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Title: 'Subtle' technology : design for facilitating face-to-face interaction for socially anxious people
Author: Khaorapapong, Nanda
ISNI:       0000 0004 7966 6322
Awarding Body: Queen Mary University of London
Current Institution: Queen Mary, University of London
Date of Award: 2019
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Shy people have a desire for social interaction but fear being scrutinised and rejected. This conflict results in attention deficits during face-to-face situations. It can cause the social atmosphere to become 'frozen' and shy persons to appear reticent. Many of them avoid such challenges, taking up the 'electronic extroversion' route and experiencing real-world social isolation. This research is aimed at improving the social skills and experience of shy people. It establishes conceptual frameworks and guidelines for designing computer-mediated tools to amplify shy users' social cognition while extending conversational resources. Drawing on the theories of Social Objects, 'natural' HCI and unobtrusive Ubiquitous Computing, it proposes the Icebreaker Cognitive-Behavioural Model for applying user psychology to the systems' features and functioning behaviour. Two initial design approaches were developed in forms of Wearable Computer and evaluated in a separate user-centred study. One emphasised the users' privacy concerns in the form of a direct but covert display of the Vibrosign Armband. Another focused on low-attention demand and low-key interaction preferences - rendered through a peripheral but overt visual display of the Icebreaker T-shirt, triggered by the users' handshake and disguised in the system's subtle operation. Quantitative feedback by vibrotactile experts indicated the armband effective in signalling various types of abstract information. However, it added to the mental load and needed a disproportionate of training time. In contrast, qualitative-based feedback from shy users revealed unexpected benefits of the information display made public on the shirt front. It encouraged immediate and fluid interaction by providing a mutual 'ticket to talk' and an interpretative gap in the users' relationship, although the rapid prototype compromised the technology's subtle characteristics and impeded the users' social experience. An iterative design extended the Icebreaker approach through a systematic refinement and resulted in the Subtle Design Principle implemented in the Icebreaker Jacket. Its subtle interaction and display modalities were compared to those of a focal-demand social aid, using a mixed-method evaluation. Inferential analysis results indicated the subtle technology more engaging with users' social aspirations and facilitating a higher degree of unobtrusive experience. Through the Icebreaker model and Subtle Design Principle, together with the exploratory research framework and study outcome, this thesis demonstrates the advantages of using subtle technology to help shy users cope with the challenges of face-to-face interaction and improve their social experience.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: RCUK ; EPSRC
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available