Many virtual meeting or virtual office apps provide users with a focus zone. Avatars of users in a focus zone are visible to other participants; however, users in the focus zone are shut out from ongoing conversations in their vicinity in the virtual office. A problem arises when a first participant desires to talk to a second participant that is in a focus zone or is otherwise engaged, e.g., in a separate conversation or simply away from their desk. This disclosure describes soft-alerting techniques to gently obtain the attention of individuals in a focus zone within an ambient video communications environment such as a virtual office or world. The techniques are analogous to a shoulder tap in the physical world and allow participants to seek attention without excessive intrusion.
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Pitts, Colvin and Donsbach, Aaron, "Shoulder Tap in Ambient Video Communications", Technical Disclosure Commons, (October 27, 2021)