SAP software runs many of the world’s largest enterprises. SAP’s founder, Hasso Platner, envisioned a “boardroom of the future” that would make executive-level meetings and decision making far more immediate and flexible, bolstered with at-your-fingertips data that is as current as possible. He posited: “What if you could ask any question of your business and get an answer immediately?” SAP reached out to Stimulant, Cisco and Microsoft to help them realize an answer to this question. The result was InSite Studio, unveiled at the SAPPHIRE NOW conference in Orlando.
We created a multi-touch remote collaboration interface that integrated into a Cisco CTS3000 Telepresence Suite, in support of SAP’s own Co-Innovation Team. InSite Studio allows meeting participants to queue up content and literally throw applications, websites, and other documents onto one of three massive shared screens. Content can be easily adjusted with intuitive gestural UI throughout the experience. This enables a seamless mixture of HD teleconferencing and freeform screen sharing between up to twelve concurrent meeting participants.
Every user experience decision supported the streamlining of decision-making between remote collaborators, removing as much “cognitive friction” as possible from the software experience. Stimulant created an intuitive and satisfying gestural UI experience, building in the ability to “flick” or “throw” content to a desired display and to remove it just as easily with a dragging gesture. The software interface also features a curved queue of content, to make scrubbing through content physically comfortable in smooth, sweeping gestures. Applications and content are queued up before the meeting, and can be edited before being shared. Another gesture gives users the shortcut ability to reopen a previously shared application by revealing and navigating a list specific to each display.
InSite Studio showcases two different types of telepresence units. One unit features three HD multi-touch workstations built into the main telepresence suite, each usable by one or two concurrent users while seated. Above these workstations, three large monitors offer HD displays of any applications the users chooses to share, as well as live video from the remote conference location. The second has only one multi-touch workstation and three large monitors, simulating a geographically distant collaborator with less hardware. By having both of these suites available in different locations at SAPPHIRE NOW, SAP was able to demonstrate the interaction of two remote offices and highlight the powerful aspects of the “boardroom of the future.”
Stimulant used a variety of technologies to create the user interface. Windows Presentation Foundation (WPF) was used for the main interface, including some of the just-released touch features in .NET 4 and the Surface Toolkit for Windows Touch. WCF was used to communicate between instances of the application, low-level Win32 calls were used to manage running applications, and raw sockets were used to communicate with SAP’s custom-designed hardware. Stimulant provided an end-to-end set of services on the front end, including interaction design and visual design, hardware prototyping, qualification and integration, and development and quality assurance on the software side.
Engaging with a variety of innovative hardware and getting each piece to effectively communicate with the entire system was a satisfying challenge for Stimulant and SAP. Each multi-touch workstation was powered by a computer running Windows 7. The multi-touch workstations were 32″ Samsung LED displays paired with PQ Labs Multi-Touch G3 multi-touch overlays, surrounded by SAP-designed custom enclosures. The modular setup of the hardware was part of the success of InSite Studio, keeping the experience cost-effective and reproducible.
Creating interaction beyond the computer.
From desktop to device, multi-touch to gestural and portable to permanent, Stimulant crafts magical experiences for computers that don't look like computers.