Small logo of ETH main building ETH Zurich : Computer Science : Pervasive Computing : Distributed Systems : Education : Student Projects : Abstract

The BTDisplay - A Media Space for Informal Encounters (D)

Status: Abgeschlossen

The term Media Spaces originated from R. Stults at Xerox PARC in 1986. He defined it as: "An electronic setting in which groups of people can work together, even when they are not resident in the same place or present at the same time. In a media space, people can create real-time visual and acoustic environments that span physically separate areas." A core driver for media spaces is the belief that work is fundamentally social, and that interpersonal relationships, informal encounters, and social interaction are so much a part of keeping that creativity "buzzing".

This project will explore the use of large public displays and Bluetooth to virtually "connect" informal places in physically separated areas, e.g., a hallway at the ETH Zurich and a lounge in Lancaster University. Using a previously developed Bluetooth scanning software, displays will open a view of a remote place in case a friend's or colleague's Bluetooth signature has been detected there. Using network cameras and microphones, these two places then become connected for the duration of the two people being present. The project has the following goals:

  • to integrate the BT scanning software with a network camera with built-in microphone, allowing one to start and stop the camera if the BT-signature of a user's "buddy" appears.
  • to connect the system to a messenger's "buddy list" in order to define friends and colleagues whose presence should trigger a connection.
  • to explore the practical use of such a system in an everyday work setting, using the project's distributed research group (both at ETH Zurich and Lancaster University) as an example.

Trials and Travel Opportunities

After the system has been built and tested at ETH, a number of installations should be deployed at Lancaster University. Lancaster has recently invested approx 1.2 million CHF in a research infrastructure to support experiments in public display systems. The resulting deployment, called e-Campus, will, when finished, feature nearly 100 displays ranging in size from small "smart doorplates" to large scale multi-projector installations. The photos below (for photo credits please contact show a sample of current e-Campus installations. There will be an opportunity for students working on this project to base themselves at Lancaster during the trials if they wish and to work closely with other members of the e-Campus project team operating within the Computing Department in InfoLab21 (

Student/Bearbeitet von: Danilo Buloncelli
Contact/Ansprechpartner: Marc Langheinrich

ETH ZurichDistributed Systems Group
Last updated May 7 2012 07:19:04 PM MET ml