Ars Electronica
 

 

Future Office Project

2001

Gerfried Stocker (AT)
Dietmar Offenhuber (AT)
Helmut Höllerl (AT)
Christopher Lindinger (AT)
Robert Praxmarer (AT)
Martin Bruner (AT)
Robert Abt (AT)
Wolfgang Ziegler (AT)
Erwin Reitböck (AT)
Nikolaus Diemannsberger
Stefan Mittlböck-Jungwirth
Stefan Feldler (AT)

Future Office Project is a multi-stage research project being conducted by the Ars Electronica FutureLab to develop prototype components for telematic everyday life in the office of the future.

The table is both an instrument of work and of communication. The prototype, as an integrated means of communication and action, is the basis for a combination office/conference room that simultaneously functions as an interface for both groups of users—those actually present and virtual participants.

The aim of this project is to create an integrated, flexible, intelligent environment for the entire spectrum of available communications possibilities.

The central element of the work environment is the table, a multifunctional, flexible model for a team of six physically-present users that also offers the possibility of linking up remote participants via video conferencing. This piece of furniture provides a personal workspace for each team member and a shared virtual working domain that enables all team members to cooperate in organizing, processing and exchanging documents, worksheets, etc.

This project was conceived as a design study that attempts to bridge the gap between projection techniques and state-of-the-art digitization processes on one hand and standard hardware and conventional software environments on the other.

Important issues confronted by the Future Office Project:

Digital / Analog Interfaces

A natural, intuitive way of working with traditional media like handwritten notes, books and other printed matter should continue to play an important role in the work process. It is thus necessary to design intelligent tools that make it possible to transfer "analog" documents into a digitally processable form without the inconvenience of performing intermediate steps.

Collaborative Work

Efficient cooperation within a team demands media that support communication.

Telepresence

The lack of a "vivid presence," the inability to establish eye contact with other conference participants, and the impossibility for virtual participants to intervene in the course of the conversation are characteristic of conventional video conferencing and teleconferencing technology. The Future Office Project's aim is to employ various acoustic and visual means to enable all conference participants to perceive and experience the virtual presence of those taking part from remote locations.

Mobile Computing

The personal digital assistant (PDA) will assume increasing importance in working life. PDAs will be integrated into our environment in a wide variety of ways. An initial step in this direction is the ability to control key functional elements of the conference table via PDA.

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