Through their eyes and in their shoes: providing group awareness during collaboration across virtual reality and desktop platforms

Desktop and VR views in the VRxD application.
Screenshots from our virtual reality (VR)/desktop cross-virtuality analytics (XVA) system, VRxD. This system was used as the medium for a collaborative XVA user study examining the role of abstract vs. natural spatial mapping as well as perspective or interaction sharing on collaborative visualization user behavior. The abstract view features a non-immersive desktop and an immersive VR parallel coordinates visualization. Similarly, the natural spatial mapping view features a non-immersive desktop and an immersive VR pitch trajectory visualization. Furthermore, this system implements our four levels of "eyes-and-shoes" group awareness techniques: L1: Landmarks and Analogous Views, L2: Information Cues, L3: Interaction Sharing, and L4: Perspective Sharing.
Many collaborative data analysis situations benefit from collaborators utilizing different platforms. However, maintaining group awareness between team members using diverging devices is difficult, not least because common ground diminishes. A person using head-mounted VR cannot physically see a user on a desktop computer even while co-located, and the desktop user cannot easily relate to the VR userś 3D workspace. To address this, we propose the ``eyes-and-shoes principles for group awareness and abstract them into four levels of techniques. Furthermore, we evaluate these principles with a qualitative user study of 6 participant pairs synchronously collaborating across distributed desktop and VR head-mounted devices. In this study, we vary the group awareness techniques between participants and explore two visualization contexts within participants. The results of this study indicate that the more visual metaphors and views of participants diverge, the greater the level of group awareness is needed. A copy of this paper, the study preregistration, and all supplemental materials required to reproduce the study are available on
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Andrea Batch
Niklas Elmqvist

Khoury Vis Lab — Northeastern University
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