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[usage-centered] Re: questions about electronic whiteboards

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  • Larry Constantine
    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
    Message 1 of 2 , Dec 2, 1999
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      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
      emailing

      * 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
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