Perception, Cognition, Interaction
Imagine a wall of screens displaying high-definition images. Imagine interacting with it through simple gestures… No, this is not a far-fetched scene from "Minority Report", but rather the culmination of a unique human-computer interaction (HCI) project. Opened on 19 June, the interactive visualisation platform that houses this video wall goes well beyond the realms of science-fiction. It gives us an idea of the complexity of research in this field, which is constantly striving to make our software and technology environment simpler.
The first thing that grabs our attention when we discover this project is the immense video wall. We then see that it is possible to interact with it, for example by pointing at an object to move it to another part of the wall, and we start thinking Tom Cruise might show up. But the WILD platform (Wall-sized Interaction with Large Datasets) is not just about the video wall, and its uses far exceed those presented in science-fiction. "What we see in the movies are often no more than gadgets ", explain Emmanuel Pietriga and Michel Beaudouin-Lafon, leaders of the WILD project. What we are looking to do is create an environment in which all media and content can interact, where anyone can act freely on these elements and exchange them with people working alongside them. And that is more complicated altogether." .
We are trying to create an environment in which all media and content can interact.
Emmanuel Pietriga and Michel Beaudouin-Lafon, leaders of the WILD project
That is where the paradox lies in research into human-computer interaction: making software or technological environments that are simple for the user is very difficult!
This platform is a good example. It is the fruit of a collaboration between the teams In-Situ (Situated interaction) (Inria/LRI), Aviz (Visual Analysis) (Inria) and AMI (Architectures and Models for Interaction) (LIMSI/CNRS), who launched the WILD project. This platform is therefore the "base" of their project - while it is an important step, it can only constitute the beginning of research work in this environment. In total, some twenty researchers and engineers are taking part in this scientific adventure, made possible by several financers (Île-de-France Region, Digiteo, CNRS, Inria, Inria-MSR, Université Paris-Sud 11, ANR).
The platform is now being used for scientific research. Many laboratories in the Plateau de Saclay, including the Institut d’Astrophysique Spatiale - IAS (CNRS/Université Paris-Sud 11), have already expressed an interest in using the platform. In astronomy, researchers have to manipulate very large images. Viewing them on a simple computer is quite a challenge when we consider that the video wall, despite its 131 million pixels, can only display 3% of some full-resolution images.
The platform is therefore a tool with several objectives. It aims to advance research in human-computer interaction in general, but also to allow partner laboratories to make progress in their own field of research by using this experimentation facility, which is unmatched anywhere in the world.