Designing for Design: Interaction Techniques for Large Display Walls
Award year: 2004-2005
Designers need a larger electronic workspace effective for sketching, annotating, and navigating large-scale designs in industrial, mechanical, and interactive systems design. Existing solutions do not enable a designer to sketch details in context of the broader design, do not enable a designer to control the focus view independent of the context, introduce unwanted distortion into the design, or provide poor ergonomics. To provide a more effective larger workspace for early design tasks, the PI has developed a focus+context screens system where a high-resolution tablet was tethered to a lower-resolution large screen. The tablet, i.e., the focus screen, provides a frame of reference into the content on the context screen. A designer can use the tablet for sketching details, can use the larger screen to instantaneously view design context, and can use his non-dominant hand to control the display for a naturalistic interaction. Our existing system, however, suffers from the use of a low-resolution large display, which just provides larger pixels, not more pixels. This severely limits the usefulness of the system and precludes the PI from conducting evaluations of using the display system for realistic design tasks. Thus, this project seeks collaboration with NCSA researchers to extend our system to use NCSA's high-resolution, large display wall and then perform several evaluations of the resulting system. Once ported to the display wall, the PI will further evaluate optimal configurations for controlling the focus+context screens system, evaluate how useful a designer finds the focus+context screens system for early design tasks, and compare the use of the focus+context screens system to a single zooming display on a small screen and a single large display for early design tasks. A goal is to show that the use of the focus+context screens system is more effective than its component parts. Each evaluation will utilize our implementation on NCSA's large display wall. This research builds upon the PI's prior research in informal design tools and on the initial prototype of a focus+context screens system. The outcomes of this research will include (i) novel interaction techniques that enable a designer to effectively sketch, annotate, and navigate large-scale designs on the display wall using a separated small screen, (ii) empirical results showing the efficacy of the interactions, (iii) empirical results showing how much the display wall improves exploration and communication of early design ideas for interactive systems design relative to existing solutions, (iv) a better understanding of how the use of small and large screens can complement each other in the design process, (v) a functional implementation of our techniques that can be evaluated within the context of other domains such as architecture, industrial, and mechanical design, and (vi) a stronger collaboration among the PI, NCSA, and the School of Art and Design.