Spherical Interaction for Public Spaces (SIPS)

Lead Research Organisation: University of Glasgow
Department Name: School of Computing Science

Abstract

Public interactive displays have the potential to significantly enhance the quality of life for people living in future city spaces. However, current public displays and interfaces go unnoticed or completely ignored by the majority of passers-by. This presents a serious problem for the impact and uptake of touch sensitive displays if only a small minority will approach these displays and discover their interactive qualities. Existing approaches to designing and evaluating public displays have not been successful at realising the substantial opportunities that public displays afford. This research addresses this problem by exploiting recent technological developments in curved displays to create socially acceptable and enticing interactions for public spaces.

Curved displays offer exciting opportunities for public interaction that are not possible with flat displays. For example, a cylindrical display mimics the shape and form traditional kiosks for flyers and notices that can be seen in many cities. This kind of display can be placed in a walkway and be viewed from many perspectives. Other non-flat shapes, such as spherical displays, allow multiple users to interact while facing each other and viewing vertical content. Installations where users can see each other and observe others interacting are more encouraging and result in higher rates of interaction than displays where users are unable to observe each other. Another important aspect of a spherical display is that the entire display is never completely visible from one perspective. While areas on the top may be visible to both users vertical areas of the screen are only visible to some. These "private" areas of the display could be exploited to support sharing, ownership, and collaboration on a social display.

Given the new opportunities afforded by curved displays, foundational research is needed to understand how this new technology should be designed for and used in public spaces. There is limited research on interaction for curved surfaces and even less on curved surfaces for public spaces. An important aspect of this research is to develop novel multitouch interaction techniques that exploit the form factor of a curved display for public interaction. This will involve perceptual studies to learn the physical constraints and ergonomics of multitouch gestures on curved surfaces. This research will also explore how novel gestures and physical metaphors can enhance interaction on curved surfaces. This will involve evaluating user perceptions of control and responsiveness on a spherical display, simulating different levels of friction and weight for interactive elements.

Another important aspect of this research involves how curved displays work in real public spaces as compared to flat displays. Little is known about how different interaction styles encourage or discourage continued use of flat or curved public displays. In order to measure these metrics at scale for large numbers of passers-by, new evaluation techniques are needed. This project introduces a novel evaluation technique to capture and analyse pedestrian traffic around public installations. This approach can quantify different metrics of public display usage and enable the collection of large-scale data sets not feasible with traditional observation methods.

Finally, this research also aims to dramatically change the approach to designing public displays by considering context and impact on local spaces. Previous work on public displays has primarily involved flat displays and focused on making displays as noticeable and enticing as possible. This presents the possibility of creating unnecessary or unpleasant distraction and actually making public spaces less enjoyable places to be. This research will not only measure how enticing our displays are but also critically analyse the impact of these displays on the places where they are deployed.

Planned Impact

This research will have benefits for public information services and experiences, reaching out the people living in urban areas, and increasing the competitiveness of novel display companies in the UK.

Public Information Services and Experiences

This research could be used by a variety of service providers, such as city councils, museums, and festivals, to improve the quality and uptake of public facing information displays and interactive experiences. For example, museum exhibits use a variety of displays to share information and capture the curiosity of museum visitors. Our guidelines will advise on best practices for staging and placement of displays for maximum uptake and quality of experience. In order to maximise our impact with these stakeholders, we will host a workshop aimed at these stakeholders to share the guidelines resulting from this research.

Urban Residents as Beneficiaries

The research proposed in the project is aimed at creating more acceptable and usable displays for public spaces. Given that the vast majority of people living in the UK live in cities, the potential societal impact of successful or unsuccessful displays is immense. This project aims to maximise the positive impact on society by changing current thinking about public displays. Our research argues against current approaches that focus on attention grabbing and enticement to consider how displays change public spaces and how they might be a benefit or detriment. Considering carefully the context of a public display brings focus to positive social impacts as opposed to technology driven outcomes. This project aims to lay the foundation for a new research agenda that focuses on the impacts of technology on public spaces to create more pleasant/enjoyable spaces, increase social welfare and community cohesion, and improve the quality of life for people living in urban areas.

Commercial Beneficiaries

The project team will work closely with Pufferfish Ltd to improve the design and user experience of the novel spherical displays that the company produces. Our work packages will delivery immediately applicable techniques for improving interaction on the sphere as well as guidelines for improving the staging and placement of the displays in public spaces. Because we will be gathering data about both flat and curved displays, the resulting guidelines will be beneficial to any commercial display developer aiming to increase the impact and uptake of their displays in public places.

Publications

10 25 50
 
Title AI Awakening Installation 
Description AI Awakening (commissioned by Edinburgh International Science Festival) is an artistic installation in collaboration with artists Dennis Reinmuller and Debbie Passolat. 
Type Of Art Artistic/Creative Exhibition 
Year Produced 2018 
Impact The Edinburgh International Science Festival has a significant audience, expanding the reach and impact of this artistic installation with the sphere. 
 
Description Spherical displays offer new affordances for social interaction and content presentation for public displays. This project explored how spherical displays are used and evaluated in public spaces.

• Comparison of two on-sphere touch interaction techniques, demonstrating a larger usable on-screen area and longer interaction times for Spin+Tilt interaction as compared to Spin Only.
• Technique for quantifying the display attractiveness by analysing the times between interactions.
• Demonstration of unique interaction behaviours given the spherical shape of the display, including crowding behaviour and movement around the display during interaction.
• Demonstration that map-based layouts, the prevailing metaphor for spherical displays, lead to lower interaction times as compared to abstract visual layouts
Exploitation Route The results of this project could be taken forward:

• To inform the design of spherical display content and interaction techniques

• To develop new visualisation techniques for spherical displays

• The evaluating a wide range of public displays, including non-planar displays and flat displays.
Sectors Creative Economy,Digital/Communication/Information Technologies (including Software),Leisure Activities, including Sports, Recreation and Tourism,Culture, Heritage, Museums and Collections

 
Description The EPSRC SIPS Project involved a number of public engagement events which have contributed to creative and cultural impacts. The most notable events were the SICSA Micro-Residency, where our results were used to design a public installation using the sphere. The Sunken Ripples event, supported by the EPSRC Impact Accelerator Account, engaged with a wide audience and led to numerous follow-up enquiries about the installation and spherical display content. The sphere has also been featured in a number of large public engagement events, including with the Celtic Connections music festival in 2013 and 2014, the Edinburgh Festival with the BBC in 2017, and the Edinburgh International Science Festival in 2018.
First Year Of Impact 2015
Sector Creative Economy,Culture, Heritage, Museums and Collections
Impact Types Cultural

 
Description SFC DataLab
Amount £19,999 (GBP)
Organisation Government of Scotland 
Department Scottish Funding Council
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 08/2016 
End 03/2017
 
Description SICSA HCI Theme
Amount £600 (GBP)
Organisation SICSA Scottish Informatics and Computer Science Alliance 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom
Start 11/2015 
End 11/2015
 
Title Enter the Circle: Blending Spherical Displays and Playful Embedded Interaction in Public Spaces 
Description Public displays are used a variety of contexts, from utility driven information displays to playful entertainment displays. Spherical displays offer new opportunities for interaction in public spaces, allowing users to face each other during interaction and explore content from a variety of angles and perspectives. This paper presents a playful installation that places a spherical display at the centre of a playful environment embedded with interactive elements. The installation, called Enter the Circle, involves eight chair-sized boxes filled with interactive lights that can be controlled by touching the spherical display. The boxes are placed in a ring around the display, and passers-by must "enter the circle" to explore and play with the installation. We evaluated this installation in a pedestrianized walkway for three hours over an evening, collecting on-screen logs and video data. This paper presents a novel evaluation of a spherical display in a public space, discusses an experimental design concept that blends displays with embedded interaction, and analyses real world interaction with the installation. 
Type Of Material Database/Collection of data 
Year Produced 2015 
Provided To Others? Yes  
 
Title GlobalFestival: Evaluating real world interaction on a spherical display. 
Description  
Type Of Material Database/Collection of data 
Year Produced 2015 
Provided To Others? Yes  
 
Title Quantitative Observation 
Description Social signal processing is a computational approach that automatically analyses social behaviours from data such as video and audio recordings. Using social signal processing as an evaluation tool has been uniquely developed to gather rich quantitative datasets from interaction with unstewarded interfaces. This quantitative observational technique minimises bias in data collection and generates the most objective observational data currently possible. 
Type Of Material Data analysis technique 
Year Produced 2014 
Provided To Others? Yes  
Impact Interest in using these tools has increased, with the PI providing guidance to other researchers interested in applying this tool. 
URL https://github.com/julierthanjulie/PedestrianTracking
 
Description BBC Scotland 
Organisation British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC)
Department BBC Scotland
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution We developed an application for viewing 360 videos produced by the BBC. The application was showcased at the BBC tent at the Edinburgh Festival.
Collaborator Contribution The BBC provided access to the site and content for the application. They also stewarded the hardware for the duration of the deployment.
Impact This strengthened our relationship with BBC, who are now interested in partnering with us on EPSRC bids using the sphere and immersive technologies.
Start Year 2017
 
Description Centre for Ubiquitous Computing 
Organisation University of Oulu
Department Centre for Ubiquitous Computing
Country Finland 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution We have worked with Professor Kostakos to visualise temporal data on the Puffersphere, working together to develop visualisation and interactions for this new platform.
Collaborator Contribution The partner provided the dataset used for this research, and contributed to the design of the visualisation.
Impact Early results from this research will be presented at the ACM CHI conference in the late breaking work track. Our paper: Mobile Phone Usage Cycles: A Torus Topology for Spherical Visualisation. Julie R Williamson, John Williamson, Vassilis Kostakos, Keith Hamilton, Jeremy Green (Pufferfish LTD). To appear in CHI Extended Abstracts 2016.
Start Year 2015
 
Description Edinburgh Science Festival 
Organisation Edinburgh International Science Festival
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Charity/Non Profit 
PI Contribution We have developed a bespoke installation for Edinburgh Science Festival using the sphere in collaboration with artists Dennis Reinmuller and Debbie Passolat. We have provided the spherical equipment and peripheral devices for this collaboration.
Collaborator Contribution The partners are providing site access and support to install and steward the installation. The Science Festival also has a significant audience, which will improve the impact of this installation.
Impact The installation will be shown at the Edinburgh International Science Festival in 2018.
Start Year 2018
 
Description Spheres for Passive Haptics in VR 
Organisation Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich (LMU Munich)
Country Germany 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution We have completed joint empirical work with researchers at LMU and UCSB to explore spherical displays as haptic objects in virtual environments. This research is on-going and will be submitted for peer review in April.
Collaborator Contribution This new collaboration involves joint studies to explore spherical displays in virtual environments. The project partners have completed empirical work using a spherical display based on the work of the SIPS project, and our joint results compare our own display with the setup based at LMU.
Impact This research is on-going and we are in the process of publishing the results of this work, including software tools resulting from the new spherical display interaction techniques.
Start Year 2018
 
Description Spheres for Passive Haptics in VR 
Organisation University of California, Santa Barbara
Country United States 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution We have completed joint empirical work with researchers at LMU and UCSB to explore spherical displays as haptic objects in virtual environments. This research is on-going and will be submitted for peer review in April.
Collaborator Contribution This new collaboration involves joint studies to explore spherical displays in virtual environments. The project partners have completed empirical work using a spherical display based on the work of the SIPS project, and our joint results compare our own display with the setup based at LMU.
Impact This research is on-going and we are in the process of publishing the results of this work, including software tools resulting from the new spherical display interaction techniques.
Start Year 2018
 
Title PySphere Code Repository 
Description A set of software tools for spherical projection and rendering in python. 
Type Of Technology Software 
Year Produced 2016 
Open Source License? Yes  
Impact No notable impacts to date. The software is a niche product suitable for specific hardware that is not yet in widespread use. 
 
Description ACM CHI Interactivity 2015 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact Interactivity is a hands on demonstration track of the ACM CHI conference.

Spherical displays offer unique affordances for multi-player games and playful interactions in social spaces. The shape of a spherical display allows users to face each other and maintain eye contact during interaction, creating a different social dynamic than at a flat display. There is also no intrinsically defined front or centre of the display, offering different views from different viewing angles. This creates shared and private areas of the display given users' varying perspectives. Trajectory based games have a dramatically different experience when played on a spherical surface. Side-scrolling games are also exciting on a spherical surface, becoming "rotating" games where users' action affect others playing at different points around the screen. This Interactivity exhibit showcases two multi-player games that specifically exploit the affordances of a spherical display in a social setting.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
 
Description BBC Festival 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact The sphere was installed at the BBC tent at the Edinburgh Festival showing 360 videos of BBC content for visitors.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description Edinburgh Science Festival 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact The installation called AI Awakening is one of 3 commissioned installations at the Edinburgh International Science Festival. This is schedule for April 2018.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Mars 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? Yes
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact Demonstrations of Mars's geography and important site of the surface of Mars were shown in an interactive spherical display. Visitors to the TechFest could discuss Mars discoveries and research with Glasgow University researchers.

Increased interest in Mars due to the Martian film gave students increased curiosity about Mars research.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
 
Description SICSA Micro-Residency 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact In November, Julie Williamson (University of Glasgow) and Audrey O'Brien (Visual Artist) ran a workshop two-day workshop to explore ideas and concepts for a digital art installation for public spaces. The goal was to create and design with concepts such as playfulness, performative interactions, surveillance, touch, and lighting. The only requirement placed on workshop participants was to create a working prototype together during the two-day event. At the end of the workshop, the participants exhibited the final prototype in a pop-up exhibition on the University of Glasgow campus.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
URL http://juliericowilliamson.com/blog/guarthack-interactive-installation/
 
Description Sunken Ripples 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact The spherical display was used in an interactive IMAX experience. Visitors to the event could speak with the project team during and after the event. Questions were asked about the technical aspects of the installation, computing science at Glasgow, and how computing works with arts.

There has been interest to show the installation at Science Festivals and other engagement events to attract pupils to study computing science.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
URL http://juliericowilliamson.com/blog/tag/sunken-ripples/
 
Description TEDxGlasgowUniversity Talk 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Undergraduate students
Results and Impact This talk discusses our ongoing work to re-appropriate public spaces through digital interactive art. The Public and Performative Interaction Group recently organised a workshop that brought together artists, designers, and computing scientists for a two-day event. Our Goal: to create a working prototype of an interactive installation in just two days. Over the course of the workshop, we developed a concept, implemented the interface, and deployed this on the University of Glasgow Campus. Our untitled piece brought light, play, and interaction to a relatively derelict and empty space on campus, bringing new life and new ideas to the digital urban landscape.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
URL http://juliericowilliamson.com/blog/tedx-glasgow-university-reimagining-public-spaces/