Smartest AG Room in the world??? Was: [AG-TECH] Electronic Whiteboards (fwd)

Brian Corrie bcorrie at
Sun Dec 5 23:06:13 CST 2004

Hi Rick,

We have not yet done alot with integrating the touch screen supported 
software into the AG yet. Our plans include experimenting with Bridgit, 
which is the Smart Technologies collaborative software, but we haven't 
gotten to it yet. We have one piece of collaboration software that 
already makes use of Bridgit and we are going to look at integrating it 
as a tool in AG. Depending on student resources we hope to get to this 
in the new year.

In our "Smart" AG room we currently use a combination of VNC, computer 
video scan conversion, and camera based video feeds of the screens to 
share the SmartBoard environments. Each of these approaches have their 
uses... We haven't yet done a lot of rigorous testing of this from an 
HCI perspective, but this is planned over the next year...



Rick Stevens wrote:

> did anything ever come of this ?
> ---------- Forwarded message ----------
> Date: Tue, 06 Apr 2004 19:23:28 -0700
> From: Brian Corrie <bcorrie at>
> To: Markus Buchhorn <Markus.Buchhorn at>
> Cc: Gurcharan S. Khanna <Gurcharan.S.Khanna at Dartmouth.EDU>,
>     Robert Callaway <rob at>, AG_TECH 
> <ag-tech at>
> Subject: Smartest AG Room in the world??? Was: [AG-TECH] Electronic
>    Whiteboards
> Hello all,
> We have a set of Smart Technologies smartboards in our AG node here at 
> Simon Fraser University. Yes they are expensive, but they also provide a 
> significantly different capability to that provided by the mimio. Both 
> are interesting devices to use.
> We have started to explore how to integrate these into the AG 
> environment but have not gotten very far as of yet (really just starting 
> to look at this). An obvious way is to just use a normal shared 
> whiteboard app like wb and use the smartboard (or mimio) pens to 
> interface with the app. This is somewhat clumsy as the smartboard pens 
> have associated colors and set colors in different ways than the 
> applications (the applications do not know about the color of the pens). 
> The mimio will be the same here as it has pen colors... A second way is 
> to use a native app (mimio or smart) that knows about the pens and their 
> colors and use something like VNC to share the application to all sites. 
> Finally, a native collaborative app that knows about the device and 
> knows about collaboration would solve the problem. Not sure if such a 
> thing exists for the mimio but Smart has an app called Bridgit 
> ( that does this. Note that it only requires the Smart 
> technologies on one end (actually, I don't think it requires smart 
> technologies at all) so it can be used fairly naturally to display and 
> interact remotely even if you only have a "dumb" AG room. 8-)
> Of course the next step is to integrate these types of tools and devices 
> into the AG as services or shared apps in some form... This is where we 
> would like to go in the future.
> The benefit of something like Bridgit is that it allows remote users to 
> interact with the drawing as well (not sure how it does turn-taking). 
> Thus you could conceivably have a "Bridgit Service" that lived in a 
> venue and one could use their tablet PC as a node with only that service 
> running. Thus they would see and be able to interact with the 
> application regardless of whether they were remote or not...
> I have attached an image of the "smartest AG room in the world" if you 
> are interested. The two left screens are plasmas with smart board 
> overlays, the screen in the corner is a rear projected LCD smartboard, 
> and the screen in the table is a plasma with a smart overlay (not used 
> in this image). This room was originally modeled on the Stanford IRoom, 
> with the AG collaboration capability added in to make it more 
> "interesting". It may be the smartest AG room in the world, but 
> sometimes it seems like you need to be a rocket scientist to make it all 
> work 8-)
> Markus, I would be interested in sharing some experiences here...
> Cheers,
> Brian
> Markus Buchhorn wrote:
>> At 00:40 31/03/2004 -0500, Gurcharan S. Khanna wrote:
>>> i'm wondering how would this integration look? would the mimios (i 
>>> presume you mean the large wall mounted ones) 
>> The ones that you stick onto normal whiteboard surfaces (or similar), 
>> yes. The e-beams are about the size of your hand in an L-shape, the 
>> mimios more like a fat ruler. For those that haven't tried them, bear 
>> in mind, these are real-time pen-tracking whiteboards, not 
>> "printing-whiteboards" that output an image when you are finished.
>>> be an input device to be rendered on the computer screen via wdb or 
>>> the equivalent? 
>> Fundamentally yes, but there are various issues. These are good 
>> points. It will vary a lot by application.
>> The default scenario is a whiteboard in a theatre that may or may not 
>> be visible to the local audience. But the digital output of the 
>> whiteboard goes up (in real-time) on the local display, and any remote 
>> displays in the same AG venue (say) - so every site gets the same 
>> view. In the case of most local audiences, this is better than they 
>> get with a pure hardware whiteboard - more than 5 rows back it gets 
>> small to see, so a large projected version will help.
>> In one theatre here we have no room at the front for a whiteboard, so 
>> it's now going on the side wall - hard to see for around half the 
>> audience, so up on screen will fix that. Turns out we'd solved a 
>> problem before we knew we had it :-). Downside is that you need to 
>> have a projector on when using the whiteboard locally to a room-full 
>> of people.
>>> if so, only the local audience gets
>>> the advantage of the full size whiteboard. 
>> The projected whiteboard in most theatres would be bigger than a 
>> normal whiteboard, higher-contrast, and potentially better positioned 
>> for the whole audience to see. Regardless of being in the same room as 
>> the whiteboard or not (that's a protocol/transport issue ;-) dealing 
>> with packet-loss, latency, etc.). So I think the benefit is 
>> (potentially) even for all participants (it depends on your node-op).
>>> i suppose smaller graphics tablets
>>> could be used instead as individual input devices; and these are just 
>>> perhaps
>>> more convient than drawing with the mouse directly into wb. 
>> Exactly right - mice are not great for sharing round a table, or for 
>> drawing quick diagrams, especially with the click-to-draw mode for 2D 
>> mice that pens do automatically (being 3D aware :-) ).
>> I'd love to integrate the electronic whiteboards with tablet-PCs and 
>> other software whiteboards, so they are all I/O devices to the same 
>> "space" or content.
>>> while all these
>>> scenarios would work, i guess i'm thinking about the different 
>>> experience had
>>> by the local audience v. the virtual audience.
>> And it gets worse :-) The astronomers want to be able to share their 
>> whiteboard, and see other people's whiteboards. Fine. Then they wanted 
>> them to be co-planar so they could write on each others whiteboards... 
>> I can imagine some tricks with projectors and drawable surfaces, but I 
>> can't use that in many theatres (rear-projection is needed, to avoid 
>> shadowing). You can put the tracker onto a monitor or LCD if you want 
>> though.
>> I can also see issues where you have groups huddled around a 
>> whiteboard at multiple sites, i.e. where more than one person at a 
>> site is writing on a whiteboard, and they all also want to see the 
>> other sites' whiteboards. This is something that SmartBoards I think 
>> can do very well - the local writing surface and the remote display 
>> are in the same plane. But they cost 5 times as much and don't scale 
>> up to the size or resolution that these whiteboards do.
>> Interestingly, the electronic whiteboards can also have digital 
>> "buttons" on them that cause "something to happen", e.g. 
>> print-display, wipe-display, save-display, etc. with no ink going onto 
>> the whiteboard/display. That leads into thinking about a "whiteboard" 
>> (or similar surface) with "pens" as a user-interface for other tools, 
>> e.g. the AG venue client, or your display manager, or your 
>> word-processor, or something else. Poor man's tablet-PC (6ft by 4ft 
>> :-) ), or a sort-of new way of interacting with large displays? 
>> Variation on the idea of free-air mice.
>> But fundamentally, our users initially just want to scribble on a 
>> surface to explain a point during a talk, and have the other site see 
>> it clearly, better than a camera pointed at (and failing to focus on) 
>> a normal whiteboard, or a document camera watching your hand. That's 
>> our first priority. Anything after that.... <shrug>. There's a lot of 
>> potential.
>> If people have comments, ideas, etc please let me know.
>> Cheers,
>>         Markus
>> Markus Buchhorn, ANU Internet Futures Group,       |Ph: +61 2 61258810
>> Markus.Buchhorn at, mail: Bldg #108 CS&IT  |Fx: +61 2 61259805
>> Australian National University, Canberra 0200 Aust.|Mob: 0417 281429
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