The Distributed Design Exchange (DDE) project demonstrated how design work could benefit from the use of Lightpaths. Contemporary design work is distributed in both space and time. Design teams typically comprise members from multiple offices and organizations. They work across distance, moving large amounts of data between sites. They work across time -- tasks may be shared by people working sequentially, in single or multiple shifts and within or across time zones. Such complex work is organized through several means: physical visits to other teams' workplaces, telephone calls, formal workflow documents, data sharing, project management systems and joint simultaneous work. Joint simultaneous work, has been hindered by the capacity, speed and high latency of existing networks. Although screen and desktop sharing software has existed for some time, networks have generally been inadequate to achieve real time interaction except within a LAN—the reason why such systems have seen only occasional use in design practice. It is thought that real time interaction will enable new forms of communication beyond sharing a single desktop. Multiple windows with access to multiple models on several machines may provide new tools for designers, enabling improved collaboration and formation of multiple design alternatives.

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