The use of Augmented Reality (AR) technologies in everyday life and work is one of the major trends. Augmented Reality means spatially overlaying virtual data on top of the real world, allowing the flexibility of virtual reality to be used for collaboration while being grounded in physical reality (Azuma et al., 2001; Azuma & others, 1997). This changes the way individuals interact with the real world, and it offers several possibilities for the support of cooperation.
Collaborative applications of Augmented Reality have been a popular field of work and discussion among researchers and developers since the early days of Augmented Reality: Among many approaches, Billinghurst et al. (1998) described “Shared Space” as a physical place to cooperatively interact with web pages, Schmalstieg et al. (2002) described “Studierstube” visualizing scientific data for multiple viewers in the same room, and Ahlers et al. (1995) presented an approach using AR for collaborative design. These contributions lay the foundations for nowadays’ work on collaborative Augmented Reality. However, at the time of their implementation Augmented Reality technology (especially the hardware) was clumsy, heavy and hard to imagine being used on a daily basis (see an example for such technology from 2004 on the left side of Figure 1 below). Therefore, even if there is a lot to draw from this work it is these approaches did not find their way into the reality of most people. This has changed now: Currently, we are entering a new area for Augmented Reality, in which there are multiple devices such as smartphones, tablets, data glasses and cameras like Microsoft Kinect that bring along the form factors and computational power to implement Augmented Reality in everyday life and work. In addition there are various software and development frameworks (e.g., METAIO and Vuforia) that enable researchers and companies to build Augmented Reality applications. Consequently, there are already areas in which collaborative aspects of Augmented Reality have been discussed. Among them assistance in complex or unknown tasks by experts and mixed reality games (Blum et al., 2012; Bonsignore et al., 2012; Datcu et al., 2014; Fischer et al., 2014) are most frequently mentioned.
Despite the readiness of technology, available work and researchers dealing with Augmented Reality in cooperative scenarios augmented reality, the topic has not been prominent at CSCW conferences recently. Rather than that it is currently predominately discussed in (individual) human-computer interaction scenarios or from a technical viewpoint only. However, there are many opportunities stemming from recent technology developments in Augmented Reality for CSCW that our community should more systematically be working on.
We believe augmented reality will be one of the most prominent future topics in CSCW. An upcoming special issue in Journal for Computer Supported Cooperative Work (jCSCW) and workshops on collaboration and augmented reality at ISMAR are initial efforts to systematically deal with collaborative applications of Augmented Reality and at the same time show the growing interest in this topic. The workshop proposed here aims to bundle this interest and bring together a groups of researchers from CSCW working on augmented reality for cooperation support.
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