New touch-screen system to rival Bond gadget

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By Rory Reynolds

ADVANCED touch-screen technology from blockbusters like Quantum of Solace and Minority Report could soon be commonplace in boardrooms across Scotland.

New technology developed by Edinburgh Napier University has pioneered a virtual boardroom, where colleagues can throw emails to each other across a huge touch screen table.

The technology echoes the scene in the latest Bond movie, where maps, documents and pictures are quickly passed around, enlarged and viewed in the MI6 HQ.

And it echoes the famous scene in Minority Report, where Tom Cruise uses both hands of a walled sized screen to explore the minute details of a crime.

The Interactive Collaborative Environment was originally developed for big corporate firms, but its creator reckons it could be in schools and homes within five years.Dr Oli Mival, senior research fellow at the university’s Centre for Interaction Design, said: “If you imagine it’s kind of like six giant iPhones, one of which is the table top, and five more around all the walls.

Experience

“You can move information from the tabletop to the walls, as well as around the table in the middle.

“This allows is to have a very collaborate experience, it removes the mouse, keyboard and desktop.

“It’s very exciting because you can do it simultaneously with several people.

“You can review the yearly report or you can even lay out the next day’s spread for the front page of a newspaper.

“I think in the next few years we’ll see this in larger businesses and within five or six years I think we’ll see it in the home.

“The idea of a computer is just a window onto data, so we could see that in any environment, whether it’s a school, office or the home.”

Sports games

The set-up for the room involves a large pool stable sized touch screen, with five smaller screens fitted to the walls.

And once the working day is over they can even play sports games or solve puzzles as a team.

Dr Mival added that even emails could be taken over one day in favour of passing electronic information around a room.

He said: “What makes this so exciting is that multiple people can deal with information at the same time.

“Most people using this technology say it’s really fun, you can get in there, move around the photographs and touch the text.

Interact

“It doesn’t matter where the room is, we can interact with another room in Bulgaria, Berlin, even on the Moon, you can interact simultaneously.

“It’s also a simple document file browser, and with for example two people sitting at the desk you can pass things to each other.

“And you don’t need to email, you can actually pass the data, whether it’s a document or pictures of your holiday, you can literally flick it across to the other person.”

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