The implementation of a European Virtual Laboratory is one of the main outputs of the Enactive Project. The concept of Enaction applied to MultiModal Interfaces and computer mediation technologies leads to create new scientific approaches. The Enactive NoE is a precursor of these approaches. The objective of the laboratory is to continue to implement the fruitful cooperation, guided by theories and common approaches, between three poles: technology for computer mediation, sciences of human in interaction, applications and uses. The virtual laboratory will aim at strengthening this cooperation in time.
Although basic facilities participating to the implementation of a virtual laboratory have been currently conducted within the network (operational WEB site for collaborative works including conference facilities, document sharing facilities, discussions forums facilities, setting-up of an Enactive Interest Group), it is necessary to implement others functionalities and existence conditions in order to transform a network of excellence structure in a Virtual Laboratory that will install the project in a long-lasting duration. The functionalities and existence conditions to implement are:
- The inner structure of the VL
- The available resources and services
- The dissemination and training channels
- The relations of the VL
- The type of legal entity
Based on these 5 blocks, the expected Virtual Laboratory structure as designed in the deliverable D.IA3. is composed of 12 blocks (figure 1) and described below.
Figure 1: The global view of the Virtual laboratory
Block 1: Internal organization according to the model of Matrix with horizontal and vertical planes: Teams / Competence Clusters / Projects
The VL will map several teams on funded projects through competence clusters (or departments). The internal structure could be a matrix organisation for a global objective in which research partners’ teams are mapped on the clusters. On this matrix, flexible projects could be implemented according funding. Projects could be related to technological developments, scientific studies or applications.
Block2: The conceptual cement on the form of “Enactive Emblematic Scenarios” and “Dynamic Enactive Lexicon”
The conceptual cement of the Laboratory will have the roles (1) to guaranty the inner internal coherence and (2) to guaranty external “Visibility” of the “Fundamentals”. The will be implemented according two poles:
- Common mediation technologies and experiments, called “Emblematic Enactive Scenarios”,
- A Common vocabulary, externally accepted and shared, called “Dynamic Enactive Lexicon”
The Dynamic Lexicon will be the broad visible basis guarantying an “Extensive Theoretical Visibility”.
The Emblematic Enactive Scenarios will be the targeted visible basis, guarantying an “Intensive Theoretical Visibility”.
Block 3: Technological exchanges within the laboratory.
In the domain of Enactive Interfaces, it is obvious that technologies that are at the front of the state of the art have to be available for most of the technological partners and developers, to be able to provide reliable and innovative solutions for the future of Multimodal interfaces. To do this, significant efforts have to be sustained to make the best of these technologies available for all the members of the laboratory.
Block 4: Virtual Distributed platforms to share and perform experiments
For some types of experiments that do not needs hard real-time and very low latencies between the sensori-motor inputs and outputs, tools related to Virtual Collaborative Environments (VCE) will be implemented in order to facilitate experiments on enactive interaction in distributed experiments from different geographical places.
Block 5: Knowledge exchange tools
To aggregate members around common knowledge, facilities such as Bibliobus, Databases of technological platforms, of planned experiments, of technological hardware and software packages, of courses, seminars and conferences, of market sectors, industries and end-users will be constituted after the end of the network from WEB facilities already implemented and improved.
Block 6: Interpersonal Communicating facilities:
To facilitate scientific exchanges through researchers, leading to have common project and common scientific support, Extended Blackboard, Centralized Conferencing System, “Always on” Intercommunication, Chat IP video and phone facilities, are necessary functionalities that have to be implemented, after the end of the project, in order look like, as much as possible, a real laboratory with its coffee rooms, blackboards, etc…
Block 7: External databases including free-access to documents, showrooms and on-line demos
It consists in all the tools that will give visibility to the VL activities. The set of expected facilities are mainly: (a) Documents-reports public zone, (b) Real or Virtual Showrooms and (c) On-line demos
Block 8: Enactive Virtual Seminars.
Two types of seminars have been imagined for the future of the Virtual Laboratory: Multilateral Virtual seminars and specific targeted virtual seminars.
The Enactive Virtual Seminars are a mean to reach a sufficient level of transdisciplinarity in the field of enaction, enactive interfaces and enactive knowledge. These seminars will push people to a sufficient level of expertise in the fields in which they are not expert (Multilateral Seminars) or will bring to people very high level of specific expertise, by fields or by projects (Specific Targeted Seminars).
The seminars are the extension of activities performed during the Enactive project: Virtual Workshop on Enaction en 2004 and Virtual Seminars performed between partners on “Technologies for Haptic” research direction.
Block 9: Public events including Enactive advertising Events
The activities performed in the Enactive Project, “Enactive annual conference” and “Enactive annual workshops” will be maintained after the end of the project. It will be extended to events like Enactive Summer Schools and Enactive Advertising Events (participation to exhibitions, etc.).
Block 10: Internal relations (Personnel exchanges facilities)
The internal relations (by means of personnel exchanges) are one of the best ways to constitute a research community, and a permanent organization such as a laboratory with a common “company culture”. Personal exchanges will be facilitated through the uses of Mobility Programs at EC or Academic Levels.
Block 11: External relations: Institutional, Academic, Research, Industry, End users
External relations are a mean to disseminate the Network and VL activities. They are a starting point in the creation of enactive group of interest. External relations of a laboratory are of five types:
- Institutional relations related to the relations with the national countries and the EU
- Research relations related to the relations with others laboratories or others European projects.
- Academic relations: they are related to the relations with the universities concerning courses and training. They include student exchanges through student European mobility facilities and internal mobility facilities as Enactive fellowship grants.
- Industrial relations: They will support industrial research projects as well as commercial dissemination of the results of the network
- End Users relations to support the “coming-up” of the users needs as well as the users evaluation and acceptance of the results of the network.
Block 12: Identification of the laboratory as a legal entity
The setting-up of the laboratory as a legal structure that is well identified by its status and its name is of a major importance. Foreseen name could be “European Institute on Enactive systems”, that is a generalisation of Enactive Interfaces. Indeed, enaction concept cannot be reduced to the interfaces technologies.
Some possibilities of legal status have been investigated:
- Legal status similar to the EEIG (European Economic Interest Groupings), used for some Integrated projects. It seems that a similar structure for laboratories, a kind of EPIG (European Public Interest Groupings) do not yet exists.
- A non-profit association based on Belgium International rules.
In addition, we will be aware of the future of EIT (European Institute of Technology), proposed by the EC.
Three activities will be conducted in the future:
- Implementation of the first version of the Virtual laboratory during the Enactive project
- Constitution of a document, presenting the project of “Enactive Institute” for the “lobbying” near national institutions, EC and Academies, near end-users, and industrial companies.
- Pursuing the activity on the type of legal entity