[usage-centered] questions about electronic whiteboards
I'm new to this group, and am finding the recent postings about handling
business requirements to be interesting.
I've got a question on a different topic: electronic whiteboards (can download
what's written on them to PC). Larry mentioned at a class I took recently at
the UIE conference in Cambridge that they are very useful. I'm trying to make a
case for my division to purchase one, and it would be great if I could get
recommendations from people who have worked with them.
In terms of justifying the purchase, I would like to know the major benefits
you've realized. In terms of figuring out what to purchase, is there a
particular brand you've worked with and liked? Are there any features I should
be particularly looking for or avoiding?
Thanks for any info!!
Software Interaction Designer
- Digital whiteboards have been very useful for us in the crunch-mode
environment in which we have been working lately. They save time, save
money, and reduce mistakes.
The advantages include:
* instant capture of free-form thinking, brainstorming, and discussion
without separate note-taking or transcription, which can be time consuming
and can introduce errors
* all meeting notes and design sketches are in digital form for permanent
record keeping, attachment to diagrams or models as annotations, and
* free-form design sketches are immediately available as standard graphical
images for use in prototypes and simulations (e.g., incorporation into
PowerPoint for a meeting right after)
* realistic note-taking and collaboration over a network (most software
integrates with MS NetMeeting)
With the digital whiteboard, you never lose something because someone erases
it before you can copy it down or because it was erased overnight.
We have used both a large Ibid (from MicroTouch
<www.microtouch.com/ibid/default.htm>) and a portable Mimio (from Virtual
Ink <www.mimio.com>). Each has advantages and disadvantages. The Ibid is a
permanent wall installation; the Mimio fits into half a briefcase. The Ibid
runs $3000 or so for the 4X8 (smaller ones are available); the Mimio is $600
and will work with any whiteboard or flipchart. Both use regular dry
markers, but the Mimio's are put in somewhat oversize carriers. The
advantage is that the Mimio recognizes the color of marker in use, while you
have to manually tell the Ibid when you change colors. The Mimio software
alows video-style sequential playback of the progress of a design or
discussion; Ibid software does not. However, Ibid uses vector graphics for
storage, which we find actually enhances readability. (Suddenly my scrawl
looks like printing. Wow!)
Other makers of digital whiteboards (we haven't used them) include:
Softboard (more expensive, smaller) <www.softboard.com/> and SMART
Technologies (also more expensive) <www.smarttech.com/>.
Anyway, tell your management it's a no-brainer. You do not need to save many
hours over a year to recoup the entire cost, and the improvement in record
keeping and traceability is a bonus. Every designer/consultant should get a
mimio (a fraction of the price of a notebook computer) and every design
group shopuld have an