Many speakers, whether they are professors, business people, or board members, often find it a daunting task to prepare presentations. What is necessary is an environment that is equipped to run as many kinds of media as possible, and does as much of the work for the speaker as possible. It is for this reason that InfoLab is developing The Intelligent Classroom. Through a project like The Intelligent Classroom, cooperative behavior between computers and people is taken several steps forward. The Intelligent Classroom functions not just as a room, but as an intelligent environment. The Intelligent Classroom uses video cameras and microphones to sense the motion, gestures and words of a speaker. It acts, in a sense, as if it is the audio-visual coordinator: controlling the setting of lights, displaying slides, playing videotapes. In an intelligent environment, the user and the environment work together in a unique manner; the user expresses what he wishes to do, and the environment recognizes his intentions and attempts to accommodate the user. The Intelligent Classroom is designed to allow the user to interact with it in as natural a manner as possible. While various remote controls and gesturing systems are either available or being created, The Intelligent Classroom will be able to understand what a speaker is doing, without an electrical or artificial prompt.
Another benefit to a system like this is that it opens new possibilities for distance learning or long distance meetings. The Intelligent Classroom functions as a director for the presentation, so that the videotaped presentations will not seem crude or amateurish. The Intelligent Classroom is already watching what the speaker does and making choices about how to respond. Beyond knowing when to turn the lights on and off, it will also be able to focus in on various parts of the presentation.