Interactive Kiosk for College of Engineering

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The goal of this project is to create an interactive, touchscreen kiosk in Janssen Engineering Building (JEB) for the College of Engineering. It will serve as a portal to all of engineering and the primary information center for JEB, with information on services available in the building, upcoming events, and maps to aid students and visitors navigate the building.

Final design of the landing page
Team Name Phoenix
Client Rob Patton
Faculty Advisor Gregory Donohoe
Mentor Bruce Bolden
Duration Fall 2016 - Spring 2017

Problem Definition

Background

Janssen Engineering Building has many teacher & faculty offices, departmental offices, classrooms labs, and more. However, it can be difficult to locate various rooms or even know who to ask for directions. JEB lacks a central location where people can come to get information on what is within the building and how to get around - this project aims to remedy that issue.

Several other buildings on campus currently have a touchscreen information kiosk that serve similar purposes, specifically College of Agricultural and Life Sciences (CALS) and the Menard Law Building. Both of these installations use a complete development and display kit contracted through Four Winds Interactive. We will also be making use of the same company. Using their software will allow us to have fine grained control over the display contents, while still being able to rapidly develop new features.

Deliverables

Our goal is to have a fully operational interactive kiosk with relevant, helpful information by the conclusion of the project. There will be touchscreen monitor mounted to the wall at the west entrance of JEB, powered by a small computer attached to it.

Specifications

Content

  • Staff Directory for the building
  • Locations for Instructor & Staff Offices as well as any departmental offices
  • Hours for certain areas, such as CSAC, ThinkTank, Labs, etc
  • Background information on the building and the College of Engineering
  • Events
  • Thanks to the donors that make this, and the JEB possible.

Features

  • Mapping functionality to visually display routes to various locations within the building
  • Secure and robust design, ensuring it can't be tinkered with

Project Learning

The People

Stakeholders

First and foremost, the primary stakeholder would be our client Rob Patton, the Marketing and Communications Manager for the College of Engineering. Rob is the one that masterminded this project and will be the primary source of direction and content inspiration. This project is the spiritual successor of Touchscreen Kiosk. Two of our previous members, Robin and Feng, were part of the team working on that project in Spring 2016. Although it didn't result in a functional project in the end, they gained a lot of insight into expectations and the system that was in place and have already been a great benefit to the team.

In the larger scope, though, the vast majority of the College of Engineering, especially those in JEB, would have at least some small interest in this project. This interactive kiosk has the potential to benefit everyone who steps foot in the building, so many people would have opinions on what they'd like to see as part of this.

Experts

With there being two instances of similar informational kiosks from Four Winds Interactive on campus, luckily we have an expert not far from us. Brad Neal was responsible for choosing Four Winds Interactive and was in charge of the pilot program that is in the Law building. We have already met with him and he offered us a lot of insight, and will be a great asset as we dive into the development side of the project.

The Product

As mentioned previously, Four Winds Interactive (FWI) will be providing the product that we will use in this project. They offer a full package that includes the software to develop the signs, software to remotely manage the signs, a computer to run the signs on, and a touchscreen capable monitor for use with the computer. In our case, there were no alternatives to consider, as part of the specifications for this project were to use FWI. Not only does FWI offer a good service, but it is in use already on campus and achieving satisfactory results.

In CALS and the Law building, there were kiosks using the FWI technology already. As soon as we knew that we would be using their services for this project, we visited the two kiosks to get an initial feel of what they were going to be like.

FWI Kiosk in CALS
This is a picture of the kiosk in CALS. In the top left is a map which, upon selecting an entry in the directory below it, will route you to that location. The middle column is an embedded web page that points to their home page on the University site. The right most column contains two YouTube videos that will play when you click on them.

Content

  • Building Map for visual directions
  • Directory
  • Home page of college
  • YouTube Vidoes
  • Information Ticker (along bottom)
FWI Kiosk in Law Building
This is a picture of the kiosk in Law. As you can see, it is substantially different than the one in CALS. Rather than having all the information on one screen, this one is designed with several different tabs. It had similarly functioning map, a common feature that is definitely one we are going to pursue as well.

Content

  • Featured content: promotional videos, fliers, student events, College events, etc.
  • Building Map for visual directions
  • Directory
  • Home Page of College
  • Map of Moscow
  • Events page

The Technology

Technology will be relatively simple in this project. FWI provides both the touchscreen where users interact with the display, and the computer that runs powers the display. We may use a University computer rather than one provided by FWI, in which case it would still be a relatively simple set up.

There are three components that work together to make a interactive digital signage using FWI. A computer with the "Content Manager Desktop" software is required (pictured below), a remote database to handle deployment is also needed, and finally another computer that will run the "Content Player" software along with a touch screen capable monitor is needed. The development is done with the Content Manager software and can then be deployed to the remote database, which the Content Player will pull from.

Content Manager in template view

Design

We began with a simple tabular design, initially having "Home", "Map", "Events", and "History" tabs. We went with this simple design to first see how our ideas translated from written specifications to actual interactive content. We focused on information and accessibility in this initial design.

Each page features some similar content, following a specific design to maintain uniformity between pages. On each page, there is "Janssen Engineering Building (JEB)" in the corner, along with the buttons to navigate to the other pages.

The overall design attempts to follow University branding as closely as possible, using selected fonts and appropriate colors whenever possible.

Landing

This page is what is displayed when the kiosk sits idle for a time after it's been used. It reverts to this page, which will show a welcome message along with a video to catch people's attention. Clicking anywhere on the screen will transition to the "Home" page.

Home

This page is intended to be the main, information rich page the user interacts with after the landing page. It has a "Featured Content" section that cycles through both interesting and timely content - for example, a video of Polymorphic Games, an upcoming College of Engineering event, and upcoming general U of I event, etc. It will automatically cycle through these, but the user can also navigate through the different items themselves.

In addition to the "Featured Content", there will be sections display the time and date, the next event on the U Idaho calendar, and the current weather. This information is intended to keep people up to date and be helpful at a glance.

Finally, there is a ticker at the bottom of the page that will cycle through any messages from the College and other interesting things.

Map

This page is especially important, as it contains the directory and maps for the building. This is one of the more important features of this project and as such was given much attention. On the right is a list of all offices currently listed in JEB. On the left is the floor map of JEB with the location of the kiosk (where the user is) highlighted. Besides panning around and zooming in on the map, the user can also tap any entry in the directory, and watch as the map draws out the path to that office.

Events

This page is home to a list of the events of the University of Idaho. Initially, we intended for this to be only for the College of Engineering, but were not able to make that possible. The College of Engineering doesn't maintain a separate stream of events from the main University one that we could access programmatically. We do not want to require someone to input events manually into a spreadsheet for use with this, as that quickly and easily falls out of relevance.

History

This page is a tribute to the rich history of Janssen Engineering Building. It is a place for those that are interested to gain some insight into how the building came to be, who has been a part of the College of Engineering, and even why it has the name Janssen.

The Outcome

We achieved the our basic deliverable specifications. The Kiosk was not installed as the touchscreen didn't arrive in time, but at the conclusion of the project it was fully functional and met the revised requirements of our client.

Specifications Delivered

Content defined by the specifications and delivered:

  • Staff directory of JEB
  • Locations for Instructors & Staff offices and departmental offices
  • Background information about JEB
  • College of Engineering specific Events

There were a few other initial specs that were dropped over the course of the project or to be completed by the following maintainer as agreed with the client - this accounts for the difference between this and the specifications stated earlier.

Images of the Final Product

Landing Page
This is a picture of the landing page for the interactive kiosk. This is the page that displays when the sign is "inactive". After 1 minute of interactivity, it reverts to this page. It plays a video on loop, in the future this is meant to be a message from the Dean. Clicking anywhere on the page takes the user to the main functionality of the sign.
Map
This is a picture of the map page which uses a service called "Wayfinding" to provide visual directions from the sign's location to any location the user chooses. Clicking an entry in the directory on the right will display the navigation to that location.

Below follows several pictures of various pages of the final design of the kiosk.

Document Archive

As the project progresses, external documentation will be linked here as it is generated.

The Team

Picture Bio Duration Discipline
Benzing, Kevin

Kevin Benzing is a senior Computer Science student. He is from San Jose, California and enjoys biking and soccer.

Fall & Spring B.S.C.S
Berhe, Adonay (Doni)

Adonay Berhe is a senior majoring in Computer Engineering. He is originally from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia and is a diehard Man Utd. fan.

Fall & Spring B.S.C.E
Boss, Richard (Rick)

Rick Boss is a senior majoring in Computer Science. He is from Coeur d'Alene, Idaho and does homework for fun because it is life.

Fall & Spring B.S.C.S
Rakowski, Robin

Robin Rakowski is a third year University of Idaho student, majoring in Computer Science and Economics. Robin is from the Tri-Cities, Washington, and enjoys fencing and playing the violin.

Fall B.S.C.S
Guan, Feng

Feng Guan is a senior Computer Science major student. Current studying at the University of Idaho. From Wuhan, China.

Fall B.S.C.S