An examination of the effects of a wearable display on informal face-to-face communication

Gerard McAtamney, Caroline Parker

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper


Wearable computers have the potential to support our memory, facilitate our creativity, our communication and augment our physical senses [15] but, like email and cell-phones, they also have the potential to interrupt, displace or downgrade our social interactions. This paper presents the results of a simple laboratory-based study which examines the impact of a xybernaut head-mounted Shimadzu display on conversation between two people. We hypothesized that the wearable, by reducing eye-contact and attention in the wearer would have a detrimental effect. Pairs of friends discussed pre-defined topics under three conditions, no wearable, wearable present but inactive, wearable present and active. Likert scale statements were used to record the wearer's level of attention, concentration, listening, eye contact, naturalness and relaxation, and the impact of the wearable. The presence of the wearable without an active display did not have an effect on the conversation. The quality of the interaction was however impaired in the active wearable condition and eye-contact was effected. This effect may be the result of the nature of the information type, the interface used, the characteristics of its presentation or the novelty of the display to the user. Additional research to identify design implications is discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2006


  • face-to-face communication
  • wearable display
  • human-computer interaction


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