool”, sometimes they come back on their own afterwards to experiment with more time and enjoy more.
- People often do not understand the augmented space and just care about playing with the virtual part. They rarely plant trees within the room mixing the real and the virtual since they are used that trees should be plated in an exterior space. The possibility to click the "real" walls away seems difficult to be understood but sometimes people want to go out there hitting the “real” walls.
- They generally are too busy with the GUI in this scenario.
- The ironic approach of a future AR- situation normally doesn’t get understood. People don’t like the commercials and that they are in English.
- Complex contents and animations with interrelated elements rarely get understood if they are spatially distributed. Animations which don't fit into the field of view should be triggered according to the look-at-direction.
- The ecosystem seems to be not exciting and confronting enough for the general public in an exhibition situation. Just children can dive into the abstract world and sometimes even get very frightened.
- The handheld device takes people away from the actual space, they stand in the room and try to understand the interface without moving and experimenting different view angles.
- People get insecure and feel ashamed if they don't understand quickly. It keeps them away from trying out themselves, specially people how are not used to GUIs.
- People always first try the handheld device, then the real objects in space.
Comment from the exhibitor
The organisers from the exhibition at the Muesum of Communication gave the following feedback:
"The installation “living-room2” was a very interesting completion for the exhibition “As Time Goes Byte”. The subject Augmented Reality, the Head Mounted Display and the appearance of the whole setup converted “living-room2” to special attraction within the exhibition. In contrast to the exhibition “As Time Goes Byte”, which was for most part focused on the history of computer development, “living-room2” was showing a possible future within a research project."