Supporting Social Interactions for Video Calls in the Home

A couple sitting and chatting to a woman via video call over a laptop.

Project overview

Living apart from family and friends either temporarily or permanently due to work, study or other commitments is common in today's society. To cope with this, people use different methods to maintain their connections including video calls. Although video call technologies such as Skype, Facetime, Google Hangouts are widely used on personal devices, studies show that they are still far away from supporting the flexibility that video callers need.

Recent studies have shown that video callers perform activities in parallel to their video call conversations, and more importantly, they share their activities and episodes of their everyday life through video calls. For example, video callers have been found to walk around the house and do light house chores and even cooking or remotely attending a birthday party via a video call. While this is taking place video call technologies are not specially designed to support such experiences. As such managing these activities raise challenges for video callers regarding mobility, having to hold the device, managing the video frame, audio, etc. which can make interactions cumbersome.

To mitigate these problems, this project investigates how the design of video call technologies can support the flexibility required for video callers to get seamlessly engaged in activities whenever they want.

The research team are undertaking studies on the use of video call technologies, observing how friends and families use the technology at home in their natural settings. We are studying both state of the art technologies such as Skype on Xbox One and the typical video call technologies people use such as Skype and Hangouts on personal devices.

This research will contribute knowledge to the field of video-mediated communication by understanding video callers’ needs and providing design guidelines for supporting them.

Project team

  • Behnaz Rostami Yeganeh, PhD Candidate, Microsoft Research Centre for SocialNUI, University of Melbourne
  • Frank Vetere
    Frank Vetere, Professor & Director, Microsoft Research Centre for SocialNUI, University of Melbourne
  • Kenton O’Hara, Research Scientist, Microsoft Research, Cambridge, UK & Principal Fellow, University of Melbourne

Contact details


Rintel, S., O’Hara, K., Yeganeh, B. R. & Rädle, R. (2015) Ad hoc adaptability in video-calling. In ITS 2015 Workshop on Interacting with Multi-Device Ecologies in the Wild. Madeira, Portugal. [PDF]

Fisk, L., Carter, M., Yeganeh, B. R., Vetere, F., & Ploderer, B. (2014) Implicit and explicit interactions in video mediated collaboration, In Proceedings of the Australian Computer-Human Interaction Conference (OzCHI 2014). New York: ACM Press, pp. 250–259 [PDF, DOI]