Alves dos Santos, Luiz: Asymmetric and Adaptive Conference Systems for Enabling Computer-Supported Mobile Activities
Alves dos Santos, Luiz Manoel
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This work was conducted at the Darmstadt University of Technology, essentially between 1998 and 2002. Before and during this period, I was working at the INI-GraphicsNet, Darmstadt, first in the Zentrum für Graphische Datenverarbeitung e.V., and then later at the Fraunhofer-Institut für Graphische Datenverarbeitung (IGD), as a researcher. This thesis addresses the investigations and results achieved during my work at these organizations. My initial development projects in the area of mobile computing were very challenging due to the immense constraints posed by the then incipient hardware and wireless network infrastructures, and similarly overwhelming due to the desire to employ those fascinating appliances by all means possible. The endeavour to keep the respective application systems in a course of continuous improvement (i.e., with richer media presentation and “interactiveness”), and at the same astonishing pace as the technological evolutions, was both demanding and rewarding; however, it turned out to be a questionable procedure. After several prototype demonstrations and observations, there came a turning point, following the acknowledgement that, for application cases involving user mobility, the supporting tool is appraised significantly on the basis of its adequacy for the usage conditions and its flexibility to adapt to changing requirements and to any platform specification or resource availability. The circumstances of a mobile use (e.g., outdoor, on the move, in confined places) require new approaches in application system development and create a high demand for specialized, task-oriented system features. Any service being offered has to be able to account for, adjust itself, and be responsive to the increasing and unpredictable diversity of prospective users and their usage environments. The achievement of this attribute is even more challenging when the service should be a basis for a digitally mediated human-to-human communication process involving all kinds of diversity between the individual partners and technical arrangements. In this thesis work, proposals and innovative solutions to these challenges have been investigated and implemented, and are presented in this report. Some contributions of this work are: an adaptive conference system for heterogeneous environments, tools to assess, distribute, and respond to User Profiles at both the individual and collective level; adaptive, flexible individual interaction modes and media that are nevertheless consistent for a collaborative work; and mechanisms for remote awareness (of constraints) for structuring interaction. However, above any technological advances, the major research challenge was concerned with the human factor and the achievement of an effective integration of a supporting tool in their daily activities and lives.