Videoconference and Embodied VR: Communication Patterns Across Task and Medium

Conference on Computer-Supported Cooperative Work and Social Computing (CSCW)


Videoconference has become the dominant technology for remote meetings. Embodied Virtual Reality is a potential alternative that employs motion tracking in order to place people in a shared virtual environment as avatars. This paper describes a 210 participant study focused on behavioral measures that compares multiparty interaction in videoconference and embodied VR across a range of task types: a factual intellective task, a subjective judgment task and two negotiation tasks, one with visual grounding. It uses state-of-the-art body, face and finger tracking to drive the avatars in VR and a carefully matched videoconferencing implementation. Significant behavioral differences are observed. These include increased activity in videoconference related to maintaining the social connection: more person directed gaze and increased verbal and nonverbal backchannel behavior. Videoconference also had reduced conversational overlap, increased self-adaptor gestures and reduced deictic gestures as compared with embodied VR. Potential explanations and implications are discussed.

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