Smart Buildings, Users, and Communication (01-10-19)

How smart buildings should communicate with their users was investigated by Khashe, Gratch, Gratch, and Becerik-Gerber.  They determined that “people connect better with a computer-generated avatar that represents building management. . . . social banter between machine and people gets better results.  The findings underscore how personal connections and social interactions key to human relations also foster cooperation between people and machines. . . . subjects were exposed to an office setting using virtual reality, followed by a real office setting for a smaller group of participants. The researchers crafted pro-environmental messages for a virtual assistant . . . to ask questions, such as ‘If I open the blinds for you to have natural light, would you please dim or turn off the artificial lights?’ . . . people responded better when Ellie, the virtual human, acted on behalf of the building manager, rather than when she performed as a personification of the building.. . . . The scientists noted similar results whether study participants operated in an actual office or virtual reality simulation.”  The Khashe lead study was published in the International Journal of Human-Computer Interaction. 

“How to Improve Communication Between People and Smart Buildings.”  2019.  Press release, University of Southern California,