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In the Asakawa Lab of Waseda University's Faculty of Science and Engineering, Professor Asakawa and a dozen students are researching new production processes along with new machinery materials based on mechanics and material science. A Panasonic interactive display was recently installed in this lab, and is being used for student discussions and web conferencing with remote locations.
In the past, research presentations and discussions were carried out in the Asakawa Lab by connecting a PC to a projector and showing materials on a whiteboard. However, this proved unsatisfactory for the following reasons:
● Preparation time
Every time the projector was set up, 10 to 15 minutes were required to correct the angle distortion and adjust the focus, which was inefficient.
● Information jotted on the board could not be saved
Although discussions were carried out by writing various views, opinions, and ideas on the PowerPoint slides projected on the whiteboard, the jotted information could not be saved. Moreover, the whiteboard needed to be erased for each new slide.
● A lot of space required; room was dark and hot
In order to prevent shadows on the screen, the space in front of the projector had to be kept clear. As a result, about half the room became dead space. The need to darken the room while the projector was on made it difficult to take notes. The projector also gave off a lot of heat, making the meeting room hot and uncomfortable.
Pre-meeting preparation eliminated for more effective use of time
Thanks to the interactive display, the professor and students now spend less time setting up presentation equipment, giving them more time for research. The meeting room environment has also improved, and it is easier to take notes and read printed materials. Since information jotted on the screen during discussions can be saved, it has become easier to reference and review what was said in past meetings.
Display also used for web conferencing, reducing travel and saving a lot of time and money
The Asakawa Lab also carries out joint research with off-campus institutions. Therefore, the display has also been used for web conferencing, realizing the following advantages.
● People in both locations can make notes on the same material while carrying on a discussion. Since non-verbal communication nuance and drawings are conveyed accurately through high-quality video, it is just as good as a face-to-face meeting.
● Since all the details of the meeting can be saved as a permanent record, it is possible to review the discussion content later on.
● Substantial reduction in travel time and costs
(E.g.) Once every two months, four to five students would travel to a joint research partner in Fukui. Each trip cost about 150,000 yen for transportation and accommodation, and it took about four days including the preparation before and after the trip.
Now this time and expense has been reduced. Collaboration between universities and companies in and outside Japan is expected to become essential in the future. That is why Professor Asakawa called the interactive display "an effective tool for saving time and money."
Clear picture without turning off the lights in the meeting room. Since no projector is required, there is no dead space on the table.
Therefore, in order to solve these problems, Panasonic proposed the use of an interactive display. During a trial installation, the device was well received and a purchase decision was made for the following reasons.
Ready to use right after being turned on
Since there is no need for image distortion correction or focus adjustment, the interactive display can be used immediately.
Jotted information can be saved
Information written by hand on the screen, over top of a PowerPoint slide, can be incorporated into the file and saved.
Significant improvement of the meeting room environment
Since the display saves a lot of space, the room can be used more effectively. The display provides a clear picture even in a brightly lit room, making it easy to take notes.
Substantially less heat is put out by the display, making the meeting room more comfortable.
As a discussion board
The interactive display is connected to a PC and installed in the meeting room of the research lab. The students use it to show PowerPoint presentations summarizing research results, and to hold discussions. With its "plasma optical detection method" for high-speed drawing input, the display can accurately capture handwriting including scribbled notes, enabling free-flowing discussion. Since the diagrams and text jotted onto the screen can be incorporated into the PowerPoint presentation, it enables deeper understanding of the material when it is reviewed later on.
As a web conferencing display
It is also connected to a camera and microphone and used for web conferencing. The display enables information jotted on the screen to be seen by all participants, thereby deepening discussion, creating a natural discussion environment. Since the conference video and audio can also be saved, it is now possible to review the entire content again after the conference is over.
Discussing response to various types of online applications
Recently there has been an increase in the use of the Internet to make applications, such as those to scientific research grant programs. In the past, a meeting had to be held with those involved, and after a consensus was reached, various procedures were carried out. However, with the introduction of the new display, those involved meet in the Asakawa Lab. While viewing the web conferencing screen, they are able to exchange their opinions, thereby speeding up the application process. Moreover, since the submission of academic papers to societies and journals is often done online, they can now be viewed on the large display, while everyone performs final confirmation, before submitting it electronically.
The presenter can write directly on the PowerPoint slide image, enabling the exchange of opinions. Since this enables visual communication of nuance that might be difficult to verbalize, it facilities more accurate expression of opinions.
Web conferencing usage example: An academic paper and presentation materials are shared with someone at a remote location. By jotting various opinions and information on the screen, the conference becomes just like a face-to-face discussion.
With no viewing angle dependence, the plasma display can be seen clearly even from a sharp angle. As a result, even the students seated off to the side of the screen can still view the content and participate in the discussion.
Profile of the Faculty of Science and Engineering, Waseda University
With a tradition going back more than a century —
Japan's first institution of higher learning for science and engineering.
Since the establishment of mechanical and electrical engineering departments in 1908 as Japan's first science and engineering program, Waseda University's science and engineering research has progressed together with the modernization of Japan. Before the 100th anniversary of the founding of the School of Science and Engineering in 2008, it was reorganized as the Faculty of Science and Engineering. It now consists of a research center and three schools / graduate schools (the School of Fundamental Science and Engineering, the School of Creative Science and Engineering, and the School of Advanced Science and Engineering). Since fields related to healthcare, society, and artistic culture are also included in the research areas, the faculty is still carrying out cutting edge education and research even in its second century.