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Collaboratory: working together over a distance

November 11th, 2009

Final USI project by Li Li. Report: [PDF, 1.8M]

The Collaboratory software system at FEI Company allows customers to work together with an electron microscope over a distance, and to share the instruments, microscopy expertise and services. It originally has been developed from the results of the Collaboratory.nl project.

The Collaborator software system is for customers who want to remote collaborate and operate while using electron microscopes. It can not only provide services for customers—remotely diagnose and solve problems instead of on-site service visit; but also help customers share instruments, e.g., electron microscopes, and microscopy experts and services.

The task of this USI project is to bridge the gap between what the user of a complex system would like to achieve and the technical aspects of the implementation. In order to better understand what users actually are doing while using such an electron microscope instrument so as to successfully gather users’ requirements, I have learned about sufficient knowledge of Electron Microscope from FEI Academy, where I have worked intensively with the scientists FEI’s Application Laboratory—in Europe Nanoport, the product marketing manager and the software development group. The Department of Chemistry at TU/e was our beta-customer. The result of the project is that Collaboratory is installed at several FEI customers.

This report firstly presents the process and results of the Beta tests and evaluations for the Collaboratory systems on their usability and functionality aspects. The whole Beta process involves obtaining user-centred requirements, the first round tests, expert evaluation and real customer test. Secondly, the portal interface of the Collaboratory was redesigned and the detailed redesigns were presented in this report. Furthermore, suggestions and recommendations for the Collaboratory software are also given for the next version improvement.

L. Li, Collaboratory: working together over a distance, USI Final Report 978-90-444-0886-7, Department of Industrial Design, Eindhoven University of Technology, Eindhoven, 2009.
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