Nov 282010
 

(Credit: School of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Purdue University)

Researchers have developed a new type of software that enables people to use large visual displays and touch screens interactively over the Internet for business and homeland security applications.

Tabletop touch-operated displays are becoming popular with professionals in various fields, said Niklas Elmqvist, an assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering at Purdue University.

“These displays are like large iPhones, and because they are large they invite collaboration,” he said. “So we created a software framework that allows more than one display to connect and share the same space over the Internet.”

Users are able to pan and zoom using finger-touch commands, said Elmqvist, who named the software Hugin after a raven in Norse mythology that provided the eyes of ears for the god Odin.

“Hugin was designed for touch screens but can be used with any visual display and input device, such as a mouse and keyboard,” he said.

Tabletop displays commercially available are the size of a coffee table. The researchers created a unit about twice that size — 58 inches by 37 inches — for laboratory studies. They tested the software on 12 users in three groups of four on Purdue’s main campus in West Lafayette, Ind., and at the University of Manitoba in Canada. The teams worked together to solve problems on tabletop systems.

Findings were detailed in a research paper presented earlier this month during the ACM International Conference on Interactive Tabletops and Surfaces 2010 in Saarbrücken, Germany.

The collaborative capability would aid professionals such as defense and stock market analysts and authorities managing emergency response to disasters. The program allows users to work together with “time-series charts,” like the stock market index or similar graphics that change over time, said Elmqvist, who is working with doctoral student Waqas Javed and graduate student KyungTae Kim.

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