An evaluation of a wearable assistive device for augmenting social interactions

Shi Qiu, Jun Hu, Ting Han, Hirotaka Osawa, Matthias Rauterberg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)


Gaze behaviors contain rich information regarding a person's emotions and engagements. Reciprocal eye contact can invoke feelings of liking between two strangers. But blind people cannot perceive and establish the eye contact with sighted counterparts, causing their feelings of social isolation and low confidence in conversations. Thus, our research purpose is to let blind people perceive and react gaze behaviors in social interactions. A Social Glasses system has been implemented iteratively to deliver the multisensory feedback channels of the "eye contact", integrating both visual and tactile feedback. Specifically, the system consists of a Social Glasses device and a tactile wristband, which are worn by a blind person. The Social Glasses simulates the natural gaze for the blind person, aiming at establishing the "eye contact" between blind and sighted people. The tactile wristband enables the blind person to perceive the corresponding tactile feedback when an "eye contact" happens. To test the system, we conducted a user experiment with 40 participants, including 10 blind-sighted pairs (N = 20) and 10 blindfolded-sighted pairs (N = 20), to see how it could help increase the communication quality between blind and sighted people, as well as to suggest implications for its design. Our main findings demonstrated that both the simulated gaze and the tactile feedback were significantly effective to enhance the communication quality in blind-sighted conversations. Overall, we contribute (1) empirical research findings on how a Social Glasses system enhances the communication quality in blind-sighted conversations; and (2) design principles to inform future assistive wearable device for augmenting social interactions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)164661-164677
Number of pages17
JournalIEEE Access
Publication statusPublished - 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • Accessibility
  • Artificial gaze
  • Assistive technology
  • Communication quality
  • Eye tracking
  • Face-to-face communication
  • Gaze contact
  • Visual impairments

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Computer Science(all)
  • Materials Science(all)
  • Engineering(all)


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