The Campfire

A novel multi-user, collaborative, immersive computing interface

Human-computer interaction has focused predominantly on ways in which a single user interacts with a single computer, yet we live in a world of real-time one-to-one, one-to-many, and many-to-many relationships. As not only computers, but also the operations and problems that they are tasked with become more complex and interconnected, multi-human, multi-computer real-time interactions need to be integrated into physical and virtual interface design.

The Campfire is a novel multi-user, collaborative, immersive computing interface. Unlike its HCI predecessors, rather than an environment or a window into an application, The Campfire is itself a spatial object that forms a focal point for presentation, data-exploration, and collaboration. It is an immersive interface that achieves its immersion by focusing individual and group attention rather than overwhelming the user.

Physically, The Campfire is a desk-height panoramic screen and floor projection that users gather around and look into. While users engage with the system, they do not lose sight of one another. This is a very important difference between The Campfire and virtually all other computing interfaces. Although it occupies space between users, it does not occlude the view among and the natural discourse between them. There are no artificial or even virtual barriers between users. They can see one another and develop shared focus and attention in ways impossible with other interfaces.

Eric Ameres
Gordon Clement
Immersive Computing

EMPAC 2015–16 presentations, residencies, and commissions are supported by Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and the Jaffe Fund for Experimental Media and Performing Arts.