Innovative Collaborative Work Environments for Individuals and Teams in Design and Engineering
Developing organisational models and distributed technologies for collaborative workspaces for individuals and project teams within distributed virtual manufacturing enterprises enabling effective partnerships, innovation, improved productivity, and reduced design cycles.
Ambient Interfaces and the research domain of Ubiquitous Computing represent a third wave in computing. This paradigm shift is characterised by the integration of our increasingly complex technological landscape with the environment we occupy, while
removing our perception of the computer in the tasks and activities we undertake. In practice the nature of these ambient interfaces ranges from the simple, such as devices that notify users of events by extending the computer interface into the workplace environment, through to the complex, where intuitive interface technologies such as optical tracking and gesture recognition are used to provide the user with the ability to directly manipulate highly visual information sets without perceiving the underlying technological infrastructure.
The evolution of IT over the past 20 years has led to the development of individual CAD/ CAE workstations. While the computational power available to Engineering professionals has grown exponentially, the collaborative dimension of the workspace has been largely under developed. CoSpaces will provide an evolutionary path towards new and more collaborative work environments. Users of CoSpaces technologies in manufacturing and design, in cooperation with their suppliers, will be able to configure their own collaborative workspaces and utilise ground-breaking innovations in context-aware interfaces, natural
interfaces, and “human-centric” workspaces supporting a range of collaboration scenarios and product lifecycles.
The CoSpaces project addresses three scientific and technological objectives:
- Evaluate collaboration at individual, team and enterprise levels, and develop collaboration models emphasising applications of problem solving, creativity, participatory and knowledge based design in innovative collaborative work environments;
- Create an innovative distributed software framework that will support easy creation of collaborative work environments for distributed knowledge workers and teams in collaborative design and engineering tasks;
- Validate the distributed software framework for creating different classes of collaborative working styles required for collaborative design and engineering in the Aerospace, Automotive and Construction sectors.
The research advances in CoSpaces will push the state-of-the-art of collaborative work environments in several key areas:
- New collaboration models addressing the development and deployment of collaborative technologies that empower workers and teams and having a strong human factors and business focus.
- A practical collaborative software framework for supporting dynamic organisations that are executing complex processes in order to produce complex products.
- Uncovering and addressing real-world constraints and barriers to bridge the gap between industrial engineers and scientific researchers in collaborative working.
- Industry workspaces and interfaces based on deploying virtual interface technologies, leading to more practical and usable interfaces for real-world problems and users.
CoSpaces Software Framework
The CoSpaces software framework will support the easy creation of collaborative work environments for distributed workers. It includes a Foundation Platform to provide core services and high-level collaboration Tools that support seamless and natural collaboration among distributed workers and teams.
Three workspaces will be developed for validating industrial applications from the Automotive, Aerospace and the Construction industries:
- Distributed Design Workspace will address ad-hoc and scheduled collaboration between distributed, multi-functional design teams. Collaboration through fixed installations and mobile environments will be considered in this workspace.
- Co-located Design Workspace will address how ad-hoc and planned meetings between co-located, multi-functional design teams could be supported, providing enhanced immersion, visualisation, interaction, mobility and flexibility.
- Mobile Service Workspace will address generic challenges in supporting mobile site workers to collaborate with remote experts during the realisation or the support phase.
CoSpaces addresses the vision developed by the Future_Workspaces roadmap project involving over 100 key players from a multiple disciplines and defining a 10-year European Vision for future collaborative working environments and scenarios. CoSpaces will initiate a programme of activities to implement this 10-year European vision for the benefit of European business, workforce, and society.
CIMPA (France), CERFACS (FR), CARSA (ES), COWI (DK), ESOCE Net (IT), Finanziaria Laziale di Sviluppo (IT), Fraunhofer Institute (DE), Advanced Knowledge Modeling (NO), National Technical University of Athens (EL), Pragmasis (PT), Technology Application Network (UK), University of Leiden (NL), The Open Group (UK), UNINOVA (PT), University of Cologne (DE), University of Nottingham (UK), University of Salford (UK), University of Stuttgart (DE), Varinex Informatics (HU), Virtual Dimension Centre (DE)