On the evidence of the first day, this year’s BETT show had a buzz that hasn’t been present for the last several years. Innovations on show included a host of cloud-based services, apps and security solutions, but from a channel perspective our interest was captured by developments in display devices and, in particular, the differentiation in the IFP sector.
As each BETT or ISE passes we often hear a lot about the ambitions of the major CE brands for the education market. Yes, we hear about the odd Academy hear and there concluding a deal with Samsung, We have seen promitions from LG, but a wholesale onslaught on the education market is yet to appear. Instead, we have seen specialist brands go from strength to strength, and yet more launching into the sector despite its increasing maturity, at least in the UK.
The new VTF series from VIVIDtouch includes a built-in full-feature Quad core INTEL Windows 10 device.
The most conspicuous of this year’s relative newcomers was that of VIVIDtouch by Steljes. The brand is not totally new, but the introduction of a new generation of VIVIDtouch screens saw a new, sharper focus on VIVIDtouch. The new generation of products represents the world’s first-ever non-Android series of interactive panels that run on the Windows 10 operating system.
In an interview with AV News, company founder and chairman Nigel Steljes said that the opportunity for the specialist vendor is to develop prodcts with the specific needs and requests of the UK education market to the fore: “Where the major panel makers have to develop products with a global market in mind, we can apply our experience and research to satisfy the needs of teachers.” As an example, Steljes points to the absence of remote controls – notoriously difficult to hang on to in education environments. Instead, the new VIVIDtouch displays have twin set of controls mounted on each side.
The new VTF series from VIVIDtouch includes a built-in full-feature Quad core INTEL Windows 10 device that is said to deliver a superior performance compared to the processors incorporated into most Android touch screens. The operating system enables users to access, manage and create content, use familiar software packages, browse the internet and gain access to over 669,000 apps available through the Windows store.
In addition to a differentiated OS, the new VIVIDtouch panels also offer an improved touch experience using VIVIDtouch InGlass powered by FlatFrog, a former star of ISE. The VTF series is the first to include InGlass touch technology the education sector. The InGlass technology provides an experience that is similar to a tablet PC – responsive, smooth and accurate doen to the pixel level.
The technology can also recognise the size of the object touching it, allowing it to identify the difference between a finger, pen, eraser or palm. Ian Goodhind, chief technology officer at Steljes commented: “We have been working in the education market for almost three decades and have used our knowledge and expertise to deliver a solution that can really meet the specific needs of the sector. When it comes to any new technology in the classroom, we understand how important it is to have a system that is cost-effective and offers ease of use, as well as great performance.”
“These next generation interactive panels are intuitive and more accurate than other models. The fully functioning Windows 10 device built into the front of class display removes the additional expense of having a separate PC permanently situated in the classroom. The VTF series provides a solution that will not only boost the current technological capabilities in the classroom but will also play a critical role in future-proofing the learning environment for years to come.”
The acquisition of Promethean by Chinese web giant NetDragon has given the education specialist an opportunity to reinvent itself. Never have we seen such optimism at Promethean and its distribution partner TD Maverick. The Net Dragon deal will give the company both an injection of capital and a potentially huge increase in the size of the market, with the new owners set on expansion in both the Chinese domestic market and India. Promethean is also registering significant growth in the US, Europe and Africa following an excellent 12 months.
Admitting that the company was late into the sector with IFPs, the company’s development road map is very much embedded in the Android tradition. Recognising that education demands a long product life from its panels, the company has developed a new technology deigned to overcome the trend for frequent Android updates, which can cause problems with running certain apps.
Promethean’s latest ActivPanels are designed to help to future proof schools’ investment in education technology: Ian Curtis, Head of Europe, Africa and Australasia, explains: “Many schools looking to invest in flat panels with internal computing devices have the expectation that the technology will not need to be refreshed for 5 to 10 years; however, the rate of innovation around computing processing power on average doubles every two years. This means there is a high likelihood that the processing power may be generations behind after a short period of time, leaving schools with dated technology and without options.”
Promethean’s enhanced ActivPanel range now offers a choice of full HD and 4K panels which can keep pace with the rate of development in the computing world by specifically addressing the demand for Android functionality devices in classroom displays. Promethean has developed a new external, upgradeable, Android device that offers an innovative experience and intelligent design. By combining the ActivPanel with this solution, teachers have access to a powerful interactive teaching device without any need to connect to a computer. Ian continues: “Ease of use and efficiency continue to emerge as key requirements in the education sector. In doing so, we’ve succeeded in addressing these whilst at the same time designing an upgradeable solution which will protect the investment which schools make in the ActivPanel displays.” An auto upgrade feature reduces the operating burden on the user.
Increasing the level of choice across the range, the ActivPanel series will now be offered as 55”, 65”, 75” Full HD and 65”, 75” and 84” 4K interactive displays supporting up to 10 simultaneous touch points. Available as a fixed wall mount or with a mobile stand, there is now an ActivPanel solution to suit virtually any teaching environment. Offering further flexibility in the classroom, a variety of connectivity options are available which include HDMI, VGA, USB 3.0 and 4K open pluggable specification (OPS). The latest generation ActivPanel still features the ActivGlide surface; constructed from extremely durable glass, ActivGlide provides a smooth and seamless user experience whilst also eliminating the risk of finger burn from prolonged use.
The ActivPanel can be used as the basis of Promethean’s Modern Classroom environment, demonstrated at BETT with the ClassFlow learning platform. Since its initial launch at BETT two years ago, ClassFlow has undergone significant development which has focused on creating a powerful software solution which directly addresses the modern needs of education environments. By registering for a free ClassFlow account, teachers will gain access to a wealth of collaborative tools and the ability to prepare multimedia rich lessons which can incorporate real-time feedback as well as create project-based learning experiences which are personalised to different groups of students or individuals.
Curtis explains: “Using ClassFlow gives teachers a central point for lesson preparation, lesson delivery and student assessment. While this makes life a little easier for the teacher, even more importantly, the interactive features of ClassFlow empower both teacher and student to engage in truly collaborative learning opportunities.”
Promethean plans to roll out a series of pre-prepared lessons which will be available at www.ClassFlow.co.uk. With the next release of ClassFlow in March 2016, hundreds of lessons suitable for the UK curriculum will be made available for free.
Curtis continues: “Experience has shown us that teachers are pressed for time – and the time challenge is only getting harder. From a technology perspective we’re helping to resolve this challenge by providing ClassFlow as a single platform for lesson preparation, delivery and evaluation. With the technology well established and robust, we’re tackling the next stage which is to provide an extensive bank of prepared resources. In particular, primary teachers will be able to have access to around 100 spelling, grammar and punctuation (SPaG) assessments with thousands of questions that they can use immediately within Key Stages 1 and 2 in preparation for external testing later this year.”
Whether Android, Windows or something else entirely, the rapid pace of innovation in IT technologies necessitates a flexible approach to financing for solutions that do not offer an appropriate degree of future-proofing and backwards compatibility. To help schools keep their display estates current, SMART Technologies introduced SMART ClaaS. This is an alternative finance model for UK schools that helps them satisfy their education technology needs including interactive displays, collaborative learning software, professional development and support from SMART and other best in class vendors – all under one easy-to-manage service agreement that can be tailored to meet budgetary requirements.
Instead of having to make a large capital expenditure to buy and own education technology, ClaaS helps schools to benefit from the latest hardware and related software and support by making affordable monthly or quarterly payments over the length of a defined subscription term. At BETT, ClaaS had a prominent presence on the SMART booth. An encouraging number of serious enquiries were received from show visitors, with numbers expected to rise as potential customers get used to a different model of funding investments.
The new VTF series from VIVIDtouch includes a built-in full-feature Quad core INTEL Windows 10 device.
New at BETT 2016
Nureva is the new company formed by education technology formed by Nancy Knowlton. They used BETT to announce the Span classroom collaboration system. The initial range comprises two models – the WM210e and the WM220e. Designed for use in classrooms, media centres and innovation labs, the Span classroom collaboration system draws upon familiar, simple and flexible tools already widely used in paper-based creative processes in the classroom including sticky notes, sketches, images and flip charts. The cloud-based system uses a software-as-a-service (SaaS) model to enable collaboration on an expansive 40′ (12.2 m) wide digital canvas. Students create their input on their personal devices, either a computer or a tablet, and share it on the digital canvas in the cloud. The single-projector WM210e model or dual-projector WM220e model transforms classroom walls into a 10′ or 20′ (3.1 m or 6.1 m) wide interactive panoramic workspace for small-group or whole-class collaboration. “Educators today are looking for solutions that make the most of the technology already in place in their schools,” said Nancy Knowlton, Nureva’s CEO. “The Span system addresses these needs while giving students the means to actively collaborate anytime, anywhere.” Nureva also announced the WhisperTek projection surface for its Span system Nureva products are to be distributed in Great Britain, Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland by Steljes: “We are very pleased to introduce the Nureva business and education products to our channel,” said Nigel Steljes, Steljes’ founder and executive chairman. “Nureva’s products fit with the emerging collaboration needs that we see in many organizations, and we’re confident that they will help our customers transform their innovation and collaboration processes.”
Nureva’s Span classroom collaboration solution.
SMART Technologies has expanded its portfolio of interactive flat panels (IFPs) designed specifically for the education market. The new models include the SMART Board 6075, the SMART Board 4075 and the SMART Board 4084. The new displays are joined by a software bundle, called the SMART Learning Suite This is designed to enable natural and collaborative learning experiences, combining the power of SMART Notebook, SMART amp, and the newly enhanced SMART Lesson Activity Builder (LAB). The SMART Learning Suite supports a variety of instructional strategies and fosters active learning, inside and outside the classroom.
SMART says that 67% of displays shipped in Europe, the Middle East and Africa, and 44 percent in the U.S were IFPs. SMART Board interactive flat panels are now offered in 11 models, ranging from 55 inches to 84 inches. All SMART IFP models feature Silktouch and SMART Ink, described as the world’s most natural and accurate touch and inking experience. The displays also feature Object Awareness, which automatically detects if you are using a finger, pen, fist or eraser, providing a more intuitive user experience, and Pen ID, allowing two students to use different coloured pens to write, independently and simultaneously in any lesson activity. The entire range of SMART Boards is comprised of durable, commercial-grade panels rated for 50,0002 hours of use. This longevity combined with no requirement for projector maintenance and replacement of projector bulbs means that, over time, SMART interactive flat panels have an estimated lower total cost of ownership compared with traditional projector solutions.
All SMART IFP models feature Object Awareness, which automatically detects if you are using a finger, pen, fist or eraser,
BenQ showed a range of hardware and software technology set to boost classroom interactivity, including the brand’s latest RP Series interactive flat panels. These touchscreen solutions are enhanced with a range of features to ensure eyes are protected during use, including Low Blue Light technology to reduce harm in long exposure, Flicker Free Technology for reduced eye problems and Anti-Glare displays, which reduces reflection and gives students the best visual classroom experience possible. Each of the products within the RP series comes with a range of the latest features, including a built in Android operating system, a high level of interactivity made possible by up to 10-point touch technology and Full HD or 4K resolution, which improves overall image quality. BenQ also demonstrated a new series of versatile and reliable education projectors, featuring the PU9220+ and the PX9210.
To help teachers make the most from any education environment, both the PU9220+ and the PX9210 come complete with optional lens versatility, so users can choose between lenses ranging from short-throw to long-throw to suit their environment. The addition of 360-degree rotation-capable projection also makes this brand new series a flexible option for changeable or small classrooms. Users can choose to have images projected onto ceilings, walls, floors or even signage, helping teachers ensure maximum benefit for their students.
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BenQ’s new PU9220+ comes complete with optional lenses.
Genee World introduced Genee Registrar at BETT 2016. This is an automated visitor entry and security management solution. The system consists of a 21” interactive PCAP touchscreen loaded with Genee’s proprietary visitor management software, flexible webcam, barcode scanner and thermal badge printer. “Schools have become increasingly aware of security issues,” said Ranjit Singh, CEO, Genee World “Genee Registrar is the perfect tool for administrators to monitor who is in the building at any given time and great for Ofsted reporting too.” In addition, the company’s G-Touch touchscreen range was expanded with new products including a light-weight, slim line versions of the G-Touch 55” and G-Touch 65” touchscreens together with the G-Touch X7, a PCAP touchscreen specifically designed for collaborative conferencing, remote lessons and presentations.
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Genee World launched Genee Register at BETT.
Vivitek showcased two new ultra-short throw projectors, and a new collaboration solution, the NovoPRO. This enables instant wireless connectivity to a projector and wide device compatibility for up to sixty four simultaneous participants. The new ultra-short throw projectors, D756USTi and DH759USTi were previewed at BETT with a launch planned for Q2 2016. The D756USTi has a WXGA resolution and the DH759USTi will bring full HD quality into the classroom with a brightness of respective 3300 and 3500 ANSI Lumens, contrast of 10,000:1 for optimum visual quality in well-lit classrooms and full featured connectivity options. These models, like the current range of education projectors, are designed for classroom usage and are easy to operate, offer interactivity and guarantee low cost of ownership with 5 year warranty included.
Casio chose BETT to unveil its new generation of its Laser and LED Hybrid projector, the Core XJ-V2. The new model has 3000 ANSI lumen brightness and an enhanced dust-resistance design. Mounted using existing universal standard ceiling mounting hardware, installation costs and usage delays can be held to a minimum. The XJ-V2 reaches maximum brightness in just five seconds, from the time it is powered on, eliminating the waiting time that comes with lamp-based projection. It can be immediately powered off and used again without the need for a cool-down period. Phil Clark, Head of Projection, Casio UK explained: “With no lamps to replace across the whole 20,000-hour product lifetime and electricity consumption that is approximately half that of a mercury lamp projector, Casio is aggressively working to accelerate the shift towards lamp-free units. This is significantly helping to reduce the environmental impact of projectors by discontinuing the use of mercury and cutting down on power consumption, which helps to reduce overall CO2 emissions.”
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Casio’s second generation Core introduced at BETT.
Epson and SMART Technologies announced an agreement where SMART Notebook collaborative learning software will now be included with Epson EB-500 Series interactive projectors. “Educators are seeking the best hardware and software solutions to help them teach effectively, and to drive student engagement and learning outcomes,” said Paul Wilson, business manager – Visual Instruments, Epson UK. “This partnership speaks directly to the needs of teachers to create engaging, impactful and fun lessons, as well as to respond to the needs of learners in real-time. By bringing together these leading interactive classroom technologies, we are providing th