Sony Patent | Information Processing Device, Notification State Control Method, And Program

Patent: Information Processing Device, Notification State Control Method, And Program

Publication Number: 10613330

Publication Date: 20200407

Applicants: Sony

Abstract

Provided is an information processing device to enable a user and an outside person to communicate smoothly, the information processing device including: a necessity degree determination unit configured to determine, based on outside information indicating a situation external to a user, a degree of necessity that the user be notified of the outside information; and a notification state control unit configured to switch a notification state of the outside information with respect to the user based on the determined degree of necessity.

TECHNICAL FIELD

The present disclosure relates to an information processing device, a notification state control method, and a program.

BACKGROUND ART

As devices for realizing a virtual reality (VR) technology in which users are provided with virtual images as if they were real events and an augmented reality (AR) technology in which real images are displayed with various types of information superimposed thereon, head-mounted display (HMO) devices have been recently developed.

The display screen of an HMD device is placed in front of the eyes of a user when he or she is wearing the device, and there are see-through HMO devices through which outside states can be seen over the display screen, and non-see-through HMD devices whose display screen blocks the field of view of users. While outside states can be easily observed through a see-through HMD device, it is difficult to obtain a sense of immersion in display of the display screen with such devices since users are affected by light and the like of the outside environment. On the other hand, since outside visual information is blocked from users by non-see-through HMD devices, it is said that the non-see-through HMO devices are better when users want to concentrate on listening to and viewing content, working, and the like. For example, Patent Literature 1 discloses a technology relating to a non-see-through HMO device which can display more satisfactory images by preventing contaminants such as dirt or dust from entering a lens barrel in which a display screen is installed.

CITATION LIST

Patent Literature

Patent Literature 1: JP H9-90268A

SUMMARY OF INVENTION

Technical Problem

Although a user who is carrying out various kinds of work wearing a non-see-through HMD device can concentrate on the work, it is difficult for him or her to discern an external situation. In addition, when a user is wearing earphones, headphones or the like together with a non-see-through HMD device, it is even more difficult to discern an external situation. Thus, even when an outside person who attempts to communicate with a user wearing a non-see-through HMD device comes close to or starts speaking to the user, it is difficult for the user to be aware of the attempt. Thus, it is necessary for the outside person to make physical contact with the user wearing the non-see-through HMD device such as touching the body of the user when the outside person attempts to communicate. There is possibility of such abrupt physical contact causing discomfort or surprise in the user who is concentrating on his or her work while wearing the non-see-through HMD device and interfering with comfortable use.

Thus, smoother communication between a user wearing a non-see-through HMD device and an outside person has been demanded. Therefore, the present disclosure proposes an information processing device, a notification state control method, and a program which enable a user and an outside person to communicate smoothly.

Solution to Problem

According to the present disclosure, there is provided an information processing device including: a necessity degree determination unit configured to determine, based on outside information indicating a situation external to a user, a degree of necessity that the user be notified of the outside information; and a notification state control unit configured to switch a notification state of the outside information with respect to the user based on the determined degree of necessity.

According to the present disclosure, there is provided a notification state control method including: determining, based on outside information indicating a situation external to a user, a degree of necessity that the user be notified of the outside information; and switching a notification state of the outside information with respect to the user based on the determined degree of necessity.

According to the present disclosure, there is provided a program causing a computer to realize: a function of determining, based on outside information indicating a situation external to a user, a degree of necessity that the user be notified of the outside information; and a function of switching a notification state of the outside information with respect to the user based on the determined degree of necessity.

According to the present disclosure, the necessity degree determination unit determines, based on outside information indicating a situation external to a user, a degree of necessity that the user be notified of the outside information. In addition, the notification state control unit switches a notification state of the outside information with respect to the user based on the determined degree of necessity. Since the degree of necessity that the user be notified of the outside information is determined and notification of the outside information is performed based on the determined degree of necessity in this manner, the user can recognize that the outside information has been detected and can react appropriately to the outside information.

Advantageous Effects of Invention

According to the present disclosure described above, a user and an outside person can communicate more smoothly.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF DRAWINGS

FIG. 1A is a perspective diagram illustrating an example of the exterior of a non-see-through HMD according to a first embodiment of the present disclosure.

FIG. 1B is a perspective diagram illustrating an example of the exterior of a non-see-through HMD according to a first embodiment of the present disclosure.

FIG. 2 is a functional block diagram showing an example of a configuration of the non-see-through HMD device according to the first embodiment of the present disclosure.

FIG. 3 is an explanatory diagram for describing an example of a determination method for a degree of necessity for a notification of outside information by a necessity degree determination unit according to the embodiment.

FIG. 4A is an illustrative diagram for describing a specific example of control of a notification state by a notification state control unit when a degree of necessity is high.

FIG. 4B is an illustrative diagram for describing a specific example of control of a notification state by a notification state control unit when a degree of necessity is high.

FIG. 4C is an illustrative diagram for describing a specific example of control of a notification state by a notification state control unit when a degree of necessity is high.

FIG. 4D is an illustrative diagram for describing a specific example of control of a notification state by a notification state control unit when a degree of necessity is high.

FIG. 4E is an illustrative diagram for describing a specific example of control of a notification state by a notification state control unit when a degree of necessity is high.

FIG. 5 is an illustrative diagram for describing a specific example of notification state control by the notification state control unit when a degree of necessity is intermediate.

FIG. 6A is an illustrative diagram for describing a specific example of notification state control by the notification state control unit when a degree of necessity is low.

FIG. 6B is an illustrative diagram for describing a specific example of notification state control by the notification state control unit when a degree of necessity is low.

FIG. 6C is an illustrative diagram for describing a specific example of notification state control by the notification state control unit when a degree of necessity is low.

FIG. 7 is a flow chart showing the processing procedure of a notification state control method according to the first embodiment of the present disclosure.

FIG. 8A is a perspective diagram illustrating an example of the exterior of a non-see-through HMD device according to a second embodiment of the present disclosure.

FIG. 8B is a perspective diagram illustrating an example of the exterior of a non-see-through HMD device according to a second embodiment of the present disclosure.

FIG. 9 is a functional block diagram illustrating an example of a configuration of the non-see-through HMD device according to the second embodiment of the present disclosure.

FIG. 10A is an illustrative diagram for describing a specific example in which a display screen of an outer presentation unit is controlled by a presentation state control unit when a user has not been notified of outside information.

FIG. 10B is an illustrative diagram for describing a specific example in which a display screen of an outer presentation unit is controlled by a presentation state control unit when a user has not been notified of outside information.

FIG. 11 is an illustrative diagram for describing a specific example in which the display screen of the outer presentation unit is controlled by the presentation state control unit based on line-of-sight information of the user.

FIG. 12A is an illustrative diagram for describing another specific example in which the display screen of the outer presentation unit is controlled by the presentation state control unit based on line-of-sight information of the user.

FIG. 12B is an illustrative diagram for describing another specific example in which the display screen of the outer presentation unit is controlled by the presentation state control unit based on line-of-sight information of the user.

FIG. 13 is an illustrative diagram for describing a specific example of a connection between notification state control by a notification state control unit and presentation state control by the presentation state control unit.

FIG. 14 is an illustrative diagram for describing a specific example of a connection between notification state control by a notification state control unit and presentation state control by the presentation state control unit.

FIG. 15 is a flow chart showing the processing procedure of a presentation state control method according to the second embodiment of the present disclosure.

FIG. 16 is a functional block diagram showing a hardware configuration of the non-see-through HMD devices according to the first and second embodiments of the present disclosure.

DESCRIPTION OF EMBODIMENTS

Hereinafter, preferred embodiments of the present disclosure will be described in detail with reference to the appended drawings. Note that, in this specification and the drawings, elements that have substantially the same function and structure are denoted with the same reference signs, and repeated explanation is omitted.

Description will be provided in the following order.

  1. First Embodiment 1-1. Exterior of non-see-through HMD device 1-2. Configuration of non-see-through HMD device 1-3. Specific example of notification state 1-3-1. Case of high degree of necessity 1-3-2. Case of intermediate degree of necessity 1-3-3. Case of low degree of necessity 1-4.* Processing procedure of notification state control method*

  2. Second Embodiment 2-1. Exterior of non-see-through HMD device 2-2. Configuration of non-see-through HMD device 2-3. Specific example of presentation state 2-4. Specific example of notification state and presentation state 2-5.* Processing procedure of presentation state control method*

3.* Hardware Configuration*

4.* Conclusion*

<1. First Embodiment>

[1-1. Exterior of Non-see-through HMD Device]

First, an example of the exterior of a non-see-through HMD device according to a first embodiment of the present disclosure will be described with reference to FIGS. 1A and 1B. FIGS. 1A and 1B are perspective diagrams illustrating the example of the exterior of the non-see-through HMD device according to the first embodiment of the present disclosure. It should be noted that, when a user is assumed to be wearing the non-see-through HMD device, the side of the non-see-through HMD device that faces the user is referred to as the inside or inner side, and the side of the non-see-through HMD device that does not face the user is referred to as the outside or outer side in the following description.

FIG. 1A is a perspective diagram illustrating the non-see-through HMD 10 according to the first embodiment when viewed from the outer side. In addition, FIG. 1B is a perspective diagram illustrating the non-see-through HMD 10 according to the first embodiment when viewed from the inner side. Referring to FIGS. 1A and 1B, the non-see-through HMD 10 has a main body part 310 and a band part 320. The main body part 310 is shaped like goggles, is positioned in front of the eyes of the user when he or she is wearing the device, and blocks the outside from the user’s field of view. The main body part 310 has various functions relating to driving of the non-see-through HMD device 10, such as a control unit which processes various types of information and comprehensively controls driving of the non-see-through HMD 10, a display unit which visually notifies the user of various types of information, and the like. The band part 320 is a strip-shaped member that is worn around the head of the user to fix the main body part 310 in front of the eyes of the user. The length, angle, and the like of the band part 320 may be adjustable so that a position of the main body part 310 is fixed in front of the eyes of the user.

Referring to FIG. 1A, a camera 311 and a microphone 312 are provided on the outer side of the main body part 310. The camera 311 captures states external to the user in the form of dynamic images or still images. In addition, the microphone 312 records sounds of states external to the user. Image information of images captured by the camera 311 and sound information of sounds recorded by the microphone 312 are transmitted to the control unit of the main body part 310. In the following description, information indicating situations external to the user such as the image information and sound information mentioned above is referred to as outside information. As described above, the camera 311 and the microphone 312 have the function of detecting outside information. It should be noted that the camera 311 and the microphone 312 may detect outside information at all times, or when the outside information has been changed, may detect the changed outside information. When a change occurs in outside information, for example, it may be a change in a person or an object included within a frame of the camera 311 in the case of image information, or a change in a sound recorded by the microphone 312 in the case of sound information.

Referring to FIG. 1B, inner display units 313a and 313b and line-of-sight sensor units 314a and 314b are provided on the inner side of the main body part 310. The inner display units 313a and 313b are provided at positions in front of the eyes of the user when the user is wearing the non-see-through HMD device 10, and display various types of information on display screens in various forms such as images, text, graphs, and tables to visually notify the user of the information. In the example illustrated in FIG. 1B, the inner display units 313a and 313b are provided at positions corresponding to the left and right eyes of the user, and can provide three-dimensional images (3D images) to the user. The user can enjoy content of, for example, movies and the like or can do various kinds of work using a word processing software, spreadsheet software, and the like while referring to the display screens of the inner display units 313a and 313b. In addition, the display screens of the inner display units 313a and 313b are designed not to be observed by transmitting outside states, and the outside space is blocked from the field of view of the user wearing the non-see-through HMD device 10 by the inner display units 313a and 313b. Thus, the user can concentrate on information displayed on the display screens of the inner display units 313a and 313b, and can be immersed in his or her work. It should be noted that, although the case in which the non-see-through HMD device 10 has one pair of inner display units 313a and 313b has been described, the present embodiment is not limited thereto. The non-see-through HMD device 10 may have an inner display unit with one display screen.

The line-of-sight sensor units 314a and 314b are sensor devices which detect states of the eyes of the user. A state of the eyes may herein be any state relating to the eyes of the user such as open and closed states of the eyelids, states of the pupils, and states of the line of sight. In the example illustrated in FIG. 1B, the line-of-sight sensor units 314a and 314b are provided at positions corresponding to the left and right eyes of the user, and each can detect a state of one of the left and right eyes of the user. Information regarding a state of the eyes of the user detected by the line-of-sight sensor units 314a and 314b (hereinafter referred to as line-of-sight information) is transmitted to the control unit of the main body part 310. In the following description, information relating to a user is referred to as inside information. In the present embodiment, inside information includes information indicating states of the user (hereinafter referred to as user information) and/or information other than outside information of which the user is notified (hereinafter referred to as content information). The line-of-sight information is included in user information, and thus the line-of-sight sensor units 314a and 314b have the function of detecting inside information. It should be noted that details of inside information will be described below with reference to FIG. 2. In addition, the line-of-sight sensor units 314a and 314b may detect inside information at all times, and when a change occurs in inside information, may detect the changed inside information.

In addition, although not illustrated in FIGS. 1A and 1B, the non-see-through HMD device 10 may have an audio output unit such as an earphone device or a speaker device by which the user is audibly notified of various types of information. In addition, the non-see-through HMD device 10 may have various sensor devices for detecting user information such as an acceleration sensor device, a Global Positioning System (GPS) sensor device, and a bio-sensor device, and with these sensors, motion information indicating a motion of a user, position information of the user, biological information of the user, and the like may be detected as inside information.

The example of the exterior of the non-see-through HMD device 10 according to the first embodiment of the present disclosure has been described above with reference to FIGS. 1A and 1B. As described above, the non-see-through HMD device 10 has the configuration for detecting outside information, as typified by the camera 311 and the microphone 312. In addition, the non-see-through HMD device 10 has the configuration for detecting inside information, as typified by the line-of-sight sensor units 314a and 314b. Further, the non-see-through HMD device 10 has the configuration for notifying the user of various types of information, such as the inner display units 313a and 313b and the audio output unit. In addition, in the first embodiment, the control unit provided in the main body part 310 determines a degree of necessity that the user be notified of outside information based on detected outside information to switch a notification state of the outside information with respect to the user based on the degree of necessity. For example, the control unit can notify the user of the outside information by displaying the information in the inner display units 313a and 313b, or can notify the user of the outside information by displaying the information in the inner display units 313a and 313b in stages according to the degree of necessity. Here, notifying a user of information may include notifying the user of the information visually by displaying the information on the display screens of the inner display units 313a and 313b as an image or auditorily by outputting the information from the audio output unit as a sound. As described above, the non-see-through HMD device 10 can also be said to be a notification state control device which controls a notification state of various types of information with respect to a user. In the following description, a series of processes of notification state control performed by the non-see-through HMD device 10 is referred to as a notification state control process. In addition, since various information processes of the notification state control process are performed by the non-see-through HMD device 10, the non-see-through HMD device 10 is also referred to as an information processing device 10 in the following description.

[1-2. Configuration of Non-see-through HMD Device]

Next, a configuration of the non-see-through HMD device 10 according to the first embodiment of the present disclosure will be described with reference to FIG. 2. FIG. 2 is a functional block diagram showing an example of the configuration of the non-see-through HMD device 10 according to the first embodiment of the present disclosure. Referring to FIG. 2, the non-see-through HMD device 10 according to the first embodiment includes an outside information detection unit 110, an inside information detection unit 120, an inner notification unit 130, and the control unit 140.

The outside information detection unit 110 detects outside information indicating a situation external to the user. The outside information detection unit 110 corresponds to, for example, the camera 311 and the microphone 312 illustrated in FIG. 1A.

Herein, outside information will be described in detail. The outside information is information indicating a situation external to the user as described above, and the outside information includes various types of information of the outside of the user. For example, the outside information may be image information, sound information, and the like indicating a situation external to the user. It should be noted that the outside information can include not only image information relating to an image using visible light but also image information relating to an image using light having other wavelength bands, for example, infrared light and the like. In addition, the outside information may include various types of information indicating an environment external to the user such as distance information with respect to an object near the user, temperature information of an object near the user, and the like. More specifically, the outside information includes, for example, information indicating that an outside person is approaching the user, information indicating that an outside person has started talking (started speaking) to the user, and/or information regarding a motion (gesture) of an outside person, which are included in the image information. In addition, the outside information includes, for example, information regarding content spoken by an outside person, and/or information regarding a warning sound of a siren or a buzzer included in the sound information. Moreover, when the non-see-through HMD device 10 has a communication unit that exchanges information with another outside device, the outside information may include information regarding the other device detected through the communication unit (hereinafter referred to as device information). The device information includes, for example, ID information for specifying a person who possesses the other device. As described above, the outside information may include various types of information indicating a situation external to the user such as image information indicating a situation external to the user, sound information indicating a situation external to the user and/or device information acquired through communication with another device external to the user.

The outside information detection unit 110 is configured as a device which detects various kinds of outside information as described above. For example, the outside information detection unit 110 has an image-capturing device such as a camera for acquiring image information, a sound recording device such as a microphone for acquiring sound information, and/or a communication device for acquiring device information. In addition, the outside information detection unit 110 may have various kinds of sensor devices which detect an outside environment, such as an infrared sensor device, a distance sensor device, a temperature sensor device, and the like. The outside information detection unit 110 transmits detected outside information to the control unit 140.

The inside information detection unit 120 detects inside information that is information relating to the user. The inside information detection unit 120 corresponds to, for example, the line-of-sight sensor units 314a and 314b illustrated in FIG. 1B.

Inside information will be described herein in detail. The inside information is information relating to the user as described above, and various types of information relating to the user wearing the non-see-through HMD device 10 is included in the inside information. In the present embodiment, the inside information includes information indicating a state of the user (user information) and/or information other than outside information of which the user is notified (content information).

The user information includes at least any of motion information indicating a motion of the user, position information of the user, biological information of the user, and information regarding an action schedule of the user. The motion information is information, for example, detected by a sensor device which detects a motion or a posture of an object, such as an acceleration sensor device or a gyro sensor device, indicating a motion (for example, standing, sitting, walking, or the like) or a posture (for example, inclination of the head) of the user. The position information is information, for example, detected by a sensor device which detects a position of an object, such as a GPS sensor device, indicating a position of the user (for example, at work, at home, on a train, or the like). The biological information is various types of information regarding biological activities of the user, indicating a pulse, a heartbeat, a breathing rate, a state of the eyes, and the like of the user. The line-of-sight information described above in [1-1. Exterior of non-see-through HMD device] is included in the biological information. Information regarding an action schedule of the user is information, for example, acquired from schedule information of the user recorded on a recording medium that the non-see-through HMD device 10 can access, including information indicating, for example, whether a specific time is a work time or a rest time for the user or the like.

The content information is information other than the outside information of which the user is notified as described above. As such, in the present embodiment, information of which the user is notified may be outside information and/or content information, and control of a notification state may be control of switching such information of which the user is notified. For example, the content information includes dynamic motion information of a movie, a television program, or the like, information relating to work performed using a word processing software, spreadsheet software, or the like, or information on a web site that is viewed using browser software. As described above, the content information may be information of which the user is notified when the user performs various processes while wearing the non-see-through HMD device 10 (non-see-through HMD device 10). In the following description, a state in which a user has been notified of content information and is performing various processes based on the content information is also referred to as a state in which the user is working.

The inside information detection unit 120 is configured as a device which detects various types of inside information as described above. For example, the inside information detection unit 120 has an acceleration sensor device, a gyro sensor device, a GPS sensor device, a bio-sensor device, and the like for acquiring various types of user information. In addition, the inside information detection unit 120 has a configuration, for example, for detecting various types of content information, i.e., a configuration for detecting information other than outside information out of information of which the user has been notified. The inside information detection unit 120 transmits the detected outside information to the control unit 140.

Driving of the inner notification unit 130 is controlled by the control unit 140, and the inner notification unit 130 notifies the user of various types of information in various forms. Here, notification of information with respect to the user includes visual notification and auditory notification. For example, the inner notification unit 130 has a display screen for displaying various types of information on the display screen in various forms of images, text, graphs, tables, and the like, and thereby visually notifying the user of the information. In addition, the inner notification unit 130 has, for example, an audio output device such as a speaker or earphones for outputting various types of information as sounds from the audio output device, and thereby auditorily notifying the user of the information. As described above, the inner notification unit 130 can serve as a display unit which displays various types of information on the display screen and as the audio output unit which outputs various types of information as sounds.

The configuration of the inner notification unit 130 as the display unit is, for example, the configuration of the inner display units 313a and 313b illustrated in FIG. 1B. The inner notification unit 130 notifies the user of content information by displaying a content image that is image information included in the content information on the display screen. In addition, driving of the inner notification unit 130 is controlled by the control unit 140, and the inner notification unit 130 notifies the user of outside information by displaying an outside image that is image information included in the outside information on the display screen. It should be noted that the inner notification unit 130 may display only one of a content image and an outside image on the display screen, or may display both the content image and the outside image on the display screen.

In addition, when the inner notification unit 130 has the configuration as the audio output unit, the inner notification unit 130 notifies the user of content information by outputting a content sound that is sound information included in the content information. In addition, driving of the inner notification unit 130 is controlled by the control unit 140, and the inner notification unit 130 notifies the user of outside information by outputting an outside sound that is sound information included in the outside information. It should be noted that the inner notification unit 130 may output only one of a content sound and an outside sound, or may output both the content sound and the outside sound.

The control unit 140 comprehensively controls the non-see-through HMD device 10, and performs various information processes of the notification state control process according to the present embodiment. The function and configuration of the control unit 140 will be described below in detail.

The control unit 140 has a necessity degree determination unit 141, a notification state control unit 142, and an inside information acquisition unit 143.

The necessity degree determination unit 141 determines a degree of necessity that the user be notified of outside information based on the outside information indicating a situation external to the user. Specifically, the necessity degree determination unit 141 acquires the outside information detected by the outside information detection unit 110, and determines a degree of necessity (degree of necessity of a notification) that the user be notified of the outside information based on the outside information. In this way, the necessity degree determination unit 141 analyzes the content of the acquired outside information, and thereby can determine the degree of necessity based on the content. For example, a table in which types of outside information and degrees of necessity are associated may be prepared, and the necessity degree determination unit 141 may determine a degree of necessity by referring to the table. In addition, a pre-decided score may be assigned to each type of outside information, and the necessity degree determination unit 141 may determine a degree of necessity by computing the score for detected outside information.

Herein, an example of a determination method for a degree of necessity of a notification of outside information performed by the necessity degree determination unit 141 will be described with reference to FIG. 3. FIG. 3 is an explanatory diagram for describing the example of the determination method for a degree of necessity of a notification of outside information performed by the necessity degree determination unit 141 according to the present embodiment. It should be noted that the example shown in FIG. 3 corresponds to a method using the table mentioned above.

Referring to FIG. 3, types of outside information are listed in the topmost row and the leftmost column of the table, and degrees of necessity are decided according to combinations of outside information. In the topmost row, “person approaching,” “person speaking,” “specific gesture,” and “inter-device communication” are described as examples of outside information. “Person approaching” and “specific gesture” are information acquired from image information included in the outside information, meaning that an outside person is approaching and making a specific gesture to the user wearing the non-see-through HMD device 10. A specific gesture is a sign indicating an intention to communicate with the user, for example, outstretching an arm, waving a hand, or the like toward the user. “Person speaking” is information acquired from sound information included in the outside information, meaning that an outside person has started talking to the user who is wearing the non-see-through HMD device 10. “Inter-device communication” is information acquired from device information included in the outside information, meaning that an outside person having an apparatus (device) that can communicate with the non-see-through HMD device 10 is approaching the user, or is within a predetermined range in which communication is possible.

In the leftmost column, “acquaintance” and “stranger” are described as examples of the outside information. “Acquaintance” and “stranger” indicate whether the user is acquainted with a person approaching the user, a person making a gesture toward the user, and a person talking to the user based on the outside information listed in the topmost row. When the outside information includes device information, for example, it may be determined whether the user is acquainted with the person based on ID information which indicates the owner of the other device which is included in the device information. In addition, when the outside information includes image information and the image information includes an image of the face of an outside person, for example, it may be determined whether the user is acquainted with the person by recognizing the person based on the image of the face.

In the example shown in FIG. 3, degrees of necessity are determined by three grades of “high,” “intermediate,” and “low.” Referring to FIG. 3, when “person speaking” or “specific gesture” is acquired as outside information, for example, the necessity degree determination unit 141 determines a degree of necessity of the outside information to be “high,” regardless of whether or not the user is acquainted with an outside person performing such an action. This is because, when the outside person has spoken to the user or made a specific gesture, the outside person who has performed the action is considered to have a clear intention to communicate with the user.

In addition, for example, when “person approaching” or “inter-device communication” is acquired as outside information, the necessity degree determination unit 141 determines the degree of necessity of the outside information to be “intermediate” if the user is acquainted with the outside person performing the action, and determines the degree of necessity of the outside information to be “low” if the user is not acquainted with the outside person performing the action. One reason for this is that, even when an outside person has approached the user and “person approaching” or “inter-device communication” is acquired as outside information, there is considered to be a possibility that the outside person performing the action is passing by the user by chance or for some other purpose. In addition, another reason is that there is a high possibility of the outside person having approached the user for the purpose of communication if the outside person is one with whom the user is acquainted, and a high possibility of the outside person moving away without communicating with the user if the outside person is one with whom the user is not acquainted.

In addition, although not shown in FIG. 3, when special information is included in the outside information, the necessity degree determination unit 141 can determine a degree of necessity that the user be notified of the outside information to be “high.” The special information refers to outside information indicating a state of emergency, for example, a siren, a warning, a shouting of a person, and the like. Since it is necessary that the user be reliably notified of such outside information indicating a state of emergency, the necessity degree determination unit 141 determines the degree of necessity to be “high.” It should be noted that specific information to be used as the special information may be appropriately set by the user. Consequently, the user can arbitrarily set a degree of necessity of a notification for special outside information.

The example of the determination method for a degree of necessity of a notification of outside information performed by the necessity degree determination unit 141 has been described above with reference to FIG. 3. When a plurality of pieces of outside information are detected, the necessity degree determination unit 141 can determine a degree of necessity that the user be notified of the outside information according to a combination of the outside information as described above. In addition, the necessity degree determination unit 141 can determine a degree of necessity based on various types of information obtained from the outside information, such as specifying the owner of the device based on device information or specifying an outside person based on an image of the face included in image information. It should be noted that the process of obtaining various types of information from such outside information may be performed by the necessity degree determination unit 141 or by the outside information detection unit 110, and the obtained information may then be transmitted to the necessity degree determination unit 141 as part of the outside information.

It should be noted that a determination method for a degree of necessity performed by the necessity degree determination unit 141 is not limited to the example shown in FIG. 3. Although a degree of necessity is determined as one of three grades in the example shown in FIG. 3, the number of grades for classifying the degree of necessity is not limited to 3, and may be a smaller or larger number. In addition, the necessity degree determination unit 141 may compute a degree of necessity in such a way that, for example, a score indicating a degree of necessity is assigned to each piece of outside information shown in FIG. 3 (“person approaching,” “person speaking,” “specific gesture,” “inter-device communication,” “acquaintance,” and “stranger”) and scores assigned to the plurality of pieces of detected outside information are added together.

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