University of Twente Student Theses


The influence of an embodied coxswain on the social presence within Virtual Reality rowing

Voskeuil, A.F. (2023) The influence of an embodied coxswain on the social presence within Virtual Reality rowing.

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Abstract:Social presence, defined as the degree of feeling connected to others, enhances the overall quality of an exercise experience in virtual environments (VEs). It boosts enjoyment and engagement, friendships, and can even increase the efficiency in training. This thesis aims to stimulate social presence between rowers in Virtual Reality (VR) rowing. The research began with describing a comprehensive framework of the facets of presence, its measurement methods, and its determinants. Additionally, we gain a deeper knowledge of the social dynamics within rowing teams by observing rowing teams. Next, we explore design possibilities through a brainstorming session and by creating storyboards. This led to the decision to design an embodied coxswain, aiming to enhance the social presence between two rowers in a VR rowing system. The rowing setup consisted of two RP3 rowing machines, two VR headsets, multiple trackers, and other hardware components and software platforms. A total of 22 participants tested the setup with two conditions: the embodied coxswain or agent and a non-embodied agent. After each condition, the participants completed the Networked Minds Measure questionnaire and a questionnaire about the anthropomorphism of the agents. Statistical linear mixed effects regression (LMER) analysis showed that the embodied coxswain significantly affects the perceived social presence (p = 0.00176). Moreover, post-experiment discussions revealed that the participants perceive the agents differently, primarily on an emotional level. This research suggests potential research directions, specifically in identifying the key characteristics of the coxswain that enhance social presence, and by enriching realism of the appearance, movements, and interactions of the embodied coxswain.
Item Type:Essay (Master)
Faculty:EEMCS: Electrical Engineering, Mathematics and Computer Science
Subject:54 computer science
Programme:Interaction Technology MSc (60030)
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