Thursday, November 01, 2007

Displaying handheld data on a table

Putting Microsoft's Tabletops to good use ...

"When Dan Olsen, a professor of computer science at Brigham Young University (BYU), was on sabbatical last year at Microsoft Research, he got a bright idea. He realized that even a laptop was too heavy to carry for him, and that a handheld computer was powerful enough to handle the majority of his computing needs. And as Microsoft is introducing ‘tabletops,’ he decided to ’spill’ handheld screen on such a table. Now, he can use these tables to display spreadsheets — and even games — in a way which has not been done before. And it works remarkably well according to the demos.

You can see above the BYU’s ‘Spilling prototype with the hand held laid on the surface of a Diamond Touch table. (below) In this figure the application is a spreadsheet that the user is scrolling by dragging their finger across the surface. The entire application is displayed on the table surface with the interactive focus of the application displayed on the hand held. In terms of usability we compare Spilling to what is possible on a hand held alone as opposed to what might be possible on a desktop computer. The table top context of Spilling greatly enhances the ability of a user to interact with the hand held.” (Credit: BYU)

... The advantages of this system are obvious when you watch the BYU video. “Advantages of the system are quickly seen when Olsen’s student assistants sit down to play an electronic version of the popular board game Risk. The playing surface, a map of the world, spills out across the table, covering roughly the same area as the physical version of the board game. One student reaches out and slides the projected map toward his corner to make a move, then rotates the map 180 degrees and pushes it back across the table to the other player.”

But where Olsen got his idea to use a table to carry handhelds data? Here is the answer from Tad Walch, who wrote “BYU crew ’spills’ data on table” for the Deseret Morning News on October 19, 2007. “Olsen hatched the idea last year when he was on sabbatical at Microsoft Research, where he said a group of computer scientists would sit around “trying to think of cool things to build. “I was working on a laptop and carrying it between home, my office at BYU and Microsoft in Seattle,” he said. Now he calls laptops “boat anchors.” “I didn’t want to carry mine everywhere, and everybody else was doing it, too. We had our handhelds on the table one day and someone asked the question, ‘Why can’t we just spread our screens out on the table?’"    (Continued via ZDNet)    [Usability Resources]

Handheld To Table - Usability, User Interface Design

Handheld To Table

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