Cambridge Design Partnership develops a ‘digital pin board’, a new open source software platform for displaying corporate social media
Innovative design and technology consultancy Cambridge Design Partnership today announces a new software product ‘Canvas’, a revolutionary digital pin board for office environments. Browser-based and touchscreen-optimised, CDP will shortly release the code to the ‘open source’ community.
Canvas is intended to address the challenge of managing the ever increasing network load of social e-mail in corporate environments. It facilitates the sharing of internet media in a dynamic and engaging way via off-the-shelf touchscreen devices mounted in office social hubs such as coffee areas, canteens and lounges. This ‘social sharing’ of media via Canvas rather than by email reduces inbox and spam filter loads while encouraging social interaction and an interesting and fun office environment.
Worker distraction is a growing problem: With the proliferation of online media workers in the modern office becoming increasingly distracted by emails containing pictures, videos and other website links that are passed around the office. Stats and anecdotes vary, but indications are that it takes workers from around 8* to 20** minutes to get fully back into the flow of work after being distracted by an email.
In reaction many organisations have brought in heavy-handed policies banning YouTube videos and other material. But Cambridge Design Partnership believes it is counter-productive for a business to squash workers’ natural instinct to share and be social. In fact, evidence suggests that happier workers*** and workers who socialise between bouts of work**** are the most productive.
“We wanted to spearhead a new approach to the problem of worker-distraction, something that many of our clients had highlighted to us,” Commented Mike Beadman, Partner, Cambridge Design Partnership, “that didn’t involve putting an ‘embargo on fun’. We think fun and social interaction is a necessary and crucial part of daily office life. Admittedly, distraction is the new modern malaise, but rather than creating repressive company policies, why not recognize and harness the importance of social-gatherings, funny videos and idea-sharing to better effect?
Canvas is a great example of how Cambridge Design Partnership create inspired solutions to the challenges facing today’s businesses.”
In terms of how it works, canvas is a browser-based HTML5 digital pinboard that allows full multi-touch manipulation of videos, images, websites, PDFs, etc. Users send links to a central email address. Videos, animations and websites can then be played or otherwise interacted with directly from the pinboard that is placed in social areas where people have already left their desks and decided to take a break from their work. Elements can be dynamically sized, rotated, moved, or stored away for future reference and its open source nature enables further developments of Canvas that might include tagging, liking, comments, sharing etc.
Being browser-based means that, depending on your company’s policies, a Canvas window can also be opened and manipulated with a mouse from any desktop PC, or via tablet devices. And as the system is designed to avoid ‘mass sharing’ of pictures, or multiple-streams of the same video, Canvas dramatically cuts down on network traffic.
The Canvas system has proven extremely popular in Cambridge Design Partnership’s own offices. Since installation at the end of January 2012 384 elements have been shared by staff, with 32,000 ‘lift and drops’, and 3.4GB of content on the system. The amount of overall office bandwidth saved during that time is 20-30 times that number.
“With Canvas we’re championing the versatile capabilities of HMTL5,” added Ben Crundwell, Electronic Engineer, and head of the Canvas project. “We’ve also created a multi-touch interface inside a browser environment, which is fairly innovative in itself. In general we’ve tried to create a really shiny, fluid, intuitive user experience with strong visual appeal. These days, the ‘Apple effect’ is that people expect that ‘wow’ factor, and some design-delighters; even in open source projects, and at Cambridge Design Partnership we’re very focused on delivering leading user experiences.
In the immediate future we also have plans to commercialise this technology in some interesting directions. Watch this space.”
Canvas is a demonstration of Cambridge Design Partnership’s commitment to creating solutions, design and innovation, as well as its considerable capabilities in user-needs analysis and software design and development. Cambridge Design Partnership is happy to welcome press to its offices to see demos of the technology first-hand.
To learn more about canvas or to register an interest email firstname.lastname@example.org.
* ‘Driven to distraction by technology’, http://news.cnet.com/driven%20to%20distraction%20by%20technology/2100-1022_3-5797028.html) (Ina Fried, 2005)
** ‘Digital Distractions…’, http://harmon.ie/Company/PressReleases/press-release-aug-04-2011, (harmon.ie, 2011)
*** ‘Are Happy Workers more Productive?’, (blog post), http://www.success.bz/articles/2429/are_happy_workers_more_productive, 2008
**** ‘Get a social life’, http://www.nature.com/news/2008/080630/full/news.2008.925.html, (John Whitfield, 2008), based on Waber, International Conference on Network Science, 2008