[LINK] more on interface design

Tom Worthington tom.worthington at tomw.net.au
Mon Jan 25 09:25:31 AEDT 2010

Kim Holburn wrote:
> This article is a puff piece on M$ Surface ... large ugly table with no  
> place for your legs. ...

The ABC was demonstrating one of these tabletop displays at the
"Realising Our Broadband Future" forum last December. Unfortunately I 
could not see the point of it and no one from the ABC seemed to have any 
idea of what it was for. They kept apologising that it was just running 
a web page for selecting video and talked vaguely about other 
applications it could have. What made it even more curious was the 
screen was offering videos which the ABC did not have, such as the BBC 
"Top Gear".

Having a table with a display in the top is not a new idea and
the military have had these for years, as an electronic upgrade of the 
plotting table (the ones you see on the old war films with little model 
boats and planes). But I have not seen them used for anything apart from 
holding up coffee cups.

You soon realise that there is no comfortable way to use a tabletop 
screen. You can't use it sitting down, even if you can fit your legs 
under it. You can stand up around it, but you have to lean over to 
operate it. Only a small number of people can stand around the unit and 
most of them will be reading it sideways or upside down so it can't be 
displaying normal text of photos.

A wall mounted screen makes a lot more sense unless you are re-enacting 
the battle of the Coral Sea and even the professionals I have seen 
planning the next battle of the coral sea use a wall screen now.

Tom Worthington FACS HLM, TomW Communications Pty Ltd. t: 0419496150
PO Box 13, Belconnen ACT 2617, Australia  http://www.tomw.net.au
Adjunct Lecturer, The Australian National University t: 02 61255694
Computer Science http://cs.anu.edu.au/people.php?StaffID=140274

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