CPSC 689/602--Spring 1997
Computer-Supported Cooperative Work

Paper Report

Title: Sound Support for Collaboration
Author: William W. Gaver
Citation: Proceedings of the Second European Conference on Computer Supported Cooperative Work
Reprinted in: Baecker, R.M., Readings in Groupware and Computer-Supported Cooperative Work 1993, pp. 355-362

The author outlines the necessity for collaborative work as being due to the profound shift of computer systems supporting single users working alone to those supporting a group of users working together. Building software system support for such transitions is what that has to develop as a key area for research.

Working together is characterized by general awareness, focused collaboration, division of labor and serendipitous communication. The reason for choosing audio has been explained by the author as due to the sound being a good sensor of distance and less distractive. The development of a framework based on attributes of listening events results in the mapping of these attributes to the attributes of computer events giving rise to auditory icons.

Two practical examples of collaboration were studied. One was a simulation exercise resembling a bottling plant from which was learnt that employees could maintain attention on another process while concentrating on their process. >From this a model system that generated Environment Audio Reminders triggering short, unobtrusive audio cues was designed. These cues were then transmitted throughout the office to inform or remind people about certain events. The things to be considered included clearly recognizable audio content and acoustic appropriateness.

In conclusion, it was found that auditory cues make use of sound as a new medium for increasing awareness of events and activities which are not visually available. Discussion on this paper also concentrated on certain video technologies that had a transparent background on which the cues could be screened with the main job in the foreground. As long as the main job is served such advancements in technology can be adopted.

Report prepared by: Thottikalai Rajavelu Email: rajavelu@cs.tamu.edu
Discussion date: February 17, 1997            Report date: February 19, 1997