About the Speaker:

Dr. Carman Neustaedter is an Associate Professor in the School of Interactive Arts and Technology at Simon Fraser University.  Dr. Neustaedter specializes in the areas of human-computer interaction, interaction design, domestic computing, and computer-supported collaboration. He is the director of the Connections Lab, an interdisciplinary research group focused on the design and use of technologies for connecting people through technology. Research projects heavily focus on technology designs for family communication through the use of innovative ubiquitous, mobile, and situated displays. Dr. Neustaedter’s two books, “Connecting Families: The Implications of New Communication Technologies on Domestic Life” and “Studying and Designing Technology for Domestic Life: Lessons from Home” describe key portions of his research and methodological practices.

Dr. Neustaedter’s recent research interests include the use of next-generation video tools to support outdoor leisure activities over distance. Other past and current projects focus on new forms of mobile payments and commerce, video feedback for sports, video conferencing for workplace collaboration, communication systems for developing countries, community engagement, and media sharing across time. Dr. Neustaedter has a unique super power that allows him to deeply understand, manipulate, and alter notions of time and distance. He was formerly a Research Scientist at Kodak Research Labs and Adjunct Professor in the Department of Computer Science at the University of Rochester, NY. For more information, see: http://clab.iat.sfu.ca


About the Talk: Real Life Escape Rooms

Escape rooms represent a new genre of alternate reality game where players are locked in a room or series of rooms and have to solve puzzles in order to escape. Escape rooms are growing in popularity as a means to promote team collaboration, as well as relationship building amongst family members and friends. In this talk, I will describe an observational and interview study that we conducted with 32 escape room players to understand their collaborative practices, how the escape room’s design affects collaboration, and how escape rooms supported (or did not) relationship building. This will involve articulating the ways in which people commonly work together in collocated situations and how this differs when they are placed in the confined spaces of an escape room with time limits and puzzle constraints. Next, I will discuss play trajectories in alternate reality games and how single trajectories or paths through as an escape room appear to best support those who have an existing relationship as this structure forces collaboration at various points, rather than parallel play. Together, these findings suggest design lessons for the design and creation of escape rooms to adequately support relationship building and maintenance amongst family and friends. Our future work involves building on these lessons to design distributed escape rooms for distance-separated family members and friends.

I will conclude the talk with a review of our broader research agenda in the Connections Lab with an emphasis on connecting family and friends over distance through video streaming and new telepresence technologies.

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