#151: Yaoping Hu on creating balanced conversations in collaborative VR with algorithmic mediation

Yaoping-HuDr. Yaoping Hu is an associate professor at the University of Calgary, and she won the best 3DUI poster with “Conflict Resolution Models on Usability with Multi-user Collaborative Virtual Environments.”

One challenge with social interactions in VR is that some people dominate the conversation. In the real world, the only way to deal with this is by confronting people after they’ve crossed this boundary. But often people don’t like to be confrontational, and so the social norm is to just politely wait until they’re finished. The advantage that virtual reality can bring to team collaboration is that you can start to use computer algorithms to moderate the conversation in order to make it more balanced.

Yaoping’s team looked at a couple of different conflict resolution models including first-come-first-serve (FCFS) and dynamic priority (DP). FCFS models are known to be unfair because it merely grants an interaction opportunity to whomever is the most agile user. The DP model instead starts to consider all of the user’s interaction histories, and uses force feedback 6DOF controllers in order to give the signal as to when it’s someone’s turn to talk. The VR programs starts to become a virtual talking stick, and the subtle feedback of the controllers was shown to be one of the more effective methods for controlling the flow of the conversation so as to make it more balanced and hear from more of the participants.


This is still pretty early in it’s investigation of this technique, and the next steps are to start to apply this to real-world situations to see how it works in practical situations. But preliminary results showed that the DP model shoed lower decision making times and higher consensus as well as a perception of more equality in the interactions. Using a DP model can provide the potential of being a useful feature and improve multi-user collaborative virtual environments.

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