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Hands-on with Smart's Kapp IQ: This digital whiteboard keeps it super simple

Mark Hachman | Aug. 24, 2015
What's makes a whiteboard smart, you may wonder? That would be two pens, a 4K screen, and the ability for anyone in or outside the room to collaborate.

(Interestingly, Android devices connect far more efficiently than an iPhone, according to Barkley. That’s because the low-power Bluetooth that the iPhone uses doesn’t transmit data at the full rate, leaving your whiteboard experience jittery. Android phones, on the other hand, transmit using a higher-powered Bluetooth connection. An Android phone should thus see a smoother connection, he said.)

Presenters can invite remote users to the shared discussion via a randomly-generated URL that works with any Web browser, which allows remote users to draw on the screen (through their mobile devices) and receive snapshots as well. Kapp IQ saves those snapshots to the session, allowing users not only to have a visual record of what was said, but also to pick up where they left off. (Users can also save the images to a USB stick that can be inserted into a connector on the side.) In the next several months, Smart will add a smart “video” feature that will track additions and subtractions to the whiteboard, skipping over sections where nothing happened.

The Kapp IQ can connect up to 250 users simultaneously; in that scenario, Barkley said there isn’t much latency—but there can be a sort of “drawing war,” where people introduce edits, then others would edit those edits, resulting in a whiteboard projection that is constantly in flux.

Building the whiteboard of the future

Smart previously worked on the Lync Room System with Microsoft, and Barkley said that he was part of the deal that brought Perceptive Pixel to Microsoft. Perceptive Pixel’s technology later evolved into the Surface Hub, which Microsoft has delayed until January. Microsoft is pitching the Surface Hub as a sort of Lexus of collaboration, with integrated Skype windows and the like; the Kapp IQ is more of a Volkswagen Beetle.

In the current iteration, even a 4K screen fills up fast. Barkley said that the company had tried out an “endless canvas” with a radar view, so that users could see who drew what, and where. Surprisingly, children who tested that interface in a classroom setting understood it intuitively, but the adults who tested the new interface didn’t catch on. So, the company dropped it, opting to keep the focus on simplicity.

Barkley’s right. The Kapp IQ is extremely simple to use, enough that users may begin to wonder why they spent several thousand dollars on it. But a focus on keeping it simple isn’t necessarily a bad thing. After all, how many minutes per meeting are wasted just getting everyone connected?

 

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