Collaboration in Multi-modal Virtual Worlds: Comparing Touch, Text, Voice and Video [chapter]

Eva-Lotta Salinäs
2002 Computer Supported Cooperative Work  
Introduction Social aspects of virtual reality is an area of research that has expanded as the technology has matured. Collaborative virtual environments (CVE's) show great promise for investigating how human-human interaction works. The reason for this is that the mode of communication as well as task contexts, spatial affordances, information presentation and manipulation of common objects can be varied in order to understand effects of -and interrelations between -these factors. The
more » ... ctors. The communication mode is often text-chat in virtual environments, and audio or video channels are less often used. It has only recently become possible to support other human senses like touch in three-dimensional virtual environments. In my research the main focus is comparing different communication modes such as text-chat, voice communication, video-conferencing, and also to investigate the effect of supporting the touch modality. Evaluation of collaboration through different communication modes is not as common in the area of CVE's as in the area of telecommunications and computer-mediated communication (CMC). One reason for this is that social psychology has not had a large impact on research in the field of CVE's. In social psychological studies of mediated interaction, the focus of interest is for example on how people can build and sustain relations, prevent and solve conflicts, and collaborate to attain joint goals [1]. A general argument that a number of theories make is that the social richness of the communication medium has to be matched with the task in order for collaborators to accomplish these different goals [2, 3, 4, 5] . The capacity that a medium has to transmit social information like tone of voice or facial expressions affects people's notion of social presence. Social presence is defined as the feeling of being present with another person at a remote location [2] . In virtual reality contexts, the concepts of togetherness, co-presence and also social presence are used in order to address issues of social interaction [27, 28] . Short et al. [2] regard social presence as a single dimension that represents a cognitive synthesis of several factors that are naturally occurring in face-to-face communication. Among these are the capacity to transmit information about tone of voice, gestures, facial expression, direction of gaze, posture, touch and non-verbal cues as they are perceived by the individual to enhance presence in the medium. The threedimensionality of virtual environments adds a number of specific features to traditional communication environments. The virtual environment is often perceived as a place in which people can navigate with an avatar, interact with objects and obtain information. In order to evaluate the affordances of a virtual environment the concept virtual presence has been
doi:10.1007/978-1-4471-0277-9_10 fatcat:s6wjzeokqnb3fdcoatbtdnun6a