Home » VR-REU 2024 » Enhancing Trust in Telepresence: The Influence of Familiarity and Varied Eye Contact on Trust in Look-Alike Avatars

Enhancing Trust in Telepresence: The Influence of Familiarity and Varied Eye Contact on Trust in Look-Alike Avatars

Kriti Kalary, SUNY University at Albany / SUNY Upstate Medical School

Week 1:

I arrived in New York City on Sunday and we kicked off the REU program with an icebreaker social event. I met the rest of my REU cohort while bowling (I wasn’t very good!). All too soon, we jumped right into work. I met with my mentor, Dr. Wole, and started brainstorming ideas for my proposal due on Friday. I worked to narrow down my field of interest and land on a unique yet interesting idea for my project—I had to toss out a lot of ideas before ending up with something I was happy with. This week also started off our first few classes of Dr. Wole’s VR, AR and MR course which has been incredibly interesting so far. I spent the rest of the week furiously searching for relevant articles to include in my literature review, trying to round out my rationale and support my research proposal. For fun this week, I met a friend in Central Park and tried some great bagels!

Week 2:

Week two was equal parts work and fun! I had a couple of road bumps this week where I had to alter my proposal a bit to make it more unique. Luckily, my older research for my literature review from last week was still helpful and I was able to collect all the information that I needed for my paper without too much trouble. This week, I finished my introduction and related works section of my paper, created a figure for the theoretical model of my paper and started outlining my methodology.

I also downloaded reallusion and tried to get character creator to work on my macbook through parallels, but it took too long to load. The headshot plugin worked well, so I will likely end up working on the software aspect of my project next week on the computers at CUNY Hunter. For fun this week, Or, Asmita and I went to the Chelsea Market, some of my friends came up to visit me and we explored Central Park. I also listened to a performance by the NY Philharmonic and saw fireworks!

Week 3:

This week saw some pretty solid progress on the technical front! I created my two avatars— one which was familiar to participants modeled after my own face and the other was modeled off of a headshot of a random person I found online. The avatars look fairly realistic and I tried importing my avatars to Iclone and tested out the live face app to test out various methods of eye contact/gaze behavior and it worked out well.

The first avatar is the unfamiliar avatar, while the second is the familiar avatar (I still have a few edits to do for the former).

I also finalized my methodology this week, so I’ll be in a good spot next week to start working on my survey. For fun this week, I went to see a 24kGoldn concert and explored Brooklyn with a friend! I also went thrifting and visited some cute bookstores.

Week 4: 

I revised my methodology and technical implementation this week! I ended up completely refreshing my avatars since I wasn’t super happy with my original versions of the unfamiliar and familiar avatars from last week. I also worked on my slidedeck for the midterm presentation on Friday and created demos to share with my classmates to update them on my progress. Here are pictures of my new refreshed avatars (unfamiliar and familiar, respectively).

iClone worked well without any issues for my survey video clips and I was able to standardise each eye contact levels’ eye movements to maintain a control variable for each avatar. The plan for the following week is to start working on the survey and send it out to start collecting data.
For fun this week, I met up with a friend and went to Roosevelt Island, visited the Guggenheim museum and tried out some new restaurants with friends! I also got a chance to catch up on some of my shows (The Boys S4 and Invincible S1) and got time to get through some books as well (A Room with a View by E. M. Forster and Notes from the Underground by Fyodor Dostoyevsky).
Week 5:
This week I edited my clips for the unfamiliar and familiar avatars and created the survey to start collecting some data. I encountered some road blocks in terms of being able to randomize the order of my questions for all three parts of my experiment— the demographic section, the trust game section and the trust and familiarity section. I ended up reorganising my survey via Google forms and changing each avatar video clip from being in individual sections to moving them all into one section. I also struggled with attaching my video clips to the form and attaching them to individual questions, so instead of embedding the videos I simply placed a YouTube link into the stem of the question for easier user access to the videos. I hope to finalize my survey and start sending it out and start collecting preliminary data next week.
For fun this week, I went to the Met and spent time with my friends and cousins who came to visit me. I went to the vegan night market with my colleagues and tried some fantastic bagels. I also got a chance to watch the fireworks on July 4th and had incredible Korean fried chicken!
Week 6: 
I continued to edit my survey and sent it out to collect preliminary data. With the initial 5-10 responses, I used their feedback as a gauge to improve my question phrasing and edited my survey accordingly. I then sent out the updated survey to collect data. I now have 33 responses with the following characteristics.
Next week, I hope to collect some more responses and make headway into data analysis. I aim to make some figures and start analysing my data with a focus on looking for significance. For fun this week, I met up with friends for dinner at Red Lobster and went to a speciality book store and explored Times Square. I also finished reading Battle Royale by Koushun Takami and finished watching Invincible S2!
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