CEAL Lab Wins Impact Recognition Award at CSCW 2023

The paper “I Want to Figure Things Out”: Supporting Exploration in Navigation for People with Visual Impairments” and three other papers from the Graphics & User Interfaces group will be presented at the 26th ACM Conference On Computer-Supported Cooperative Work And Social Computing (CSCW 2023). 

“I Want to Figure Things Out”: Supporting Exploration in Navigation for People with Visual Impairments”
Gaurav Jain Columbia University, Yuanyang Teng Columbia University, Dong Heon Cho Columbia University, Yunhao Xing Columbia University, Maryam Aziz University of Connecticut, and Brian Smith Columbia University

Navigation assistance systems (NASs) aim to help visually impaired people (VIPs) navigate unfamiliar environments. Most of today’s NASs support VIPs via turn-by-turn navigation, but a growing body of work highlights the importance of exploration as well. It is unclear, however, how NASs should be designed to help VIPs explore unfamiliar environments. In this paper, we perform a qualitative study to understand VIPs’ information needs and challenges with respect to exploring unfamiliar environments to inform the design of NASs that support exploration. Our findings reveal the types of spatial information that VIPs need as well as factors that affect VIPs’ information preferences. We also discover specific challenges that VIPs face that future NASs can address, such as orientation and mobility education and collaborating effectively with others. We present design implications for NASs that support exploration, and we identify specific research opportunities and discuss open socio-technical challenges for making such NASs possible. We conclude by reflecting on our study procedure to inform future approaches in research on ethical considerations that may be adopted while interacting with the broader VIP community.


Social Wormholes: Exploring Preferences and Opportunities for Distributed and Physically-Grounded Social Connections
Joanne Leong MIT Media Lab, Yuanyang Teng Columbia University, Xingyu Liu University of California Los Angeles, Hanseul Jun Stanford University, Sven Kratz Snap, Inc., Yu Jiang Tham Snap, Inc., Andrés Monroy-Hernández Snap, Inc. and Princeton University, Brian Smith Snap, Inc. and Columbia University, and Rajan Vaish Snap, Inc.

Ubiquitous computing encapsulates the idea for technology to be interwoven into the fabric of everyday life. As computing blends into everyday physical artifacts, powerful opportunities open up for social connection. Prior connected media objects span a broad spectrum of design combinations. Such diversity suggests that people have varying needs and preferences for staying connected to one another. However, since these designs have largely been studied in isolation, we do not have a holistic understanding around how people would configure and behave within a ubiquitous social ecosystem of physically-grounded artifacts. In this paper, we create a technology probe called Social Wormholes, that lets people configure their own home ecosystem of connected artifacts. Through a field study with 24 participants, we report on patterns of behaviors that emerged naturally in the context of their daily lives and shine a light on how ubiquitous computing could be leveraged for social computing.


Exploring Immersive Interpersonal Communication via AR
Kyungjun Lee University of Maryland, College Park, Hong Li Snap, Inc.,
Muhammad Rizky Wellytanto University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Yu Jiang Tham Snap, Inc., Andrés Monroy-Hernández Snap, Inc. and Princeton University, Fannie Liu Snap, Inc. and JPMorgan Chase, Brian A. Smith Snap, Inc. and Columbia University, Rajan Vaish Snap, Inc.

A central challenge of social computing research is to enable people to communicate expressively with each other remotely. Augmented reality has great promise for expressive communication since it enables communication beyond texts and photos and towards immersive experiences rendered in recipients’ physical environments. Little research, however, has explored AR’s potential for everyday interpersonal communication. In this work, we prototype an AR messaging system, ARwand, to understand people’s behaviors and perceptions around communicating with friends via AR messaging. We present our findings under four themes observed from a user study with 24 participants, including the types of immersive messages people choose to send to each other, which factors contribute to a sense of immersiveness, and what concerns arise over this new form of messaging. We discuss important implications of our findings on the design of future immersive communication systems.


Perspectives from Naive Participants and Social Scientists on Addressing Embodiment in a Virtual Cyberball Task
Tao Long Cornell University and Columbia University, Swati Pandita Cornell University and California Institute of Technology, Andrea Stevenson Won Cornell University

We describe the design of an immersive virtual Cyberball task that included avatar customization, and user feedback on this design. We first created a prototype of an avatar customization template and added it to a Cyberball prototype built in the Unity3D game engine. Then, we conducted in-depth user testing and feedback sessions with 15 Cyberball stakeholders: five naive participants with no prior knowledge of Cyberball and ten experienced researchers with extensive experience using the Cyberball paradigm. We report the divergent perspectives of the two groups on the following design insights; designing for intuitive use, inclusivity, and realistic experiences versus minimalism. Participant responses shed light on how system design problems may contribute to or perpetuate negative experiences when customizing avatars. They also demonstrate the value of considering multiple stakeholders’ feedback in the design process for virtual reality, presenting a more comprehensive view in designing future Cyberball prototypes and interactive systems for social science research.