The World-as-Support: exploring AR/MR technologies

Defining the project

Context: the project was oriented toward exploring the affordances of novel technological solutions for Augmented/Mixed Reality system. The project form part of the methodological research “Evaluation-Driven Design” , funded by Ministerio de Economia y Competividad and was developed at Universitat Pompeu Fabra

My role

In this research project I’ve been in charge of designing and carrying out the study, analyzing data and writing related reports

The research framework


The most widespread technological configurations for Augmented/Mixed Reality systems are based on smartphones and tablet devices and on the interaction paradigm known as Window-on-the-World (WoW). This paradigm provides the user with augmented information on the surrounding physical space by using the device’s screen to merge digital contents with the user’s view of the physical surroundings.

In contrast to this approach, we identify a novel and emerging conceptual paradigm to design ARMR applications for mobile technologies: the World-as-Support (WaS) interaction paradigm. This paradigm is based on projective augmented reality configurations which allow the users to augment the physical surroundings by intelligently projecting the digital information on the physical world.

In order to understand the potential of these paradigms we compare their usage in an ARMR application aimed at supporting the collaborative improvisation of site-specific narratives by children.fig1ok

Comparing the Window-on-the-World and the  World-as-Support interaction paradigm



Research goals: Explore the affordances that the two paradigms offer in terms of usage of the space and social interaction


For the study we employed the “EspaiStory” application and tested under two conditions:

  1. Window-on-the-World (WoW): Based on an Android tablet, the system provided a view of the physical environment through the tablet screen as a live feed from the camera of the tablet. The contents created by the children were displayed on the tablet screen as an additional layer
  2. World-as-Support (WaS): Based on the combination of an Android tablet and a Philips PicoPix PPX3414 pico-projector bundled in a box and case. The system allowed children to carry around the device and project their own contents directly on the physical environment.

Participants: 35 children (8-9 years old)

Procedure: Children created their own character and subsequently the explored the school telling the story of the character

Data analysis: : To analyze children interaction with the device we employed a multimodal analytical approach focusing on the following resources paths of exploration of the space, interaction with the device, gaze directionality, gestures, group disposition, verbal utterances. From these data we modeled different perfiles related to the ways of using the space and the ways of interacting with others


Usage of the space


Modeling the ways of using the space


Using the space: Comparing the two conditions


Interacting with others


Modeling ways of interacting with others


Interacting with others: Comparing the two conditions


Lessons learned

  • The two interfaces strongly shaped social relationship
  • The two interfaces promoted different ways of inhabiting and making sense of the physical/digital environment