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Sociability Evaluation of a Prototype Audio Spatialization System for Teleconferencing and Group Communication Tasks

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The purpose of the experiments described in this paper was to investigate whether distant communication between an individual and bigger groups (each 2-5 persons) can be improved by using a prototype communication system with spatial audio. In particular, we wanted to know how such systems are perceived on the dimensions of willingness to engage social behavior and of experience of the technology. Our test participants liked to use the system; they performed better at distinguishing sound sources and they found it easier and more pleasant than without spatialisation. The fact that they themselves could control the spatialisation to their preference was appreciated. The system also made conversations more vivid and dynamic and it created a higher feeling of social presence. The type of graphical user interface used was simple and intuitive and the system was seen as a valuable extension/improvement for e.g. telephony.

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