The tools developed by the Inspires project were used to facilitate physical meetings and as part of virtual systems – such as social networks. The particular area that the project carried out considerable innovative development in was in the area of immersive visualisation systems which bridged the two areas, building on previous work carried out as part of the Brain project. The aim of this was to facilitate discussions and collective thinking and reflection with physical groups – while also linking to online participants if required.
A typical setup for this, demonstrated at a project event, used a large screen 3-D projection facility which allowed a group engaged in the activity to interact in various ways with word clouds representing ideas they were discussing. The words displayed were drawn from what people were saying, using voice recognition in some cases, together with information that could be sent using mobile devices to a web address. In other instances of using this application, twitter streams, text messages and other social media have been used. Some of the researcher connection facilities developed interfaced to the visualisation system for various purposes through web services, demonstrating integrated tools developed as part of the project. Semantic distance techniques were used to provide the information to visually link or group similar concepts together. Concepts related to the ones from the discussion were added to the displayed words using a combination of techniques that generated new and related concepts based on the expertise of the participants. Used in other demonstrations was a collective filtering facility whereby concepts that participants highlighted or tagged in some way persisted or grew in size, while others gradually faded away as new words were added. Shown below is a representation of the environment. Videos with demonstrations of the visualisations can be viewed at vimeo.com/49131324 – which shows examples of the different types of display used over the course of the project, and at http://vimeo.com/49155054 – which shows the system used in recent work.