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SMART Projects Something New

January 25, 2012 | Hogan Keyser
by Alan Greenberg via the Wainhouse Research Bulletin -- SMART Technologies has introduced its first interactive projector for education, the ultra-short throw LightRaise 40wi model. This is a pen-enabled, ultra-short-throw projector that allows for any surface to be turned into an interactive learning space. The LightRaise 40wi, which connects to a PC via USB or VGA cable, can produce screen sizes up to 100" (254 cm) in a widescreen format. Educators using the projector can access the SMART Exchange website, where they can share or download digital resources. In addition to a wall mount, the projector comes with a rechargeable interactive pen, pen holder, and necessary cables, and includes a 10-watt speaker and mic input as well as SMART Notebook software. This announcement occurred immediately after the announcement of SMART Notebook 11, which is included with all of SMART's whiteboard technologies for the education market. Notebook, a tool for lesson creation and delivery (note well: 6 million licenses reportedly), now includes a new embedded web browser that allows educators to insert a live browser page directly into a SMART Notebook file. Users can then write, draw, and drag and drop content on the page. SMART Notebook 11 also features new gestures, supporting four-touch capability for the SMART Board 800 series interactive whiteboard and the SMART Board 8070i interactive display, and will be available as a free download to license holders or for purchase in spring 2012.

alan_greenberg.jpgWhat Alan Thinks:
The LightRaise 40wi is a bit of a shift in SMART's offering mix, but a logical one. The history of this technology space has evolved from fixed whiteboards with projectors to kits that converted noninteractive whiteboards into interactive whiteboards, and now to solutions designed to create a collaboration environment anytime, anywhere. While the LightRaise 40wi isn't exactly mobile, it certainly brings a versatile and lower-cost approach to installing whiteboards--one we've only begun to see in the past year or two from others. (It can be used with a traditional whiteboard or on any surface.) And it costs significantly less than standard interactive whiteboard / projector bundles. With Polycom's introduction of the UC Board integrated with its group systems, and Luidia and Mimio delivering similar technologies sans short-throw projectors at slightly lower or similar price points, this appears to be a compelling combination designed to stem potential customer defections based on price.

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