When giving a presentation digitally, it’s very hard to “read the room” and assess how your audience is reacting. In these times, when everyone is working from home, speakers face new challenges. A digital barrier is erected between the presenter and the audience - key emotional feedback is lost, making it more difficult for the speaker to respond to the audience.
Attempting to convey the most important emotional feedback through the virtual space, it was important to summarize these into the most significant and frequent types of audience response: agitation/quietness, or agreement/disagreement. A camera source serves as an input for machine learning data. This machine learning program would then evaluate the facial expressions and gestures & interpret it into a ‘room emotion’.
Interviews with various users gave important insights that informed the design: all participants agreed that they were insecure without any feedback from the audience, however they would also be distracted if too much feedback was given at the wrong time. Haptic feedback in particular was rejected because of the disturbance, as well as too much "noise". It became clear that users wish to decide for themselves when and if they want to receive feedback.
The final outcome is OSCILLATE. – A speculative concept for a non-intrusive interface for virtual conferences that allows speakers to identify the mood in the audience and better assess how their presentation is received. OSCILLATE has at its centre a clock with a dial that is semi-transparent, reminiscent of a dandelion clock. The transparency and subtle design is deliberate, so as not to distract the speaker from their primary focus. The different mood states are displayed as a particle-cloud. Initially broadly dispersed, the particles begin to gravitate towards each meeting participant. The participants’ varying moods cause their particles to cluster at different points on the dial, generating cloud formations. The cloud formations are in constant flux, in line with the changing mood of the audience, and the motion of one ‘cloud’ can also influence the other particles.The end result is a nebulous indicator that gives the speaker a sense of the atmosphere in the virtual meeting ‘room’.Project categorySemester Project