Technology companies have long been selling interactive whiteboards using a variety of different technologies. Though these products are popular in the education segment, they can be expensive and complicated for small businesses. In addition, employees are using their own devices such as tablets in schools and businesses, where, previously, mobility was unavailable. However, some of the newer interactive whiteboards are out, and the reviews are in:
The new Equil Smartmarker supports collaboration, cloud connectivity and mobile interaction, all on a classic whiteboard or any erasable surface, with a common dry-erase marker. The Smartmarker receiver captures all writing as it is being written, then sends it in almost-real time to the Equil app on a desktop or smartphone via Bluetooth. The base unit can judge what is being written up to 8 feet to the left and to the right, giving users plenty of room to work To start a new document, users can press a button in the middle of the receiver and a clean, new page automatically opens. Options for translating scribbles into type-text, sharing documents to Evernote, Google Drive, and Dropbox, and streaming the whiteboard session to remote users are also supported. This allows for conference calls with whiteboarding for drawing out ideas without requiring users to be logged into a teleconferencing application. Interchangeable colored rings on the Smartmarker change the colors on the screen, and a smart eraser cap wipes work away from both the physical surface and the file in the Equil Note application. This product has storage for about 1,000 whiteboards worth of notes.
Taking a different approach to whiteboards, a company called IdeaPaint sells environmentally compliant, LEED-certified paint that can turn walls into improvised whiteboards. There are two versions of the product, CREATE and PRO. IdeaPaint CREATE is the only dry-erase coating available that can be rolled or sprayed on and can be applied by the client over any color or smooth surface, thus offering seamless integration of dry-erase functionality within existing décors. CREATE works best on chalkboard, plastic aluminum, or wood. IdeaPaint PRO also works on non-porous metal and requires professional installation. Because connectivity is the next step to accessibility, IdeaPaint is now developing an application called Bounce that will allow users to share their work while they’re whiteboarding and let others make notes within the application. The paint starts at $199.50 per 50 square feet of surface, and the Bounce application will be free.
Microsoft Surface Hub is a 55-inch or 84-inch 4K display that serves as both an Internet-connected whiteboard and a full-featured videoconferencing system. This system is expected to start shipping in September 2015 and is a result of Microsoft’s acquisition of Perceptive Pixel, which has been made part of Microsoft’s Devices Group. Microsoft intends to change the modern meeting space. The Surface Hub has speakers, ambient light sensors, and cameras built into the frame, along with a 4K display that has a 120Hz refresh rate—eight times the pixel-fill rate of a standard 60Hz HDTV. There is no air gap between the glass and the display. All of this means that the Hub is extremely fast and responsive both to touch and pens, thus reducing latency. The Hub runs on a modified version of Windows 10 that can be launched into whiteboard mode in Microsoft’s OneNote application when a user removes a stylus from its holder on the side. The Hub also connects to the Internet, thus allowing users to open up a sidebar on the large display, search the Web using Microsoft Bing, and immediately place text or images into the OneNote document. A digital icon, one end of the stylus, or a finger can be used to erase markings. Finally, Skype for Business is integrated into the Hub; contacts are on the left side of the screen. Users can all see each other with the Hub cameras, and the whiteboard content can be shared, although editing is not currently supported.
SMART Technologies sells a digital capture whiteboard called the SMART kapp. While SMART kapp uses a traditional dry-erase pen and eraser, it also offers people the ability to share what’s being drawn or written on the board in real-time via an app or web browser. The board also lets users take virtual snapshots of their work at any time — those watching the screen online or with the app can do the same, too — and save or share the files in a digital format.
VARs can help customers understand the interactive whiteboards of today and future technologies, and can help them make decisions about what is right for them. As this market develops, VARs have tremendous opportunity for profit and ongoing revenue streams in the form of professional services, maintenance, and upgrades.
What other interactive whiteboard topics should be discussed in this blog? Please comment below.