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I-Room: A Virtual Space for Intelligent Interaction

Intelligent - Interactive - Integrated - Instrumented - Intelligible

This page provides supporting material for the OpenVCE.net and AIAI, University of Edinburgh entry for the Federal Virtual Worlds Challenge 2009. Take a Video Tour of the I-Room.

I-Room is awarded Second Place

in Collaboration Category

 See Press Release for details of all finalists.

Register for real and virtual participation via: http://www.teamorlando.org/gametech/

FVWC - Federal Virtual Worlds Challenge

Government/Contractor: Yes

Name: Austin Tate (avatar: Ai Austin), with OpenVCE.net team: Jessica (Yun-Heh) Chen-Burger, Jeff Dalton, Stephen Potter, Gerhard Wickler

E-mail: a.tate@ed.ac.uk

Product Description/Problem Statement: I-Room: a virtual space for intelligent interaction.

Rapidly creating and using a Virtual Operations Room for immersive training and for real missions. Outreach to geographically dispersed teams and agencies for input of their analysis skills. Robust and survivable alternatives to physical Operations Rooms. Demonstration shows examples of shared information access via the web (video feeds, weather screens, Twitter feed on nominated search tags), and team and personal task support (e.g. to do lists delivered from collaboration portal web site).

Location of Product: http://openvce.net/izone

Required Blog Page: http://fvwc-iroom.blogspot.com/

Benefit of Virtual World Chosen: Second Life is an openly accessible virtual world with many elements suited to collaboration. It can be used freely with instant registration and access for new users and can provide publicly accessible areas for work across institutions. Opensim is open source and is compatible with the Second Life viewer. It is not as scalable a platform at this stage as Second Life, but it offers richer collaborative and media facilities, as well as the capability to be self hosted to run behind firewalls.

Visit an I-Room now in Second Life [if you do not yet have a Second Life avatar Join here]:

VW PlatformLocationURLLauncher
Second Life

OpenVCE I-Zone



Watch videos of an I-Room in use:

Example I-Rooms for Training, Simulation and Tutorials



I-Rooms are available in Second Life and Opensim. An I-Room provides a two storey building with central area and four work zones, designed for collaborative and brain storming style meetings. An I-Room can be used an a rapidly deployed operations center for example. Plenty of wall space is available for displays and gadgets. Each of the four corners can easily be converted to a small two storey block, or a larger double height block. The I-Room style buildings are used in the I-X/I-Room research on intelligent collaborative and task support environments at AIAI, The University of Edinburgh.

Potential Applications:

  • Virtual collaboration center
  • Business teleconferencing
  • Team Meetings for projects, products or reviews
  • Product Help Desks
  • Design to Product - product lifecycle workflow support
  • Environmental, building and plant monitoring center
  • Health and safety at work, disability awareness
  • Intelligent tutors, guides and greeters
  • Active demonstration pavilions

An example I-Room in use for the "Whole of Society Crises Response" (WoSCR) Community is available for demonstration, to show the public what is being created, and to seek feedback from potential government users.  The I-Room 3D buildling model and all technical facilities within the virtual worlds and on suporting web sites is available as open soirce assets and software.  Demonstrations for new applications can be created using the OpenVCE.net facilities and the Vue and VCE regions in Second Life.

Technical web site: http://www.aiai.ed.ac.uk/project/i-room/


  • Tate, A., Potter, S. and Dalton, J. (2009), I-Room: a Virtual Space for Emergency Response for the Multinational Planning Augmentation Team, Proceedings of the Fifth International Conference on Knowledge Systems for Coalition Operations (KSCO-2009) (Lawton, J., Patel, J. and Tate. A. eds.), Chilworth Manor, Southampton, UK, 31 March-1 April 2009. [PDF Document]
  • Tate, A., Chen-Burger, Y-H., Dalton, J., Potter, S., Richardson, D., Stader, J., Wickler, G., Bankier, I., Walton, C. and William, P.G. (2010) I-Room: A Virtual Space for Intelligent Interaction, IEEE Intelligent Systems, July-August 2010, Vol. 25, No. 4, pp 62-71. IEEE Computer Society. [PDF Document]


Caption: Link ups between real meeting spaces and a unified interaction space in a Virtual World I-Room.


Caption: I-Zone in use within the Open Virtual Collaboration Environment (OpenVCE.net).


Caption: Various sized I-Rooms are available with a core plus four corner modules design.




The demonstration shows visitors what can be done through an I-Room even though the demonstration area is set up for specific uses and experiments for the "Whole of Society Crises Response" (WoSCR) community.  This is done by having a greeter I-Robot offer NEW callers a web link back to this page and an in-world notecard.  A possible tailored demonstration could be set up in a spare I-Room elsewhere if needed, but having an active room will better demonstrate what one would look like when populated with status and information feed displays.

A tailored I-Room may include active support for a standard operating procedure (SOP) for establishing a virtual ops center for example - using the ideas and the existing I-X domain models from work with USJFCOM's Joint Personnel Recovery Agency (JPRA) Personnel Recovery Education and Training Center (PRETC) - but augmented to allow someone to obtain, install and set up the I-X end services and the in-world elements for connecting to services, twitter feeds and information like weather imagery and map feeds... something that uses what everyone will know and understand as necessary for a new ops center... to make a new ops center for a mission or to respond to an event. An I-Room can also be tailored to give out users' task lists and status of where users are in the execution of a joint process or plan. This can be used for effective meeting support where team members may not all be on-line at once.

A radar could trigger the display of a page (with <I-N-C-A> task and activity orientated information on it) by avatar name and would be an example of something we might then do properly with the I-Room helper and I-X linked to SOPs and to do lists stored on a web collaboration portal like OpenVCE.net.

Some of the commands for the I-X helper agent running within the "Polycom Phone" in the I-Room are listed at http://openvce.net/iroom-helper

A sample <I-N-C-A> style "to do" list page at http://openvce.net/todo-fvwc-example 

Experiments with the use of "Shared Media" enabled by the Second Life Viewer 2.0 Beta for more effective collaboration in the I-Room is underway.  See examples of some experimentation described at http://openvce.net/sl-viewer-2-shared-media-demos

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I-Room Helper


The I-Room Helper Robot provides a centralised mechanism by which users can access the facilities that the I-Room offers them. It also can be linked to an external I-X agent that allows instructions to be sent to it from an I-X Process Panel (or any other I-X agent). In their basic form, an interaction with the Robot takes the form of an activity name (a verb) and then any appropriate parameters. For instance, instructing the Robot to say hello causes the Robot to announce "hello" on the Second Life open chat channel. It is intended that the functonality of the Robot - in terms of the messages it 'understands', that is, to which it can respond usefully - would be extended as appropriate for specific applications. This might involve modifications to the Robot's code (written in LSL, the Linden Scripting Language) or additions to the Robot's "I-Room Setup Notecard" to associate additional capabilities (verbs) with objects.

Standard Functionality

We assume that the Robot has been configured and placed in the I-Room, and has been switched on. The basic manner in which users interact with the Robot is by chatting with it on a designated channel. By default this is channel 9 (and this is the value we will use here in examples) but this can be altered by changing the value of the channel variable in the Robot's I-Room Help script.

The Robot responds to the following standard commands that are 'chatted' by avatars on its designated channel (ie, prefix the command with /9 if using the default channel). Alternatively, if communicating with the Robot from I-X, the appropriate message (without channel information) should be sent as an I-X activity to the I-X Second Life agent (from a Process Panel activities can be easily constructed and sent with the Tools > Messenger tool).

Commands may be give via channel 9 (by default) to the helper in-world. I.e. /9 command

A summary of the commands is here:

Syntax: display [screen-name] <url>|<matrix-cell-label>
Description: causes the Robot to pass on the command to display the contents of URL url (assumed to be an image in a standard format) or the contents of the cell of the current matrix named matrix-cell-label to an object in the I-Room. If screen-name is specified then the corresponding object (as defined in the notecard) is the target; otherwise the default display object (also as defined by the notecard) is the target. If there is no such default, the Robot repeats the display command on the open chat channel.
Syntax: say [/<channel>] <message>
Description: causes the Robot to put message on the designated channel, or the open channel if none is specified.
Syntax: read notecard
Description: causes the Robot to (re-)read the contents of its notecard (and so update its knowledge of I-Room objects and their capabilities without restarting the Robot).
Syntax: describe avatars|display|objects
Description: causes the Robot to describe, on the open chat channel, some aspect of its current state:
  • avatars: the Robot says the list of avatars to the room (and also sends "present" state information to the Chair's panel, if this message originated from I-X).
  • display: the Robot says the names of the different elements that comprise the matrix image currently displayed in the I-Room on the open chat channel.
  • objects: the Robot says a list of known object-capability pairs (this is the information that the Robot has read from its notecard).
  • Minute
    Syntax: minute <minute-content>
    Description: the Robot will send a report to I-X saying that the given content has been minuted, and also say this to avatars listening on the open channel.
    Syntax: decision <decision-content>
    Description: the Robot will send a report to I-X recording that the described decision had been made, and also say this on the open channel.
    Syntax: agenda <agenda-item>
    Description: the Robot will send a report to I-X noting that the specified agenda-item will be added to the next meeting in the current series; this will also be said on the open channel.
    Syntax: action <forename> <surname> <activity>
    Description: the Robot will send a report to I-X noting that the avatar forename surname has been actioned to perform the specified activity. This will also be said to all listening on the open channel.
    If the Robot receives a command other than one of those listed above, it first checks to see whether it knows of an object that has as a capability the verb of the command. If such an object is found, it says the command to that object on the object's designated communication channel; otherwise, the Robot says the command on the open chat channel. Note that the Robot will respond to any command that originates from I-X with a completion report, once it has handled the command. (This should not be interpreted as indicating that the corresponding activity has been completed - since it might have been passed on to a different object - but that the handling of the command by the Robot has been completed.)

    Furthermore, it should be noted that many of the activities listed above involve the Robot saying something on one or other of the Second Life chat channels. Hence, this effectively constrains the in-world size of the I-Room to the radius within which chat is audible, which is currently 20 metres; all objects and participating avatars should lie within this radius.

    Details at: http://www.aiai.ed.ac.uk/project/i-room/resources/vwow/release/doc/helper-robot.html

    Information is at http://openvce.net/iroom. Much more detail, in the context of an application to a product team support meeting space and a Scotch Whisky tasting tutorial room application is at http://www.aiai.ed.ac.uk/project/i-room/


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