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Image: Niclas Kaiser


One of the big challenges is to understand the difference between so-called co-located "real" meetings between people and so-called mediated "virtual" meetings. The knowledge of the biological basis for human sociality, which enables intersubjectivity and we-feeling (through Social Breathing) provides some clear clues, among other things by demonstrating the importance of the possibility of eye contact, natural face size and minimal time delay.

Niclas Kaiser and Christoffel Kuenen at Umeå Institute of Design have developed Nuna, a unit that allows us to create naturalistic eye contact and so-called perceptual crossing in video conversations. However, more local and international researchers are involved at a distance. What they are interested in is the we-experience itself, both how it has to do with the design, but also how the biological system behind reciprocity and intersubjectivity can be investigated by manipulating different functions, and where eye contact is central, (in addition to being able to see and hear each other well, and low latency). And all available hardware today makes thisnaturalistic eye contact impossible.

They did a pilot study last spring, https://www.diva-portal.org/smash/record.jsf?pid=diva2:1438036 and have, following those lessons learned, constructed a unit that is an uncompromising unit for video calls, right now mainly for research. This is made possible with support from UmuHolding and the Åke Wiberg Foundation. Nuna is a kind of teleprompter with specific software and a robotic camera. It is thus possible to manipulate a variety of variables, and create perfect and natural eye contact, resulting in a unique published scientific work, the first of many.

The first prototype has been built in two copies, as it is two people who must have eye contact with each other.


A tool for natural eye contact in online communication, for research and everyday use

Supported by Magnus Bergvalls foundation, Åke Wibergs foundation and Umeå University, with technical support from Panasonic, NIRx and Tobii. Involved in both AI-seed project, UmArts “How I Becomes We”.

Latest update: 2022-05-19