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Embodied Social Proxies
Embodied Social Proxies

Do you have a remote teammate? Is it hard for them to participate fully in meetings? Is it hard for you to keep track of what they're up to — and vice versa? An Embodied Social Proxy is a device to represent the remote person in the team's space. During a meeting it acts as a videoconferencing head, effectively giving the remote person a seat at the table. While idle, it shows the remote's recent activity, such as check-ins, bug edits, and status changes.

About Embodied Social Proxies

Embodied Social Proxy in useEmbodied Social Proxy in use. (Click to view a larger image.)This project addresses some of the needs of teams that are partially collocated, that is, all teammates' offices are clustered together on the same floor, except for one person that's located at a different site, maybe in another building on the same campus or maybe on another continent. We call these teams "hub-and-satellite." It's often difficult for that satellite person to participate fully in meetings, they're often left out of the impromptu hallway conversations, and they don't have the benefits of overhearing what others are talking about. In short, they're out-of-sight and out-of-mind.

Embodied Social Proxy in useRemote person's experience using Embodied Social Proxy. (Click to view a larger image.)To combat these problems we've developed a device, which we call an Embodied Social Proxy, or ESP for short. It's just a computer on a cart in the hub team space, but it has a specific purpose: to always represent the satellite person. It has two modes of operation — in meetings it acts as a videoconferencing terminal; between meetings it shows information about the satellite person's availability.

We started this project by living it, as we are a hub-and-satellite team. We are deploying multiple ESP units to other teams and studying their use.