Ubiquitous computing in next generation conference rooms: interweaving rich media, mobile devices, and smart environments


Designing the technologies, applications, and physical spaces for next-generation conference rooms

(This is a day-long workshop in Tokyo.)

Next-generation conference rooms are often designed to anticipate the onslaught of new rich media presentation and ideation systems. Throughout the past couple of decades, many researchers have attempted to reinvent the conference room, aiming at shared online or visual/virtual spaces, smart tables or walls, media support and tele-conferencing systems of varying complexity.

Current research in high-end room systems often features a multiplicity of thin, bright display screens (both large and small), along with interactive whiteboards, robotic cameras, and smart remote conferencing systems. Added into the mix one can find a variety of meeting capture and metadata management systems, automatic or not, focused on capturing different aspects of meetings in different media: to the Web, to one’s PDA or phone, or to a company database. Smart spaces and interactive furniture design projects have shown systems embedded in tables, podiums, walls, chairs and even floors and lighting.

Exploiting the capabilities of all these technologies in one room, however, is a daunting task. For example, faced with three or more display screens, all but a few presenters are likely to opt for simply replicating the same image on all of them. Even more daunting is the design challenge: how to choose which capabilities are vital to particular tasks, or for a particular room, or are well suited to a particular culture.

In this workshop we’ll explore how the design of next-generation conference rooms can be informed by the most recent research in rich media, context-aware mobile systems, ubiquitous displays, and interactive physical environments. How should conference room systems reflect the rapidly changing expectations around personal devices and smart spaces? What kinds of systems are needed to support meetings in technologically complex environments? How can design of conference room spaces and technologies account for differing social and cultural practices around meetings? What requirements are imposed by security and privacy issues in public spaces? What aspects of meeting capture and access technologies have proven to be useful, and how should a smart environment enable them? What intersections exist with other research areas such as digital libraries?

Conference room research has been and remains a focal point for some of the most interesting and applied work in ubiquitous computing. What lessons can we take from the research to date as we move forward? We are confident that a lively and useful discussion will be engendered by bringing directions from recent ubicomp research in games, multimedia applications, and social software to ongoing research in conference rooms systems: integrating architecture and tangible media, information design and display, and mobile and computer-mediated communications.