Virtual Partitions(2018-9)


Virtual Partitions: Partitioning Open-plan Workspaces via Augmented Reality

Open-plan workspaces are becoming common because of their compact footprint, economic advantages, and capacity for fostering communication. However, users of open-plan workspaces often report a high level of distraction, undermining their performance especially on individual cognitive tasks. Existing common solutions require recurrent physical changes, which are neither practical for companies and employees nor desired by interior architects. In this paper, we examine the use of augmented-reality (AR) midair pervasive displays and visual separators to address the problem of visual distractions in open-plan workspaces. While past applications of AR in workspaces mostly focused on content creation and manipulation, we use AR to superimpose visual barriers — what we refer to as virtual partitions. To evaluate the impact of virtual partitioning on the occupants’ cognitive performance, we conducted two user studies with total 48 participants. The design of assessed virtual partitions was informed by interviews that we conducted with 11 professional space designers. The analysis of collected data suggests that virtual partitions can reduce visual distractions and enable users to personalize the visual attributes of their space leading to an improved experience of shared workspaces.