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Supporting Active Reading Activities With a Multi-Slate System

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Studies of how students and professionals read describe a complex mix of activities that support a variety of navigational, organizational, and cognitive needs. Researchers have pointed out that paper documents tend to be good for this combination of activities by providing physically independent reading and writing surfaces. This talk presents a new reading system consisting of an extensible number of slate devices, which provide an electronic analog to the independent reading and writing surfaces of paper. Our work on the system includes the electronics design for the custom reading devices, the development of new interaction techniques that benefit reading activities, and the creation of the underlying system infrastructure using cloud-based services. We tested the system in extended, in-situ deployments with PhD students in the humanities who successfully used the system for activities that were traditionally performed on paper. Users also leveraged the electronic functionality present in the system, finding the system superior to paper in many respects. Our research demonstrates that the composition of multiple computing devices can be used to provide new capabilities without sacrificing the unique functionality of each device.

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