[AG-TECH] Idea: AG Remote Control Device

Allan Spale aspale at evl.uic.edu
Fri May 25 21:10:32 CDT 2001

On Fri, 25 May 2001, Jay Beavers wrote:

> What about a simple "Administration UI" on a dedicated "console"
> display?
> IMHO, trying to squeeze the number of components you need to manage in
> an AG environment onto a PDA sized screen will lead to a needlessly
> complex UI.  Being able to take advantage of a larger 1024++ resolution
> monitor should allow the different components to be easily visualized.

That's probably a better idea.  Complexity of systems may have a difficult
time being represented in a compact format.  Some control systems would
probably be better represented in smaller forms like PDAs, but that will
probably not be the case for everything.

However, I think that it would be good to allow things to be moved around
depending on the situation.

Thinking about the PDA usage with the AG, it might be good as some sort of
backchannel/alternative communication medium for remote participants. 
Something like a pocket-sized VIC and RAT (something being explored at
EVL) that would allow people to form dynamic groups to chat during
meetings presentations. It is not appropriate behavior (to ignore
speakers) but for some reason it may be necessary or be good for "between
session" time when people networking becomes important.  I remember having
a discussion on that topic with an EVL colleague during the human factors
session at ANL in February.

> I've also put a lot of thought into "PDAs in the classroom".  My biggest
> holdup with them right now is that the PDA has to be connected to be
> interesting for collaborative scenarios and connectivity eats battery
> life.  I've been playing with a Compaq iPaq with the external PCCard
> sleeve and 802.11b cards.  Even with power save on the 802.11b card and
> an extra battery in the sleeve, I can only get about 2 hours of useful
> battery life out of the system which IMHO makes them too hard to use in
> AG-like situations (too many instances off "just let me bring up...oh
> darn, the remote is dead again").
> I'm hopeful that new technologies, perhaps Bluetooth and maybe larger
> jackets with bigger batteries, might work.  I've even seen a working
> custom handheld done for Wall Street about three years ago that added
> ~16 oz battery to a handheld that was able to do 8 hours of wireless.
> But I haven't seen anything yet that's compelled me to say "that's truly
> useful and convenient, let's do it."

What about using renewable energy sources in these devices?  Can they be
used effectively?  "They" being photovoltaic cells, heat cells, etc. 
Someone had to decide that photovoltaic cells would be effective in simple
calculators (not a lot of complex functions), so once the ability comes
along, why don't people put these energy technologies to work to reduce or
supplement the need for batteries (maybe it would be good for a recharable
energy source and not just a primary energy source).  End result is longer
battery life.  I am not knowledgeable in this area, but it is just an

EVL / UIC  node-op

>  - jcb
> -----Original Message-----
> From: Allan Spale [mailto:aspale at evl.uic.edu] 
> Sent: Thursday, May 24, 2001 8:01 PM
> To: ag-tech at mcs.anl.gov
> Subject: [AG-TECH] Idea: AG Remote Control Device
> I was in a thinking mood this morning, and I thought about why a node-op
> is needed for AG sessions.  Now, I know that the eventual goal is to
> lessen/eliminate the role of the node-op or at least put the node-op
> into
> more of a maintainence / on-call role.  So, I thought, how can people
> just
> use the AG assuming that everything is configured properly?
> I thought that the AG needs a universal remote control (almost like what
> the Polycom devices have).  This could be implented on a PDA.  It would
> allow users to call up different remote control panels on this PDA that
> would allow users to change positions of windows on the plasma display
> on
> vic, adjust cameras, adjust vic video settings for each camera, adjust
> gain on rat, start powerpoint, etc.  The important thing would be to
> abstract the technical details and just allow people to adjust user
> relevant settings.  If technical details needed to be changed, then the
> node-op or some knowledgeable person could go and make the changes on
> the
> respective machines.  Maybe having some way to do backchannel chat on
> the
> PDA would be useful too.
> This is just a thought; maybe it will be useful.
> Allan
> EVL / UIC  node-op 

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