Napier unveils £150K 'future meeting room'

IT looks like equipment from a futuristic world – or a work station not out of place in a James Bond blockbuster.

But technological wizards at Edinburgh Napier University have created a 150,000 "future meeting room" for use in 2010, unveiling the project today.

They have described the room as similar to "six giant iPhones working in tandem", insisting it is the first of its kind in the UK.

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Creator Ollie Mival said: "It's incredibly exciting to see this come alive."

The room – a "wireless world" – comprises screens, interactive tables and printers which are connected to each other and to users' mobile phones, laptops or notebooks.

Many commercial organisations across the city have already responded positively to the concept, which allows eight people to sit around a 108in multi-touch table to work together, sharing information and using images which are displayed concurrently.

Reports, graphics and videos are then "thrown" from one 42in multi-touch screen to another, while digitally augmented walls allow users to write as they would on a traditional flip chart, for their work to appear on one of the screens, as well as being e-mailed to the group.

Dr Mival, a senior research fellow at the university, said: "We are using it as a function room now, with a member of staff present to help with any questions.

"By March, we hope to leave users alone (with] interactive instructions.

"I am pretty sure that there is some sort of multi-base station somewhere, perhaps with the military, but this is the first of its kind in the UK – there is nothing else like this for public use."

The room forms the first phase of the university's four-year Future Living, Future Life project, supporting the development of research into hi-tech solutions for the modern day.

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Creators wanted the concept to work around users' needs, rather than allowing technology to take the lead. Dr Mival said: "What we have come up with allows real collaborative working, encouraging the flow of ideas from all members of a team.

"This frees up the creative process and we anticipate that it will not be long before all sorts of industries realise the advantages a room like this can offer. We see this product becoming commonplace relatively quickly – especially as the technology becomes less cost prohibitive."

The future meeting room is set up in the university's Merchiston campus and is now being tested by students, as well as businesses.

It has been under creation since January 2009.