Remote Discussion and Telepresence
A third way to use the system would be for remote collaboration between classes of different countries. For this scenario the display system was enhanced by new tools for creating 3D content on the fly as well as audio/video conferencing capabilities. One main objective was not to implement another specific AR application that supports just a specific learning topic, but to develop a more generic software that could be used in a variety of learning contexts. Therefore the application presented here serves as a kind of 3D blackboard or 3D workspace without predefining the content.
So, the classes can for instance teach each other about historical events or cultural heritage. Both classes have the same augmented reality display set up. In a preparative class or homework assignment the students of both classes prepare the historical background of their specific topic. Then each student build up the scenario they want to show and develop the necessary 3D objects by their own. Finally, both systems go online. The students now share not only the view, but they can also use speech and gestures or modify the displayed content using the given tools.
After the presentation the students can discuss the facts and ask questions. The teachers assist in answering questions, operate the discussion and help with possible problems arising from the language barrier.
The application mainly consists of two parts, the preparation face and the remote collaboration. For the preparation of the 3D content that is going to be showed during the remote collaboration we implemented two separate tools that should assist the students in creating 3D models by their own.
The first tool is called Filipek. With this tool a student should be able to create simple boxy 3D models from real objects out of photographs. The Filipek software is available for PC workstations and does not need the ARTP. While simply downloading this software the students can use it at home. The other tool is called Myslbek inspired by J.V. Myslbek (1848 - 1922), a famous Czech sculptor. Integrated into our ARTP this software supports the creation of 3D models by using a simple light pen to draw or sculpt directly in 3D. Most of the basic functionality known from 2D sketching tools is integrated into the Myslbek software, like menues for choosing different colors, shapes or textures, increasing/decreasing the size of the virtual cursor used for paining or loading, saving and deleting 3D content. Furthermore the Myslbek software is able to show the content created with Filipek.
To support remote collaboration we first made the visualization part distributable and then integrated Skype as a tool for audio/video conferencing into the core software of the ARTP. With this it is possible to start the Myslbek application in a shared mode, which means that other Spinnstube devices can join the session to interactively discuss, annotate and/or modify the presented 3D content. While hearing the other collaborators and seeing their cursors they are aware of the others presence. This software can also be used to collaboratively sketch 3D content online and from scratch.