COllaborative Virtual ENvironments
by Lennart Fahlén
COVEN (COllaborative Virtual ENvironments)aims at developing a computational service for teleworking and virtual presence. The overall objective of the project is to provide the facilities needed to support future cooperative teleworking systems and to demonstrate the added value of networked VR for both professional users and home users.
COVEN is a project of the European Union Advanced Communications Technologies and Services Programme, in the Fourth Framework Programme of research and development (1994-1998). COVEN is a 4-year project starting 1 October 1995.
COVEN aims at developing a computational service for teleworking and virtual presence. The overall objective of the project is to provide the facilities needed to support future cooperative teleworking systems and to demonstrate the added value of networked virtual reality for both professional users and home users.
COVEN will develop a general platform for Collaborative Virtual Environments (CVEs), providing the application-level facilities needed to support the implementation of these CVEs. The development of the COVEN platform will be driven by the needs of two CVE applications: a business-oriented 'Arena Tool' application and a citizen-oriented 'Travel arrangement' application .
COVEN is a unique project which brings together a wide range of expertise on communication infrastructures, CSCW, Virtual Environments, Human-Computer Interaction and VR animation to provide support for a European distributed virtual environment. Target key issues are collaboration support within VEs (including awareness, communication, group interaction, etc.), corresponding requirements at network and platform level (involving concern for scalability and continuous media support), and related Human Factors aspects. Key issues are also the evolution and contribution to current standardisation efforts (DIS, VRML, MPEG4).
COVEN will carry out networking trials of its platform over ISDN and over ATM, using National Hosts of at least four European countries. The COVEN applications will encompass both the high-end and low-end of the spectrum of VR applications.
The development of an integrated COVEN platform, based on Division Ltd's dVS, will maintain a strong European presence in the future of the VE marketplace. The objective of the project is also to strengthen European involvement in key international standards.
The project builds upon a set of existing platforms and experiences which result from field trials across a range of different networks. Our technical approach centres on three cycles of design, development, experimentation and dissemination. The work is defined as height workpackages, each of which runs through three iterations across the four years of the project. Develop a powerful networked VR platform based on dVS, an existing commercial VR platform from Division Ltd. Developments will be fed by the exploratory prototyping experiences gained using the DIVE research platform of the Swedish Institute of Computer Science.
Summary of Trial
COVEN networking trials will be based on an enhanced version of the commercially available European VR platform dVS, and four National Hosts: SuperJANET (UK), ForthNET (GR), the Royal PTT Netherlands host (NL) and the French National Host through CNET (F).
The networking trials will be carried out in four distinct phases, based on different versions of the Demonstrators, making an extensive use of ISDN in all phases and introducing ATM in phases 3 and 4. The trials (in particular the ATM trials) will be organized around two clusters of linked sites, one within the UK and another between France and The Netherlands. At each trial phase, both an assessment of network performances and a Human Factors evaluation will be performed.
Thomson-CSF, Laboratoire Central de Recherches, (F), is main contractor and partners are: Division Ltd, (UK), EPFL, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, (CH), Swedish Institute of Computer Science, (S), Integrated Information Systems Ltd, (GR), KPN Research Partner, (NL). For more information see http://www.sics.se/dive/.
Lennart Fahlén - SICS
Tel: +46 7 6661539