Wall-sized displays afford new forms of collaboration – University of Copenhagen

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13 June 2012

Wall-sized displays afford new forms of collaboration

The research project WallViz sets out to use visualization on wall-sized multi-touch displays to improve collaborative decision-making based on massive collections of data.

A wall-sized, high-resolution, vertical display allows multiple users to work on the same data simultaneously. It allows multiple users to provide touch input, offers sufficient resolution to allow close-up work, and lets users shift between closely- and loosely-coupled work. This combination creates new forms of collaboration. 

WallViz

WallViz

The WallViz project is a collaborative project between the researchers at CCC and the Department of Computer Science at Aarhus University as well as three contributing case partners: The Ministry of Health, Microsoft and Autodesk.

With case partners working in healthcare, finance and sustainability, the results of the analyses of data may have direct consequences for businesses and society, for instance by improving the resource efficiency of the healthcare sector, shedding light on resource expenditure in companies, and addressing climate change.

Recent results

Recently, a user study was carried out in CCC’s visualisation lab on the 2.8m x 1.2m display. It shows that users physically navigate to shift easily between different parts of the display and between parallel and joint group work.

Thirty participants, working in pairs, were given a task requiring varied types of collaboration. The main data came from a camera, using a wide-angle lens, mounted in the ceiling. The participants wore coloured baseball caps that enabled a custom programme to track their location.

The study demonstrates how work on wall-sized vertical displays leads to new ways of working together. The participants’ use of physical navigation, as opposed to virtual navigation, can improve performance and shows a clear difference from studies of seated interaction using large high-resolution displays.

The wall-sized display also allowed participants to work in parallel without explicit negotiation for space.  Again, the findings contrast tabletop research which suggests that partitioning the display space and identifying distinct territories are crucial factors in efficient collaboration.

Mikkel R. Jakobsen

Mikkel R. Jakobsen

Postdoc Mikkel Rønne Jakobsen carried out the user study together with the Project Manager, Professor mso Kasper Hornbæk. He tells us that they are still working on the analysis of data from the study, we filmed the participants, and we expect that the analysis of these recordings, e.g. of the visual contact between the participants, can tell us more about the ways in which the large display facilitates new forms of collaboration.

 

Future plans

The only limit is imagination when it comes to the future uses of wall-sized displays. Kasper Hornbæk reveals the plans for WallViz’s immediate future, currently the researchers at CCC are working on new ways of operating the display. By the autumn of 2012, we expect it to be possible to interact with the display by using mid-air gestures. By tracking the hands of the user, the goal is to transfer the functionalities of the touch screen, even writing, to mid-air gestures. 

Kasper Hornbæk

Kasper Hornbæk

According to Kasper Hornbæk, position determination that will allow e.g. texts, graphs or pictures to adapt according to the position of the user is also expected to become reality soon. The on-screen visualisations, Mikkel R. Jakobsen adds, will even adapt in response to whether the tracking of the users shows that they are working together or individually.