Essex Business Machines

Interactive Whiteboards: What Are They?

An interactive whiteboard is a big interactive display which needs to hook up to both a projector and a computer to work. The projector projects the contents of the computer screen onto a board (the display’s surface) and the user can register mouse clicks on the screen by simply touching the board with a finger or pointer.

Interactive whiteboards are used in a variety of settings. They are popular as a learning aid in the classroom, a presentation tool in the boardroom and a collaborative tool in workgroups, sports coaching and broadcasting studios.

Interactive Whiteboards for Essex Schools

Interactive whiteboards in schools are the tool of tomorrow’s classroom, if the figures are to be believed: by 2007, they were in 98% of secondary and 100% of primary schools (source: BCHT Schools Survey 2007), and according to analysts Futuresource Consulting, it is estimated that by 2011 one in every seven classrooms in the world will be using them.

Interactive whiteboards can be used to operate any software on the PC which is connected to it – including internet surfing – just as if one were using a regular mouse or touchpad. Not only this, but some whiteboards can be configured to recognise handwriting, allowing the user to almost literally write on the screen.

Interactive Whiteboards, Essex Business Machines

An interactive whiteboard is a great tool for both schools and workplaces

How Interactive Whiteboards Work

The display (the interactive whiteboard or “IWB” itself) is connected to the computer through a normal connector like a USB cable or a wireless dongle. A driver will normally come with the device, which causes the computer to treat the IWB as an input device – the same as a mouse, touchpad or tablet.

Once the driver is in place, the interactive whiteboard becomes active and the user can calibrate the system – i.e. fine-tune the display so that the pointer is perfectly synched with the user’s touch.

Users who need to add text can either call up an onscreen keyboard, or possibly use a handwriting recognition program of the type mentioned earlier.

As well as being able to use the computer as one normally would, most interactive whiteboards also come with special software which allows the user to maximise their experience; for example, apps which emulate flipcharts, rulers and other stationary and teaching tools.

The ways in which the actual touch detection on the interactive whiteboard works will vary from display to display. Some have a membrane which can detect the touch of skin, some work with electromagnets or by using ultrasound – one model has even been adapted to work using a Nintendo Wii-mote!

Essex Business Machines are able to supply interactive whiteboards to companies in and around Essex. Call us on 01376 512575 for more details.

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