EXEC TECH : The Reinvention of the Old – Whiteboards and business cards get high-tech

Panasonic launched new range of cameras, both still and video, Sony celebrated carnival with new range of laptops, Epson hit world first with its interactive printer and Apple highlighted some handy new applications. The devices at these launches showed clearly that technology is now offering single-button solutions for busy people – rather than them needing degree in programming.

Turning the humble whiteboard into high-tech tool

During meeting, time is tight, so breaking off from pertinent presentation to get the IT department to check the projector is hardly ideal.
Epson’s new flagship interactive projector, the EB-450Wi, offers two major benefits for management: firstly, it’s simple to operate, putting control back into your hands, and secondly, it allows you to combine your existing whiteboard with the technology you use every day, making meetings more productive.
Picturing it in action is easy. The Chelsea soccer club uses interactive whiteboards to play footage of games, freezing frames and ‘drawing’ on the board to show where player should have been at any given moment.
In the boardroom you can project traditional Powerpoint presentation from your computer and then based on feedback, make notes and annotations on your existing traditional whiteboard with the included digital infrared pen. These notes can then be printed or saved back to the computer.
The infrared pen is the key to this experience as it’s easier to hold and control than trying to click mouse on desk. Using the pen allows you to open as many new worksheets as required, and draw circles, arrows and any other annotations needed to highlight changes. For example, if you’re approving product design you may want the logo moved. It’s easier to indicate this with quick circle and arrow than with written instructions.
The pen can also be used like conventional mouse and keyboard to launch network-stored multimedia files, access the web and to run programs. Any software that normally uses mouse and keyboard controls can be used.
In the US, the projector is being touted with the catchphrase: “Don’t worry about screen, worry about which wall to make interactive,” as it works on any smooth, hard surface, particularly frosted glass and wood laminate.
Theoretically, the 450Wi has few constraints on image size, providing one of the largest interactive touch-screens available – 16:10 widescreen image (making it compatible with widescreen notebooks and movie content) between 55 inches and 96 inches diagonal in native WXGA format.
As the world’s first interactive ultra-short throw projector, the 450Wi sits just 24cms from and slightly above your whiteboard or display surface – not in the middle of the room – and can project 60-inch screen from as close as 62cm. This should maximise the use of the room, and minimise eye glare. It should also do away with messy cabling as all Epson ultra-short throw projectors include an integrated wall mount for simple and easy installation and operation.
A final consideration is price. After budgeting the $4799 for the projector, most companies don’t want to be hit with expensive ongoing running costs to replace lamps. Epson’s proprietary technology makes for smaller E-TORL lamps that retail at $277 and should last between 2500 to 3000 hours (approximately two to three years).

Tech specs:
• 2500 lumens white light output
• 2500 lumens colour light output
• Range of advanced connectivity options including Ethernet, RS232, USB and s-video.

Business tools on the go

Mobile phone applications are taking off and if you’re still in the mindset that these are best relegated to the ranks of Facebookers and creatives, think again. The business tools now available through your iPhone can simplify number of onerous tasks and are very easy to use. Here is an example:

ABBYY Business Card Reader
Exchanging business cards when attending meetings or at conferences is common practice – almost de rigueur. Keeping track of them afterwards is the problem. That’s where the ABBYY Business Card Reader comes in. It simply takes snap of business card using the iPhone’s inbuilt camera, then maps all the fields to your address book. Look up the contact and hey presto, all details have been captured: DDI, mobile, email address, title, company and website.
If you only want to capture say, the name, company and email address, you can adjust this in the settings, along with which of 16 languages you want ABBYY to recognise. It is also really simple to use. Once you’ve downloaded the application (see NZ Management’s August 2009 issue), tap “take photo”. Follow the instructions: “Place business card within the borders and press the photo button” and its done. Recognising and storing the text takes from five to 10 seconds according to company data.
Hints: Check the image is in focus before pressing the shutter. Arty fonts are harder to recognise, but you can adjust the odd letter on these to ensure accuracy – yet another reason, however, to ensure business cards are designed with legible fonts.
Normal price: $9.99.
This particular app only works on the iPhone 3GS, however another version, ABBYY BCR 2.0 is available for Nokia users.

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