Monday, May 2, 2016

Wireless projection in schools.

I had one of my clients ask me the way to use wireless with her new Epson interactive projectors. Specifically she wants to use iPads... but would also like laptops to connect. These projectors were purchased by someone else, otherwise I could have advised some solutions at the time of install - but no matter there are some easy solutions here.

Yes you can connect to them wirelessly and there are number of ways you can do it. Number 4 is the best option for most schools.

1.      You can purchase a wireless module  at about $110 each – they plug into the projector and then with free software from Epson you can connect to them via your wireless network.
a.      Please note you will need an app for your ipads and will only be able to show videos, web pages, text and photos – not currently running apps like angry birds.
2.      You can connect a network cable to them and then your projector become part of your network – and you connect to them via software from your computer or the app from your ipad
a.      The same restrictions apply to your  ipad  content.
3.      You can purchase an apple TV (@$110) and connect it to your projector via the HDMI – you then need to add the Apple TV to you school network. Once it is on the same network as you ipads you will be able to airplay directly to the projector.
a.      No restrictions, what is on your ipad will be shown on screen
b.     If you have an apple computer you should also be able to airplay wirelessly
c.      If you are using windows machines you will need software like airparrot to stream you laptop to the projector. @$15 per computer. http://www.airsquirrels.com/airparrot/
4.      This is my favorite option as it is the cheapest and easiest to achieve - You can get a piece of software call airserver @$15 that turns the computer connected to the projector into an Airplay server (like an Apple TV).
a.      This means
                                                            That you can use the computer as your main teaching computer - an interact with it.
                                                             ii.     You can also use ipads when needed with no cables
                                                            iii.     It can also Miracast – something that newer laptops and non apple tablets have built in. (use airparrot otherwise)
                                                           iv.     It can be done almost immediately and doesn’t require any cabling or hardware.

AIRSERVER can be purchased and downloaded from here - https://www.airserver.com/Buy/Education

Please note in all options – the touch/pen based interactivity on the board only works with the computer attached to the usb cable – you can’t control your ipad from the board.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

AAAAnd we are back

Well that was a nice break...

So what has been happening since I've been gone from this blog... quite a lot really and then not so much.

Interactive LCD's

As predicted the prices have continued to fall and schools are now looking at them as the obvious successor to their IWB+projector installation.

Keepad Interactive (the company I work for) have picked up quite a few options for schools and corporate installations. Surprisingly Viewsonic is back in the game (you remember their CRT monitors with the colourful parrots up in the top corner)  with a very nice interactive LCD line up from 55" to 70". I've installed a couple in a school recently and I'm really impressed with the surface, stand alone capabilities and responsiveness of the screen.
 


Keepad also now have license to sell SMART and Promethean screens as well as their software - so for schools already invested in that technology they can continue to work with it.

SMART Australia has has a bit of a rough 18 months with a new master distributor being appointed and issues with stock availability as well as confusion over their licensing... It looks like it has worked itself out.

Classroom Projectors

Epson are still leading the way with their 595wi interactive touch projector with more and more school picking it up as their replacement for IWB's due to the cost savings. We have come across a few issues with cheaply made whiteboards that are warped and bent that make set up for these very difficult and have ongoing problems. We are advising all our clients to invest in a quality whiteboard when installing these projectors to get the best results.

Large Format Projectors

We have just finished a major installation at a Perth high school. They wanted a projection solution for their gym. Originally wanting to project down court, we showed than a way to go cross court with two powerful G series projectors from Epson onto 200" motorised screens. We also integrated a PA system including wireless microphones and four 12" speakers to give them clear sound even when the gym is full for a school assembly.
 

Monday, November 17, 2014

Large Touch Screen Technology

I knew it was going to happen... in fact this post sort of let it out of the bag a little early.

With prices around $7000 all up for the bigger ones and the $5000 mark for the smaller ones (55") many schools are looking at this as their next display tool. It looks like touch screen technology is now on par for installation and trolley based IWB systems from 5 years ago with a couple of added advantages.

  1. Multi touch - these touch screens come in 2, 6, and 32 touch modes.
  2. Super bright - these can be used in very bright shared use area or undercover areas. - Glare and reflection is still and issue.
  3. No shadow - as the light source is behind the image.
  4. No lamps to replace and with most of them having expected lifetimes of over 10 years a very good TCO.
  5. Multi use - the touch screen can be just a TV for Free to air or cable content.
OK so this is the future of the hardware going into schools, I have installed  32 x 60" and 70" screens into a brand new school and more to come as some schools start to cycle out their IWB's for touch screens.

I have to say though, the touch projector from Epson  (EB595Wi) is maybe stemming the flow to touch screens as it is still a lot cheaper  at about 1/2 the price .

So what are the implications...

Software - Most software for PC and Mac is not multi touch enabled. There are a few like Google earth, but at this stage there is not much out there for content or content creation for multi-touch computing. We will see this change and there are some great multi touch demos from the old Microsoft surface project.

With Windows 8, multi touch is baked right into the operating system and many applications now support multiple touch natively.

I have come across Intuiface  which has a lot of promise as far as content creation goes. They have a free version that has a small watermark, but it is easy to use. Very much like PowerPoint with some extra muscle.

Others like snowflake are very expensive and hard to get your head around.

It's worse for Apple Mac computers that have no multi-touch embedded into the operating system and must rely on TUIO interface connectors. Hopefully Apple will come out with some form of multi-touch for their Macbook range soon. And as many of us lament - ipads have no USB interface so no dice there.


Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Worlds First Multi Finger Touch Interactive Projector - Epson 595Wi

Touch Interactive Projector

It has taken a while - but Epson has finally invented a pen-less interactive projector.

For about 5 years we have been selling the Epson range of ultra short throw interactive projectors. Starting with the EB 450Wi in 2010, then the EB 455Wi, then the massively popular EB 485Wi from 2012 until May this year. The final incarnation of this projector is the EB 585Wi - and we still sell these more than just about any other projector.



The ultra short throw form factor is perfect for interactive projection, with a reduced shadow, higher brightness and more accurate calibration.

The defining feature with these projectors was that the interactivity was smooth and responsive without the use of a special board, any whiteboard could be used as a projection and interactive surface. But there was one thing that customers asked for - finger touch capability. These projector rely on a stylus system, special pens that had to be used to interact with the computer and give the position of the cursor.

A couple of months ago Epson released the EB 595Wi - a finger touch based interactive projector. Looking exactly the same as the 585Wi pen based unit - the 595Wi also comes with a separate IR curtain module that projects a curtain of IR across the surface of the board  - and when a finger or any other object breaks or frustrates the curtain it lights up in infra-red and the camera in the projector picks up the XY position on the board and translates that break as a touch. It is a variation on the Frustrated IR touch screen system.

We have now put it in a few schools and colleges and the feedback we have had so far has been great - teachers find it more natural to touch without a pen - especially with Windows 8 and the gestures you can use normally with a tablet.

The one drawback is that the IR curtain projector must be placed above the projection, but on the same surface as the projected image - taking up about 15cm of space at the top of the board. This reduces the image size that can be projected on a standard 1200mm high whiteboard by about 5"-7" diagonally.. Yes I know I'm mixing up my measurements but diagonals seem to be standardised in inches.

Some of our clients are getting around this by buying non standard 1400mm high whiteboards to get back the full size of the the projection. others are just happy with a slightly smaller projection. Epson are apparently developing an off board solution as well.

These projectors are now on special - at less that $AU 2000 ex GST.


Friday, December 13, 2013

Rihac - Continuous Ink System - A review after a year and a bit.



So you are probably aware of how your printer stores and uses ink and how to refill it. And you probably wonder why it costs so much for an ink cartridge... It is generally the most expensive liquid you will buy in terms of dollar per litre - including designer perfume.

Our epson printer is an older wireless epson T40W - it was costing approx $60-$70 for a full set of Epson cartridges or about $40 for a full set of 3rd cartridges. Considering that I like to print photos and my partner is a relief teacher and tends to print out school worksheets by the 30's as she has no access to a photocopier at the school. We tend to go through ink a bit....

I think the worst part is running out right in the middle of printing something at 1am or having to brave the weekend shops only to find they don't have that cartridge... aside from the exorbitant price...

So I did some research and this Australian company RIHAC makes a continuous ink system. Continuous ink systems are a 3rd party add on system that pipes ink from ink tanks outside of the printer to replacement cartridge heads.



My printer was out of warranty anyway so I decided to give it a go and bought the System on special for @$100. including the ink



The T40W is one of the harder ones to set up - and took me about 2 hours to get set up perfectly - mostly running the piping so that it didn't catch on anything as the printer head moved back an forth - the instructions were pretty clear but it was still a bit of a challenge.

Brother printers seem to be the easiest to set up - literally plug in and go so if you are buying a new printer have a look at the Rihac website to see which ones are the easiest to install.

So it has been well over a year and a half since I put in the system - and I have just bought my first refill pack for $50. And although there have been times where the printer needed cleaning or the system needed a prime or head cleaning, it has been fantastic. There has been no difference in print quality for the work we do with it.

I think I have saved at least $400 in ink cartridges for my printer - and running out of ink mid print is a thing of the past as I can see how much ink I have left (not some software thing that can't be checked).

If you do a lot of printing - or if you print your own photos, have a look at a continuous in system for your printer. If you are at a school and you do art prints either on a A3 or large format printer this could save you a bundle as not only do they have the dye based in but also pigment ink for high quality photo work.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Google Apps - free apps for education



Google Apps looks like it might be one of the winners from the google lab.

With an easy to use interface and a great range of "apps" this could be the new way I get things done. It's like the app store or google play.

What is it? - Google apps uses the chrome web browser as a base and apps are downloaded into it the browser. These apps are sometimes online websites but can also be stand alone of line applications using Chrome as their base.

What is on it? For educators and students... Quite a lot, from on and off line note taking, to classroom management tools to on line IWB software that allows you to collaborate in the cloud. A couple on my starting list include - Biodigital, realtime board, gynzy and Google Drive. There are few that have been ported over from android but most are specifically for full computers. To honest there is more than enough for education, looks like I have a lot of material to review - and most will work with IWB's and Touchscreens.

How do you get it? First download and install google chrome, then once you are up and running go to the far right hand side near the top and click on the 3 bar icon, head down to settings, then click on extensions and scroll down to "get more extensions" - to make it easy to get to your apps you can also install the Chrome App Launcher which makes it easy to get to your apps on your has a shortcut to all the downloadable apps.

Or just go to: https://chrome.google.com/webstore

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Free eBeam software upgrade

Well it has been a long while since my last post....

Several things have happened in the interim including big projects both professionally and personally, and I've been on extended leave as I've travelled through eastern Europe - so the blog got left for a while.

One of the great things about a blog is that you can just pick it up again and start writing - there is no need to start a new one or feel embarrassed about taking an extended break.

OK so here is some good news if you use ebeam scrapbook as your daily teaching whiteboard software on your PC. New updates have been released over the last two months that add more content to the library (especially things people have been asking for like a scientific calculator). Plus an annoying text box problem has been fixed.

Go to the eBeam portal to download and update