by Ron Riesenbach and Tabatha Holtz

April 6, 1994

This is number 15 in a series of electronic newsletters for the participants of the Ontario Telepresence Project

1) Telepresence Phase II

We have submitted a proposal to the Government of Ontario titled "Telepresence Phase II: The Virtual Workplace". The proposal outlines our plans for a follow-on project which will build on the accomplishments of the existing one. Copies of the proposal have been sent to a number of government people including Minister Francis Lankin. Copies are available by contacting Tabatha Holtz: or by phoning 416 978-0778.

Here is a portion of the Executive Summary:

"ITRC and TRIO propose an extension of the Ontario Telepresence Project (OTP) into a new phase of activities targeted at the deployment of Telepresence systems for the delivery of advanced government services. The new project, Telepresence Phase II: The Virtual Workplace, would involve the close collaboration of university researchers, civil servants and Ontario firms in a 3-year program of research, prototyping and pilot studies.

The primary output of Ontario Telepresence Project Phase II will be a series of pilot studies in both industry and Ontario government offices where specially designed computer and telecommunications systems would be deployed. These systems would enable geographically separated employees to collaborate with one another approximating the kinds of interactions that they would have were they located in the same site. Two or more government sites would be equipped with advanced Telepresence systems customized to match the work flow and organizational culture of the group. Sociologists, collaborating with engineers and computer scientists in academia and industry will work with the government staff participating in the pilot to assess the work practices of the target group, and customize the system to meet their needs. The deployment team will then evaluate the sociological, business and technological effectiveness of the system.

The pilot studies, backed-up by a comprehensive research and development program, will demonstrate the effectiveness of Telepresence systems for government and industry applications, and also validate the technology so that the industrial partners of the project can move towards commercialization of the systems. "

2) Industrial Partner

A new person from Bell Canada has recently joined us as our on-site collaborator. Michelle Valliere will be working with us over the next several months moving the Telepresence Media Space onto an ATM network. Details are still in the planning stages -- more on this later. Her e-mail address is:, her phone number is: 416 978-1979. She sits in SF2002A. Ken Schuyler still maintains contact with us in his new role in the Network Planning Group at Bell.

3) Visitors

We would like to welcome the following visitors:

Gwenhael Le Gloan is a student at the University of Rennes in France here for a 10 week work term working on various Telepresence applications related to portholes. Her e-mail is: She sits in SF4301.

Koichiro Tanikosi from Hitachi in Japan will be working with Bill Buxton, George Fitzmaurice, Hiroshi Ishii and Yu Yan Liu with the Input Research Group on extending the active desk, new techniques in two handed interaction on media based systems, and video input. He has devised a que of interaction with a real world objects using video called OOV (Object Oriented Video) which he presented at CHI'92.

4) People on the Move

Michael Sheasby (ex TP grad student) has moved on from BNR to a position at Soft Image in Montreal. His new email address is: He will be working at the digital studio, post-production system implementing the User Interface designed by the company's owner.

5) Research Distinction

At the annual meeting of the International Network for Social Network Analysis, New Orleans, 17-20 Feb 1994, Barry Wellman gave the Distinguished Keynote Lecture, the highest honour this international and multidisciplinary society awards. Title: "I was a Teenage Network Analyst: >From the Lost Community to the Virtual Community".

6) Research Grant

Barry Wellman and Laura Garton have received a grant for $12,650 from the Centre for Information Technology Innovation of Industry, Sciences & Technology Canada to study "The Social Implications of the Virtual Workplace".

7) Publicity

John Chattoe recently made presentations at "Powering Up North America" in Toronto and CeBiT in Germany where Telepresence was featured. Bill Buxton will appear on a panel with Ted Rogers (Rogers Communications) and Dennis Bennie (Delrina) at COMDEX Canada in July. We have about 5 papers accepted for presentation at CHI'94 in Boston (one of the two major conferences in the field). Articles about the project have appeared recently in the Globe and Mail and in the Financial Post. As well, CBC's "The Nature of Things" will be shooting here next week.

If we could only turn all this fame into some research dollars..... ;-)

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