Social Wormholes: Exploring Preferences and Opportunities for Distributed and Physically-Grounded Social Connections

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Joanne Leong, Yuanyang Teng, Xingyu "Bruce" Liu, Hanseul Jun, Sven Kratz, Yu Jiang Tham, Andrés Monroy-Hernández, Brian A. Smith, Rajan Vaish


Ubiquitous computing encapsulates the idea for technology to be interwoven into the fabric of everyday life. As computing blends into everyday physical artifacts, powerful opportunities open up for social connection. Prior connected media objects span a broad spectrum of design combinations. Such diversity suggests that people have varying needs and preferences for staying connected to one another. However, since these designs have largely been studied in isolation, we do not have a holistic understanding around how people would configure and behave within a ubiquitous social ecosystem of physically-grounded artifacts. In this paper, we create a technology probe called Social Wormholes, that lets people configure their own home ecosystem of connected artifacts. Through a field study with 24 participants, we report on patterns of behaviors that emerged naturally in the context of their daily lives and shine a light on how ubiquitous computing could be leveraged for social computing.

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