Towards socialVR: evaluating a novel technology for watching videos together

Virtual Real. 2022;26(4):1593-1613. doi: 10.1007/s10055-022-00651-5. Epub 2022 May 8.


Social VR enables people to interact over distance with others in real-time. It allows remote people, typically represented as avatars, to communicate and perform activities together in a shared virtual environment, extending the capabilities of traditional social platforms like Facebook and Netflix. This paper explores the benefits and drawbacks provided by a lightweight and low-cost Social VR platform (SocialVR), in which users are captured by several cameras and reconstructed in real-time. In particular, the paper contributes with (1) the design and evaluation of an experimental protocol for Social VR experiences; (2) the report of a production workflow for this new type of media experiences; and (3) the results of experiments with both end-users (N = 15 pairs) and professionals (N = 22 companies) to evaluate the potential of the SocialVR platform. Results from the questionnaires and semi-structured interviews show that end-users rated positively towards the experiences provided by the SocialVR platform, which enabled them to sense emotions and communicate effortlessly. End-users perceived the photo-realistic experience of SocialVR similar to face-to-face scenarios and appreciated this new creative medium. From a commercial perspective, professionals confirmed the potential of this communication medium and encourage further research for the adoption of the platform in the commercial landscape.

Supplementary information: The online version contains supplementary material available at 10.1007/s10055-022-00651-5.

Keywords: Evaluation Protocol; Presence; Social VR; Togetherness; Virtual Reality; Volumetric Media.