Traditionally E-mail has been the most effective asynchronous collaboration tool
available to us. The goal of V-mail is to provide an equally, if not more, effective asynchronous collaboration
tool for Tele-Immersion (TI). In particular V-mail was designed to facilitate collaborations between participants that may be geographically
located at distant parts of the world where timezone differences prevent routine synchronous collaboration.
When recording a V-mail message both audio and gesture from the collaborator are captured in addition to the surrounding
scenery. When the message is played back, the avatar of the original sender of the message materializes to re-enact
the message. After viewing the message the viewer may reply as in a standard e-mail system.
By recording speech, gesture and the surrounding scenery, collaborators are able to create richer messages than
those traditionally possible via standard e-mail or voice mail. Participants are able to see the sender's avatar
naturally gesturing while describing an observation in the VE. This is particularly effective when the concept
being described has an intrinsicly spatial quality.
Early implementation of a prototype of this system has led us to expand the application of this technology to also
include the use of this recording system for training in TI. In this situation pre-recorded sequences may be scripted
and played at appropriate moments that are triggered by user responses.
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