The spatial distances between people are increasing both in private life and in the professional environment. For training, study and work, we leave our home town, and in the home office we distance ourselves from our colleagues. As a result, social closeness decreases, which can only be insufficiently compensated for by video conferences, where spontaneity, non-verbal exchange, play and emotionality are lacking. The aim of the project "SPIELEND" ("Social Presence through Immersive, Emotional and Lively Experiences of Proximity at a Distance) is to bridge this social distance. To this end, an augmented reality (AR) game is being developed that can be played at a distance. Game elements and players are projected into the environment of the remote player using AR.
The feeling of togetherness created in this way is further enhanced by the transmission of emotions. For example, the heartbeat, a tap on the shoulder or the breath are transmitted via smart textiles. In order to achieve these goals, different game concepts, mechanics and interaction methods are designed and evaluated in a participatory manner with the target group "family and friends". The evaluation will be based on a psychological model of closeness and connectedness developed in "SPIELEND".
For the project, OFFIS develops methods for representing fellow players in a mixed reality environment and explores how the feeling of closeness can be strengthened via different sensory modalities. To this end, OFFIS is carrying out tasks in the field of developing tracking methods, representation methods of co-players and multimodal stimulation. "PLAYING" takes today's way of communicating at a distance to a new level by focusing on important elements of social connectedness. The results are not limited to the gaming sector, but can be transferred to all types of synchronous distance communication.
The project is funded by the BMBF for the period from April 2023 to March 2025. In addition to OFFIS as coordinator, the Institute of Textile Technology (ITA) at RWTH Aachen University, Bergische Universität Wuppertal, Julius-Maximilians-Universität Würzburg and the company Augmented Robotics GmbH are involved in the joint project.