Bigger and more: the touchy feely screen

Sunday 12th February 2012
nfoLab21's touchscreen The HERMES II interactive office display is an example of how users engage with technology within InfoLab21. This display is one of 40 display screens throughout the building giving information on the office residents and allowing notes and messages and other electronic material to be recorded. HERMES II has been tested and developed at Lancaster.

University professors at least a decade ago in Scotland could have up to two screens or desk/laptop computers on their desks. "One for my research and the other for the admin stuff," said the Glasgow professor. But it appears as data overwhelms us, more users are moving into special touch screening and multi-screening, while the touch table, originally developed as a wall board, offers some interesting new angles on the multi-view approach.

Engaging young views  Lancaster University InfoLab21, in collaboration with the University of Oulu, Finland installed a specially-designed interactive display in Queen Elizabeth School, Kirkby, Lonsdale in Cumbria school library, whe the screen enables young people to upload photos of themselves and express their views about their town, in an intuitive, user-friendly way.

Around 200 responses have been gathered ranging from pleas for more access to fishing on the Lune to teen-friendly cafes and more affordable leisure activities. The results will be fed back to the town council as part of a broader community consultation.

Professor Awais Rashid of Lancaster University leads the project and notes “Over the last ten years networking sites such as Facebook and MySpace, Twitter and Flicker have changed the shape of our social world. Yet there is still a lack of understanding of how to effectively leverage social media to engage citizens on an ultra-large-scale, especially when it comes to addressing sensitive issues.

“Young people familiar with the instant flow of information and ideas are less likely to fill in a questionnaire or survey. We wanted to design something that felt comfortable for young people to use so their voices could be heard. This project goes beyond crowd sourcing. It looks at how we can leverage the potential of online social media to bring communities closer and help them work together in dealing with key local issues that affect them.”

The work in Kirkby Lonsdale was part of an 18-month, EPSRC-funded project called ‘YouDesignIt’
re-visiting the web to find fresh ways of enabling communities to report and solve problems. The project,brings together computing experts, sociologists and psychologists, and will ultimately produce blueprints for next-generation online social networking mechanisms with community responsibility and empowerment at their core.

Battling floods e-mails, instant messages, juggling documents, Web sites and online calendars requires express mouse speeds toggling between the overlapping windows of the single monitor.  

Financial traders were early into the game having to handle some six screens, headlines, charts, graphs and stock tickers that help predict patterns in the market, but it appears that the new business tactic reports the New York Times is to add two or even three screens and responsible for the new mission control look emerging in companies and home offices. 

Screen bragging rights
For multiscreen multitaskers, a single monitor can seem as outdated as dial-up Internet. “You go back to one, and you feel slow,” said Jackie Cohen, 42, who uses three 17-inch monitors in her home office in San Francisco, where she edits a blog about Facebook. She writes or edits along with e-mail and instant messages on a central screen. Left and right monitors display news sites, blogs and Twitter feeds, and she keeps 3 to 10 tabs open on each. When one monitor recently broke, she felt hamstrung.

Tech firms are reported to have sold 179m monitors worldwide last year, but only 130m desktop computers, “more screens per desk,” according to IHS iSuppli monitor and tablet researcher Rhoda Alexander, who notes screen size average world wide is 21", up from 18 inches five years ago.

More and bigger screens can convey bragging rights, too with ompanies pitching their real estate to coveted job candidates for  engineers do care about 30" plus screens.

Rationale for the multimonitor setup is increased productivity. University of Utah, (financed with about $50,000 by NEC Display) found productivity among people working on editing tasks was higher with two monitors than with one.

More monitors cut down on toggling time between windows on a single screen, and can save about 10 seconds for every five minutes of work. But research finds multitasking can take a serious toll on productivity when people keep interrupting their thoughts by scanning multiple screens, rather than focusing on one task.

Training developers - full on table approach

The SUR40 Surface 2.0 – manufactured by Samsung, with a Full HD 1080p 40-inch display covered with toughened Gorilla Glass is priced at $7,600

A group researchers from Robert Gordon University in Scotland laid their hands on the slick and very cool second-generation Microsoft Surface computing system reports  Slashgear.  

The system in question uses the Samsung SUR40 display. The unboxing of the Samsung display unit and its assembly and after all the screws are turned, they start the system up and fiddle about with a bit.

Apparently, the Microsoft Surface device will be used to train developers at the college. This machine runs Windows 7 Pro and it appears to operate pretty much like a normal computer. Once assembled and booted, the people in the video playing with the device a bit and we see them using Bing for searches, touching the screen all around, and checking out maps. It appears that the graphics are crystal clear and   smooth even when things are being twisted, turned, and shoved around on the desktop.  Video

If you add the autonymous car to the developing equation, with its video watching windows (left), and when the home/business property market empresarios start to wake up to offer large scale, internet viewing two way glass (right) screens or windows,  at the flick of the power switch, we may all need a second set of eyes as well.

Gail Purvis

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