User-Centered Design and Evaluation of a Wearable Device Aimed to Facilitate Social Interaction
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Despite its benefits, use of personal mobile communication technology has been shown to interrupt and downgrade face-to-face interaction between people. A new addition to the family of mobile devices is wearable devices which are beginning to gain widespread acceptance. Wearable devices can be leveraged to provide mobile users with a new way to be more social and easy to approach. A focus group study provided directions to the design and implementation of a social wearable device concept, CueSense. The system consists of a wearable textual display coupled with a mobile phone application. The display augments the wearer’s appearance by displaying public information about them, in this case, mined from the user’s social networks and self-input from the mobile application. The application also senses the proximity of another nearby CueSense user and performs data matching looking for commonalities between the two users that are then shown on the wearable display. It thus generates context-aware “tickets-to-talk” based on the proximity to and interest areas of the users. A pair-wise evaluative user study with 16 users revealed that, despite its provocative design, almost all participants were open to using the CueSense system with social benefits perceived to outweigh privacy and self-consciousness concerns. The device was appreciated as a tool that could generate tickets-to-talk, help form groups, and also be used as a self-expression channel. The study also generated several insights into different contexts of use that the device might fit in which designers of similar devices may find useful. The overall feedback about CueSense was positive and encouraging despite the relatively rudimentary sensing method used and lack of commonalities among test users. Given the vastness and fertility of the wearable design space, and the potential to enhance social interaction, the development of context-aware social wearable devices can be quite fruitful.