Surface computers linked via internet allow for new 'mixed-presence' collaboration

Summary:Researchers at Purdue and the University of Manitoba have developed software that enables users to use tabletop-sized touch displays interactively over the Internet.

Researchers at Purdue and the University of Manitoba (in Canada) have developed software that enables users to use tabletop-sized touch displays to analyze complex datasets interactively over the Internet for business and homeland security applications.

The team created a software framework called Hugin that allows for more than one display to connect and share the same space over the Internet. They describe it as a "novel layer-based graphical framework for mixed-presence synchronous collaborative visualization over digital tabletop displays."

The large displays of surface computers like the one Microsoft introduced in 2007 already allow for multi-user collaboration, but until now, they haven't been connected for over the internet for mixed-presence interaction.

In order for it to work effectively, Hugin was designed to support all levels of information access via layered architecture. It assigns users their own "territorial workspaces," where they may keep certain items hidden for privacy and practical purposes. "Everyone only sees the things you send to a public domain on the display,” Elmqvist said. "This is partly for privacy but also because you don’t want to overload everybody with everything you are working on."

The system could aid professionals such as defense and stock market analysts and authorities managing emergency response to disasters.

They named the software "Hugin" after a raven in Norse mythology that provided the eyes of ears for the god Odin, said Niklas Elmqvist, an assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering at Purdue University.

For more information, view the video demo below and a paper that was presented earlier this month during the ACM International Conference on Interactive Tabletops and Surfaces 2010 in Saarbrücken, Germany.


Topics: Enterprise Software, Collaboration, Government, Government : US, Hardware


Christopher Jablonski is a freelance technology writer. Previously, he held research analyst positions in the IT industry and was the manager of marketing editorial at CBS Interactive. He's been contributing to ZDNet since 2003. Christopher received a bachelor's degree in business administration from the University of Illinois at U... Full Bio

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