During my time at Lancashire Teaching Hospitals I was introduced to a novel idea of presentation timing through use of a traffic light coloured timer developed in PowerPoint. Initially I expanded upon this to build a similar timer that allowed for custom timings. Lumen is further development of these ideas and I have expanded it onto new platforms and created additional customisability to create a simple yet powerful tool for presentation management.
The Original Traffic Light System
In all versions, the basic timer begins by showing the users a green screen meaning they can speak safely for their allotted time period. When an agreed warning time approached (typically 1-2 minutes) the screen will then turn amber informing the user to wrap up. Once the time is up, the screen will turn red signalling the end of the time slot.
Traffic Light System – Max Version
Following user feedback on the original version, I began development of a customisable timer in 2015 using Cycling ’74’s Max 5 environment which I had spent time learning at university. Being a graphically driven environment I felt this was a good starting point for rapid development and also allowed for easy expansion to hardware if needed down the line. I found this new version proved successful to users in initial tests, with the first major request to include a numerical timer on the amber countdown screen to allow presenters to know how much time was left to wrap up. Further user feedback requested for this to be placed more prominently – initially this proved a challenge due to the “absolute” nature of how Max positions elements in it’s “Patch” environment, which presents a problem when using the timer in fullscreen on different sized monitors.
A final major feature I added to this previous version was the use of sound cues between the changes of green to amber and amber to red. This was met with mixed reviews, with smaller classes finding this useful, but larger symposia preferring the use of a human signal (Chairperson, trainer or the technicians) to reinforce the change in colour.
Lumen – Web & Max Versions
Following a change in job role and major advancements in the version of Max, I purchased an upgrade to Max 7 (with a free upgrade to the upcoming 8th version) and began development of a new version. With requests to use the system beyond the lecture spaces the Max version was designed to suit, I also began development of a browser based version of Lumen which would match the Max version with the exception of hardware interactivity. For this version I wanted to address the issue of the system relying on 2 windows (a controls window and a traffic light window) to be usable which became a problem when using a single monitor or 2 displays set up to mirror one another. Another popular request was the ability to add in other states and colours beyond the core 3.