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IBM Cambridge Research Center

  Project: Casual Information Display Technologies

Researchers: Steve Rohall, Li-Te Cheng
Contact: casualdisplays@lotus.com

A Collaborative User Experience Project:

While technology has increased the amount of information available at our desktop, access to the same information is severely limited at other times or from places as nearby as a lobby or conference room. This project is investigating the use of "casual" information displays to keep people informed while they are out of their offices.



The LED sign placed in our group’s entrance sparked conversation.


Examples of messages displayed on the LED sign. Longer messages scroll automatically.



Casual displays are displays meant to integrate information into the common areas of our workplace environments rather than personal or desktop workspace. Casual displays include such things as scrolling LED signs and spoken background audio. When placed in common areas, these displays can also serve as a modern "water cooler" by stimulating group communication about their contents.

We have built a prototype server that automatically takes information from a variety of sources such as Lotus Sametime, Notes group calendars, mail-in message databases, and Web sites and displays it on several casual display devices. One such device, a scrolling LED sign shown below, was located in our main entrance. During the course of the summer, the information on the ticker frequently prompted new discussions.

The Casual Display server is implemented in the Java programming language and runs on the Sun Microsystems JRE 1.3. The architecture is designed to be scalable and has been tested with a variety of display devices, including WAP-based cell phones, speech synthesizers using VoxML, and Palm Pilots with infrared beaming capability in addition to programmable LED signs. The underlying requests are represented with XML, and the server uses XSL to convert the requests for the individual displays.

At this time, we are investigating deployments of such displays in customer organizations, both internal and external, to analyze how people use them.




  
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