"This project takes the term multiuser to an entirely new level and then surpasses it with touchscreen technology that creates a uniquely collaborative, yet personalized experience." —juror Stacey Mulcahy
"Nice visuals and some interesting interface design make this interactive display useful and fun to use." —juror Jay Zasa
Overview: Internally termed the "jewels" of the Sprint Studio, the flagship store in Kansas City, two multi-touch tables allow customers to sample from the array of media on the Sprint network. Since many people are not fully aware of all the features on their mobile phones, the interactive tables introduce them in a fun and engaging way. Table interaction is extremely fluid, as visitors approach the table, glowing orbs, in the style of time-lapse light photography that Sprint uses in its print and TV ads, rise to the surface and float towards them. Visitors browse dynamically by touching orbs that subsequently reveal mobile media offerings.
• Inside the tables are two projectors, two near-infrared cameras, IR LED lights, a computer, fans, Tactable's custom distance sensing hardware (that make the tables "aware" as people approach them) and LEDs in the toe kick at the base.
• An intuitive rotation mechanism makes the media widgets always orient outward so that any text is always facing the person who is touching the widget.
• Sprint's TV and online ads are brought to life with a feature whereby people can touch or drag their fingers on the background to "draw with light."
Comments by Henry Kaufman and Tinsley Galyean:
How does the navigation differ from the norm? "The tables are a content browsing experience, but they do not work like a typical Web site. Our content navigation is completely fluid and exploration based. We deliberately did not add linear navigation features like search or any kind of fixed content hierarchy. Instead, we use a river metaphor, where orbs flow below and bubble up to the surface and approach visitors who are sensed by distance sensors. Only the media type is shown on an orb, along with its distinguishing category color, so only by opening up an orb can one discover its contents.
"Normally the orbs flow across the screen with some flocking behaviors, but when someone opens up a given media type, other orbs of the same type bubble up nearby so that if someone is interested in music, additional music orbs will become touchable. Many of these features are quite subtle, and most people are not even aware of these behaviors but because of them, the tables just seem to work intuitively.
"In order to more fully integrate the tables throughout the store we developed physical disks called 'demo discs.' The tables are able to recognize special patterns printed on the underside of the discs; when placed on a table, they activate dynamic applets that playfully feature the various Sprint offerings (e.g., one activates a virtual DJ turntable that people can 'scratch' with their fingers). They provide an additional non-traditional form of navigation that allows visitors to choose content by choosing a physical object to place on the table. The demo discs are also a vehicle for navigation and interaction because turning the disc offers an additional way to interact with the applets (turning the DJ demo disc speeds up or slows down the music)."
How did your relationship with the client evolve over the course of the project? "We found that this project ran quite smoothly overall. We got a lot of support from the Sprint organization to push the creative envelope in terms of technology, style and interactivity and we think the project benefited as a result. Projects like this one require the integration of many different disciplines and the coordination of many different parties, both inside and outside of Sprint. Without the enthusiasm and focus of everyone involved it would not have been possible to complete this project on such a short timeline. It is really rewarding to complete such an interdisciplinary project and have it so successfully meet the client's needs."