Broadband research networks such as GrangeNet have led to the establishment of virtual teams of geographically dispersed scientists collaborating through "access grid nodes"—collaborative spaces and infrastructure which enable large-scale distributed meetings, collaborative teamwork sessions and collaborative lectures, seminars and training. The infrastructure associated with access grid nodes consists of multiple microphones, video cameras, multiple projectors, videoconferencing/multicast software and shared applications &mdashbut to date there is little support for recording, indexing, structuring, archiving, searching and retrieving such complex multi-participant sessions or for incorporating or linking related documents or resources. (see Access Grid)
The aim of this project is to develop mechanisms for the cost-effective and efficient recording, structuring, indexing, searching and retrieval of access grid sessions&mdashwhich involve multiple users, cameras, microphones, projectors, shared applications and documents &mdash all distributed remotely across broadband networks.
The infrastructure associated with access grid nodes consists of multiple microphones, video cameras, multiple projectors, videoconferencing/multicast software and shared applications - but to date there is little support for recording, indexing, structuring, archiving, searching and retrieving such complex multi-participant sessions or for incorporating or linking related documents or resources. (see Access Grid)
When recorded, collaborative meetings provide a pervasive source of group knowledge, decisions and activities. But their capture and archival is very difficult to do well. "Meeting technologies" tend either to over-structure meetings (e.g. group decision support systems), or ignore process altogether, and simply digitize the physical media (e.g. whiteboards) and audiovisual streams. However a complete AV record of an online meeting is useless unless it can be efficiently and cost-effectively compressed, indexed and navigated.
Prior work, such as Compendium, developed within the CoAKTing project provides "lightweight" discussion structuring and mediation plus idea capture using ontologies. "Dialogue maps" are created on the fly during meetings providing a visual trace of issues, ideas, arguments and decisions. However CoAKTing was only a two-year project funded from June 2002. Tools for linking the "dialogue and meeting maps" with recorded audiovisual streams and shared application events, were limited and significant further work is required in this area. In addition, CoAKTing was based on the outmoded, poor quality videoconferencing tools of vic and rat. We intend to use DV cameras streaming DV over RTP. CoAKTing also didn't attempt to capture events associated with more sophisticated shared applications, such as synchronous annotations of multimedia or shared steering of 3D models or simulations.
The key goals of the Virgil project are to evaluate and extend existing tools (such as Compendium, BuddySpace, I-X Process Panels and Jabber) and to develop software which will enable and facilitate the following: capture of key virtual meeting data/metadata (date/time, location, participants, title, description); capture of key input documents (or links to them): (agenda, previous minutes, Web pages, Word documents, images, video, audio, 3D models); capture of key (audiovisual) events, issues, discussions, arguments, decisions, ideas, annotation and knowledge which occur within or are generated from the meeting; capture of key outputs (minutes, "to do" lists, outcomes) from the meeting; tools for linking and aligning the various documents captured from the meeting; efficient storage and indexing of structured multimedia data sets associated with each meeting in databases and on servers; search, browse and retrieval interfaces which will enable authenticated users to quickly and easily navigate through graphical "meeting maps" of past meetings and retrieve relevant captured audiovisual segments.
The Virgil project is funded by Grangenet.