Nov 6, 2012

Jeff Han Discusses Windows 8 for Large Displays, Microsoft's New Multi-touch, Ink & Pen Tech; Experience Design for Large Displays (2012 Microsoft Build)

Earlier this year, Microsoft bought Jeff Han's company, founder of Perceptive Pixel.  Jeff Hans now works for the Microsoft Office division of the company, where there is a push to bring new and improved large multi-touch displays to the corporate world. With this off-the-desktop move, developers are challenged to develop applications for Windows 8 that will be geared towards supporting collaboration in corporate settings.

Jeff Han and Nathan Fish were at Microsoft's "Build" conference recently  to give a presentation about the nuts and bolts of the new technology - how it works, and suggestions for design.  Although the video presentation is over an hour long, it is worth setting aside some time to watch! 

New multi-touch, ink, and pen technologies that can revolutionize your apps on any size of screens (10/30/12, Microsoft Build)

Here is the description of the presentation:
"Develop solutions that flow with your customers business - starting with individuals and information workers on their phones, desks or virtual offices, moving into conference rooms, brainstorm areas, boardrooms and common areas.  Learn how Microsoft's new pen and touch capabilities, software and hardware will enable you to develop products that will help businesses be more efficient.  Have a sneak peek on what our large multi-touch displays (82' and 55') can bring to your solutions." -Microsoft Build

Jeff Han emphasized that touch interaction is everywhere and is a fundamental requirement in applications. Windows 8 apps should be designed for all screen sizes, saying "It's all about collaboration of people and a collaboration of devices that gets your work done....this is the real thing, and it is about to happen.  Devices (referring to large displays) are coming... we do have a mechanism for early access hardware."

During the second half of the video (38:00), Nathan Fish discusses guidelines for designing experiences on large displays, including optimization, handling various interactions via pen, touch, and gestures, the use of application bars and context menus, and more.

At the beginning of his presentation, Nathan Fish briefly discusses the uncharted territory of designing for collaborative large displays, and tells the audience that the guidelines are just suggestions, " nothing is written, we are figuring this out as we go."

My fear is that Windows 8 developers might not have the inclination to think past the smaller screens of smartphones and tablets, resulting in touchy-feely variations of PowerPoint and other Office applications that have been around for too long.

Microsoft Welcomes Perceptive Pixel to the Office Division
The Official Microsoft Blog, 7/30/12

What happened to the Surface Table?
I was surprised that Jeff Han's company was not folded into PixelSense, formally known as Surface, the division of Microsoft that focuses on large multi-touch tables. In my opinion, the tables had some potential to support collaborative work in the corporate world.  It will be interesting to see how things unfold!  

Take a look at the video clip below for more information:

Discover the Samsung SUR40 (with PixelSense)
Samsung SUR40 with Microsoft PixelSense
PixelSense Development Partners
Insights on Interactive Tabletops: A Survey of Researchers and Developers (pdf)
Hrvoje Benko, Meredith Ringel Morris, A.J. Bernheim Brush, and Andrew D. Wilson 2009, Microsoft Research

I've been interested in large screen displays and how they interact with smaller devices for a very long time.  In 2007, I was taking graduate courses at UNC-Charlotte and planned to pursue further research and work related to this area.   At the time, I prepared a paper to present at a conference, but was unable to present due a serious health emergency in my family.  The abstract is below:

"Large screen displays support the collaboration of two or more people, especially 
when the nature of the content is visual.  These displays, in the form of walls, windows, 
boards, and touch-tables, will become ubiquitous in the future, and can be found in workplaces, educational institutions, museums, and other public spaces. New display systems have been developed that allow for co-located communication between groups of people, and also allow for collaboration with individuals in remote locations, using mobile computing or communication devices.  This paper will provide an overview of the technologies that support  this new way of communication, discuss the challenges involved in 
establishing "interoperability" within these new systems, and examine the possibilities for 
the future."

If this topic interests you, take a look at one of my Flickr collections:

Ubiquitous Sightings of Urban Screens: Interactive Displays in Public Spaces, Digital Signage, and Screens of All Sizes


"All kinds of displays are cropping up in shopping centers, malls, banks, stores, airports, schools, businesses, and meeting places. What is the purpose of all of these displays?

Displays and mobile devices, everywhere we go.

It doesn't look like we've really figured out how to harness the potential of the technology that surrounds us."

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