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Technology Showcase: Interactive Whiteboards

Sep 1, 2008 12:00 PM, By Jay Ankeney

New whiteboard technologies allow presenters to take charge of the information flow.

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From Hitachi, the StarBoard FX Duo 77 interactive whiteboard allows up to two points of contact and multi-touch gestures so multiple participants can write on the board at the same time or presenters can explore a map by zooming into specific areas by simply spreading their two fingers apart. All electronics on Hitachi's FX Duo 77 are contained in a replaceable component covered under a five-year warranty. This provides an electronics-free surface for more durable use because the board remains fully operational even with minor scratches or dents. The complete interactive StarBoard software, now in version 8.0, is included with every FX Series whiteboard. It includes more than 5,000 learning objects to spice up a presentation. This Hitachi whiteboard can import documents by printing from any application by selecting “StarBoard Document Capture” as a printer.

The eBeam sensor/receiver from Luidia, which is just 6in. across and weighs 4.5oz., fits seamlessly into the corner of any existing whiteboard and can activate up to 8ft. of board space. In fact, it can turn any surface into an interactive writing screen using dry-erase markers by tracking their notations with infrared and ultrasonic sensors. The eBeam Interact Software provides an array of tools based on the most popular and familiar software packages, and Luidia's eBeam live content-sharing Scrapbook software allows whiteboard sessions to be distributed to participants on either Mac or Windows systems anywhere with an Internet connection. Luidia also offers an optional Bluetooth connection feature that eliminates the cord between the computer and the whiteboard surface.

The mimio Interactive device is a portable and low-cost unit that attaches to any whiteboard (up to 4'×8' in size); connects to your PC; and, when used with a projector, allows you to control your desktop applications and documents directly from the board. It can be used with any of the four new models of mimio whiteboards, ranging from 78in. to 111in. The interactive technology is built into the mimio Board frame, housed in a heavy-duty, anodized aluminum housing, making the board less susceptible to impact or abrasion. Each mimio Board ships as a complete system ready for use with a data projector, providing a touch-responsive interactive display and giving users full control of all computer functions, applications, online resources, and documents by using the mimio Mouse interactive stylus. The company also offers the new mimio Pad that allows presenters to control interactive whiteboard content from anywhere in a boardroom or training center using the mimio system.

The WTIW77 interactive whiteboard from NEC uses an interactive touch pen as part of the company's ImagineX series that often comes bundled with its WT610E DLP projector and either Windows or Mac software. Its annotation tools include pen, shapes, highlighter, eraser, redo/undo, and save buttons — allowing users of the WTIW77 interactive whiteboard to create unlimited instructional images on the screen. Its surface is made from a special porcelain-enamel skin developed by Alfher Porcewol to withstand almost any common-usage damage to the surface. Its scrapbook application turns the image on the whiteboard surface into a digital workspace. Multiple tools within the application allow the user to record notes digitally, import screenshots and other files as background images, save scrapbook files, and use layers to hide and show elements of a page. In addition, the NEC WTIW77 PowerPoint palette allows efficient annotation and navigation from slide presentations.

Numonics was the first to introduce a pen-based interactive whiteboard back in 1994. The Numonics Intelliboard (referred to as I-Board), introduced in 2006, uses Numonics' patented electromagnetic technology and features an electronic multimedia pen that generates both left and right mouse functions. As the user writes on the board, the pen sends a signal to a wire grid behind the writing surface of the interactive board, and the resulting digital X and Y coordinates are transmitted to the computer through a serial RS-232 serial cable to the communications port or via a USB adapter to the USB port. Numonics also offers the Digital Presentation Appliance II and the PI-1500, a 15in. LCD tablet monitor that also uses electromagnetic technology. With every I-Board, Numonics includes the Encyclopedia Britannica DVD Suite free, along with online, web-based training and the industry's only limited lifetime warranty.

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