Browsing your whiteboard



ReBoard architecture (from a ReBoard image)

Over the last year or so, Scott Carter, Jacob Biehl, and I have built and deployed an interesting system for managing whiteboard content. The system, ReBoard, consists of a camera that takes pictures of a traditional (or electronic, if you wanted) whiteboard when whiteboard content changes. The images captured by the camera are cleaned up by adjusting contrast and correcting for skew, and then saved into a database along with a bunch of metadata that identifies the changed region, the time and place the image was taken, and whether the content was likely created as a collaboration. Once captured, images can be shared with others and can be annotated by adding tags and notes.

The goal of this capture process is to facilitate retrieval based on whatever episodic memory people have of their content. Thus we designed ReBoard to allow retrieval by time (via the calendar and timeline views), or by location on the board via the heatmap view. In addition, results can be filtered by the room in which the images were captured, by whether they were shared or created collaboratively, and by keywords found in the notes.

This work is intended to change the relationship that people have with their whiteboards by encouraging more use of the board, including more erasing, because content can be brought back in a browser window, and printed, shared with others, and reused in other applications. We’ve just published a technical report that describes how the system works, and are also waiting on the results of a CHI 2010 submission that describes a deployment we conducted this summer led by our intern Stacy Branham.

I see this system as an interesting HCIR interface for rather non-traditional content. While its long-term utility will take a while to understand, I can report that my whiteboard writing and erasing habits have changed dramatically over the last few months.

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  1. It strikes me that the issue of surrogation is going to be really interesting here. You mention timelines and heatmap visualizations. Does Gary Marchionini’s work on video surrogates have something to say here? i.e. Given such rich objects, what are effective methods of letting people get the gist of sessions whose episodic memory (I like this term) has now faded?

    Looking forward to the paper.

  2. I only have anecdotal evidence at this point, but what I’ve found is that I can look at a month or two of data superimposed on the heatmap, and pick out specific drawings quite easily. So I think spatial memory is quite powerful, and we have seen evidence that different parts of the board are used differently, because, for example, visitors tend to write on the parts near the door.

  3. Twitter Comment

    @brynn we published our Ubicomp reject on [link to post] good way to get credit for ideas.

    Posted using Chat Catcher

  4. […] them accessible and sharable through the web. A technical description of the system is available here. At CHI 2010, Stacy Branham will present an evaluation of ReBoad that she conducted over the summer […]

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