Embodied Social Interaction

*Early work [Updated May13]*


The amount of time spent on social networks (e.g. Facebook, Twitter), both for work and leisure, is ever increasing [infographic]; yet social medias are mostly accessed via (touch)screen-based interfaces that keep us apart from the real world requiring our full focus of attention to be used. Indeed by attending our smartphones to follow on friends’ status updates and places check-in we have less time and attention to offer to people and places in our surroundings.

This work aims at investigating how wearable and embodied interfaces can augment real-world social interaction exploiting information from the digital realm. Specifically:

  1. How awareness of the activity of the others can be provided via calm, eyes-free interfaces in mobility?
  2. How real world, face-to-face encounters can be facilitated and augmented exploiting situated information from the digital realm?
  3. How the awareness of the activity of the others could trigger a physical encounter?

social interaction

The research builds on the inspiring paper about wearable communities by Kortuem & Segall. In the following I report on work-in-progress prototypes and design experiment for supporting social interaction with tangible and wearable interfaces. The following prototypes are developed to trigger discussion and brainstorming and teach arduino in workshops with students.

The activity cube


The activity cube is a tangible desktop interface. It allows to broadcast your wish-for-doing-something within a group of friends while getting unobtrusive notification of the others’ intents in the periphery. In this way it is possible find find friends and join an activity (e.g. watch a movie, play tennis).

The activity the one “wish for” is set by manipulating a physical cube which sides are labeled with a set of activities previously agreed within a group of friend; the activity selected is the one on the side facing the sky. The activities broadcasted by friends are displayed using a wood frame wich has an iconic visualization of the activities and a blinking LED. The faster the LED blinks the more are the friends wishing for that activity. When someone wants to join an activity she touches the icon of the chosen activity and the list of friends who have selected the activity is printed down on a paper receipt.

The activity cube has been implemented using arduino.