elementsdb+ TouchTable

The elementsdb TouchTable is a prototype urban design visualization and engagement tool developed with colleagues in computer science at the University of British Columbia to create an accessible, interactive and transparent means to engage diverse audiences — planners, designers and the public, for example — in the task of generating and testing urban planning and design options. This tool includes two interfaces — a large touch screen user interface set into a standing height table and a display interface projected onto a wall. Software links four independent applications: Google Maps, elementsdb, Google Earth and a custom programmed indicators dashboard.

Up to four users gather around the perimeter of a horizontal touch table interface that displays a map or site plan. At each edge a ‘case’ and tool palette can be displayed. Any user can drag, rotate and scale a palette of cases and associated data from elementsdb onto a 2D map or plan of a study site. 3D spatial results display in a second visualization interface alongside customizable and continuously updated graphic performance indicators (of density or energy density, for example). Visual, spatial and quantitative records of every iteration can be captured for later reference and comparison.

The initial prototype (approximately 18″ x 24″) was developed in 2011 with Kellogg Booth and Jennifer Fernquist. The current prototype (approximately 30″ x 48″), developed in 2012 with Kellogg Booth and Tao Su has been expanded and refined through community based applications such as PICS Revelstoke and Marpole Measured Visualizations for the City of Vancouver.

Related publications
Spacing.ca article by Natalia Zdaniuk (July 22, 2013)
A Collaborative, Multi-touch, Multi-display Urban Futures Tool Michael van der Laan, Ronald Kellett, Cynthia Girling, Maged Senbel, Kellogg Booth, Tao Su. Presented at SIMAUD, Symposium on Simulation for Architecture and Urban Design, Sand Diego, April 2013