University explores how to promote interactive information displays

Information technology researchers at the University of Sydney argue that a number of challenges must be overcome before interactive elements to public displays can be used to their full potential.

The findings were revealed as part of surface computing research at the University. Even when displays hold important information or relevant subject matter such as train timetables, arrival and departure flight information, weather updates or news, researchers say it is hard to make it easy for people to realise they can explore them.

Professor Judy Kay believes screens must alert users to their presence and capabilities. 

“Fundamentally they need to help people realise what they offer and how people can make them do the job they were deployed for in the first place,” she said.

The research team considered a number of questions including what interactions are natural and intuitive to end-users; how much content is too much; and how to gauge whether the end-users are actually absorbing the information they are viewing.

Initial results show that visual cues such as skeletal representations are useful in conveying PID interactivity. However, there is a concern that this approach may distract users from absorbing the actual content shown on interactive PIDs, and further research will need to find the right balance between attracting and distracting the users.