Semantic telepointers for groupware

Greenberg, S., Gutwin, C., and Roseman, M. (1996). Semantic telepointers for groupware. In Proceedings of OzCHI’96, Sixth Australian Conference on Computer-Human Interaction, pages 54–61, Hamilton, New Zealand. IEEE Computer Society Press. [pdf]


This paper present a seminal work on the use of telepointers in the relaxed-WYSIWIS framework. The authors lists a couple of factors that limit the use of telepointers when the shared screens are not kept identical. Their solution consists in overloading the telepointer with semantic information and/or mapping the telepointer absolute coordinates to relative coordinates to each participant’s display.

Real time groupware systems often display telepointers (multiple cursors) of all participants in the shared visual workspace. Through the simple mechanism of telepointers, participants can communicate their location, movement, and probable focus of attention within the document, and can gesture over the shared view. Yet telepointers can be improved. First, they can be applied to groupware where people’s view of the work surface differs—through viewport, object placement, or representation variation—by mapping telepointers to the underlying objects rather than to Cartesian coordinates. Second, telepointers can be overloaded with semantic information to provide participants a stronger sense of awareness of what is going on, with little consumption of screen real estate.

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