Smart Glasses, Dumb Etiquette? How AR Affects Social Power Balance

Augmented reality (AR) glasses can turn ordinary interactions into extraordinary experiences, but they also create power imbalances. Researchers from Cornell and Brown Universities explored the impact of AR glasses on social dynamics.

AR glasses overlay virtual elements on the real world, immersing users in a mixed-reality environment. However, while wearers might feel less anxious, non-wearers face challenges. Jenny Fu and Malte Jung’s study at the 2023 ACM Designing Interactive Systems Conference unveiled insights into this issue.

The study involved pairs discussing survival scenarios, one wearing AR Spectacles that transformed their partner into various creatures. Post-discussion, participants suggested improvements. Wearers found the filters fun, yet non-wearers felt disempowered and concerned about privacy.

Non-wearers demonstrated resilience, actively engaging despite the filters. Nonetheless, the glasses’ tinted lenses hindered eye contact, affecting social interactions.

To enhance interactions, participants proposed adding projection displays and recording indicators to the glasses. Fu also urged designers to test in social settings and involve users in the design process.

This approach ensures that both wearers and non-wearers contribute to shaping the emerging mixed-reality landscape.

Author: Neurologica