Back in my teaching days, I was one of three teachers at a middle school to get an interactive whiteboard – or smart board – installed in my classroom.
If you’re unfamiliar with the technology, it’s pretty impressive.
Essentially, it consists of a projector mounted to the ceiling and a blank display attached to the wall. A special magnetic pen is used to draw or write on the board, and to access different features within the interface. The smart board’s main attraction was that it could be used to develop incredibly interactive lessons with the included software.
Admittedly, I didn’t use the board as much as I should have. And when I did, it was mostly to show movies. But when I did implement creative lessons using the technology, there’s no question that it engaged students on an entirely new level.
So the technology’s certainly useful – especially as teachers struggle to maintain student interest and as schools fight uphill battles in order to boost test scores.
But I noticed a few problems with the smart board…
Training: We were out of the classroom for three days in order to learn how to use the technology. And I’m not sure how much we got out of it, as there were almost too many functions available, most of which we didn’t find useful.
Installation: Try prepping for the school year with the installation guy drilling holes and running wires through your walls for a week straight.
Cost: There’s a reason only three classrooms received the technology. It’s pricey. Interactive whiteboards can run upwards of $3,000 or more, plus software and installation. So our district wanted to test the technology’s merit before installing the systems district-wide.
This new technology from Interphase Corporation (Nasdaq: INPH), on the other hand, promises to solve all three issues…
Turn Any Projector into a Portable Smart Board
Interphase’s technology is called “Penveu.” It consists of two parts – a pen and a “veu”– and it allows you to write, draw, or highlight on any projected surface or display.
Here’s how the components work together…
The veu is a box that hooks up to a computer and a VGA display technology (like a computer monitor, TV, or projector). It communicates between the pen, the display and the computer and can store files and presentations.
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The pen itself is an electronic device that sports technology called “embedded computer vision,” which was initially used for satellites and military navigation applications used in smart bombs.
Its 12 accelerometers and three gyroscopes help with accuracy, and you can even write on the display from across the room (something that you can’t do with today’s interactive whiteboards).
And with the click of a button, the pen can switch to functioning as a mouse.
Check out the video below to see it in action.
As you can see, the technology eliminates the problems with interactive whiteboards that I mentioned above.
It’s intuitive, so there’s no real need for training. As the company’s Vice President, Yoram Solomon, says, “If you know how to use a pen and you know how to use a mouse, you will know how to use Penveu.”
There’s zero installation or software involved. Everything can be hooked up to existing display technologies in under a minute.
And each pen costs schools just $499. So while installing interactive white boards in just 50 classrooms would cost upwards of $350,000, according to the company, putting a Penveu in each class would cost just $25,000.
The Penveu has obvious applications in the corporate world, as well, and will be sold to businesses for $699.
The company’s showing off the technology this week at the DEMO Spring 2012 Conference in Santa Clara, California. And it will soon be tested at the second-biggest school district in the United States, the Los Angeles Unified School District. But if the technology delivers, you can bet it won’t be the last district to take notice.