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Being with You: Mediating Ambient Presence of Remote Social Group

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posted on 07.07.2021, 14:45 authored by Yiwei Huang
Perceiving the ambient presence of others becomes a challenge when social groups such as families, learning groups, and workgroups transition into remote forms. The need for intimate communication, serendipitous encounters, and simply the plural forms of the presence of others are unmet with existing remote communication tools. Although technology advancement brings about proliferating communication tools, little has gone beyond a dominant visual and linguistic paradigm. How might we design
plural forms of medium to support remote ambient presence for remote social groups? In this thesis, I investigated the context and need of remote social groups. I studied theories and frameworks related to creating and perceiving the remote presence of others. I synthesized a design framework for remote ambient presence based on my investigations in telematic art, phatic technology, and multi-modal interactions. The learnings have focused on
engaging a wider range of modalities in interaction design for remote communication, challenging the norm of designing through dominant mediums. I generated four design prompts that address values related to the multi-aspect construct of ambient presence in remote communication, including ‘privacy’, ‘serendipity’, ’immersion’,
and ‘emotion’. The design prompts led to five design experiments responding to the unmet needs of remote social groups. As such, the design experiments further revealed context-specific insights through experience testing, evaluations with questionnaires, and user discussions. Mainly, Spatial audio is a medium that is
non-intrusive with a high level of immersion. User-generated
domestic ambient sound experienced through spatial audio could enable the perception of remote ambient presence. People prefer that their presence is perceived without direct surveillance. For example, Users are sensitive to the fidelity of sensors and prefer leaner sensors when it comes to ‘always-on’ connection. And, novel ways of interaction design for remote ambient presence can evoke emotions. For example, laughter can be reinforced remotely.




Degree Type

Master's Thesis



Degree Name

  • Master of Design (MDes)


Dina El-Zanfaly

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