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Posted by Brian Doig 30-09-2015 12:24 pm

News Millenium Micro - Smartboard

Boardroom, conference room or training room, these spaces represent the apex of an organization’s audiovisual investment.  Important decisions are made here, clients are met, contracts negotiated and instruction is delivered.  These activities require the presentation of clear, concise information, and everyone in the room needs to get their voice heard.

These spaces showcase a company’s image, and aesthetics are often as important as the technology itself.  If you enter one of these rooms and see a projector on the table or a screen on the wall, we are left with the impression that this company has not kept up with the times.  Nowadays, no self-respecting collaborative space would be complete without a sleek interactive panel.  An interactive panel resembles a large screen television, with the added advantage of either touching the panel with a finger or stylus or gesturing in front of the panel in order to interact with an application.

When determining which interactive panel is best for your space, we consider several factors.  What size is appropriate for the space?  In most cases a 64” panel would be appropriate for a boardroom, but an 84” panel might be better for a training room.   How will the users interface with the panel?  Traditionally, touch has been the most common method, but with increased demands for precision the stylus has become very popular.  Once the interface type has been determined, we will need to look at how many points of touch will be optimal and how many people will be collaborating at once. Will the panel need a single point of contact or will multi-touch be required?  A single point is adequate in an environment where the panel will be only used for a slide show style of presentation, but a multi-touch panel is very valuable when delivering an interactive presentation which uses a current operating system.   

Another important point to consider are the value added features.  In the past panel companies offered options such as audio, stands, composite, and HDMI video ports.  Now these come standard.  The current features include Bluetooth, Intel’s WiDi for wireless video transfer, ports for imbedding NUC (Next Unit of Computing) microcomputers, options for video conferencing and LRU (Learner Response Units) to allow the audience to give feed back to the presenter.

With all of these new features, complexity becomes the next consideration.  The interactive panel could have all of the bells and whistles, but if it is too difficult to use or not intuitive there may not be a return on the investment.

Taking all of this into consideration, we can determine the technology required.  According to the United States Patent Office, there are over 1200 patents granted for different touch surface technologies.  Currently, Projected Capacitive, Analog Resistive, Dispersive Signal, Surface Capacitive, Infra Red, Surface Acoustic Wave, Optical Touch, Multi-Touch Resistive and Acoustic Pulse Recognition are the technologies used in interactive panels.  Each of these technologies has advantages and disadvantages depending on the application 

The bottom line - The price range of an interactive panel can start around $5,500 and work its way up to $25,000 plus depending on the technology and features that are right for you.

Brian Doig, President, Northern Computer, Terrace Bay, ON