Information in its place

18/06/2010

The rise of mobile devices and smartphones has led to cries that we are being overloaded with information. But is the answer to reduce the amount of information we have access to or to make sure the information we receive is relevant for the circumstances we are in?

I quite like being able to see that the car park I was planning to use is full, but the next one has 120 spaces left. However, I don't think that road signs should tell me about traffic jams I am already in or that I should slow down due to fog that clearly no longer exists.

Providing relevant information at the point that it can be used (and then forgotten) seems to be more useful than burdensome.

Is this room free?

Is this room free?

With this in mind we recently introduced some meeting room displays allowing people to see whether one of our overbooked meeting rooms is available or is about to be used in a few minutes without having to go back to your desk and check on the online calendar.

We did this with some rather innovative use of devices. Firstly we bought two Jogglers from O2 at £50 each. These fantastic devices contain a 7? touch screen, a wifi connection, a 1.33GHz Intel Atom processor and 512MB of RAM. It comes preloaded with O2’s operating systems allowing you to organise your family calendar, check traffic news and play some games, but more importantly, with the addition of a 4GB USB memory stick, it can run a Linux distribution such as Ubuntu Netbook Edition.

Once Ubuntu is on the device, it was a fairly simple process to write some HTML and Javascript to pull our meeting room calendar from Google Calendars using their API and display the current and next meetings in a big bold font.

The Joggler could be put to far greater use of course, displaying lots of information and allowing people to interact with it. But the simplicity of the interface and the obviousness of its usage are key to its usefulness.

If you have any ideas for how these devices could be used to similar effect, or you'd just like to know more about our meeting room calendars, please share them.

1 responses to “Information in its place”

  1. Mark McNally

    September 27 2010 - 21:11PM

    As a regular visitor to the TP offices I can certainly say this is way to integrate technologies and is a perfectly simple solution that just works. Really interesting to read how you did it. Are you going to sell the solution to others???

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