Purpose of the study
The goal of this study is to understand how mediating smart artifacts can promote cooperation and collaboration. Together with other studies described in this website, this one builds into the understanding of artificial mediation of positive social interactions. An extended description is available at artifact mediation studies.
Crosswalks are a natural place for non verbal cooperation or conflict. In this study we observed and video recorded the behaviors of pedestrians walking in the wild, in groups or by themselves. Next, the activity was re-created in the lab along with the addition of a smart crosswalk which dynamically prompted the ideal distribution of space for the pedestrians on the crosswalk. The study’s final goal was to compare the results of mediated to unmediated in-lab observations and to infer the extent to which the smart crosswalk affected the pedestrians’ interaction.
The study design included two visual conditions with two kinds of crosswalk mediation each, and two controls:
- Pedestrians with full perception and smart crosswalks signaling conflicts
- Pedestrians with full perception and smart crosswalks suggesting trajectories
- Pedestrians with limited perception and smart crosswalks signaling conflicts
- Pedestrians with limited perception and smart crosswalks suggesting trajectories
- Control with full perception
- Control with limited perception
The most frequent configurations of pedestrians on a crosswalk observed in the wild were described using hypergraphs in which nodes represent people and artifacts and silhouettes represent the collectives of human-nonhumans present in a given interaction.
The footages were further analyzed with the help of Path Analytics, a custom made software for the identification of trajectories and the assessment of average stride speed, direction and group cohesion of multiple pedestrians. The software also forecasted potential areas of conflict between opposing walkers in running time.
Real-life situations were replicated in the lab with and without the intervention of a smart crosswalk. The smart crosswalk’s function was to identify potential conflict areas on the ground and dynamically prompt the ideal distribution of space for current pedestrians.
Path Analytics was used in the lab to study the behavior of pedestrians in every condition and in several configurations of pedestrian groups, for instance, one pedestrian heading south and two pedestrians heading north as pictured in the image below.
Three dependent variables were recorded and analyzed statistically to determine the effects of the mediating crosswalk in the interaction of pedestrians. The figure below presents an example of the analysis of variances per each configuration of pedestrians group.
This case study is discussed in detail in my doctoral dissertation.