presented at the Internet2 Sociotechnical Summit
Planning Meeting, 12/7/98
by Carrie Heeter, Ph.D.
Michigan State University Comm Tech Lab and MSU Virtual University

This is an evolving draft, in its current state because time ran out, not because it is finished. Comments, suggestions, additions, subtractions most appreciated. Please email:


(tapping the Com Badge on her shirt)
"Computer, please locate Dean Ellen Wartella."

"Dean Wartella is in a conference room in Austin, Texas."

"Ellen, please report to the bridge immediately."

That's an everyday scene from Star Trek. Have you ever noticed that even on Star Trek, people sometimes ask about other people's whereabouts, but usually they just give orders from out of nowhere? Let me propose a more emotionally sensitive scenario.

"Dean Wartella is in a conference room in Austin, Texas."

"Is she busy?"

"She appears to be attending a large meeting."

"Is she happy?"

"She is smiling."

"Please smile back for me."

Rapid growth in technologies is being driven only indirectly by human need. Particularly with emerging high end technologies such as Internet2, attention is directed toward solving technical problems and addressing goal-oriented tasks of importance to business, science, or learning. However, ultimately these tasks will be better served if human relationships are integrated into the designs.

How can today's and tomorrow's technologies carry emotional meaning? How can emerging communication technology be designed to enrich personal relationships -- by deepening feelings of love, attachment or connectedness, providing support and caring, and so forth?

This review will address the human, personal, emotional dimensions of what I refer to as telerelating - maintaining and enhancing close personal relationships through technology. I will also address educational relationships of teacher-student, student-student, and the class as a whole.

Personal Relationships

Romantic Partners
Close Colleague

Education Relationships

Others involved with the Class

I am ignoring (at least) three major branches of telerelating research, in part due to time constraints, in part because they are already being developed, and in part because the area most neglected is the personal, emotional dimension.

Thus, I will not be writing about Collaboratories, because Barbara O'Keefe is working on that already - I look forward to hearing her discussion. I will not be talking about organizational communication issues such as media richness and choice of different media for types of tasks. And I will not be talking about Virtual Communities - associations of strangers meeting virtually for the first time and creating community together online. My focus is on people who actually know each other yet experience parts of their relationship through technology. (Technology Assisted Relationships?)


Telephone, advanced telephone, pagers, email and instant messaging, video conferencing, picture phones are telerelating technologies in use today. Technology Assisted Relationships are usually not the driving force behind introduction of a communication technology. Phones were initially marketed as a help in household management, and not for personal conversations.

Telephone: Claude Fisher Sociology Study

"Early telephone men often fought their residential customers over social conversations, labeling such calls as frivolous and unnecessary. For example, a company announcement from 1881 complained, "The fact that subscribers have been free to use the wires as they pleased without incurring additional expense [i.e., by using flat rates] has led to the transmission of large numbers of communications of the most trivial character." (Claude Fisher, UC Berkeley, America's Calling, 1990)

Questions asked about telephone:

1.) Has the telephone expanded or diminished personal relations?

enriched social ties
allowed rural people to overcome isolation


Stephen Kern, "It brought people into close contact but obliged them to 'live at wider distances' and created a palpable emptiness across which voices seemed uniquely disembodied and remote." p. 25

Fischer: it may be "an impersonal instrument whose use spreads impersonality."

2.) Does the telephone weaken local ties in favor of extralocal contacts and national interests?

3.) What were its subtle social psychological character?

permits intrusion into privacy
need public spaces less often and disengage
leaves people on edge always ready to be interrupted
provides a sense of calm security
unsettles customary ways of dividing home and public settings

Women talk on the phone more than men.

"Research, largely by AT&T, shows that American women today are likely to have telephones at home than are men, that the number of women or teenage girls in a household better predicts how often calls are made than does the number of males, and that women dial most residential long-distance calls. An Austrialian study showed that women made longer telephone calls than did men. A large French study found that women spent far more time on the telephone than did men, employemnet status notwithstanding.. An English survey found that women called their kin and friends much more often than men called theirs. An Ontario survey of people 50 and older showed that women were two or three times more likely to telephone their firiends than were men..." p. 231

Why? Three plausible answers

1.) modern women have been more isolated from adult contact during the day than men,

2.) married women's duties have usually included the role of social manager -- "as Rakow puts it, "telephone talk is the work women do to hold together the fabric of the ommunity..."37 p/ 235

3.) North American women are more socially adept and intimate than North American men, Some evidence suggests that women's advantage over men in sociability is greater for telephone contacts than it is for face-to-face interaction.39 p. 235

According to Fischer, studies of the introduction of the telephone suggest that it solidified and deepened social relationships, most notably for women, isolated farm wives, the middle aged and the elderly. The telephone is used more often by women for sustaining social relationships: kin-keeping, caring, friendship, and support.

Telephone: Jacob Climo Ethography

Jacob Climo (Michigan State University) researches the growing social problem of distant living as it relates to aging parents and grown children (Distant Parents, 1992), The frequency of distant communication is less important than the emotional meaning to the individual. The telephone is not a perfect communication medium, but it is highly valued. "All children and distant parents experience problems and miscommunications on the telephone, especially unrealistic expectations, domination and patronization, withholding of information, criticism, and questions of self esteem. With some qualifications, well-adjusted [adult] children appreciate the phone for enabling them to maintain strong bonds of affection over great distances."

Climo also notes that periodic physical proximity helps renew parent-child bonds of love and caring and generates strong feelings of attachment and meaning in family life.

Telephone: How you use the technology

Today we have cell phones, car phones, pagers, answering machines, caller ID, and 3 way+ calling.

-- Some parents buy teenagers a dedicated cell phone, to use to stay in touch.

-- Teens are using numeric pagers to send coded messages to friends, and to make plans for socializing.

-- Lovers purchase "love beepers." The beep (or silent vibration) means "I'm thinking of you right now." It can come during a speech or a meeting with your boss.

People adapt technologies to their own special purposes. Are telephones close enough to Star Trek communicators that there is no need to go further? Are they optimized for telerelating? It seems to me that telephony has stopped short of its potential. Typically phone calls are unplanned as to specific time. The caller interrupts the callee. Usually both are holding a phone up to their ear the whole time, even in a vehicle or walking down the street. Hands free operation feels very different from holding a handset - although it ties the person to their speakerphone. When we call someone, we call specifically to talk. When there is a lull in the conversation, we hang up. Phones are not used for virtual presence.

As an experiment, I am giving my mother an audio conferencing unit as a holiday gift - I plan to use it to join those physically present in Chicago for dinner... (She says it has to look good with the centerpiece or she is not putting me on the table.) Missing out on coffee breaks and lunches have always been the biggest loss for me of conferencing in to a physical meeting.

What's different about ConcertTalk radio from cellphone?

Interval Research's work will be described in more detail in the future technologies section. Of note to the discussion of telephones is their Concert Talk project. Here is an excerpt from their web site:

Interval researchers have been especially interested in creating new forms of audio-only communication systems. ConcertTalk was an exploration of a wearable and wireless communication system for a set of friends. Two-way radios were given out to groups of ten concert-goers at Lollapalooza. ConcertTalk users instantly took to the system, and were able to enhance their concert experience without having to become system experts. A surprising result was that the system not only helped its users feel more secure, but the system helped them directly since non-users assumed they were security and treated them with respect.


I do not have research on impacts and uses of email. Nancy Capulet, in her book Putting Your Heart Online, offers advice to singles seeking romantic partners about using email to get to know someone they have met through an online dating service. Disney's multimedia email for kids allows them to include animated Disney characters, sounds and music. This is a gap in research that I need to fill. I have always wanted some of the features that are supposed to be part of Outlook 2000, as far as tracking all communication with and about an individual.

Instant Messaging

Instant messaging online services let you define a list of "buddies." When you log on, you can see which of them are logged on. You can send a message to them which interrupts whatever they are doing and opens a private chat window between the two of you. You can send hot links, multimedia, post cards, flowers, etc.You can set "away messages" when you leave your workstation. Messaging can go on during other phone calls. You can hold several simultaneous messaging chats.

This is great for me and my lab. It presumably will be great for my class. When you're online, you want to know who else that matters is online too. Ideally a professor would also want to know where (within course-realted material) each student is. Automated messaging agents send flowers or good wishes.

NYTimes, November 14, 1998, "Instant Messages: the New Pace of Business" By LISA NAPOLI

"While instant messaging applications gained popularity as an alternative to chat rooms -- and therefore an outlet for social banter -- more and more people are using instant messaging software as a routine part of their daily business communications. Fans say it's faster than e-mail, cheaper than a long distance phone call and, often, more succinct than a cross-cubicle conversation.

290 million messages are sent each day using its software -- which doesn't include the 189 million messages sent using another application, ICQ, which AOL bought earlier this year, or competing products like Infoseek's PeopleLink, Excite's PAL and Yahoo Pager. As a point of comparison: AOL reports that 37 million regular e-mails are sent by its members each day.

Executives at AOL say that much of their own internal business is conducted via instant messages.

"People don't read their e-mail non-stop all the time, and voicemail is just the same. Not everyone returns phone calls right away," explained David Gang, senior vice president of strategic development at AOL. "The concept of IM is, I ask a question, I know you're there because I saw you sign on."

There's something less intrusive about sending an instant message -- even to someone in the same physical office -- than making a phone call or having a face-to-face conversation. Even though the message blurts out on the recipient's screen, accompanied by a cartoon-like noise, it can be ignored if it's unwanted. (Or, users can shut off the instant messaging application.) "

Telerelating Industries

online albums

online weddings

postcards of all kinds

personal web pages

Picture Phones

Picture phones have repeatedly failed to capture the consumer market. Why? ViaTV ( is one of the current models. Current uses of ViaTV:

grandparent connection

newborns seen from afar

hospice applications

mom's a frequent viaTV guest at son's house

new tool for school

The Michigan State University Comm Tech Lab is using ViaTV in a TeleWindows case study attempting to improve the social fabric of life for recently homebound elderly by installing dedicated phone lines at home and at the senior center the homebound person used to attend. The TeleWindow is intended to be left open for 4-6 hours a day, providing a two way window to the senior center. ( We also use the picture phone for meetings. Bay Area multimedia professionals zap into East Lansing classrooms from the West Portal (

Gender differences may play a partial role in the nonadoption of picture phones. Picture phones make people look pretty bad. Low res, and worse. None of the first seven characteristics of femininity are conveyed well over picture phones.

(Susan Brownmiller, Femininity, Fawcett Columbine: New York. 1984)

1. Body
2. Hair
3. Clothes
4. Voice
5. Skin
6. Movement
7. Emotion
8. Should Appear to Lack Ambition

Chat and Asynchronous Online Conferencing

Sherry Turkle has written a fascinating account of communicating with strangers in online chat rooms (Life on the Screen). The New York Times this week talked about Yahoo and Excite looking to make money by announcing all kinds of chat rooms to turn into communities.

The New York Times, December 5, 1998, "The Latest Internet Buzzword: Community" By LISA NAPOLI

Something about the online community is more intimate than many of the "real-time" relationships she has, Mistry said. "I have lots of friends, but I have more close friends online. The people you see face to face, they're so busy. You see their eyes looking at something else while you're talking to them, and you have your mind on the next thing you're doing," she explained.

"When you're online, you begin to know people from the inside out. Then when you talk to them at least four, five, six, seven times a week -- you don't talk to your family hardly that much -- it is a family. We're all like kissing cousins."

Howard Rheingold has written about and experimented with virtual communities beginning with his book, Virtual Communities, in 1993. Howard's web site is far more current: Here's an excerpt:

The Brainstorms Community is seven months old. A few hundred people from around the world communicate about technology, the future, life online, culture, society, family, history, books, health, home, mind, phun, money and academiaville. We try to maintain a high level of civility. Face to face meetings are increasingly frequent. The goal is to raise the bar for the level of discourse online -- and not forget to have fun.

Douglas Schuler writes about physical communities developing online presence in New Community Networks: Wired for Change, 1996.

Social Impacts of the Internet

Robert Kraut and Sarah Kiesler are conducting HomeNET, an industry-funded study of the social (and other) impacts of the Internet, using test houses who were given access for 2 years. Their initial findings surprised everyone - heavy use of the Internet was significantly associated with more depression and feelings of isolation than was light exposure for participating teenagers. Rheingold and others beg to differ, but those are the results.


Incidentally, Kraut supposedly is on sabbatical working with HP to develop top secret technologies.

Collaborative Learning Communities: SRI's CTL

Roy Pea and the CTL (Center for Technology and Learning) at SRI have developed collaborative learning in media-rich distributed learning environments (CoVis), including educational uses of multi-user virtual environments (MUVEs), for teacher professional development (TAPPED INTM), for undergraduate chemistry education (Virtual Places, Adaptive Environments), and for multi-site learning technology researcher collaborations (CILT)

Tapped In's goal is to begin supporting teachers and other education professionals during their pre-service education and continue to serve them as they become leaders in their professional community. We envision a year-round PD process that strikes a balance between formal PD efforts and the kinds of informal activities that are characteristic of other professional communities of practice.

The Center for Innovative Learning Technologies (CILT) serves as a national resource for stimulating the development and broad implementation of technology-enabled solutions for science, math, engineering and technology learning. Enabling Tools for Electronic Learning Communities: Software and methods for supporting the establishment and growth of virtual learning communities and collaborative learning on the net.

Much of the collaborative software is asynchronous...

Collaborative Learning Communities: CSILE

CSILE is the first network system to provide across-the-curriculum support for collaborative learning and inquiry. Through the use of the CSILE software, a communal database is created by students and their teachers. Students can enter text and graphic notes into the database on any topic their teacher has created. All students on the network can read the notes and students may build on, or comment on, each other's ideas. Authors are notified when comments have been made or when changes in the database have occurred. Various note formats and supports have been designed to enhance the potential of the communal database for collaborative knowledge-building. Knowledge Forum is the second generation of the internationally distributed CSILE software platform for knowledge-building, designed at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education.

Despite all this good stuff, I can't stand online chats with strangers. And big communities are larger scopes than I can deal with. So, I want to draw back to more personal telerelating.

Virtual Worlds Group, Microsoft

VWG, directed by Linda Stone, experiments with technolo gies that support the use of the Internet as a social medium. They are structured as a product incubation group, which includes both a research and a development effort.

Before 1996, the group developed two chat interfaces: Microsoft V-Chat and Comic Chat (now Microsoft Chat - David Kurlander). I love the idea of Comic Chat. I hate visiting it - strangers come up and talk to me. But I would like to adapt it and use it with my classes and perhaps with my lab. Comic chat represents users as the cartoon avatar of their choice. Typed dialog appears in thought bubbles or dialog bubbles. Each character who says something gets dynamically added to the cartoon as it gets created. When the cartoon square gets too full, the system draws the next box in the story. An elaborate set of rules choose facial and body expressions and relative character positioning. In the end, you print out a cartoon of your chat. Users have been found to take on charactaristics of their character -- aliens pretend they're from outer space. I would love to have an artist create special characters for my digital media arts advanced design class to converse. Becomes part of the educational exoerience to role play during a seminar discussion.

Again, the key to meaningful chat, to me, is to bring people together who know each other and have things to say to each other.

Linda's more recent work has focused on a Virtual Worlds Platform and the development of two Virtual Worlds applications with different interfaces: 3D Virtual Environments and Online Learning/Town Meetings. The platform provides multi-user synchronous and asynchronous communications, object persistence, web integration, and easily customizable user interfaces. It is built on Microsoft's COM, Active X and Direct X technologies. VWG's technologies can be applied to information delivery, social support, learning, commerce, and entertainment.

They are collaborating with The Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center to develop a virtual world called "Hutch World" that is based on the actual Hutch outpatient lobby. This password protected world extends the social support network for Hutch patients, their friends and loved ones. Participants will include families and friends of patients, patients, and the Fred Hutchinson staff and volunteers. Hutch World incorporates such features as an auditorium, mail room and a school for children, all modeled on existing facilities at the Hutch.

2D Business, Online Learning and Town Meeting Interface

Flatland is an application for remote collaboration and presentation built on the Virtual Worlds Platform technology. It offers: real-time and stored video presentation, a URL or PowerPoint display window, and dynamic audience feedback tools including chat, voting, and real-time Q&A. The user interface can be customized to the type of presentation and presenter style.


Bruce Damer's book., Avatars (1997), his web site ( and the annual Avatars conference do a wonderful job of surveying the (few remaining) commercial avatar worlds. Again, my gripe with avatar worlds is the gathering of strangers with nothing to say to each other, rather than harnessing them as a tool for personal relationships.


Microsoft Research: MBARC Microsoft Bay Area Research Group

Our group is interested in telepresence: being there without really being there (or then!). We are interested in real-time conferencing tools (video conferencing, audio conferencing, whiteboards) and on-line access to stored audio/video data.

We are collaborating with Professor Larry Rowe of UC Berkeley ( and Jorg Liebeherr of Polytechnic University.

Mbone tools for Windows, Multicast PowerPoint add-in, multicast & reliable multicast links, and more!

See our papers: "On-ramp Prospects for the Information Superhighway Dream" and "Non-collaborative Telepresentations Come of Age".

The ideal telepresentation includes the following communication channels, in order of "content" importance:

* Slides - displays with text, graphics, images, including animation and special effects (we use the word "slides" to mean not just "overheads", but also the richer "presentation graphics").

* Audio - the speaker's voice ("the talk") and audio such as sound tracks and sound effects

* Video - the "talking head" of the speaker and video clips (snapshots)

* Back-channels - these provide the speaker with feedback about the audience status together with chat, questions, comments, and a way of recording action items, etc.

* Slide comments and "the talk" script - when a presentation is viewed "on demand" from a server, having the talk in script form allows the viewer to read versus hear the talk

Important elements of a telepresentation

Critical Media:

Audio (the talk)

Slides (presentation graphics with animation)

Important for adding feeling of presence:

Pointing / scribbling / animation on slides

Some talking head (quality & frame rate not critical)

OK, time to get out of the box. Enough of

-- one computer on a desk with one screen

-- holding a phone in your hand

-- one user

Tele-embodiment - John Canny, UC Berkeley Computer Science

John and Eric believe telepresence is more effective when the remote person is embodied into a robot with human-like characteristics. They have developed blimp technology (Personal Roving Presence) for those people who like to wander around and have spontaneous meetings, to see what's happening, and to feel part of the group. The kind of people who wander the hallways, and stop into your office from time to time. More recently they have moved from floating embodiments to rolling robotic embodiments. Audio and video displays combine with remote control and grasping for telerelating with individuals in a lab at a distance.


They say:

Psychology and temperament are more important than technology.

You have to think about the human, and especially human-human interaction.

The trick is to figure out how to preserve the important elements of the experience of being-there without making the cost prohibitive.


I actually prefer multiple representations. It did take a while to learn to put my face and my eyes in the same place (the camera and the monitor). My ears and mouth were also separated for months. But I like having multiple cameras to pop in to, and to be able to speak from a variety locations in different voices. I can type in text to the webcam to project that, or I can use Timbukto to other devices to speak from there in computer voice.

Deb Agarwal from Lawrence Berkeley Labs says their collaboratory work has found that the visitor needs to be the one to control the displays.

Collaborative Onsite Wearable System

We jump outside the box here, into a collaborative onsite wearable system. This also ties in to wearable computing of all kinds - for telerelating.

the Human-Computer Interaction Institute (HCII), an interdisciplinary research institute in the School of Computer Science at Carnegie Mellon University.

Jane Siegel's HCI project is working to fulfill the following goals: To improve the individual-level human interface to mobile collaborative systems To identify next generation requirements for communications and wearable computing systems based on analysis of actual communication behavior and use of early prototype systems To develop a broader understanding of the fit between technology design and organizational structure in order to: 1) improve the usefulness of mobile systems, 2) anticipate mismatches that inhibit the effective use of mobile systems, and 3) guide the evolution of organizational structure where mobile systems are used.

This device communicates with a knowledge base and the task. What would you wear to telerelate? Camera to picture frame...

The Japanese love beeper detects others carrying the device who have similar interests in finding a romantic partner - to help locate other available singles at a social gathering. Tamaguchi, I think.

Interval Research

Social and Domestic Communication: Human studies and engineering design of technologies to support personal reminiscence and communication in public and home spaces.

Tangible Interfaces: Interaction design involving smart objects, sensing, musical performance, and listening, early learning, and personal reminiscence.

Portable and Wearable Devices: User studies and ethnography, design and development of highly wearable devices for wireless communication, high quality audio, information capture, etc.

Rather than concentrating on office environments, we have looked at domestic environments. Representative activities include:

* historical review of sociological and technological innovations

* ethnomethodological research into domestic environments

* prototyping of novel domestic technologies

* experiential learning through use experiences in homes

* exploratory discussions with potential users about domestic behaviors and attitudes

* creation of a design space for domestic communications

* system architectures for researching novel communications-oriented interactions

* "tending to Communication," an art installation

* academic collaborations with professors from UC Irvine and Lancaster University

* active participation in research conferences, workshops and publications

Tangible User Interfaces (TUIs)

We have been exploring ways of making more effective utilization of human touch and manipulation in human computer interaction design. This is sometimes called "Physical Computing." Humans are complex multi-modal systems, our sensors and effectors finely tuned for the analog "data" of the real world. Contemporary computers, with their Graphical User Interfaces (GUIs), make remarkably little use of these physical skills and abilities. Why is driving a car a more satisfying user experience than using a mouse-and-menu-driven GUI? We aim to create new kinds of engaging computer devices that have more physically direct interfaces, enabled by our developing understanding of new styles of physical computer interaction. We are particularly interested in using real-world artifacts as "handles" for digital multimedia artifacts.

Homeable Computers

Our Demographic & Lifestyle studies have shown us that the physical interface to contemporary PCs, their form factor, methods of use, and even locations in most homes, may not best support activities other than home office applications like word-processing or home budgeting: business-place activities that are also carried out domestically. The informal social activities that are the essence of a home (scheduling, cooking, watching movies, playing games, etc.) may be better supported by discrete, task-specific "computer appliances" rather than an integrated multi-purpose machine. As Wearable Computers are intended to fit our bodies, Homeable Computers are intended to fit our houses.

Enactive Design Methods

We believe that computers (or microprocessor-based products) will become more ubiquitous and continue to migrate from our desktops into our physical environments. As Interaction Designers, we believe that it is important for us to develop design tools that will also take us away from our drawing boards and "into" these physical environments "with" our users. We have developed a number of techniques that together we call Informance Design (or informative performance), as a tool to help designers "get into other people's shoes" through enactive performance, inspired from ethnographic video. We use these techniques for brainstorming (or bodystorming), scenario communication, and team building.

Though we surround ourselves with external support systems indoors and out, we all venture out of our habitats and operate as nomads, independent of these systems, for some portion of each day. Our clothing is a portable environment that can regulate body temperature, afford security and privacy, and express individual identity. Our possessions inform, sustain, and entertain us, as well as provide symbolic or physical access to valued resources.

The ambiguous zone somewhere between clothing and the things people carry is where we prospect for portable and wearable devices that extend our human mobile nature. In this exploration Interval uses anthropological studies, focus groups, an occasional informance, and design seminars. An example is A-Wear, a fashion-oriented collaboration with the Royal College of Art. We endeavor to transform each harvest of ideas into prototypes, emphasizing the use of new materials and fabrics, as well as on-body media and communications technology.

An important focus in our work has been on how individuals organize the things they carry, which we investigated in Portable Effects, an interactive exhibit produced in collaboration with the Exploratorium in San Francisco. Our systematic observation of how people manage their personal storage space clothing, bags, wallets, and purses has revealed an everyday design sensibility that is guiding many of our other efforts.

Interval's interest in personal communications goes well beyond wearable paging and telephony devices; we believe that entirely new modes of human interaction are on the horizon that will be more subtle, more expressive, and more inclusive of our sensory capabilities. Our study of novel transducers and near-field electromagnetic coupling has facilitated the design of small, high-bandwidth, one- and two-way systems in support of these new communication modalities.

As researchers extend the boundaries of these technologies, we must continue to recognize the importance of privacy, social rules and limits to attention, as well as human physiology. One exploration of these ideas can be found in the ConcertTalk study. Our challenge is to channel the introduction of new technologies effectively as portable and wearable devices become smaller and ultimately merge with clothing, in some cases becoming functionally transparent.

NYU Center for Advanced Technology

The Cave

The Cave is a multi-media, computer simulation targeted towards early adolescents that focuses on enhancing their emotional intelligence. Defined as the ability to understand and manage social relations as well as mastery of the self, emotional intelligence has been shown to predict success as well as, if not better than, IQ. The social simulation, delivered via the Web and CD-ROM technologies, has the player enter a three dimensional cave with four artificially intelligent, teenage avatars. They get trapped and attempt to escape the variousrooms of the cave where they encounter emotionally intelligent challenges associated with self-awareness, managing emotions, motivating oneself, recognizing emotions in others, and handling relationships. How well the player navigates these challenges, as decided by a panel of psychologists with expertise in emotional intelligence, determines how fast the player escapes from the cave.

The Cave uses goal based scenario model developed by Roger Schank ( to design the challenges encountered by the players and their avatar companions. The Cave is a metaphor for a personal journey into one's psyche or mind. Its emotional and social challenges occur in an immersive world that is believable, seemingly logical and familiar, yet mystical, dream-like, odd, funny and timeless. When the journey begins in the mine shaft, things seem familiar and real. They appear to make sense. As they fall deeper into the Cave, the style becomes more surreal with things not always what they seem. At the deepest recesses, the player encounters a full blown fairy-tale repleat with humor, style, and beauty. Escape brings the player back to the naturalistic world of the beginning.

By utilizing a familiar computer simulation format, the early adolescent can feel comfortable to "practice" emotionally/socially challenging scenarios.

Principal Investigator

Ted Repa

Interactive Workspaces

The Interactive Workspaces project is a joint research activity in Graphics and Human-Computer Interaction at Stanford, along with faculty in the areas of computer vision and networking. It has developed from an earlier concept we called the Information Mural, which supported multi-person interactive work on a large, high-resolution, wall-mounted interactive display. The Interactive Workspaces project extends the mural to a working space with multiple interconnected devices, including large, wall-mounted displays, a horizontal display table similar to the Responsive Workbench, and individual devices such as laptops, tablets, and PDAs. The goal is to create an integrated working environment that facilitates group work, and provides new ways of interacting with computer devices of various scales.

Our current research is still at the design stage, and has several major aspects:

* A scalable display architecture that can provide a single virtual display abstraction to the programmer, even though the physical display will driven by multiple overlapping projectors, multiple independent graphics accelerators and multiple processors. A major goal of the graphics layer is to provide new functionality to support the development of interactive information visualization applications.

* A general interaction architecture that is based on a user-centered interaction model, and which includes vision-based interaction. Users can control computer systems with gesture and motion of simple devices, tracked by multiple cameras in the environment. A key goal is designing mechanisms to facilitate collaborative work by people working together in the space.

* Flexible multi-device networking, which provides a range of capacities (e.g., high bandwidth for image transfer, low latency for real-time control devices) and allows devices to be introduced into the workspace and removed from it without requiring reinitialization or reconfiguration.

* To test the effectiveness of using the workspace for visualization, we are currently exploring several different application areas, including construction management, computer system visualization, and molecular biology.

We are also researching basic issues involved in building environments such as the interactive workspace, including: hardware, calibration, and management of objects and resources across devices.

Our initial prototype (operative as of 7/98) consists of a single large display based on four projectors, along with a coarse user-position sensing device (floor-based pressure pads) and vision-based laser pointing tracking (single pointer). Designs in progress are for an interactive room that would incorporate one or more large wall displays, a table, multiple cameras, and integrated individual laptops, tablets, and PDAs.


* Pat Hanrahan (Graphics)

* Terry Winograd (Human-computer interaction)

Xerox Parc, Ubiquitous Computing - Mark Weiser and Rich Gold

What Ubiquitous Computing Isn't

Ubiquitous computing is roughly the opposite of virtual reality. Where virtual reality puts people inside a computer-generated world, ubiquitous computing forces the computer to live out here in the world with people. Virtual reality is primarily a horse power problem; ubiquitous computing is a very difficult integration of human factors, computer science, engineering, and social sciences.

Early work in Ubiquitous Computing

The initial incarnation of ubiquitous computing was in the form of "tabs", "pads", and "boards" built at Xerox PARC, 1988-1994. Several papers describe this work, and there are web pages for the Tabs and for the Boards (which are a commercial product now):

Ubicomp helped kick off the recent boom in mobile computing research, although it is not the same thing as mobile computing, nor a superset nor a subset.

Ubiquitous Computing has roots in many aspects of computing. In its current form, it was first articulated by Mark Weiser in 1988 at the Computer Science Lab at Xerox PARC. He describes it like this:

Ubiquitous Computing #1

Inspired by the social scientists, philosophers, and anthropologists at PARC, we have been trying to take a radical look at what computing and networking ought to be like. We believe that people live through their practices and tacit knowledge so that the most powerful things are those that are effectively invisible in use. This is a challenge that affects all of computer science. Our preliminary approach: Activate the world. Provide hundreds of wireless computing devices per person per office, of all scales (from 1" displays to wall sized). This has required new work in operating systems, user interfaces, networks, wireless, displays, and many other areas. We call our work "ubiquitous computing". This is different from PDA's, dynabooks, or information at your fingertips. It is invisible, everywhere computing that does not live on a personal device of any sort, but is in the woodwork everywhere.

Ubiquitous Computing #2

For thirty years most interface design, and most computer design, has been headed down the path of the "dramatic" machine. Its highest ideal is to make a computer so exciting, so wonderful, so interesting, that we never want to be without it. A less-traveled path I call the "invisible"; its highest ideal is to make a computer so imbedded, so fitting, so natural, that we use it without even thinking about it. (I have also called this notion "Ubiquitous Computing", and have placed its origins in post-modernism.) I believe that in the next twenty years the second path will come to dominate. But this will not be easy; very little of our current systems infrastructure will survive. We have been building versions of the infrastructure-to-come at PARC for the past four years, in the form of inch-, foot-, and yard-sized computers we call Tabs, Pads, and Boards. Our prototypes have sometimes succeeded, but more often failed to be invisible. From what we have learned, we are now explorting some new directions for ubicomp, including the famous "dangling string" display.

The ParcTab Ubiquitous Computing Experiment Roy Want, Bill N. Schilit, Norman I. Adams, Rich Gold, Karin Petersen, David Goldberg, John R. Ellis and Mark Weiser

Abstract: The PARCTAB system integrates a palm-sized mobile computer into an office network. This project serves as a preliminary testbed for Ubiquitous Computing, a philosophy originating at Xerox PARC that aims to enrich our computing environment by emphasizing context sensitivity, casual interaction and the spatial arrangement of computers. This paper describes the Ubiquitous Computing philosophy, the PARCTAB system, user-interface issues for small devices, and our experience developing and testing a variety of mobile applications.

What's the point of all this ubiquitous computing? How about telerelating?


iCAIR International Center for Advanced Internet Research at Northwestern University (iCAIR) has been established by Northwestern, IBM and other corporate partners to accelerate the development and implementation of advanced Internet technologies and services. Northwestern University, established in 1851, is a leading private research and teaching institution with 17,700 undergraduate, graduate and professional students enrolled in 12 schools and colleges. It is considered one of the top ranked institutions for effective use of technology. For more information about Northwestern University, visit its Web site at

Research TV, which has an extensive and growing library of high quality video and web content with associate web and digital multi-media extensions, is a national collaboration founded by a core group of leading research universities and corporate research organizations. It is dedicated to broadening timely access by the public, as well as other schools, colleges and businesses, to the best of the nation's high impact basic and applied research. RTV's approach is rooted in leveraging existing organizational vehicles for identifying, capturing, properly storing, and then sharing leading edge content; and, at the same time enabling access to, and actively distributing the content via a rich national array broadcast and cable TV channels and outlets, and over the Internet in demand and/or broadcast modes. RTV's active participants include Duke, Princeton, Rice, Stanford, University of Alaska, UCLA, UC San Diego, UC Santa Barbara, University of Hawaii, University of Pennsylvania, University of Virginia, University of Washington, GTE, IBM Corporation, ICOS. For more information about RTV see

About the SURA Southern Crossroads Video Initiative The SURA Crossroads Video Initiative is being led by the University of Tennessee - Knoxville, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Georgia Tech Institute, and North Carolina State University. The Video Initiative is in its early phases of identifying and working with vendors of video conferencing and video on demand software. This collaboration will ensure that vendors will become aware of the needs of research and education that differ from business or commodity customers.

MIT Media Lab

Interact -- Interactive System Labs Alex Waibel

The purpose of the INTERACT project is to enhancing human-computer communication by the processing and combination of multiple communication modalities known to be helpful in human communicative situations. Among others, we seek to derive a better model of where a person is in a room, who he/she might be talking to, and what he/she is saying despite the presence of jamming speakers and sounds in the room (the cocktail party effect). We are also working to interpret the joint meaning of gestures and handwriting in conjunction with speech, so that computer applications ("assistants") can carry out actions more robustly and naturally and in more flexible ways. Several human-computer interaction tasks are explored to see how automatic gesture, speech and handwriting recognition, face and eye tracking, lipreading and sound source localization can all help to make human-computer interaction easier and more natural.

MIT's Rosalind Picard, a pioneer of affective computing (her full titles are NEC Development Professor of Computers, and Communications Associate Professor of Media Technology), believes that the affective barrier between people and machines has long since outlived its usefulness. As she writes in her book, Affective Computing (1997), "Computer-based communication is affect-blind, affect-deaf, and generally speaking, affect-impaired. A quantum leap in communication will occur when computers become able to at least recognize and express affect."

called Affective Mediation -- using computers to help us communicate our emotions to other people through various media ("Human-to-Human Communication") and using technology to see ourselves better ("Human-to-Self [Reflexive] Communication").

Affective communication is communicating with someone (or something else) either with or about affect. A crying child, and a parent comforting that child, are both engaged in affective communication. An angry customer complaining to a customer service representative, and that representative trying to clear up the problem are both also engaged in affective communication. We communicate through affective channels naturally every day. Indeed, most of us are experts in expressing, recognizing and dealing with emotions. However, affective communication that involves computers represents a vast but largely untapped research area. What role can computers play in affective communication? How can they assist us in putting emotional channels back into "lossy" communications technologies, such as email and online chat? How can computer technology support us in getting to know our own bodies, and our own emotions? What role, if any, can computers play in helping manage frustration, especially frustration that arises from using technology?

TransForm:, an experimental performance piece with Keith Lockhart and the Boston Pops using technology to augment emotional expression. Expression Glasses:, a wearable device which allows any viewer to see a graphical display of the wearer's facial expression.

Things that think

Think about the engineered artifacts that we are surrounded by most of the time. We wear clothes, put on jewelry, sit on chairs, and walk on carpets that all share the same profound failing: they are blind, deaf, and very dumb. Cuff links don't, in fact, link with anything else. Fabrics look pretty, but should have a brain, too. Glasses help sight, but they don't see. Hardware and software should merge into "underware".

Your shoes should be retrieving the day's personalized news from the carpet before you even have time to take off your coat. We must expect more from our environment. The future of the computer is to be blown to bits, unchaining information from the cumbersome boxes that it currently inhabits. But ubiquitous computing must not become oppressive computing; true intelligence comes from building balanced systems that seamlessly merge together the many required levels of description.

Things That Think, the Media Lab's newest research consortium, brings together the approximately 10 faculty and 40 sponsor companies to address this grand challenge. The research program is organized into 3 layers.

The lowest level is the physical design of smart things, developing a range of technologies to enable unobtrusive embedded sensing, computing, and communication in familiar everyday objects.

The middle level studies the protocols and transports needed to link such smart things into capable systems.

The top level seeks to integrate and understand this unprecedented fine-grained knowledge about the world in order to solve profound problems.

Paralleling this research program, the sponsors span a marvelous range from tables to telephones to theme parks. The research of the consortium will be grounded in many application domains in and out of the Media Lab, including learning, play, creative expression, and commerce.


Field Imaging

We are investigating the use of near-field, quasi-electrostatic measurements ("electric field sensing") for measuring the configuration of human bodies and parts, particularly hands. This sensing technique is useful in close proximity to an "activated object" such as a desk or chair. One of the nice things about electric field sensing is that it can be used to make as many or as few measurements as are required by the problem. A video camera always returns many numbers, even if only a few are needed. By using only a few electric field sensors, one can quickly and inexpensively get an "average" measurement of the conductivity distribution. Digital Fish, school of fish...

Intrabody Signalling (weak electical signal, transmit business card in handshake)

Tags Many technological problems require finding the identity of an object, determining its location, and learning something about its environment. Examples range from ID cards to inventory control to virtual reality interfaces to sensors in hostile environments. While it's possible to solve some of these problems by using conventional RFID techniques (radio-frequency identification chips that are powered by energy remotely coupled in), many of the most interesting applications have the added severe constraints that the tag can cost no more than a penny (so that it can be used on disposable items such as a piece of paper), and the tag must be extremely robust. Since fabricating, packaging, and wiring a silicon chip costs a minimum of about ten of cents, these kinds of tagging problems can not be solved by using conventional circuitry.

Michael Hawley AnchoredDisplays: The Web on Walls Manish Tuteja

MIT Media Laboratory E15-489 20 Ames Street Cambridge, MA 02139 USA

ABSTRACT With the World Wide Web, mountains of information are suddenly within easy reach. Unfortunately, accessing this information still requires a computer screen, a keyboard and a mouse. This paper describes AnchoredDisplays, a new metaphor for exploiting physical location to help display and organize dynamically changing information. AnchoredDisplays are inexpensive battery operated display screens that can be affixed on walls, doors and desks. The displays can be configured to present information such as weather, traffic, stock quotes and sports scores extracted from the web. Once configured, users can place these displays wherever they feel relevant. Suddenly, dynamic information becomes much easier to find and assimilate; a user might place tomorrow's weather near the light switch and sports scores near the phone. Hardware and software implementations of a prototype AnchoredDisplay system are described.

Note (not from MIT, from Carrie) Streaming media and advances in web design now enable allocation of any number of onscreen rectangles to different sources. Thus, stock ticker information might be streaming into the top section of the screen, while a live webcam pointing at your cat is in another region, and technology news updates in a third. Not the same as anchored displayes. However, it can allow multiple content providers to contribute to a single display.

Prof. Judith Donath

The Sociable Media Group is a newly formed research group that investigates issues concerning identity and society in the networked world. People We address such questions as how do we perceive other people on-line? what does a virtual crowd look like? how do social conventions develop in the networked world? Projects Our emphasis is on design: we build experimental interfaces and installations that explore new forms of social interaction in the mediated world.

INTERFACES for CONVERSATION: Discussions, in the forms of newsgroups, chat-rooms, mailing lists, etc. form the basis of social life on-line. Yet current interfaces are often poorly designed for their social function, making it difficult, for instance, to keep track of the participants in a discussion. Projects in this area will include designs that allow community history to accrue, that visualize non-textual conversational components and that explore new ways of representing the participants in a virtual discussion.

Chat Circles is an abstract graphical interface for synchronous conversation. Here, color and form are used to convey social presence and activity, and proximity-based filtering is used to intuitively break large groups into conversational clusters. chat interface The system also features the integrated history interface, which visualizes archival Chat Circle logs. Our goal in this work is to create a richer environment for online discussions.

Loom is a visualization tool for Usenet newsgroups. It represents the pattern and textures of events in a threaded newsgroup as a weave of a digital fabric. The objective of this project is to observe patterns in key events of newsgroups. Examples of such events are: entry and exit of participants in conversation, the birth and death of subject threads, the tone of messages, and the path traversed by users as they create this social fabric.

Interactive PORTRAITS

Portraits are meant to capture the "spirit" or "essence" of an individual. The traditional approach of the painted or photographed portrait is to create a single image that best represents the subject. Yet the way we form our impression of people we actually meet is quite different: our sense of their personality and character is built up through our interactions with them - we gauge them by how they react to our words and actions. Projects in this area will explore new forms of personal representation by creating portraits that interact with the viewer, portraying the individual through an exchange of actions and reactions.

Augmented Social Spaces: the Diaoma project

We live in the real world and it is real world spaces we care about most deeply. Yet virtual objects can be created that have imaginative qualities and functional abilities impossible with physical things. With The Diorama Project we are putting virtual objects in real world spaces. Our goal is to create a system that allows people to build an imaginative parallel universe superimposed on their everyday space.

So How Does This Relate to Education?

My focus is on telerelating -- on the relationships between teacher and students, the relationship of the class as a group to the places and spaces they visit. Smart classrooms are probably friendly and helpful classrooms. A smart virtual environment keeps track of where the members of the class are, so anyone can jump to anyone else's location and so the teacher can know who to mentor and how. A smart physical space would do the same, using information appliances.

The garden example...


Smart Rooms may be smart for telerelating. A future of wireless, high bandwidth, ubiquitous telerelating devices linked with GPS and tags.

Smart Garden - keeps track of children's class field trip. They take digital photos, get stored and folded into class web site about the trip, with spaces to add in scientific observation...

Here is the Brad Myer article on academe's role in technological innovation. promised to I2 Sociotechnical Applications of Advanced Technology group: