SideBar – Beyond Video Meetings

Distributed collaboration is challeging in many respects, in particular because collaborators often have less time to “get to know each other”. In all kind of collaboration, actors typically engage in various activities in order to build and maintain work relationships. We have been using the term “Relation Work” to denote the work done in order to build and maintain relationships amongst people in a collaborative setup [1]. Relation work is performed throughout collaboration, and in particular before, during, and after video meetings.

In this research, we investigate the design of video meeting technologies that support relation work [2]. We call this system “SideBar”, which reveals that the system allows (and even encourages) that video meeting participants work on things on “the side” during a meeting. Or in other words; it is completely legal to engage in a side-conversation with your fellow colleagues during a video meeting (e.g. if the current topic being discussed is less relevant to you). In this way, SideBar allow for more efficient meetings where people can get to know each other better and allow for parallelization in work.

SideBar Design

SideBar is a video conferencing system designed to facilitate relation work in distributed video meetings.SideBar consists of a shared display and a personal tablet for each participant. The shared display is used for video and presenting meeting related material. The personal tablet provides an interactive mirrored video from the videoconference, in which each participant is identified and tracked. This allow you to identify the remote meeting participants, which ultimately prevents embarrassing questions like; “Excuse me, but I didn’t get your name”. Tapping the image of a person in the interactive video feed brings up a personal profile for that person. This profile contains personal and professional information and access to a communication backchannel. The core features of SideBar are:

  • Provides an interactive mirrored video feed from the video conference shown on personal tablet computers.
  • Provides identification and tracking of remote meeting participants.
  • Enables meeting participants to seek information about each other by looking up team pages and personal profiles.
  • Allow for engaging in back-channel communication with meeting participants.
  • Provides contextual and cultural information about the different locations of the video meeting.

Related Publications

  1. Esbensen, M., Tell, P. and Bardram, J. E. ‘SideBar – Videoconferencing System Supporting Social Engagement’. In Proceedings of the 10th IEEE International Conference on Collaborative Computing: Networking, Applications and Worksharing, Miami, Florida, United States, 2014. [pdf]
  2. Bjørn, P. and Christensen, L.R. (2011). Relation work: Creating socio-technical connections in global engineering, ESCW2011, in Proceedings of the 12th European Conference on Computer Supported Cooperative Work, 24-28 September 2011, Aarhus Denmark, 2011, pp 133-152, Springer. [pdf]
  3. Esbensen, M. and Bardram, J., Technology Support for Relation Work in Video Meetings, Tech Report TR-2014-TR-2014-177, IT University of Copenhagen, Denmark, 2014. [pdf]