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DESIGNING VIRTUAL ENVIRONMENTS TO SUPPORT COLLABORATIVE WORK IN REAL SPACES

Luis A. Guerrero, CÚsar A. Collazos, JosÚ A. Pino, Sergio F. Ochoa, Felipe Aguilera
Collaborative Applications Research Laboratory
Department of Computer Science
Universidad de Chile
Blanco Encalada 2120, Santiago, Chile
{luguerre,ccollazo,jpino,sochoa,faguiler}@dcc.uchile.cl


Abstract

Typical Collaborative Virtual Environments (CVEs) are a metaphor of real environments, but they are not a copy of them. It is very common in communities that members do not know each other or do not have a real space for meetings. The design of a CVE for people who know each other and interact in a real space is different to the traditional CVE design. It should consider the real location of each resource, appropriate awareness and communication strategies, and human-human and human-resource relations. Our University Department was selected as an example organizational unit for experimentation. We start with the real physical environment and we design a CVE prototype to provide new collaboration features for people working in the unit and for those who will visit it. There are many advantages of the approach. First, people are familiar with the basic physical environment. Second, some activities requiring physical presence can be done with virtual presence, enabling employees to work in convenient ways. Third, new opportunities for collaborative work appear, as it is easy to do them with the proposed CVE. Finally, the approach is extensible, since new features can be added.

Key words: Collaborative Virtual Environments (CVE), Web applications.