Page last updated at 21:05 GMT, Wednesday, 20 January 2010

Keyboard and mouse no more in the office of the future


The office of the future

The high-tech world portrayed in the films Quantum of Solace and Minority Report could soon be commonplace in the boardroom.

Scientists at Napier University have unveiled a meeting room, thought to be the first of its kind in the UK.

The space in Edinburgh has a multi-touch table which allows a huge range of information to be displayed.

The walls are digitally augmented, allowing people to use them like flip charts or whiteboards.

The creator of the future room, Dr Oli Mival, said: "I think what's really exciting is we're going to start looking at surfaces being our computers.

"Rather than having the desktop with a keyboard and mouse we're going to have our dining table and we can just open up a Google page to settle an argument over dinner."

Dr Mival said standard desk-top computers are not conducive to group working.

The Future Meeting Room
The developers say everyday surfaces could become computers

"What we have come up with allows real collaborative working, encouraging the flow of ideas from all members of a team, whether sharing views on a report, an image or a video feed."

He added: "You've got this one tabletop here and five screens all around the room.

"What's exciting is you can have people in the room simultaneously interacting with whatever is on the table or on the screens, but these screens can be anywhere.

"It could be the moon, it could be Bulgaria, it could be New York, it doesn't really matter."

At the moment the office costs about £150,000 which is just slightly less than the average house price in Scotland.

But the developers reckon that as technology of this type becomes more popular the price will come down.

They also reckon that in the future touch-screen tables like the one in the office could become commonplace in homes.

The future meeting room prototype will now be tested by students and businesses to allow Dr Mival to study users' responses to the new high-tech environment and to explore the next generation.

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