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Integration of new technologies for internet‐based collaboration in engineering

Felix Nyffenegger (Autonomous Systems Lab, ETH Zürich, Zürich, Switzerland)
Christian Bacs (Autonomous Systems Lab, ETH Zürich, Zürich, Switzerland)

Journal of Manufacturing Technology Management

ISSN: 1741-038X

Article publication date: 25 July 2008




In today's globalized economy, distributed collaboration in engineering is important. Participants of engineering teams, with their specific knowledge situated in different locations, must be able to work together as efficiently and as comfortably as possible to provide an optimum contribution to product development. This paper aims to improve the effectiveness of internet based communication.


Analysis of the current situation was carried out from different perspectives. First, an in‐depth state‐of‐the‐art study of existing hardware and software concepts was done. Second, these tools were evaluated by collaboration experiments. Finally, a concept for improved internet collaboration was elaborated and implemented.


The main technical method used in this concept is a data overlay which allows different interactive information levels to be mapped on top of a video stream. In addition, eye‐to‐eye video conferencing hardware and a perceptive user interactions system are combined in an integrated system.

Practical implications

An application framework was developed, which integrates the different technologies. Using this framework, three application scenarios were implemented and tested. One focusing on brainstorming using the metaplan‐technique, second is used to build function‐structures and the third allows engineers to plan a plant on 2D, while it is shown in 3D.


Participants can now interact with digital information objects, yet being able to directly face their colleague and discuss simultaneously with the use of gestures such as pointing on objects. Users are free to adjust dynamically their focus between digital information and video by choosing transparency levels.



Nyffenegger, F. and Bacs, C. (2008), "Integration of new technologies for internet‐based collaboration in engineering", Journal of Manufacturing Technology Management, Vol. 19 No. 6, pp. 727-743.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2008, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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