The Office of "Real Soon Now"
What is it?
My office is an experiment to see what it is like to use projectors as your only computer display. The "Office of the Future" project is building a much more sophisticated environment in which multiple projectors are seamlessly blended to provide a continuous display on most of the office surfaces. My system is not that fancy...
I've got two Sharp E3000U projectors mounted on the ceiling above my head as shown at the right. The projectors each display 1024 by 768 pixels and their combined image is about 3 feet tall and 8 feet wide. The projectors are supported from a single piece of Uni-Strut that is attached to the office walls, and suspended by 3/8" threaded rod from building steel. The position adjustments on the projectors are pretty crude but with about 20 minutes of diddling with it I have been able to get the pair aligned well enough that you can read text across the boundary. The color matching across the boundary makes the seam very noticeable but it doesn't bother me in normal use.
I drive the projectors using an Appian Jeronimo Pro graphics card in my 300MHz Dell PC. This card has two video outputs but appears to the OS to be a single framebuffer. NT thinks my display is 2048 by 768 but the individual outputs of the graphics card are 1024 by 768. This allows me the freedom to place my windows anywhere on the screen, even across the boundary.
The keyboard is supported by an articulated arm that allows adjustment of keyboard height and tilt with independant adjustment of the mouse tray. I'm using a Microsoft Natural Keyboard and a Logitech 3 button mouse. The arm allows me to sit or stand while typing.
The screen is a 4 by 8 foot piece of rigid foam board called GatorFoam. It is tilted approximately 15 degrees from the wall. The tilt is required to make the screen parallel to the LCD screen inside the projectors. Otherwise I would have significant keystone distortion. If I mounted the screen further up the wall I wouldn't need the tilt but then I would need some kind of head support. Perhaps later I'll try a chair with a taller back so that I can lean back while working. The tilt looked funny for the first few days but then I didn't notice it anymore.
So, how is it? GREAT! I can't believe I ever worked any other way. My back and hand problems are greatly reduced from when I used a conventional monitor. My eyes feel much better too. And when I'm working with students we can all see the screen. Besides the MS Keyboard that I normally use, I also have a LogiTech Wireless desktop keyboard and mouse. I can hand these to a visitor so that they can type without having to trade places with me. Both keyboards and mice are simulataneously active using nice adaptors called Y-Mouse and Y-Key-Key.
This page was last updated on: August 17, 1998