Inattentive in social, active in mind: VR-based design intervention for imagining desirable possibilities in the public space

Yiying Wu, Miikka Lehtonen (Corresponding Author)

Research output: Chapter in book / Conference proceedingConference article published in proceeding or bookAcademic researchpeer-review


The metro as a form of public transportation is an important urban infrastructure that takes a large
population from place A to B every day. To achieve that, it is primarily designed for extreme
functionality and efficiency. However, in terms of experiential aesthetics, the metro is seldom
people’s favourite place. When this modern infrastructure succeeds in serving urban mobility with
high performance and efficiency, passengers seem to want more than the guaranteed functional
performance. Recently, with the emergence of Virtual Reality (VR) technologies, increasing efforts
from design and HCI communities look at the value of VR technology in enhancing commuting
experiences, bringing new possibilities of interaction and activities, and potentially transforming
social public spaces. This study investigates how and why VR technology could be integrated with a
metro ride. We experimented with ten passengers by showing them three 360o videos during their
metro ride. The results show the narrative-driven scene is most desirable. Despite wearing a VR
headset might cause anxiety, our findings indicate a high level of acceptance towards VR experiences
based on the finding that it does not challenge the normative behaviours of being a passenger
‘inattentive in social, active in mind’ and further can enhance the experience. As the takeaway, we
propose three strategies of VR content tailored for the metro context in which passengers would find
a role participating in the virtual scene and turn the scene to one’s own story, and at the same time,
maintain physically constrained.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationIASDR Conference
Publication statusPublished - 7 Dec 2021


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