At the beginning of the summer of 2016, Omid Fakourfar and I were talking about streaming 360 video capture, and how this might revolutionize video chat. This is the first summer where 360 videos were really becoming popular on Facebook (via their web and mobile interfaces) and on YouTube. One of the funny things that Omid observed was that viewing these videos was kind of weird – while the experience was best obtained by swivelling around, it was really awkward to do this, and so we usually resort to panning around the interface manually anyway. Further, Omid pointed out that this was primarily a single-user experience – there was no really great way to watch these videos with other people. Boom. Study idea.
We decided to design a study where we observed how people watched 360 videos together, side-by-side. We envisioned a bar scenario where, instead of sharing a set of pictures or watching a regular YouTube video together, people might be watching a 360 video together. How might they watch such a video together? What kinds of prolems would they encounter? And, given these problems, what could we do (in terms of interface design) to help make the experience better for them?
Our study allowed us to observe how pairs of participants would watch a video together. We were particularly interested in situations where someone would want to point something out to something else. It was these kinds of situations where partners would encounter the most problems (i.e. “I don’t know what you’re looking at”) – particularly if they used the panning interface. Thus, we designed a “tour of the university campus” scenario, where one person would be providing a guided tour of campus to the other. In the study, each participant was provided with an iPad that would play the video at the same time. Then, Omid watched for what happened.
Here’s what we found:
This video clip comprises a number of select sequences from our study that illustrate a number of the concepts from our paper:
A bunch of fairly straightforward ideas on how to resolve these challenges arise immediately. For instance: