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Salience, Focus and Bandwidth


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An review of ongoing work at UKOLN in software, hardware and interaction design to support remote participation in the conference environment.

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Salience, Focus and Bandwidth

  1. 1. UKOLN is supported by: Salience, Focus and Bandwidth Emma Tonkin – Research Officer Strathclyde Workshop on Distance Conferencing – 22 nd October 2009
  2. 2. Why remote participation? <ul><li>Simple premise: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Travel costs £money, £time and £patience </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Remote participation </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>= Cut down on travel </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>=> Cheaper, faster, less irritating? </li></ul></ul>
  3. 3. Really? <ul><li>Remote access has penalties </li></ul><ul><li>Limited opportunity to interact/contribute </li></ul><ul><li>Sense of presence limited – doesn’t feel like being there </li></ul><ul><li>‘ Incidental’ interactions limited – doesn’t work like being there </li></ul>
  4. 4. Plan… <ul><li>I will discuss: </li></ul><ul><li>Brief review of factors </li></ul><ul><li>Scenarios + Experiences </li></ul><ul><li>Some of our research in the area </li></ul>
  5. 5. Factors <ul><li>All the obvious questions: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>What? (are you trying to achieve?) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Who? (will be taking part?) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>How many people? </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>What are they used to? </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>How much? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Money – equipment – bandwidth – time? </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>How best to emulate and support? </li></ul></ul>
  6. 6. User-centered <ul><li>Participant buy-in is vital </li></ul><ul><li>How good is the user experience? </li></ul><ul><li>Obligatory pseudo-formula: </li></ul>
  7. 7. Relevant theory from CMC <ul><li>Cues filtered out – is CMC poorer, because [non-verbal] cues aren’t transmissible? </li></ul><ul><li>Cues filtered in – despite the lack of inherent [non-verbal] cues, people will find a way? </li></ul>
  8. 9. Scenarios <ul><li>Conference keynote/paper presentation </li></ul><ul><li>SIG/board meeting </li></ul><ul><li>Social conventions and etiquette: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Well-understood for each scenario </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Potentially easier to support than arbitrary interactions! </li></ul>
  9. 10. Conference keynote: rough rules <ul><li>During presentation: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Watch quietly, even if you disagree (but it’s ok to mutter darkly to your neighbour) </li></ul></ul><ul><li>After presentation: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Signal intent to ask question to session chair (who explicitly directs focus of audience attention) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>When asked, ask question; discuss. </li></ul></ul>
  10. 11. Problems for remote viewer <ul><li>Boring video streams: Not enough detail, too few cues to guide gaze – faded into background </li></ul><ul><li>Some nuances are lost </li></ul><ul><li>No sense of presence; no incidental interaction </li></ul><ul><li>Signaling intent to contribute </li></ul>
  11. 12. Strategies (1) <ul><li>Use low-bandwidth channels (twitter, irc, chat) for external contributions </li></ul><ul><li>Alter conventions for the chair to accommodate remote participants </li></ul><ul><li>Direct gaze through video stream; qualitatively appears more immersive </li></ul>
  12. 13. Strategies (2) <ul><li>Obvious approach: improve quality of transmitted data </li></ul><ul><li>Problem: typically taken to mean ‘higher resolution video’ </li></ul><ul><li>Much more expensive. </li></ul><ul><li>Most additional data irrelevant, so filtered out – by viewer! (visual attention) </li></ul>
  13. 14. Strategies (3) <ul><li>What really makes a difference? </li></ul><ul><li>In our case, we found: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>High-quality audio* </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Relevance of data transmitted; shot, focus, framing… camera directs interpretation? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Simple mechanisms for contribution </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Fielding social s/w: twitter, etc. </li></ul></ul>
  14. 15. * For certain definitions of ‘high quality’ <ul><li>Psychoaccoustic/psychovisual modeling </li></ul><ul><li>Perceived quality… depends on perception </li></ul>
  15. 16. Further aside about audio… <ul><li>‘ Cocktail party effect’ – focusing listening attention; source separation </li></ul><ul><li>Permits us to locate & focus attention on a speaker; as accurate as visual localization, but less efficient </li></ul><ul><li>Required info to achieve this is difficult to retain – but very important </li></ul>
  16. 17. Board meeting: rough rules <ul><li>Session chair controls discussion, explicitly directs attention </li></ul><ul><li>Signal intent to contribute </li></ul><ul><li>Meeting minutes taken by nominated individuals; actions identified, declared during discussion </li></ul>
  17. 18. Problems-remote participant <ul><li>Cues and signals </li></ul><ul><li>Gaze/attention (what’s so funny? What are we looking at/talking about?) </li></ul><ul><li>Identity of participants; visual name tags? </li></ul><ul><li>Fault-tolerance: Time zone, jet lag and burnout rate </li></ul><ul><li>Handling language difficulties </li></ul><ul><li>Bandwidth limits </li></ul>
  18. 19. Strategies (1) <ul><li>Build effective conventions between chair and remote participants </li></ul><ul><li>Create fault-tolerant procedures </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Circulate notes/actions within minutes </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Take turns to complete tasks, so that departure of one participant is minimally disruptive </li></ul></ul>
  19. 20. Strategies (2) <ul><li>Focus on what matters: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Video dispensable, given desktop sharing or even async file sharing </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>High-quality audio is very important </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Back-channel enables informal discussion between participants, and can mediate requests to contribute </li></ul></ul>
  20. 21. Research <ul><li>Best use of limited bandwidth/dev time in various contexts </li></ul><ul><li>What data to collect/use/represent? </li></ul><ul><li>How to represent it? </li></ul>
  21. 22. Services shared by local and remote participants <ul><li>Long tradition of hackery –eg. graffiti wall (bluetooth & web), etc. </li></ul><ul><li>Cheap, fun, simple to set up – but little active interaction sparked as a result </li></ul>
  22. 23. Conceptual/domain model development scenario
  23. 24. Usual solution - committee <ul><li>Coffee in, specification out </li></ul><ul><li>Goal: shared reference, ‘common ground’ </li></ul><ul><li>But: Expensive, limited attendance </li></ul><ul><li>CMC problem. Multi-touch – Where should I be looking? What just changed? Is someone else about to edit what I’m looking at? </li></ul>
  24. 25. Strategies <ul><li>Versioning/diffs </li></ul><ul><li>Simplified visualisation – remote user relative position; distance from screen </li></ul><ul><li>Audio significant; conversation analysis a useful tool in eliciting design issues. </li></ul>
  25. 26. Discussion <ul><li>Smarter hardware, software, etc. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>collect relevant, pre-filtered information </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Cheap to transmit </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>But how easy is it to interpret? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Prior work - reaction times to filtered data can be very fast. Significance+ equivalence of data must be taught, learned, ’intuitive’ </li></ul></ul>
  26. 27. Overall Conclusion <ul><li>More detailed data not necessarily better </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Getting the right data </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Lots of design time goes into figuring out which data matters most </li></ul><ul><li>Representation may differ significantly from initial form of information </li></ul><ul><li>Hearing gaze and seeing speech? – ambient + intuitive </li></ul>
  27. 28. Conclusion (2) <ul><li>Handy buzzword list: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Emergent, self-organising, etc… </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Agile, user-centred design . </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Imagination is free </li></ul>
  28. 29. <ul><li>Comments, questions, rotten tomatoes? </li></ul>