The following quoted text is a description of prior art by inventors Yiming Ye et al. in US Patent 7,028,074: Automatically determining the awareness settings among people in distributed working environment (Xerox Corporation).
The quoted text also includes a comment on the following Patent Library entries among other identified collaborative data sharing environments:
- US Patent 5,008,853: Representation of collaborative multi-user activities relative to shared structured data objects in a networked workstation environment (Xerox Corporation) Φ, and
- US Patent 4,974,173: Small-scale workspace representations indicating activities by other users (Xerox Corporation) Φ
Here's the quoted text:
- "Collaborative computing is a shared computing environment or application that facilitates communication and teamwork among groups of people.
Displaying common data on multiple computers is one type of collaborative work support system. U.S. Pat. No. 5,996,002 to Katsurabayashi et al. for "Collaborative Work Support System and Method to Facilitate the Process of Discussion in a Meeting Using a Shared Window" discloses a system that includes shared data that is displayed on each computer, individual data that is individually displayed on any of the computer selected by the data owner, and a manager for managing data storage. A similar system that displays shared data on multiple computers is disclosed in U.S. Pat. No. 5,872,924 to Nakayama et al. for "Collaborative Work Support System" in which a limited amount of data is displayed according to multiple attributes setting in the shared windows.
A detail log is a simple way to provide user activity information. U.S. Pat. No. 5,008,853 to Bly et al. for "Representation of Collaborative Multi-user Activities Relative to Shared Structured Data Objects in a Networked Workstation. Environment" proposed a multi-user collaborative system in which the contents as well as the current status of other user activity can be concurrently accessed by different users. The WYSIWIS (What You See Is What I See) user interface representation includes an ordered listing of such entries that are maintained by the structured data object and various attributes of each listed entry; inter alia, the type and class of entry, the revision number of the shared structured data object, the number of pages and revision number of each structured data object entry, the date of creation and last revision of each such entry, whether an entry can be accessed by a user and, if not, who has prevented such access to prevent concurrent editing, whether a local instance of an entry is present on a user's system, and a provision for miscellaneous notes or comments relative to each entry for view by other users.
Visual representation of other users is a standard way of monitoring other's activity. U.S. Pat. No. 5,793,365 to Tang et al. for "System and Method Providing a Computer User Interface Enabling Access to Distributed Workgroup Members" discloses a system that uses a user interface to display visual representations of selected other users in the workgroup. The visual representations are frequently updated to indicate the activity level of these users. An encounter awareness system detects the presence of other users who are doing similar tasks. U.S. Pat. No. 4,974,173 to Stefik et al. for "Small-scale Workspace Representations Indicating Activities by Other Users" proposes a computer system and method that provide networked computer users with information about which other users are task proximate to the user, thereby facilitating spontaneous communications regarding task-related, or other issues. Task proximity to other users may change as the user context switches between applications, and the user interface window is updated accordingly. Task proximity is determined individually by different applications.
Discourse manager has been used to promote effective collaboration between a user and a collaborative computer agent. U.S. Pat. No. 5,819,243 to Rich et al. for "System with Collaborative Interface Agent" suggested a system which operates according to a theory of collaborative discourse between humans, with the computer agent playing the same role as a human collaborator. The discourse manager includes a memory in which application-specific recipes are stored and a memory in which the discourse state is stored. Each recipe specifies a set of actions or sub-tasks, which are performed to achieve an objective. The discourse state includes structures to track the agent's and user's current objectives, a selected recipe for each objective, and completed steps in each recipe. During operation of the discourse manager, user actions and communications are interpreted according to how they relate to the current discourse state. The manager also generates an agenda of expected communications, which is presented to the user as a menu, obviating the need for the natural language understanding by the agent.
Prior work in collaborative computing can provide awareness among group members through various communication channels, such as video, audio, graphical user interface (GUI), etc. However, the prior work requires users to adjust the communication channel and the degree of communications. For example, when a person leaves his or her office, he or she has to manually turn the audio and video off if it is not needed. This is not convenient ....
It is therefore an object of the present invention to provide a way to automatically adjust communication channels among users based on users' current states detected by various sensing devices.
According to the invention, there is provided a collaboration system that includes an awareness system for evaluating, monitoring, and controlling, in real-time, the collaboration environment by having events and occurrences with properties. The awareness monitoring system includes (1) input sensors for receiving real-time data produced by the event and (2) an elastic spring energy model for automatically adjusting a distance that is according to a level of privacy desired by individual users and a need of the collaborative project to have some shared information about individual user activities."