Lab Evaluation

We conducted an exploratory lab-based evaluation of an early ShareTable prototype to answer important feasibility questions and drive future development:
  1. How does the addition of the shared workspace affect the interaction compared to plain videoconferencing?
  2. Can young children understand and manage the unfamiliar interweaving of physical and virtual spaces created by the ShareTable?
  3. What are some activities participants do during unstructured time with the system? What are some activities for which they think they would use this system?


Invited 7 parent-child pairs to the AwareHome residential lab, where we had an early prototype of the ShareTable (see Figure 1) set up in two separated rooms. We asked each pair to play a board game, complete a worksheet together (both with ShareTable and with videoconferencing only, counterbalanced for order), and to spend some time freely exploring the system. We observed and interviewed the participants about their experience. 


ShareTable vs. videoconferencing:
  • Participants liked the ShareTable condition better and found it easier for the worksheet task
  • Logistics of the task became easier, so parents spent more time discussing the content and tying it to the child's life (e.g., mentioning a family member that lives in one of the countries on the map worksheet)
  • Children seemed more engaged in the ShareTable condition
Managing Access to Artifacts:
  • Children seemed to have no trouble managing the artifacts
  • Turn-taking and rules were managed with social conventions by the parent and child. No system constraints were necessary (in fact, these may have prevented common parent actions of "bending" the rules or allowing move "re-dos")
Unstructured Activity:
  • Parents and children participated in various forms of collaborative drawing, writing, and tracing; one pair brought their own chess board to try out
  • Number of future design directions emerged from observation and interviews, including: support for asynchronous messaging & awareness, printing the surface, flipping game orientation, and adding new contacts.

Figure 1. Setup of the initial prototype and the two tasks presented to participants