The Azimuth Project
Remote conferencing (changes)

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Problem

As far as carbon release and energy consumption, scientists are not only possible solvers of the problem but also a part of the problem: travelling for conferences consumes lots of energy and the air flights and other transportation cause lots of carbon release. Reading, emailing, typing chat and audioconferencing (voipdiscount,skype etc.) is on the other hand not as efficient as a lively discussion. On the other videoconferencing is either low quality in video part, not allowing resolution of the details of writing if present, or it takes huge bandwidth and is memory-consuming for sufficiently faithful storage. On the other hand, using a low quality video togeher with static scan of the drawings has lower level of interactivity – the drawing is better understood if the drawings evolve in explained manner.

Conference and lecture recording

We consider not only multiple party remote conferencing, but also related and sueprimposable technologies for live lecture preparation, recording and conference recording and archiving. Good recordings of the conference talks make conferences not only useful for non-participants but also for a more detailed aftermath study by participants.

Desired technology features

Ideally we should find technologies which:

  • consume comparatively low bandwidth
  • preserve essential drawing, voice, supplemental material and other relevant information in remote conferencing
  • enable simultaneously multiple users
  • enable permanent recording of remote conference session
  • the remote conference sessions could be fed both by interactive live users and with the prerecorded material, and if possible combined
  • recording should ideally be in public and not proprietory proprietary format
  • recording process should rely on free, documented software or shareware and mandatory depend on software which does not sell under non-permanent licence – it is important that the recordings are permanently usable and editable both offline and online
  • enable usage on various operative systems, especially including free linux varieties.

It is also important to consider what other human-factors, which are often not obvious, are present in effective conferences/presentations/lectures which might need technological equivalents. For example, it can be useful in a long lecture to ask a question and get an answer from the audience. (If nothing else it jolts the audience out of passive mode.) Is there an manpower, technological and “audience psychologically” effective way to allow this? There are certain to be many similar issues, some of which could be listed here if desired.

Technologies

Standard remote communication technologies for conferencing

  • asynchronous file transfer (advantage: even big files can be transferred and they can combine various media)
  • voip and other voice protocols – problem that some of them do not come with avilable or free recording devices or are hard to combine with whiteboards
  • videoconferencing in classical sense fed by webcams – needs big bandwidth or the quality suffers, webcoms are bad in picking the whiteboard details
  • sensitive whiteboards feeding directly into the stream (list some available softwares) – whiteboards could denote the physical electronic tablets and alike or can be simply the shared application areas on remote computers, on which remote parties can draw and read. Whiteboards could have interesting features like scalability (the small or big areas on the actual whiteboard can be placed on a scalable part of the image in the source).
Smartpens

Aiptek My Note Premium III, web

Records using Aiptek software bundled with pen. NO VOICE.

Intellipen smartpen, NO VOICE.

Add-ons to Skype

What is the free or partially free software for adding the drawing whiteboard joint usage together with skype call and recording the common session (if possible also for skype video call)? The recordings should be for any length (some applications are free for recordings up to 10 minutes or so). Taken by MS it has probably little future to be open in its development.

“Pamela” does a small part of this.

New technologies

Pencasts

Pencasts combine voice and drawing in a synchronized manner.

What is the typical file size?

LiveScribe

The main commercial product for pencasts is called LiveScribe Smartpen. It writes on ordinary paper, and the recordings can be played in applications for computers and for iPads.

According to Benson, the drawbacks are:

  • A proprietary notepad is required for the Livescribe pens; however Livescribe has now made it possible for you to print your own paper on demand.

  • In reference to pencasts for Livescribe smartpens: the movies delivered on the web in Flash, which could be difficult to port to other technologies later. Also, the content must be uploaded and delivered on the Livescribe site.

Synchronous software for electronic tablets with voice

Is this kind of recording software available for electronic tablets or electronic pans writing on the screen? Like the pencasts above but for usual electronic pens?

References