An Integrated Communication and Collaboration Platform for Distributed Scientific Workgroups

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We present the design, technologies and user study of an advanced collaboration platform which integrates life-size video conferencing and group interactions on a large shared workspace. The platform has been developed to support the diagnostics and research scientists in an animal health laboratory to work collaboratively across a physical containment barrier. We present the design rationale for this enhanced shared workspace which allows the sharing of a range of data and synchronous interactions on computer applications in this complex work setting. This can not be simply supported by the “board-room” type of “telepresence” technology. We describe the technical solution which has focused on the ergonomic aspect and, importantly, the integration of communication and collaboration features in the shared workspace. The platform has been under routine use and a user study has shown that these design considerations are critical for supporting the distributed scientific collaborations and may be also applicable to other scientific domains.