Auggie: Encouraging Effortful Communication through Handcrafted Digital Experiences

Lei Zhang, Tianying Chen, Olivia Seow, Tim Chong, Sven Kratz, Yu Jiang Tham, Andrés Monroy-Hernández, Rajan Vaish, Fannie Liu
Event CSCW 2022
Research Areas Human Computer Interaction

Digital communication is often brisk and automated. From auto-completed messages to “likes,” research has shown that such lightweight interactions can affect perceptions of authenticity and closeness. On the other hand, effort in relationships can forge emotional bonds by conveying a sense of caring and is essential in building and maintaining relationships. To explore effortful communication, we designed and evaluated Auggie, an iOS app that encourages partners to create digitally handcrafted Augmented Reality (AR) experiences for each other. Auggie is centered around crafting a 3D character with photos, animated movements, drawings, and audio for someone else. We conducted a two-week-long field study with 30 participants (15 pairs), who used Auggie with their partners remotely. Our qualitative findings show that Auggie participants engaged in meaningful effort through the handcrafting process, and felt closer to their partners, although the tool may not be appropriate in all situations. We discuss design implications and future directions for systems that encourage effortful communication.