Researching Proxemic Interaction

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Proxemic interaction: designing for a proximity and orientation-aware environment

Nowadays, much of what we do is dictated by how we interpret spatial relationships or proxemics. What is surprising is how little proxemics are used to mediate people’s interactions with surrounding digital devices. We imagine proxemic interaction as devices with fine-grained knowledge of nearby people and other devices — their position, identity, movement, and orientation — and how such knowledge can be exploited to design interaction techniques. In particular, we show how proxemics can regulate implicit and explicit interaction, trigger such interactions by continuous movement or by movement of people and devices in and out of discrete proxemic regions, mediate simultaneous interaction of multiple people, and interpret and exploit people’s directed attention to other people and objects. We illustrate these concepts through an interactive media player running on a vertical surface that reacts to the approach, identity, movement and orientation of people and their personal devices.

Authors: Till Ballendat, Nicolai Marquardt, Saul Greenberg

Dark patterns in proxemic interactions: a critical perspective

Proxemics theory explains peoples’ use of interpersonal distances to mediate their social interactions with others. Within Ubicomp, proxemic interaction researchers argue that people have a similar social understanding of their spatial relations with nearby digital devices, which can be exploited to better facilitate seamless and natural interactions with them. To do so, both people and devices are tracked to determine their spatial relationships. While interest in proxemic interactions has increased over the last few years, it also has a dark side: knowledge of proxemics may (and likely will) be easily exploited to the detriment of the user. In this paper, the authors offer a critical perspective on proxemic interactions in the form of dark patterns: ways proxemic interactions can be misused.

Authors: Saul Greenberg, Sebastian Boring, Jo Vermeulen, Jakub Dostal