Hitachi Solutions Ltd.

A collaborative tool to support creativity in global companies

Hitachi Solutions Ltd. is known globally for their innovation in industrial product design across consumer and business electronics markets. They approached Moving Brands with their plans to create an advanced collaboration tool – a touch-based whiteboard that would aid in the creation, exchange and collection of ideas.

Through integrating a custom user interface with existing backend technologies, the Advanced Collaboration System has been developed to allow businesses to increase meeting efficiency and collaborate both locally and remotely. This System will serve as the centre of every meeting, while allowing input from multiple devices.

Our role was to provide expertise in user behavior and interaction, ensuring the high-tech tool envisioned by Hitachi Solutions Ltd. was designed in a way as to be effortlessly usable. We created detailed user journeys, logic flows, user interaction guidelines and a full user interface, for implementation and build by Hitachi Solutions Ltd.’s Tokyo-based development team.

System

Our initial research covered a range of design and technical topics – from emerging trends in digital collaboration and touch detection, to the nuts and bolts of integrating Microsoft Lync®, Microsoft Exchange®, Microsoft SharePoint® and Starboard. We identified and wrote storyboards for key meeting scenarios, and evaluated differences between how interfaces look on a screen versus projected onto a whiteboard.

We found effective space management to be a key challenge. Although the board itself was large (introducing considerations such as height, reach, and handedness), the projected display was low resolution. The meeting scenarios required multitasking between communication, sketching and file sharing, but the screen could not support a high information density. There was also little best practise in this area, as most interactive whiteboard applications focused on primary education.

Our conceptual design drew on a metaphor of the Shōji, an architectural element which can switch between being a window, a door and room divider at any given time. This offers the user the ability to allocate screen space to focus on one primary task while being able to easily access secondary tasks.

We then developed the information architecture and UX, building detailed flow diagrams and key screen states. We continually used paper, interactive, and video prototypes to test, refine, and communicate ideas. We worked closely with members of the Hitachi Solutions Ltd. team, who were concurrently developing the technical back-end, to ensure that the software would maintain its focus on user experience while being feasible with the underlying communication and file sharing technologies.

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Experience

The Advanced Collaboration System is being used to enable people to connect, collaborate and create virtually. This is critical to unlocking knowledge sharing and productivity, particularly across businesses that operate globally. The final system provides reliable, intuitive support, ensuring users can focus on creation, rather than the effectiveness of the communication tools they rely on.

Alongside the Information Architecture and User Experience, a full, pixel-perfect UI toolkit was created for development, optimised for projection and viewing distance. This included screen backgrounds and interface elements, icons, and an application icon.

We provided guidance on usage of the tool – ensuring that elements such as colours, line weights, fonts, graphics, gradients, and texture were optimized for use in all environments.

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