Experienced synchronization for bonding and proximity in social virtual reality

With »GROOVE« to more proximity in virtual space

Vier Menschen mit VR Brille spielen Tuchball.
Dr. Alexander Kulik, Consensive GmbH

Often, groups of friends live all over Germany, couples are in long-distance relationships, or grandparents live far away from their grandchildren. While it is possible to spend time together in video conferences, this is perceived as a shared experience only to a limited extent. Social virtual reality offers more extensive possibilities for this. But how can interaction that conveys social closeness be further improved in virtual space? This question is the focus of the »GROOVE« project, which is being funded for three years by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) with more than 1.5 million euros.

Social virtual reality makes it possible to experience interpersonal interaction together even across distances. However, previous VR applications do not support precise temporal synchronization. Activities, such as singing dancing or exercise games, are not experienced simultaneously and the interaction parties literally get out of sync.

The aim of the researchers in the collaborative project »GROOVE« is to enable synchronously perceived social interaction in virtual reality. Both technical and cognitive psychological factors are being used to improve the perceived synchronicity. For example, it will be investigated whether external stimuli, light signals and acoustic or haptic signals on people's bodies can be helpful for this.

The research project, which started on April 1, 2023, combines the expertise of Bauhaus University Weimar, Ilmenau University of Technology, and the companies Brandenburg Labs GmbH and Consensive GmbH, thus enabling an interdisciplinary approach. Read more here.

If you have any questions regarding the research project, please contact the project coordinator, Prof. Dr. Eva Hornecker, Chair of Human-Computer Interaction.