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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Understanding and supporting transitions with large display applications Tang, Anthony


Interactive large displays offer exciting new opportunities for collaboration and work. Yet, their size will fundamentally change how users expect to use and engage with computer applications: a likely reality is that such displays will be used by multiple users for multiple simultaneous tasks. These expectations demand a new approach for application design beyond the conventional desktop application model, where applications are single-user, and intended to support a subset of user tasks. In this research, we develop such a framework based on the premise that large display applications should support transitions—users’ desires to shift between multiple tasks and activities. We build this framework from models of how traditional large surfaces such as whiteboards are used to facilitate multiple tasks—often simultaneously. Based on studies of users’ whiteboard use, we construct a classification scheme of users’ activities with whiteboards, and the role of whiteboards in supporting the transitions between these activities. From a study of meeting room activity, we then develop a classification for collocated activity around traditional surfaces. We further develop models of how users’ needs change during their use of large display applications, exploring two contexts: a digital tabletop application for focused collaboration, and a public large display. These studies reveal how users engage and disengage with one another during collaborative work, and the dynamic needs of bystanders. Next, we design and evaluate a prototype that supports transitions between tasks in a scheduling activity using viewing changes. The results demonstrate that users transition between related tasks during such activities, and that viewing changes can support these transitions. Finally, we describe a design space for supporting transitions in large display applications. Taken together, the findings of this research illustrate the fundamental need to develop a new framework for designing large display applications. This work provides a step in this direction by providing rationale and empirical evidence for supporting transitions in this framework. In so doing, it suggests that we realign designers’ efforts from the predominant desktop-centric model of application development, and instead to a model that engenders smooth transitions between multiple, related activities.

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