A new interaction paradigm for Augmented and Mixed Reality experiences (AR & MR) has now been defined and analysed in a paper which was presented at CHI2017 (ACM CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems) and published in the ACM Digital Library (see below).
This paradigm comes to open the range of possibilities in AR & MR. While the typical AR paradigm is that of “Window on the World” (WoW), which presents some interesting potential but also some significant constraints, “World as Support” (WaS) provides interesting solutions for such constraints. Briefly, WoW clamps the attention of the user on the screen of a mobile device and therefore places a barrier between the user and the physical world which is being augmented. This effectively renders the experience as a screen-based experience and gives little significance to the physical space. This can become especially problematic in cultural or archaeological sites where the effort of travelling to the site and the importance of that specific location can be significantly diminished by the WoW-based Virtual Heritage application. Since the user focuses fully on the screen and all interaction is achieved on the screen, the experience could actually be performed elsewhere using a pre-recorded video feed of the location.
The WaS paradigm, on the other hand, is based on projective augmentation in which the mobile device becomes a sort of “magic lantern or flashlight”. The device not only recognises the geographic location of the user to determine what needs to be projected, but also understands the geometry and properties of the physical environment to adapt the projected output to that specific space. In this manner, the “world” not only becomes literally the support for the augmented information that is being projected, but also becomes the “primordial content” which then acts as a conceptual support for the “augmentation content”. In this way the physical space of the archaeological site becomes the main focus of attention and makes the visit to the specific site worth the effort.
Moreover, the WaS paradigm, being a projective experience, provides the opportunity for other visitors to join in, whereas WoW remains always an essentially individual experience. Not only can multiple users experience a WaS augmentation, but they can discuss about what they are seeing and doing; they can collaborate in the exploration process; some users can enter the projective area and interact with the virtual objects projected onto the physical world; they can overlap projections that may be complementary or supplementary; etc. For a detailed description the following paper provides its formal analysis:
Laura Malinverni, Julian Maya, Marie-Monique Schaper, and Narcis Pares. 2017. The World-as-Support: Embodied Exploration, Understanding and Meaning-Making of the Augmented World. In Proceedings of the 2017 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI ’17). ACM, New York, NY, USA, 5132-5144. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1145/3025453.3025955