Cooperation across distributed teams is increasingly becoming a common reality in companies, and communication is certainly one of the cooperation dimensions impacted the most by the absence of physical distance. A number of computer-mediated communication systems have been commercialized and researched to mitigate the challenges related to geographical separation.
In an attempt to contribute to this line of research, we have previously designed, implemented, and evaluated SideBar: a videoconferencing system that enhances virtual meetings by supporting social engagements. Through image analysis of the conference video feed, SideBar tracks meeting participants in real-time; and, through a personal tablet, it allows each user to identify and track other participants, to look up information about them and their local work context, and to engage in peer-to-peer text-based conversations.
The experience gained with SideBar made us realize that there is a great unexplored potential in the role of tablets within the work practices of a distributed team. Examples might include, but are not limited to: tighter integration with software ecosystem (e.g, TFS, NooSphere), activity-based repurposing of the tablet (e.g., SideBar support for pre- and post- meeting activities), etc.
This project is focused on exploring such potential either by continuing the work on the SideBar project or by independently investigating the topic.
Main potential foreseen activities:
- analysis of existing research on the use of tablets in workspaces;
- selection of a domain (e.g., global software engineering) and understanding of related workspace practices;
- exploration of potential uses of tablets in workspaces of the selected domain;
- incremental design and development of demonstrators showcasing the identified uses; and,
- evaluation of refined versions of the demonstrators.