Thursday, 29 October 2009

Alternatives to interactive whiteboards

Was really impressed by Jonny Lee's presentation on TED when I first saw it. He hacked a Wii remote to produce various things including an adaptation of an ordinary whiteboard into an interactive surface for an electronic whiteboard (details from his website).
So when JR produced his own at school and gave me a demo, I was really interested in seeing how it would work (and impressed about how he had put this together - he assures me that it was not a long process). 
This photo shows the remote dangling below the ceiling-mounted projector. It connects blue-toothly to the computer and the infra-red detector detects the special pen - here is a schematic diagram from Jonny Lee's site:

It worked really well. As long as the presenter's body did not shield the remote from receiving the infra-red signal, then it seemed as responsive as a "normal" electronic whiteboard.
JR reckons that it would cost sub $100 including the software. Seems a very good alternative.
I wonder whether its positioning can be improved? Short-throw digital projectors are the vogue so I wonder if the remote could also be placed much "shorter-throw".
We are also going to experiment with the Mimio bar - this also retro-fits on a normal whiteboard. BUT, having seen this adaptation, why is it that the Mimio system and similar others are SO EXPENSIVE? Surely they do not need to be - common manufacturers!

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