Masood Masoodian, Bryan Cleal Natural Interactive Systems Laboratory, Odense University, Denmark
Over the last few years a large number of systems have been developed to support collaborative work between physically distributed groups of people ( Fitzpatricket al. 1995; Roseman and Greenberg 1996). These systems have often relied on specific technology supporting specific communication media, such as audio, video, or text. Also, these systems have usually been tailored towards the needs of specific user groups, such as expert computer users. Therefore, there is a need for systems that can be used to create a virtual interaction environment in which ordinary people, using different types of technologies and media, can meet each other.
The aim of the Magic Lounge project ( Bernsenet al. 1998; Bernsen and Dybkjaer 1998) is to design and implement a virtual meeting environment which provides the necessary tools for communication and interaction needs of geographically separated individuals who want to collaborate with one another. Magic Lounge is going to offer services such as: intelligent multi-party communication management allowing recording and retrieving of communication history in a multi-media fashion, speech-operated information retrieval for embedding third-party information services, content-based media conversion techniques coping with heterogeneous communication devices (PC, PDA and telephone), speech and gesture-based interrogation and navigation of information spaces.
Development of the Magic Lounge system is based on user-centred design and evaluation methodology. This paper discusses how user-centred design techniques are being used for the development of the Magic Lounge software. The paper also describes some of the user ideas obtained through this research which can be used for designing better virtual environments for ordinary people.