Project IRL: Playful Co-Located Interactions with Mobile Augmented Reality

Ella Dagan, Ana Maria Cardenas Gasca, Ava Robinson, Anwar Noriega, Yu Jiang Tham, Rajan Vaish, Andrés Monroy-Hernández
Event CSCW 2022
Research Areas Human Computer Interaction

We present Project IRL (In Real Life), a suite of five mobile apps we created to explore novel ways of supporting in-person social interactions with augmented reality. In recent years, the tone of public discourse surrounding digital technology has become increasingly critical, and technology’s influence on the way people relate to each other has been blamed for making people feel “alone together,” diverting their attention from truly engaging with one another when they interact in person. Motivated by this challenge, we focus on an under-explored design space: playful co-located interactions. We evaluated the apps through a deployment study that involved interviews and participant observations with 101 people. We synthesized the results into a series of design guidelines that focus on four themes: (1) device arrangement (e.g., are people sharing one phone, or does each person have their own?), (2) enablers (e.g., should the activity focus on an object, body part, or pet?), (3) affordances of modifying reality (i.e., features of the technology that enhance its potential to encourage various aspects of social interaction), and (4) co-located play (i.e., using technology to make in-person play engaging and inviting). We conclude by presenting our design guidelines for future work on embodied social AR.