Transparent Desktop Opens Doors

Thanks ultima. For a couple of decades, researchers have tried to blend shared workspaces -- systems that allow two or more people to work on the same document -- with Internet video-conferencing systems, with little success.

Now researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill have designed a new system that cleverly blends a video-conference feed with a transparent image of a computer desktop into one full-screen window.

Called Facetop, the system simultaneously transmits a video feed of users along with a shared, transparent image of the desktop. It allows two colleagues to work on the same document, Web page or graphic, while communicating face to face.

The system also tracks the position of the users' fingertips, which can control a cursor. As well as operating the shared desktop -- opening and closing files or selecting text, for instance -- the collaborators can use natural pointing gestures to communicate ideas about the document.

Developed by David Stotts, an associate professor of computer science, and graduate student Jason Smith, Facetop was conceived for collaborative tasks like programming or editing text. But the researchers say it has obvious uses in other areas such as medical imaging or remote teaching.

"So far, from the feedback we've received, it works fantastically," said Smith. "It's a very natural interaction. You can see the facial expressions and all the nuances of face-to-face communication."

View: Complete article at Wired News

News source: Wired News

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