Jeremy Bailensen, a professor of communication at Stanford University and the founding director of Stanford’s Virtual Human Interaction Lab, led a team of graduate students in a study which showed that augmented reality affects the way its users interact with real people in the room.
An article on the Stanford News website announced the study and some of its findings hours before its initial release on May 14.
Three different parts of the study focused on the way people perform tasks, move and interact socially while under the influence of augmented reality (AR).
Each study used students from Stanford as a sample. The largest group, with 102 students, was used for the third study which focused on social interaction.
While coming up with multiple hypotheses for the study, the team originally suspected that augmented reality would have some of the same effects that cellphones have had in deterring face to face interaction.
The study showed that this was not significant and showed a reversal in the traditional view. Students wearing virtual reality headgear that blocked their full view of their partner not wearing AR felt that they had less of a social connection with their partner.
On the other side, those who were not wearing AR gear said they did not notice a significant difference and felt socially connected to the AR user they were paired with.
This directly contrasts the common attitude of cellphone users when interacting with others. In this case, many studies have found that the cellphone user felt more socially connected with their conversation partner than the non-cellphone user.
This could suggest that with newer AR technologies, there are more ways to interact than with previous technologies.
Another factor would be that the test subjects might not have known the AR user had a limited view that prevented them from seeing what the non-AR user looked like.
Those without AR gear assumed that the AR user would be able to see them along with the other images they were seeing.
Bailenson and his research partners suggested their study might have been too small and would need to be tested on a larger audience to confirm the findings.
Other findings on social interaction and on other studies not discussed can be found by referring to the original study posted on PLOS ONE.