The Microsoft Windows operating system has powered personal and business computing since the 1980s, and continues to dominate as operating systems move towards touch-based interfaces. UI Centric were engaged on behalf of Microsoft’s Windows team to develop an application which would showcase the multi-touch capability of the Windows 7 operating system, with a product targeted at television news and sports broadcasters. Our solution was to develop an innovative, interactive studio presentation system called Magic Wall.
Utilizing high-end graphics cards and DirectX to process cinematic, real-time special effects, presented via a large, touch-enabled flatscreen, our goal was to create a product which felt like an almost magical piece of future technology – and nothing like the traditional computing experience. Our vision for the interface was as an intuitive performance tool rather than a simple graphic display, enabling the user to present their story as a ‘show’, as if in conversation rather than working to a script. We kept on-screen controls to a minimum, so the user could touch, swipe or zoom on any on-screen element to navigate around their presentation elements at will – functionality that has now become ubiquitous in everyday computing.
We developed fully-featured example presentations on subjects as diverse as soccer and election coverage, featuring eye-popping visuals and custom lighting effects to highlight the capabilities of the Magic Wall to capture and hold an audience’s imagination. At the centre of our design philosophy was detailed user experience research. We spoke to seasoned television presenters to understand how they used existing technologies, and were therefore able to design a system that synergized with existing working practices. In this way, we ensured that the Magic Wall would not only be a groundbreaking presentation tool, but that it would also provide a practical business solution that suited broadcaster’s needs.