Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Families and friends, not just business, can benefit from telephone conference calls

20.10.2004


Telephone conference calls are widely used by business, but they also have great value for people outside work. New ESRC funded research, shows people such as the elderly, who may be socially isolated due to mobility problems, enjoy conference calls.

The study was led by Professor Andrew Monk of the Department of Psychology at the University of York. He argues the calls could be made more enjoyable by developing technologies that support electronic socialising, providing visual aids as well as multi-person voice calls. Such systems, says his report, have become possible through the arrival of multimedia phones and domestic broadband services.

Tele-conferencing uses specialised telephone network equipment to enable several people anywhere in the country or abroad to take part in a single conversation. It is commonplace in business today, but many of us are still familiar only with two-way connections, particularly outside work.



The project studied groups of people using telephone conferencing for purely recreational purposes, such as socialising. Researchers visited people taking part in telephone conferences as part of a Friendship Link scheme run by the Community Resource Team in Hackney, London, and found that that those involved greatly valued the calls for the social contact they provided.

The Hackney team’s befriending scheme supports elderly individuals through recreational telephone conferences, and there are also weekly one-to-one calls. Conferences involve four to eight older people with a volunteer facilitator to help the call run smoothly.

Professor Monk said: “Interviews we conducted with the users of the service confirmed the value of telephone conferences. One person even described the Hackney scheme as a ‘godsend’. “But we found that it was not the telephone receiver, the conference, or even the content of the talk that were foremost in the comments of the participants. The real value seems to be in terms of human contact.”

Until now, there has been relatively little scientific work on how to identify when people involved in conference calls are enjoying themselves. With the permission of participants in the Hackney scheme, the researchers obtained tapes of their conference calls. They were analysed for conversational structure, and points of ‘flow’ – where a whole group of five or six people took part rather than two individuals - were identified. The ‘flow’ of the conversation was taken as one important indication of enjoyment when socialising.

Experiments also took place to test two different ways that multiple calls might be encouraged with future developments in domestic communication technology. These experiments involved nearly 200 volunteers, randomly allocated into telephone conferences of around 4-6 people.

Professor Monk said: “Our tests enabled us to identify when people were enjoying themselves during the calls. And the data we gathered also suggested ways in which new developments in domestic communication technology, such as Third Generation mobile phones and broadband connected PCs, could be used to encourage this kind of enjoyable experience.

“Neither experiment was conclusive, but we have demonstrated a way of evaluating technology designed to make electronically organised conversations more enjoyable.”

Becky Gammon | alfa
Further information:
http://www.esrc.ac.uk

More articles from Social Sciences:

nachricht Sibling differences: Later-borns choose less prestigious programs at university
14.11.2017 | Max-Planck-Institut für demografische Forschung

nachricht Visual intelligence is not the same as IQ
09.11.2017 | Vanderbilt University

All articles from Social Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Nanoparticles help with malaria diagnosis – new rapid test in development

The WHO reports an estimated 429,000 malaria deaths each year. The disease mostly affects tropical and subtropical regions and in particular the African continent. The Fraunhofer Institute for Silicate Research ISC teamed up with the Fraunhofer Institute for Molecular Biology and Applied Ecology IME and the Institute of Tropical Medicine at the University of Tübingen for a new test method to detect malaria parasites in blood. The idea of the research project “NanoFRET” is to develop a highly sensitive and reliable rapid diagnostic test so that patient treatment can begin as early as possible.

Malaria is caused by parasites transmitted by mosquito bite. The most dangerous form of malaria is malaria tropica. Left untreated, it is fatal in most cases....

Im Focus: A “cosmic snake” reveals the structure of remote galaxies

The formation of stars in distant galaxies is still largely unexplored. For the first time, astron-omers at the University of Geneva have now been able to closely observe a star system six billion light-years away. In doing so, they are confirming earlier simulations made by the University of Zurich. One special effect is made possible by the multiple reflections of images that run through the cosmos like a snake.

Today, astronomers have a pretty accurate idea of how stars were formed in the recent cosmic past. But do these laws also apply to older galaxies? For around a...

Im Focus: Visual intelligence is not the same as IQ

Just because someone is smart and well-motivated doesn't mean he or she can learn the visual skills needed to excel at tasks like matching fingerprints, interpreting medical X-rays, keeping track of aircraft on radar displays or forensic face matching.

That is the implication of a new study which shows for the first time that there is a broad range of differences in people's visual ability and that these...

Im Focus: Novel Nano-CT device creates high-resolution 3D-X-rays of tiny velvet worm legs

Computer Tomography (CT) is a standard procedure in hospitals, but so far, the technology has not been suitable for imaging extremely small objects. In PNAS, a team from the Technical University of Munich (TUM) describes a Nano-CT device that creates three-dimensional x-ray images at resolutions up to 100 nanometers. The first test application: Together with colleagues from the University of Kassel and Helmholtz-Zentrum Geesthacht the researchers analyzed the locomotory system of a velvet worm.

During a CT analysis, the object under investigation is x-rayed and a detector measures the respective amount of radiation absorbed from various angles....

Im Focus: Researchers Develop Data Bus for Quantum Computer

The quantum world is fragile; error correction codes are needed to protect the information stored in a quantum object from the deteriorating effects of noise. Quantum physicists in Innsbruck have developed a protocol to pass quantum information between differently encoded building blocks of a future quantum computer, such as processors and memories. Scientists may use this protocol in the future to build a data bus for quantum computers. The researchers have published their work in the journal Nature Communications.

Future quantum computers will be able to solve problems where conventional computers fail today. We are still far away from any large-scale implementation,...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Ecology Across Borders: International conference brings together 1,500 ecologists

15.11.2017 | Event News

Road into laboratory: Users discuss biaxial fatigue-testing for car and truck wheel

15.11.2017 | Event News

#Berlin5GWeek: The right network for Industry 4.0

30.10.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Corporate coworking as a driver of innovation

22.11.2017 | Business and Finance

PPPL scientists deliver new high-resolution diagnostic to national laser facility

22.11.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Quantum optics allows us to abandon expensive lasers in spectroscopy

22.11.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>