June 17th, 2015
EVL PhD candidate, Thomas Marrinan presents his research on SAGE2 (Scalable Amplified Group Environment).
Abstract: Commercial software, such as Google Hangouts, Skype, and WebEx, has made significant strides to enhance remote collaboration between single users. Other systems, such as Oblong’s Mezzanine, have enabled groups to collaborate over distance, but only when the display environment is cloned in all locations. These configurations are not always practical in the real world since collaboration is often interdisciplinary, with each discipline having a unique work environment suited for its needs. Marrinan is using SAGE2 as a platform to implement a scalable solution for viewing and interacting with arbitrary content, and develop and test various methods of synchronizing data across multiple sites. SAGE2 is the successor to SAGE, the Scalable Adaptive Graphics Environment, which is a middleware to display and interact with an assortment of data-intensive information from multiple sources on displays of arbitrary size. In other words, SAGE2 allows collaborators to use any Scalable Resolution Shared Display (SRSD) from a single monitor to a large tiled display wall to act as a seamless window manager for applications such as a high-resolution image viewer, interactive mapping software, 3D model viewer, and multi-user notepad.
Unlike video and audio, data-conferencing with fully synchronized content may not always be ideal. Groups or individuals may be analyzing different portions of the same data, and therefore desire asynchronous interactions in certain situations. Marrinan is conducting a user study comparing three methods of asynchronous data-conferencing. The first method is data-pushing, sending unsynchronized documents between locations, along with two video streams - one of the collaborators and one of the SRSD. The second method is data-duplication, where one section of the SRSD will contain the fully synchronized version of all data-conferencing content and a second portion of the SRSD will contain local unsynchronized copies of the data-conferencing content. The final method uses advanced data-synchronization options, where collaborators can choose which aspects of each shared application will be synchronized and which will be controlled independently. While SAGE2 is being used to develop and test these principles, the applications of the knowledge that will be gained can broadly apply to data-conferencing software in general.