Active Desk


An electronic drafting table. The surface is a translucent 2 foot x3 foot screen onto which a computer display is rear-projected. The screen is actually a digitizing tablet that can sense the position of a stylus on its surface. Hence, a large surface pen-based work surface is provided. The desk lends itself to stand-alone graphics applications, such as CAD, as well as to collaborative distributed applications, such as Vis-a-Vis.


The image of a Macintosh screen is rear projected on a semi-transparent Scriptel Digitizing table. The Scriptel Digitizer tracks the location of an electronic pennon its surface and reports its location to the Macintosh. Rear projectionist provided by an overhead projector which projects an image of the Macintosh screen from an LCD Projection Panel. The left hand is tracked by an video camera above the desk. Image analysis software running on a Sun Sparc station locates the hand and relays it location to the Macintosh.


The working surface has a much closer fit than existing systems to both how work is traditionally done (therefore building on existing skills), and how work will be done in the future, when large flat-panel displays become widely available. The unit will support existing applications, and therefore has as much value as an "attention grabber, such as at trade shows, as it does as a product. Works with a variety of computers, such as PC, Macintosh, etc.

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The units are bulky and expensive. Also, there is already a commercial product developed independently (but not actively marketed) that may have some protection of some of the design ideas.


A working prototype exists. Work is ongoing at improving the pen driver, and trying to get a better stylus from the manufacturer. The largest hope is for the unit's ability to support new, more "natural" modes of interaction that employ the types of gestures that one typically encounters on drafting tables and white boards. This work is ongoing, and we have a serious lead on these techniques.