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Interactive Table for Elementary-school Students

Touch-sensitive tabletop computing is fast becoming a mainstream technology. From election-night coverage to interactive menus built into your restaurant table, data interaction on a horizontal surfa 11/19/2008 7:00 AM Eastern

Interactive Table for Elementary-school Students

Nov 19, 2008 12:00 PM, By Linda Seid Frembes




Smart Technologies Smart Table

Touch-sensitive tabletop computing is fast becoming a mainstream technology. From election-night coverage to interactive menus built into your restaurant table, data interaction on a horizontal surface is no longer an exotic or bizarre occurrence. Adding to the trend is Smart Technologies of Calgary, Alberta, has introduced the Smart Table interactive learning center, a learning display designed specifically for preschool to sixth-grade students (ages 4 to 11).

"We had been thinking of making interactive tables for a number of years," says Nancy Knowlton, CEO of Smart Technologies. "I remember back in 1992 or 1993 sitting at a restaurant with a university professor and talking about whiteboard applications; that it was not inconceivable to have a table like that to act as a good social interface."

According to the company, the new table features a brightly colored tabletop with a touch-sensitive screen where groups of students can simultaneously interact with digital content. Similar to capabilities on an interactive whiteboard, students can select or move objects, draw or write on the screen simultaneously, and work together to find answers to preset questions.

"For the last six to eight years, our rear-projection products have been installed as tables in U.S. military applications," Knowlton says. "There was a nascent need in the education market for this functionality for certain age groups. The table's form factor is sized appropriately for small kids, and there is content and activities appropriate for their age group."

The patent-pending Smart Table requires minimal setup and can be deployed directly from the box. The unit contains a customized PC and a projection system that are turned on with on button. According to the company, the Table has a built-in 27in. screen that can read simultaneous input from fingers or pen tools. Measuring 29in. wide by 25in. tall, the Smart Table can accommodate small groups without crowding.

The Smart Table's screen also has gesture recognition. It supports object scaling (pinching the sides of an object to control the size) and object rotation (putting two or more fingers on an object to rotate it).

"There is no one right way to use the Table," Knowlton says. "Some schools can use the table as the sole collaboration station while others can place it in a room where kids rotate through and use it. We suggest four to five kids per table; perhaps up to six at one table."




Interactive Table for Elementary-school Students

Nov 19, 2008 12:00 PM, By Linda Seid Frembes




Smart Technologies Smart Table

Shipping in late winter/early spring of 2009, the Smart Table will arrive with a standard set of interactive learning applications, lesson activities, and educational games. According to company press, it also supports Smart Notebook software through the Smart Table toolkit that is included with every unit. The toolkit will allow teachers to create their own customized lesson activities and content, and load it onto the table with a USB key.

Despite dips in the economy, Knowlton says, "We will push forward with the development roadmap. Things will right themselves. We're in it for the long term."

According to Knowlton, there are additional table products planned for upper grades, likely with different interactions and collaborations for that age group. "Our interactive whiteboards will work seamlessly with the Smart Table. Interoperability is where we excel," she says.

Press from the company suggests ways in which a teacher would integrate the Table into his or her lessons. According to the company, a teacher can introduce a concept on an interactive whiteboard and then ask students in small groups to explore it further on a Smart Table. The Smart Table's touch technology builds on Smart's DViT (Digital Vision Touch) technology, which enables multiuser and multitouch functionality.

The suggested North American education price for the Smart Table interactive learning center is $8,000 (to be confirmed upon release). The suggested education price in all other regions will depend on applicable taxes, duties and import costs. The product will be available in early 2009.




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