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The Future of Interactive Technology in the Classroom

Interactive technology for the classroom is one of the fastest growing segments in education, and offers tremendous potential for improving the learning process. Educators may or may not know that the technology currently exists to allow them to annotate and interact with the material they present on their classroom projector. Lesson plans may be easily captured and shared online enhancing their interaction with students and engaging them with a visual component to the intellectual stimulus.

The classic example of interactivity in the classroom environment was always the traditional classroom blackboard. But in recent years the blackboard has given way to the pairing of short throw projectors with interactive whiteboards, allowing the group interactivity of the blackboard to be merged with the content of the PC to form a powerful learning and teaching platform.

Dedicated interactive whiteboards can cost upwards of several thousand dollars each though, and are therefore out of the reach of many school districts. They also are also somewhat limited in terms of flexibility. They cannot be moved easily between classrooms and smaller rooms may not have the necessary space to install one.

Fortunately front projection technology has also been rapidly evolving over the past several years. One of the most significant recent developments has involved the embedding of the interactive function directly into the projector itself, and this has removed many of the limitations of the former solution. First introduced to the market last year, the most obvious benefit came in the form of lower cost. At less than a third the cost of an equivalent short throw projector plus an interactive white board solution, this solution is allowing schools to invest in a greater number of interactive setups on a smaller budget.

The first generation of interactive short throw projectors still had a few limitations left over from the interactive white board legacy including a cumbersome setup and calibration process. This meant that while an interactive projector had better mobility than an interactive white board, it still needed extensive calibration every time it was moved and the interactive surface was limited to a screen size between 59" to 96."

Texas Instrument's Pointblank technology has allowed projector manufacturers to implement an interactive function directly into a projector in such a way that the entire surface becomes an interactive workspace, and no calibration is ever required. An interactive projector should include all of the components needed to complete the interactive set-up, including the software, and a camera-fitted pen that creates a pixel-by-pixel view of the screen that turns any surface into an interactive whiteboard.

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