This paper examines synchronous at-a-distance media consumption from two perspectives: how it can be facilitated using existing consumer displays (through TVs combined with smartphones), and imminently available consumer displays (through VR HMDs combined with RGBD sensing). Firstly, we discuss results from an initial evaluation of a synchronous shared at-a-distance smart TV system, CastAway. Through week-long in-home deployments with five couples, we gain formative insights into the adoption and usage of at-a-distance media consumption and how couples communicated during said consumption. We then examine how the imminent availability and potential adoption of consumer VR HMDs could affect preferences toward how synchronous at-a-distance media consumption is conducted, in a laboratory study of 12 pairs, by enhancing media immersion and supporting embodied telepresence for communication. Finally, we discuss the implications these studies have for the near-future of consumer synchronous at-a-distance media consumption. Combined, these studies begin to explore a design space regarding the varying ways in which at-a-distance media consumption can be supported and experienced (through music, TV content, augmenting existing TV content for immersion, and immersive VR content), what factors might influence usage and adoption and the implications for supporting communication and telepresence during media consumption.
Publication: Examining The Role Of Smart TVs And VR HMDs In Synchronous At-A-Distance Media Consumption, 2016. ACM Transactions on Computer-Human Interaction (ACM TOCHI) DOI Link