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Metazoa Ludens: Mixed-Reality Interaction and Play for Small Pets and Humans

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7 Author(s)
Cheok, A.D. ; Dept. of Electr. & Comput. Eng., Nat. Univ. of Singapore (NUS), Singapore, Singapore ; Tan, R.T.K.C. ; Peiris, R.L. ; Fernando, O.N.N.
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Although animals and pets are so important for families and society, in modern urban lifestyles, we can only spend little time with our animal friends. Interactive media should be aimed to enhance not only human-to-human communication but also human-to-animal communication. Thus, we promote a new type of interspecies media interaction which allows human users to interact and play with their small pet friends (in this case, hamsters) remotely via the Internet through a mixed-reality-based game system “Metazoa Ludens.” We used a two-pronged approach to scientifically examine the system. First, and most importantly, the body condition score study was conducted to evaluate the positive effects to the hamsters. Second, the method of Duncan was used to assess the strength of preference of the hamsters toward Metazoa Ludens. Lastly, the effectiveness of this remote interaction with respect to the human users as an interactive gaming system with their pets/friends (hamster) was examined based on Csikszentmihalyi's Flow theory. Results of both studies inform of positive remote interaction between human users and their pet friends using our research system. This research is not only just aimed at providing specific experimental results on the implemented research system but is also aimed as a wider lesson for human-to-animal interactive media. Therefore, as an addition, we present a detailed framework suited in general for human-to-animal interaction systems inferred from the lessons learned.

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Systems, Man and Cybernetics, Part A: Systems and Humans, IEEE Transactions on  (Volume:41 ,  Issue: 5 )