April 21, 2018

Communication Behavior in Embodied Virtual Reality

Human Computer Interaction Conference (CHI)

By: Harrison Jesse Smith, Michael Neff

Abstract

Embodied virtual reality faithfully renders users’ movements onto an avatar in a virtual 3D environment, supporting nuanced nonverbal behavior alongside verbal communication. To investigate communication behavior within this medium, we had 30 dyads complete two tasks using a shared visual workspace: negotiating an apartment layout and placing model furniture on an apartment floor plan. Dyads completed both tasks under three different conditions: face-to-face, embodied VR with visible full-body avatars, and no embodiment VR, where the participants shared a virtual space, but had no visible avatars. Both subjective measures of users’ experiences and detailed annotations of verbal and nonverbal behavior are used to understand how the media impact communication behavior. Embodied VR provides a high level of social presence with conversation patterns that are very similar to face-to-face inter- action. In contrast, providing only the shared environment was generally found to be lonely and appears to lead to degraded communication.