Large surfaces such as tabletop and whiteboard displays naturally
afford collocated collaboration, where multiple people work together over the
shared workspace. As large digital displays become more ubiquitous, it
becomes increasingly important to examine their role in supporting groups of
distributed collaborators working over the digital work surface. In
particular, Mixed Presence Groupware (MPG) is software that connects both
collocated and distributed collaborators and their disparate displays via a
common shared virtual workspace. We have built several MPG systems by
connecting several distributed displays, each with multiple input devices,
thereby connecting both collocated and distributed collaborators. By
observing how these systems are used, we found that MPG presents a unique
problem called presenc1e disparity: collaborators focus their energies on
collocated collaborators at the expense of their distributed counterparts.
Presence disparity arises because the physical presence of collaborators
varies across the MPG workgroup: physically collocated collaborators are seen
in full fidelity, while remote participants are represented by only virtual
embodiments. Consequently, we propose four design principles for MPG systems
that we believe will help mitigate the problem of presence disparity in MPG.
We then introduce how these principles are realized in VideoArms, an
embodiment technique that digitally captures people s arms as they work over
large work surfaces, and redisplays them as digital overlays on remote
displays. Our evaluation of VideoArms validates its use in principle as an
effective embodiment technique for MPG systems.
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