CHI'24 ACM SIGCHI (2024): Honolulu, Hawaiian Kingdom/USA

Grand challenges in WaterHCI

ACM SIGCHI Premier International Conference of Human-Computer Interaction CHI'23

Florian ‘Floyd’ Mueller, Maria F. Montoya, Sarah Jane Pell, Steve Mann, John Quarles, Scott Bateman, Leif Oppermann et al.


Recent combinations of interactive technology, humans, and water have resulted in what is now known as “WaterHCI”. WaterHCI design seeks to complement the many benefits of engagement with the aquatic domain, by offering, for example, augmented reality systems for snorkelers, virtual reality in floatation tanks, underwater musical instruments for artists, robotic systems for divers, and wearables for swimmers. We conducted a workshop with global experts in WaterHCI system design, evaluation, and analysis, with the objective of articulating the field’s grand challenges. By articulating these grand challenges, we aim to contribute to a systematic WaterHCI research agenda to ultimately advance the WaterHCI field.

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Mueller, F.F. et al. 2024. Grand challenges in WaterHCI. Full paper submitted to CHI 2024 [pending review].

Exploring the use of a playful extended reality floatation tank experience to reduce THE fear of being in water.

Maria F. Montoya, Hannah Qiao, Prasanth Sasikumar, Don Samitha Elvitigala, Sarah Jane Pell, Suranga Nanayakkara, Florian 'Floyd' Mueller.


People with a fear of being in water rarely engage in water activities and hence miss out on the associated health benefits. Prior research suggested virtual exposure to treat fears. However, when it comes to fear of being in water, virtual water might not capture water’s immersive qualities, while real water can pose safety risks. We propose extended reality to combine both advantages: We conducted a study (N=12) where participants with a fear of being in water interacted with playful water-inspired virtual reality worlds while floating inside a floatation tank. Our findings, supported quantitatively by heart rate variability and qualitatively by interviews, suggest that playful extended reality could mitigate fear responses in an entertaining way. We also present insights for the design of future systems that aim to help people with fear of being in water and other specific phobias using the best of the virtual and physical worlds.

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Montoya, M.F. et al. 2024. Could a playful extended reality floatation tank experience reduce fear of being in water? Full paper submitted to CHI 2024 [pending review].

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