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Getting Inspirational: We-inspire sets out to redefine the digital whiteboard

January 13, 2015 | Telepresence Options

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Story and images by Steve Wilson

We-inspire sets out to redefine the digital whiteboard

The problem with creatives is all the different ways they have of being creative. Some work on big screens, some on small screens and others on no screens at all. That's all well and good, until you pack them together in a conference room for a brainstorm session. Getting all their ideas from all their mediums up in one place for all to see, discuss and play around with can be a pain. That's where we-inspire comes in.

The Austrian-based company installs a system that turns an empty wall into an interactive surface that everybody can post their ideas on at the same time. Users join in wirelessly using any technology--even analog. Well, not exactly. The company provides camera-equipped pens that read what people write or doodle on special paper. These pen-pushers then get to plop their ideas on the board alongside work produced on laptop, tablet or phone. It's an intuitive approach to help put the technology in the background and being the meeting to the fore. "A lot of people have a preference for a more analog approach," says Einy Paulsen, who heads the company's United States offices in Los Angeles and Boston. "There's not a learning curve."

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More than just a familiar comfort, we-inspire's pen and paper have some nifty extra features that make them just as useful as any other input device in the room. Each piece of paper comes with a box to check that lets the user share work when ready. It's both a cool trick and a way to get different personalities involved in the meeting. "You can bring in different character traits and find a way for them to communicate," says Paulsen. "Some want to share on screen, but others are more shy and prefer to do it on paper and share towards the end of the meeting. That's why we say we inspire your whole team."

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Launched in 2013, we-inspire has installed its "next-generation collaborative rooms" in 130 locations so far, including BMW, Daimler and Lego. Jon Schwartz, who heads the U.S. sales team, says these clients use their systems for a number of different uses--brainstorming new designs, keeping track of workflow, whatever they need to get done. "The system basically allows your team to collaborate in different environments and gives you all these techniques for doing it," he says. "We make sure you work appropriately."

The system is flexible in its configuration and expandability. Using projectors that shoot any input onto a laminate screen, a we-inspire room can be set up most any place with an empty wall. The system can handle up to four screens placed together and take on additional users beyond the initial seven. The single-screen set-up starts at $17,000 and pushes upwards of $67,000 for four screens. "It's endless what you can do with the system," says Paulsen.

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The company boasts that new users can master the system in under 30 minutes, including its five applications: Write (the pen and paper function), Capture (connects external devices), Brainstorm (makes the we-inspire board a digital sticky note wall), Core (pipes in Windows applications) and Sketch (draw vector-based art directly on the board). Schwartz assures that the system auto-saves every five minutes and exports whatever you put on the board in PDF and other formats.

"Good ideas will never be lost," Schwartz says.

Bio:
Steve Wilson writes regularly for Telepresence Options.







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