Academic conferences provide a social space for people to present their work, learn about others’ work, and interact informally with one another. However, opportunities for interaction are unevenly distributed among the attendees. We seek to extend these opportunities by allowing attendees to easily reveal something about their background and interests in different settings through the use of proactive displays: computer displays coupled with sensors that can sense and respond to the people nearby. We designed, implemented and deployed a suite of proactive display applications at a recent academic conference: AutoSpeakerID augmented formal conference paper sessions; Ticket2Talk augmented informal coffee breaks. A mixture of qualitative observation and survey response data are used to frame the impacts of these applications from both individual and group perspectives, highlighting the creation of new opportunities for both interaction and distraction. We end with a discussion of how these social space augmentations relate to the concepts of focus and nimbus as well as the problem of shared interaction models.
More information on this work, including the paper associated with this presentation, can be found here: http://interrelativity.com/proactivedisplays/