Gestures vs. Emojis: Comparing Non-Verbal Reaction Visualizations for Immersive Collaboration

Published in ISMAR, 2023

Collaborative virtual environments afford new capabilities in telepresence applications, allowing participants to co-inhabit an environment to interact while being embodied via avatars. However, shared content within these environments often takes away the attention of collaborators from observing the non-verbal cues conveyed by their peers, resulting in less effective communication. Exaggerated gestures, abstract visuals, as well as a combination of the two, have the potential to improve the effectiveness of communication within these environments in comparison to familiar, natural non-verbal visualizations. We designed and conducted a user study where we evaluated the impact of these different non-verbal visualizations on users’ identification time, understanding, and perception. We found that exaggerated gestures generally perform better than non-exaggerated gestures, abstract visuals are an effective means to convey intentional reactions, and the combination of gestures with abstract visuals provides some benefits compared to their standalone counterparts.