Interactive projectors enable presenters, instructors, and students to engage with the images they display. Depending on venues of use and individual needs, you’ll want to consider a range of possible features when procuring interactive projectors for your campus. Some current projectors allow several devices to interact with the image, while most enable presenters to swipe, write, or move the image with a stylus or simply their hands. To make the most of this emerging technology, you’ll want to consider a range of IT software tools currently on the market for use with these projectors. Here are a few key elements to look for.
Basic smartboard functions
Most interactive projectors come with basic smartboard software tools, allowing users to mark on the projected image using a pen, stylus, or finger. Look for software that includes a number of writing options — such as pen, highlighter, or marker — and a variety of pen tip widths depending on the user’s needs, along with eraser tools. If the smartboard software is installed on a connected computer, the annotated image should be easy to save as a file for later use.
Depending on brand and model, many interactive projectors allow several devices to connect and collaborate at once. In small classes where students bring their own devices to work collaboratively, this capability is essential. Instructors can connect their mobile devices and instantly stream video or project images. Some software includes small-group collaboration capabilities, where several students can connect their group’s devices to work on a project and then project the results to the big screen. Collaboration capabilities also create opportunities for instructors to incorporate student polling, pop quizzes, and other interactive activities into their classes. Even in large lecture halls with hundreds of students, participants can read a question on the screen, respond via their mobile devices, and see instant poll results.
When an interactive projector is combined with a wall-mounted sensor, users can interact with images using motion-tracking software. This allows instructors to use gestures to manipulate, swipe, or move images. Depending on placement of the projector, motion-tracking software allows you to create an interactive wall, tabletop, or floor. While this feature isn’t necessary in many classrooms, it could be very helpful in others.
Most software allows users to write on the projected surface, and some includes handwriting recognition — the ability to convert the written words into editable text. Another feature, available with some software, allows instructors to write on a real whiteboard while the projector captures and saves the image for later use, also allowing written words to be converted to text.