Designing an easy-to-use executive conference room system


The Usable Smart Environment project (USE) aims at designing easy-to-use, highly functional
next-generation conference rooms. Our first design prototype focuses on creating a “no wizards”
room for an American executive; that is, a room the executive could walk into and use by himself,
without help from a technologist. A key idea in the USE framework is that customization is one of the best ways to create a smooth user experience. Since the system needs to fit both with the personal leadership style of the executive and the corporation’s meeting culture, we began the design process by exploring the work flow in and around meetings attended by the executive.

Based on our work flow analysis and the scenarios we developed from it, USE developed a flexible, extensible architecture specifically designed to enhance ease of use in smart environment technologies. The architecture allows customization and personalization of smart environments for particular people and groups, types of work, and specific physical spaces. The first USE room was designed for FXPAL’s executive “Ian” and installed in Niji, a small executive conference room at FXPAL.

The room Niji currently contains two large interactive whiteboards for projection of presentation
material, for annotations using a digital whiteboard, or for teleconferencing; a Tandberg teleconferencing system; an RFID authentication plus biometric identification system; printing via network; a PDA-based simple controller, and a tabletop touch-screen console. The console is used for the USE room control interface, which controls and switches between all of the equipment mentioned above.