In-the-wild pilot study: A video of the Barcelona and London guests creating collective cheers across the two remote locations.
Pilot Testing (in-the-wild)
I designed a pilot study to test the ability of consumer equipment and networks to support a telematic dinner party. The in-the-wild study was conducted between London, UK, and Barcelona, Spain. Each location used the audio/visual equipment they had available. We aimed to create an identical setup in each location.
Several technical issues impacted the guests’ experience.
- The most significant barrier was the audio feed’s latency issues that hindered real-time verbal conversations.
- The guests utilized their creativity to overcome technical failings.
- They employed paper, markers, and their food to send messages to each other.
- The study outcome was more of a performance than a dinner.
The pilot studies I conducted informed the design of a functional prototype for a study consisting of four telematic dinner parties. The key elements addressed in the new study:
- Improve latency and quality of the audio feed with professional-grade equipment
- Integrate co-located and remote participants using round tables
- Introduce opportunity for guests to have physical remote agency across the two locations with networked turntables
The prototype corrected the barriers from the pilot study with three fundamental design changes.
- A high-end projector with a filter allowed the camera and projector to be position together and prevent recursive feedback.
- Speakers positioned in the chairs for directional audio from the remote guest’s location.
- A sense of play fostered between the guests by the networked connected turntables (Lazy Susans). The turntables were synced. By turning one turntable, the other turntable duplicated the movements.
These dinners proved to create a connected dining experience for the guests. They successfully shared food remotely via the networked turntables and played games.