WorkSPACE Deliverable 16 – WS-UAA-20 page 1
Distributed Work support through
component based SPAtial Computing Environments
Documentation of Appliances & Interaction devices
Report Version: 1.0
Report Preparation Date: 30.01.04
Contract Start Date: 01.01.01 Duration: 3 years
Project Co-ordinator: Preben Holst Mogensen
Partners: University of Aarhus, Lancaster University, Aarhus School of Architecture
Project funded by the European
Community under the “Information Society
Technologies” Programme (1998-2002)
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Appliances and Interaction Devices
Note: Section 0 is also the draft of Deliverable D16 Documentation of Appliances
and Interaction Devices
The interaction devices and appliances explored in the WorkSPACE project, address
spatial computing in the context of work. We have developed and explored a range of
appliances and interaction devices. The scope has been to develop tools for support of
collaboration by mixing digital and physical materials and environments. This has
been done by the use of existing hardware technologies in novel combinations,
controlled and mediated in the software applications we have developed. These
developments, (the SpacePanel, the TagTable and ProjecTable , the SitePack and the
software application Topos), have been tried out in laboratory settings (the I-room)
and in real world work situations
1.1. Work situations
For landscape architects, work takes place on site and in the office. The work is done
by using plans, sketches, diagrams, photographs, scale models, samples of materials,
catalogues, etc. Sharing and organizing this material, is essential in order to
collaborate on projects in the office and on site. By bridging the gap between the
digital and the physical materials, new possibilities and challenges are obtainable in
the work practice of landscape architects.
The appliances and interaction devices in the following have primarily been
developed in order to support collaboration between people in the office, remote
collaboration between people in different locations, and to support organizing and
sharing of materials on site and in the office.
1.2. Tools of the trade
1.2.1. RFID tags
An RFID system in general consists of an
antenna, a transceiver and a transponder. The
transponder is encoded with information similar
to that of a barcode. When a passive transponder
is passed through an electromagnetic field
produced by the antenna, its integrated circuit is
activated and the information that it contains
may be read by the transceiver. In the
WorkSPACE project we have basically been
working with two transceivers; a small tagreader
to be handheld, and a larger reader used for
placing material. The small tagreader has a very
limited reading range, approximately about 2-3
cm, while the larger reader has a reading range at
approximately max 40 cm. Principally the
tagreaders (transceivers) have three modes of function:
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1. When a tag is activated the transceiver reads the ID.
2. When a tag is activated, it is “active “ as long as it can be read by the transceiver –
when it is moved out of range of the transceiver it is “inactive.
3. When a tag is read it functions as a “switch” activating or deactivating an event –
reading the tag again turns the “switch” back to it former state.
Implemented in the TagTable and works as a handheld device primarily
connected to the SpacePanel.
Reading range 0 – 3 cm.
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Large Tagreader: Implemented in the TagTable, reading range 0 – 40 cm.
1.3. How RFID´s are used in WorkSpace
1.3.1. Material tags
A main funtion of use concerning RFID tags, is applying digital information to
physical objects. We have used RFID labels to tag papers, maps and drawings at the
office, and to label
material when on site.
RFID tags used on
material samples can
relate to digital
information like related
documents, pictures of
use etc. Having the tag
lying on the reader
activates the related
information displaying it
in Topos, taking the
tagged material off the
tagreader closes the
related window in Topos.
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1.3.2. Tool tags
We have explored using RFID tags as an interaction device for Topos. By relating
commands to the RFID tag, we can conduct a range of different tasks. E.g. close or
open a workspace, save a configuration or link materials and documents together.
1.4.1. Graphical tags (AR toolkit).
The workspace project has explored the use of videotagging systems like Sony´s
Cybercodes and the ARToolKit developed at HITLab at the University of
Washington. The software applied for the use of videotags enables a videocamera to
calculate the position and orientation relative to the physical tag in real time.
The use of graphical tags has been explored on site and in the office environment. On
site we have linked 3D objects to video tags thereby being able to test the placement
of the 3D representations as a digital overlay on a real time video picture. In the office
environment we explored the use of video tags on maps and documents, and as
means of displaying 3D objects linked to the tag.
Using graphical tags as described in D4-WS-UAA-09 chapter 2.4 for positioning 3D
design proposals in the real world, confronted the project with a variety of difficulties.
Graphical tags used in the environment had to be of a considerable size in order to be
readable for the video camera. Furthermore they would have to be precisely
positioned in the field, secured very firmly and would have to be moved often, due to
constant changes at the construction site.
The use and constraints of the graphical tags infused the development of feature
tracking described below, where it is possible to use existing features of a site instead
of graphical tags.
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1.4.2. Feature tracking
Feature tracking supports aligning a 3D model with the real world using a computer,
video camera and Topos software. Feature tracking requires that a correspondence
between the 3D model and the real world is available. Vertical and horizontal lines on
a 3D model are aligned with the corresponding lines on a frozen video picture of the
real world, after which the model easily is pushed into its correct position. To begin
tracking, the user simply points a video camera in the initial direction. The software
“looks” for the live video picture relating to the frozen alignment picture, until it finds
the corresponding input. The 3D model “jumps” into place when the real world is
recognized, and from this point, the 3D model stays in place, even though the video is
panned around the site. In this way the landscape architects can work directly with
their designs on site, viewing their 3D visualizations on screen in real time.
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1.5. GPS and digital compass
The GPS and digital compass have been used for on site applications, together with
the Topos software. Materials collected on site were RFID tagged and related directly
to their GPS location. Photographs taken on site were saved with the relevant GPS
information and the compass direction in which the pictures were taken. Using the
Topos geospatial working environment would organize the material by placing the
photographs directly on a map representation of the location, thus making it possible
to overview the amount and coverage of the photographs taken, and saving the task of
manually applying the registration data to the photographs.
1.6. In the office
1.6.1. The SpacePanel
The SpacePanel consists of a stainless steel structure holding a sandwich construction
of two glass plates designed for visualizing a rear projected video picture. The
projector is fixed beneath the glass sandwich, and the image is projected via a mirror
on to the rear of the glass panel. Attached
beneath the two front legs of the panel are
two lockable wheels providing mobility.
During the workspace project, different
interaction devices have been exploited, as
described in D3-WS-UAA-03 chapter 6.3.
The current status is that we still use the
MIMIO for interaction with the display (see
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The MIMIO pen based
interaction has proven robust in
the different work situations. The
“lack” of modifiers (control, alt,
shift etc.) has constrained the pen
to be a “one button pointing
device”, and therefore made it
necessary to develop a gesture
based interface, which is the
main interaction method when
working on the SpacePanel, as
described in Sections Error!
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There is also a handheld RFID
Tagreader connected to the
SpacePanel, in order to open
digital information related to
tagged physical material in the
1.6.2. The TagTable and ProjecTable
In cooperation with a Danish office furniture company B8, WorkSPACE has designed
two interactive tables, exploiting the notion of a future workplace for architects. The
TagTable has embedded a large and a small RFID tag reader, and a touch sensitive 17
inch flat screen display. RFID tagged physical material can be placed on the tag
reader, causing the related digital information to be displayed on the screen, where the
user can interact with the Topos interface using gestures on the touch screen. By
placing tool tags on the RFID tag reader, a variety of different commands, tasks and
information can be submitted, as described in Section Error! Reference source not
The Projectable has a whiteboard desk with a Mimio, above this a top mounted video
projector and web cam, and a small RFID tag reader with the same functionality as
with the TagTable.
The ProjecTable facilitates interaction between two people standing on each side of
the table working with a projection of a Topos workspace displayed on the
whiteboard surface. Documents can be “handed over” to the person standing on the
opposite side of the table, by activating the document and doing a simple gesture,
which makes the document turn 180 degrees so it is readable for the other. Topos
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also supports double mouse interaction, so two persons can interact simultaneously
handling a mouse.
The web cam is used for making screen dumps
of material being worked with on the table, and
also acts as a graphical Tagreader using
ARtoolkit software. This means that digital
material related to the graphical tags can be
handled by moving the tag beneath the camera,
resulting in the digital image being displayed
and moved in synchrony with the tag on the
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1.7. On site
1.7.1. The Site Pack
220.127.116.11. The hardware
The SitePack is assembled from hardware components available on the market, and
consists of a tablet PC with a pen input device, 1GHZ processor, 512 MB RAM, and a
16MB graphics card. The external devices are a 640 x 480 pixel web cam integrated
in a bracket mount, and a GPS with digital compass.
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The site visits and the
material gathered on
site fuel inspiration in
the design process,
and serve as reference
material later on in the
project. The SitePack
supports this current
practice. When a
picture is taken using
the SitePack, the
picture is positioned
by the information
retrieved from the
GPS and digital compass on a 2D or
3D map situated in a Topos
workspace, thus saving the architect
a vast amount of registration work at
the office. Using the SitePack, the
architect can also make annotations
referring to specific positions on the
map in the Topos workspace, and
make sketches which are related to
the GPS coordinates where the
sketch was made.
18.104.22.168. Visual impact assessment
A major part of the creative work in an architect’s office, is visualizing and
communicating design ideas. Physical models are often anchored in the office, while
3D models can be printed out from a specific viewpoint, and brought on site as
reference material. On site the architect will position himself in the viewpoint of the
3D print in order to get an impression of how the design fits in the landscape.
Using the SitePack’s feature tracking, described in the previous section, the architects
do not need to print out the 3D drawing to a 2D print. Instead they can ideally move
around on the site while the 3D model is shown on top of the real-time video on the
screen. This feature of the SitePack relates to the need for the architects to be able to
quickly see the results of their design in real life settings and can also be used for
presentations of projects and for projects where the potential for visual impact is a
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When pushing 3D designs into the real world, the current version of the SitePack uses
feature tracking, offering flexibility and mobility on site. There are still some
constraints though. For example, the system is not very robust on a bare field, it is
sensitive to changes in lighting and fast movement, and there are limitations in the
screen technology concerning sunlight.
When using the site pack with a GPS where the GPS readings are inaccurate due to
reflections from the environment, determining the position can be supported by RFID
tags located on station points used by land surveyors. These station points are widely
spread out on construction sites, and could offer an important supplement for
calibration and control of the precision of the GPS.
22.214.171.124. Facility management
A building has to be
sometimes changed after
it is finished. To locate
installations, workers use
plans and drawings to
find cables, conduits and
pipes running behind the
surfaces of the rooms.
To support this
tracking has been
explored indoors with the
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SitePack. Concluding that the relevant 3D information is available, the SitePack can
be aimed at a wall in the room, and by recognizing a known feature on the wall, for
example a significant electrical installation, the related 3D information can be
displayed as an overlay on the video picture. If the worker then follows, for example,
a displayed electrical diagram running along the wall, the feature tracking software
will continue tracking on the surface of the room, keeping the 3D diagram in the
correct position in real time.
1.7.2. The SitePack “simulator”
The SitePack “simulator” is located in the I-room. Basically it consists of the same
technology as the SitePack, meaning a screen, a video(web)camera, a computer and
Topos software. However, in order to exploit and demonstrate feature tracking, a
curved display showing a panorama photograph of the construction site where the
SitePack was tested, is used as a replacement for the real world.
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1.8. The I-room
The I-room was constructed to instantiate an office environment, in order to explore
the interaction with – and between, a variety of appliances and devices developed in
the project, without obtrusive machines and cables. Also, we wanted in the project to
have a physical workspace with a considerable amount of flexibility in order to
explore novel configurations of interaction and appliances.
The current configuration of appliances consists of the SpacePanel, the
“sitepacksimulator” the TagTable and a ProjecTable
1.8.1. I-room description
The I room laboratory has a total inner floor space of 7.2 meter x 4,9 meter,
equivalent to 35,3 m2. The height from floor to ceiling is 225 cm, with a height of 213
cm. under the rafters. The basic construction consists of 3 rafters spanning 7.5 meters
inside the room. At the end in each side there are 4 rooms for technical devices, which
also act as stabilizing columns for the construction.
Each of the four tech. rooms, have an inner dimension of 2440 x 578 mm. Access to
the rooms, is gained by dismounting the suspended wall panels. Each panel consists
of a construction of 12 mm. plywood in the size of 600 x 2220 x 56 mm, covered with
either non-flammable felt or a light panel of plywood.
The floor construction consists of 16 square 18 mm. plywood plates 1200 x 1200 mm,
supported by 3 “tracks” 22x56x1200 mm in order to lift the plywood squares up from
the floor, so wires and cables can by led under the floor when necessary.
The ceiling construction consists of panels 600x2440x56mm. constructed in 12 mm.
plywood and covered with non-flammable felt. The ceiling modules are mounted so
they can be moved freely on light metal tracks on the sides of the rafter construction
in horizontal direction, and can be lifted off and taken down.
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Example of implementation of SmartBoard
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Example of implementation of ceiling projector
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