FreeTime is an end-user software solution for computer-aided optimal scheduling of meetings. It was developed by LEDAS in collaboration with SIB3 http://www.sib3.ru. The program is based on the client-server architecture that includes platform-independent web-based applications as well as native applications for mobile devices - cellular phones and personal digital assistants.
The main target groups of FreeTime are small and medium-sized companies as well as groups of independent users with common interests. FreeTime has three main distinguishing components. They are:
- The powerful core technology of the LEDAS Scheduling Engine (LSE),
- The diversity of platforms supported (including mobile devices),
- The client-server protocol which provides both online and offline work of the participants involved in the scheduling of meetings.
FreeTime was developed to coordinate meetings with participation of people from a joint team using resources from a joint pool. The term "team" is not limited to industrial groups but includes the entire spectrum of meanings that cover commercial and non-profit organizations where scheduling is necessary. At the same time, the term "meeting" should also be extended and could correspond to every "thing to do" in everyday life: meetings, small tasks, short trips, phone calls, and even coffee-breaks. Similarly, the term "resource pool" is meant to include all available rooms, projectors, computers or other equipment that could be useful for "meetings."
The distributed FreeTime system helps users to choose an optimal timeframe and place for each meeting in real time:
- A user can specify any rough timeframe for a meeting, like "this afternoon," "before the end of this week," "each month," etc. - the FreeTime system will automatically choose an exact time depending on the particular schedules of all participants,
- If a meeting demands some resources - rooms, special tools or devices - the FreeTime system will automatically take it into account and choose an appropriate distribution of all resources among meetings,
- If some participants cannot be available, even in a given "rough" timeframe, the FreeTime system will automatically re-schedule other meetings to find a time and place for all meetings.
LEDAS identifies the possibility of using a variety of mobile devices as one of the key features of FreeTime due to the high social impact of the technology boom. Since in most cases the meetings are not anchored to any particular time and place, it is important to have a system that is dynamically changing and updating in real time to keep the participants of all meetings on track. Therefore, all interested parties are constantly aware of the status, updates and changes in the scheduling for the group of mobile users. A broad range of end-user functions along with powerful computational technology on the server side makes FreeTime an indispensable tool to deal with time management. The result is a real-time schedule that is automatically adapting according to all changes with a minimal of personal involvement. The interaction of the devices in the protocol provided by the system guarantees a minimal amount of data exchange in order to define an efficient schedule appropriate for most participants. A web-based client supplements the supported mobile devices and allows the participants to use their laptop or stationary office/home PCs. This makes the scheduling solution software very flexible, powerful and overall mobile.
From Alexey Rasskazov, the LEDAS Sales and Marketing Director: "FreeTime is a new product in the line of LEDAS end-user solutions. The first applications in the line of these products, jointly developed and distributed with SIB3, were Incident Management System (IMS) http://ims.sib3.ru/ and Tracker: Office Time (TOT).
The idea to develop FreeTime was absolutely evident to us. We already had core scheduling technology in LEDAS Scheduler version 3.0 and a clear understanding of the market requirements: flexibility, mobility, cost-efficiency.
Unlike most scheduling systems, FreeTime allows users to define a timeframe for meetings instead of a fixed start date/time, end date/time and duration. The solution proposed by LEDAS can automatically locate a time for a meeting in all personal schedules. The algorithms incorporated in the software can resolve scheduling conflicts of various types and can even reschedule some meetings already defined. The software calls for manual scheduling only if it cannot determine any schedule that is conflict-free.
In conclusion, we are very optimistic about the commercial efficiency and industrial success of FreeTime."
LEDAS invites any companies interested in FreeTime to take part in the Early Access Program (EAP) and to get additional information from http://freetime.ledas.com. The EAP will continue for two months, during which time each registered EAP participant can test one or several applications (web-based application, Palm OS application for PDA, application for cellular phones compatible with MIDP 2.0 specifications). The test process consists in using a dedicated FreeTime server installed at the LEDAS location to define the desired participants and a resource pool, and then to schedule any number of meetings with these participants and resources. Any problem found during the test period (when it is reported to the FreeTime development team) will be fixed in a reasonable amount of time by the LEDAS specialists. During EAP these specialists will also consult with the participants about any issue they may have that is related to the use of FreeTime for different purposes in different environments. The FreeTime Early Access Program is free for any participant. Other materials are accessible from http://freetime.ledas.com/download.