Rich Digital Collaborations in a Small Rural Community

Alan Dix1,2, Alessio Malizia3, Tommaso Turchi3, Steve Gill4, Gareth Loudon4, Richard Morris4, Alan Chamberlain5 and Andrea Bellucci6

1 Talis, Birmingham, UK
2 School of Computer Science, University of Birmingham, UK
3 Brunel University, Uxbridge, UK
4 Cardiff Metropolitan University, Cardiff, UK
5 University of Nottingham, Nottingham, UK
6 Universidad Carlos III de Madrid, Madrid, Spain

Chapter 20 in: Collaboration Meets Interactive Spaces, C. Anslow et al. (eds.), Springer, 2016

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In this chapter we describe experience in the design and installation of a low-cost multi-touch table in a rural island community.  We will discuss the creation of the table including: pragmatic challenges of installation, and then re-installation as the physical fabric of the multi-purpose building (café, cinema, meeting area and cattle market) altered; technical challenges of using off-the-shelf components to create state-of-the art multi-touch interactions and tactile BYOD (bring your own device) end-user programming; design challenges of creating high-production value bespoke mountings and furniture using digital fabrication in an environment that could include sewing needles, ketchup laden sandwiches and cow manure. The resulting installation has been used in semi-in-the-wild studies of bespoke applications, leading to understandings of the way small communities could use advanced interactions.  More broadly this sits within a context of related studies of information technology in rural developments and a desire to understand how communities can become users of the rich streams of open data now available, and, perhaps more important, offer ways in which small communities can become empowered through the creation and control of their own data.

Keywords: touch-table, rural community, open data, research in the wild


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Fig. 20.1 Open data islands and communities—data flows
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Fig. 20.2 TESIS using depth information to enable touch input a raw depth map; b subtract background and threshold to points within small distance of surface; c transform to connected regions; d recognized touch points
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Fig. 20.3 Phase 1, (left) projector platform being constructed, note mirror cantilevered from the platform, and (right) installation at 5 m apex of Rural Centre roof
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Fig 20.4 Sketch development work
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Fig. 20.5 FabLab Cardiff in the Tiree Rural Centre Cattle Market/Cinema
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Fig 20.6 Finished table model and projection module
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Fig. 20.7 The full-sized table in situ
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Fig. 20.8 Participants gathered around the tabletop display. Sometimes they split into small groups to discuss topics
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Fig. 20.9 Illustrations drawn directly on the projected surface (projection turned off)
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Fig. 20.10 Discussion around the map at the Frasan launch
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Alan Dix 14/10/2016