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Spotlight on Young Researchers: Designing tomorrow’s meeting rooms


Interactive wall-sized displays are beneficial for complex decision-making tasks such as visual data analytics, thanks to their large size and high resolution, allowing users to “zoom-out” on the data or on images to see the big picture, while still being able to look at details just by approaching the screen. Researchers are perfecting these displays and the technologies around them, for example by interconnecting multiple large display setups and working on making remote collaboration through them more efficient.

Efforts from researchers around the globe have improved the manipulation of data on wall-sized displays, for example through touch or pointing-based interactions, which are more adapted than traditional mouse and keyboard interfaces.

“Big displays inherently support collocated collaboration since users in the same room can all view and interact with content on the screens, but also because they can see each other. This indeed helps them understand the intentions and actions of their collaborators through non-verbal communication. In our field, we usually call that “workspace awareness”, explains computer scientist Adrien Coppens, a computer scientist and Junior R&T Associate at the Luxembourg Institute of Science and Technology (LIST).

But, when physical face-to-face collaboration is unwanted, or even impossible – see the recent pandemic – more adaptation for how the screens can be used is needed. An increasing number of meetings are moved online and proper tooling is needed to enable efficient remote collaboration, including for large displays.

Preserving workspace awareness

“Most of the non-verbal communication between collocated users is lost when moving to remote collaboration. This means that we need to find ways to preserve “workspace awareness”, through what we call “awareness cues”. These cues should convey awareness information but not distract users, hence the need for research on the topic.

Our goal through the ReSurf project is to interconnect multiple large displays setups to enable remote collaboration in that context. We therefore want to identify which non-verbal cues are needed and how the corresponding awareness information can be transmitted to remote collaborators.”rnTo do so, we started by studying collocated usage of such natural cues, with participants going through a decision-making scenario involving data visualizations on a wall-sized display. Combined with a review of the existing literature to identify solutions proposed by other researchers to convey awareness information, that study allowed us to develop our reflections for designing and implementing awareness cues adapted to our context.rn
Adrien Coppens Computer scientist and Junior Ru0026T Associate at the Luxembourg Institute of Science and Technology (LIST).

Adrien Coppens is a computer scientist and Junior R&T Associate at the Luxembourg Institute of Science and Technology (LIST).


u003ch4u003eDescribing his research in one sentenceu003c/h4u003ernu003cemu003e“Designing tomorrow’s meeting rooms: building interfaces that transmit awareness information to make remote collaboration through large displays effective.”u003c/emu003ernu003ch4u003eWhy he chose this research pathu003c/h4u003ernu003cemu003e“During my Computer Science studies, I have always been attracted to innovative Human-Computer Interaction devices and opted to continue “playing around” with such technologies as part of a PhD first, and now for a research career.”u003c/emu003ernu003ch4u003eWhat he loves about his research topicu003c/h4u003ernu003cemu003e“What I love about doing research in Human-Computer Interaction with “unusual devices” such as large displays or AR/VR headsets (and as opposed to traditional desktop interfaces) is the freedom to explore alternatives, partly due to the relative absence of standards.”u003c/emu003ernu003ch4u003eOn mentors with an impactu003c/h4u003ernu003cemu003e“For sure my former thesis supervisor, Prof. Tom MENS at UMONS (Belgium). He allowed me to work on a subject that was outside of his main research interests and had a major impact in my development as a researcher with his invaluable feedback, advice and guidance.”u003c/emu003ernu003ch4u003eWhere he sees himself in 5 yearsu003c/h4u003ernu003cemu003e“Likely staying in research, since I enjoyed my PhD and am enjoying my post-doc so far, as long as I can “play around” with these innovative devices!”u003c/emu003e

Discover more about this work in the “Women & Girls in Science” video featuring Dimitra Anastasiou, as well as Adrien as an “extra”.

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