Social network services (SNSs) allow users to share their daily experiences and significant life events with family, friends, and colleagues. However, excessive use of SNSs or dependence upon them can cause a problem known as “SNS fatigue” that is associated with feelings of anxiety and loneliness. In other words, the tighter and stronger the social bonds are through SNSs, the more users feel anxiety and loneliness. We propose a method for providing users with a sense of security and connectedness with others by facilitating loose communication. Loose communication is defined by the presentation of abstract information and passive (one-way) communication. By focusing on the physicality and anthropomorphic characteristics of tangible avatars, we investigated a communication support system, Palco, that displays three types of contextual information with respect to the communication partner—emotional state, activity, and location—in a loose manner. Our approach contrasts with typical SNS interaction methods characterized by tight communication with interactivity and concrete information. This paper describes the design and implementation of Palco, as well as its usefulness as a communication tool. The emotional effects on the users are evaluated through a user study with 10 participants over four days. The results imply that Palco can effectively communicate the context of the communication partner, and provide a sense of security.
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