Workspace Navigator: Tools for Capture, Recall, and Reuse using Spatial Cues in an Interactive Workspace

The Persistence module of the Wallenburg iSpaces project is looking at how to assist users in capturing and subsequently reviewing the contents of meetings, classes and activities that occur in an iSpace. Much research has been conducted on capturing material from traditional classrooms and conference rooms, but an iSpace is a new kind of space, providing a new set of challenges and possibilities for us to explore.

iSpaces have the important characteristic of being scarce commodities, meaning that the setting often changes behind a user's back between work sessions as other groups enter and use the space. Thus, we need some sort of mechanism to help users continue working quickly and efficiently upon entering the space. Furthermore, information is being generated on many different devices during a work session in an iSpace, and it is easy to lose track of what is going on and very difficult to recreate what happened after a meeting. Tools to assist in capturing information generated and to browse the captured information to facilitate recall and reuse are being studied in the Persistence module.

We have developed an application for reviewable Persistence called the WorkspaceNavigator. Users organize their time spent in an iSpace into sessions, the software captures information during a session using a timeslice metaphor, and timeslices can later be perused using the WorkspaceNavigator. Each timeslice captured contains an overview image of the space, screenshots from all devices in the space, and an inventory of all URLs and files open in Microsoft office applications on each device. The purpose of the WorkspaceNavigator is not only to give users subsequent easy access to all files used during a session in order to facilitate information reuse, but also to help users recall where they left off at the end of a previous session, thus catapulting them into the next session.

Our current information interface for the WorkspaceNavigator harnesses users' visual and spatial memories, shown to be powerful types of memory. By creating screen snapshots plus an overview image of the room and its participants, we are using spatial and visual browsing as the access path to the information. Figure 1 shows the main interface of the WorkspaceNavigator, in which the central element is an overview image showing the participants and three large touch-screen displays taken during a timeslice. Full resolution screen snapshots are available for each display, and can be accessed by clicking on the displayed image in the snapshot.

For more information, please see the technical report.