Terça-feira, 10 de Novembro de 2009

This week's activity is to think about the concept's idea and take it for a spin outside the box. Altough this project will be confined to its own academic purposes, like it's actually supposed to, here are some other fields where the whole idea could be applied to.


The truth is, there's nothing particularly new about a public interactive display. Or a multimedia kiosk, whatever you want to call it. They've been around for many years, under many different forms, serving many kinds of purposes. But that's not a bad thing. It simply proves that the product, whatever its form, lives within its own context of use. In this particular product case, it will live under an academic wing.


What I'll be doing isn't your typical cube-like terminal you can touch and read basic information. So it's very interesting to think about it at a much larger scale, and I also mean this dimension wise.


But that also means that in order to be a successful product, we have to understand why it works. Why, when, and where. Fortunately, there are a huge number of applications for these kind of public interactive displays. So before shouting out loud some cases where these products can be useful (and most of them already are), let me narrow the use possibilities down a bit.


When are they successful?


Wieland Hofelder and Dietmar Hehmann have made this easy for me. These fine people already researched some successful cases of interactive displays in the mid-90's, tracing a few guidelines for any kind of kiosk applications. But this time, I'll take the liberty to adapt them. The following guidelines represent the context that any organization or corporation need to follow when thinking of using such displays.


So, any organization which:


» needs to present information on a wide range of topics;

» needs to provide public access to a specific kind of service;

» wants to sell products by direct ordering;

» wants to provide the opportunity to to fill out an electronic form for any kind of further transactions;


Also, that same organization needs to be able to:


» locate their interactive point at an accessible area;

» design an intuitive and fluid interface;

» create a specific application within its appliable context;


So, in this particular scenario I dare to change the initial question to "In which organizational context can't this be applied to?". It's not difficult to think of a few, mainly because every single one of us has already experienced and tried several types of these applications.




The ATM machine you use everyday (and will eventually pay for it) can be considered a multimedia kiosk. And even on the inside of a Bank building, you have to take a number in order to be seen. That very same machine you take your number on, could perfectly be an interactive ambient display. But it isn't. It would be, if you could have some fluid interaction with it, not a simple mechanical process. Imagine another kind of ambient display inside a Bank, where you could access your personal account information, without having to wait in queue.


A few public interactive displays at the entrance could provide its users information about which doctors were on call, how many, the average waiting time, and a map of the hospital, if they get a little confused. We can take this a bit further: since our project includes user recognition by the system, the interface could recognize the patient and tell them their analysis results, without even needing to talk to their doctor. This obviously raises some privacy issues, but we'll get to that.


This one's easy. There are several really, really large museums around the planet. Some of them can be overwhelming if you don't know where you're going. You could easily interact with a public ambient display not only to get to know the place, but to get some extra information you couldn't get in the first place. 3D interactive maps are easier to follow than the ones in those pamphlets they give you.


You're a college freshman, you have no idea where to eat, or go for your first class. Your universirty card has a chip in it that will allow a public interactive display to recognize you, and present you your "freshman" information. You could instantly know your schedule, the day's menu, who your teachers are, and where those academic social services are. All of these things by simply presenting your card and interacting for 30 seconds with one of the many interactive points spread around the campus.


Videogames in public spaces.
An odd idea, but there already are a few. You're waiting for the bus (yes, on the bus stop) and the next one doesn't arrive for another 15 minutes. You look at the bus stop's side panel and it's challenging you to play a game. It can be pac-man, you're likely to be entertained for those 15 minutes. Videogames everywhere are a personal favorite of mine.


Every kind of shop, small or large. Large shops (let's call them malls) could easily benefit from these interactive points, and in fact some of them already do. The most obvious reason is localization: malls have many small shops and other points of interest. A visitor could simply enter the name of their favorite restaurant and the system could display a trajectory on how to get there. Small shops could display information about their new products, for example. Of course, there isn't much room for personal information here.


The Post Office.
You want to track an order you've sent, or are about to receive. You could simply show your post-office id (which doesn't exist yet, but you heard it first here) and the system could tell you exactly about your order's status. And that you smell nice as well.


Final thoughts


I believe you get the idea. The ideas only stop flowing when you reach the point of compromising personal information; after all, if you could check your e-mail at an interactive display at the mall, you probably would be afraid that someone else saw your emails, or worse, that someone stole your system ID and pretended to be you.


So there's a limit to the next level. Sadly, this simple concept of personalized information is not as common as it could be. Typically these systems only have one level of access, and that means only one level of available information. If this were not the case, maybe there could be an interactive display made precisely for your own daily use.


 If there's information, it needs to be accessed. I can't think of any corporation which doesn't deal with people, their hands-on customers. If a company provides a service, users should be able to get it anywhere if needed to. And even if they don't need it, but its use was somewhat welcome... see what I mean?


1 comment:
De hjb a 11 de Novembro de 2009 às 06:13
Hello ricardo,


might be of some interest to you and marilia :)

Comment post

Ricardo Magalhães, taking a master's degree in Multimedia Communication (08-10)
PontoUA: Interaction and Interface in a Public Interactive System, oriented by Prof. Luis Pedro
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