The ICon Lab is set up to use many different collaborative tools. These include the open source access grid, Breeze (a webbased collaborative portal), Windows Live Messenger, Skype, and other applications which support direct collaboration. The audio input for these applications will be transmitted through the two flat conferencing microphones connected to the console and the audio output will be through the speakers (note the volume dial sitting by the monitors). The video can be input from one of several cameras attached to the console. These cameras are connected through a video capture card.

Adobe Acrobat Connect (Formerly Breeze)

Adobe Acrobat Connect supports web based collaboration for audio, video, application and screen sharing. It is a very easy tool to use. To use this application, you will need to have a meeting set up for you. Dr. Messner can set up this meeting. First, go to and sign into the system one time. Then, contact Dr. Messner and request a meeting be set up. You will be provided host privileges in the meeting so that you will then be able to add other participants. If a participant does not have a Penn State account, they will need to sign up for a Friends of Penn State account at This is simple, free, and immediate. Note that there are additional tutorials and directions available at

Although rare, we have encountered some external collaborators who have had problems with the Breeze tool since it requires certain firewall settings to function properly. Therefore, always test the Breeze connection with collaborators prior to setting up a meeting. If they get an error when logging into the Breeze meeting, have them go to the test site. Specifically, the Penn State Breeze server uses RTMP 80. If that test fails, then it will require an exception from their IT group which administers their firewall to allow them to connect to our Breeze server through their network.

To use Acrobat Connect, sign into the site at Name of Your Meeting). If you are using the ICon Lab console, make sure that you use the Firefox web browser since Internet Explorer provides an error. If you are a host, you can move and revise the pods (Adobes term for windows) on the screen and this will change for all meeting participants. In the Sharing layout (see bottom of screen for different layouts), the camera and voice window is in the top, left corner. Press the video icon to start sharing the ICon Lab camera and microphones. You will need to accept the setting in the Flash Player dialog box, and make sure you press the center buttons on the two microphones to turn them on. You should see green lights on the microphones when you speak. To share the desktop, simply press the share 'My computer screen' button and then select 'desktop'. Note that this will share the entire 3 screen desktop which may be difficult to view on a small screen. For many applications, it is better to share a window or application instead of the entire desktop. To view the content being distributed over the shared connection, press the small eyeglasses icon at the bottom of the Share pod.

Access Grid


The Access Grid includes resources to support group-to-group interaction across the internet. The access grid can be an effective tool for supporting large-scale distributed meetings, remote lectures, and other group meetings with video, audio and other shared applications. You can view the Access Grid as a much more efficient and effective application that is similar to the current computer to computer communication tools that are becoming popular, e.g., MS Messenger and Skype, which allow for person to person video conferencing.

The ICon Lab contains the hardware (including 2 fixed video cameras and 2 microphones) and software (the Access Grid Toolkit and VNC) to function as an Access Grid Node. There are multiple facilities at Penn State that are available to function as a high quality Access Grid Node. These include the Access Grid Node in the Computer Building, the ICon Lab, and the future Immersive Environments Lab. The Access Grid is a scalable technology which will allow users on different systems to participate using different node setups. For example, you could have people joining with just their personal computer and a webcam, as well as participants using large scale immersive display systems with multiple large screens like the ICon Lab.

References and Links

Access Grid Organization
Penn State ITS Access Grid


The console has Skype installed. You can open it from the Start menu and log in with your personal Skype account. You can use Skype to audio and video conferencing. Make sure the remote microphone are turned on for audio conferencing by pressing the center button until the lights turn green. Skype can also be used for calls to standard phone lines through SkypeOut. Your personal account would be charged for these calls.

Windows Live Messenger

The console has Windows Live Messenger installed. You can open it from the Start menu and log in with your personal Live Messenger account. You can use Live Messenger to audio and video conferencing. Make sure the remote microphones are turned on for audio conferencing by pressing the center button until the lights turn green.

Web Camera

If you simply wish to remotely view the ICon Lab, you can do so by using the web video camera. The camera is available at You will need to use the Internet Explorer browser since it may not work in Firefox or other browsers. You will also need the user name and password which are available from Dr. Messner.

Screen Sharing with VNC

VNC can be used to share your computer screen with others. The computer that will be sharing their screen will need to have a VNC Server and all computers which wish to view the shared screen will need VNC Viewer. Both can be obtained at no cost by downloading UltraVNC. To share your screen, you will need to open the VNC Server by going to the Start Menu and UltraVNC folder. Once the server is started, other computers can view the shared screen by opening VNC Viewer and entering the IP address for the server into the 'Connect to...' dialog box. Note that all the Tablet PCs and the SMART Board computer already have UltraVNC installed.

Applications with Built In Collaboration

  • Intergraph Smartplant Review
  • Navisworks

Communication Categories Useful for BIM Studio

Creating a Google Calendar
Project Bluestreak