How to outfit a school with “Smart” Interactive White Board technology on the cheap!

I found this on youtube a while ago, it is still one of my favorite examples of innovative technology!

Are you looking for a low cost “smart” interactive whiteboard technology solution for your school? Consider the following: Wiimote Interactive White Board Software by Smoothboard.

Recently, my sons’ PTO announced that they were purchasing PolyVision interactive boards for the school. I came to the PTO meeting to hear about their purchases.

I was really happy to see the staff making some steps towards bumping up the technology in the elementary school. This school is really fantastic at the basics, personal attention, reading help, etc. In my opinion, there just didn’t seem to be a culture moving toward technology.

Our new principal pitched his plan to outfit each grade level with one interactive board each. We watched the principal and another male teacher lift the bulky board on the hooks before the demonstration.

After a jaw dropping interactive smart board demonstration, my first question was “How much does it cost?”

Major purchases such as these should be considered carefully. The school district was not planning on funding the interactive boards and was relying on the PTO to present them with these gifts.

Our principal estimated that the interactive board was approximately $900 and another $800-$900 for the projector and mount. I asked the PTO and the principal to consider a “smart” technology alternative for approximately $150 per classplus projector costs.

After the meeting, I forwarded information from Smoothboard to the PTO about an inexpensive alternative to the PolyVision interactive boards.

I sent them the Johnny Lee video (a life changing, six minute, “must see video”).
As a student, Johnny Lee was the original American that conceptualized this technology in the first place. He was able to plug his wii remote into his computer via bluetooth and project it onto a regular whiteboard. The results startled the gaming and development community in 08 as he demonstrated his findings, at the international TED conference.
He now works for Microsoft.

Johnny Lee demos Wii Remote hacks | Video on

Along with the Johnny video, I directed them to IR Great, a website that sells the technology and all the necessary tools, in a convenient, inexpensive bundle!

Next, I priced each component of the kit individually, to see if I could save even more.

Here are the results of my findings:

The cost to outfit 18 elementary school classrooms in “smart” board technology WITH projectors and ALL of the necessary equipment, as little as $9108!!!

Compared to the alternative, Polyvision Interactive White Boards at $1800 X 6 = $10800

Here is the breakdown with links to each:

Wii remotes: $30X18 = $540 Amazon
Wii remote ceiling mounts $23 X 18 = $414 IR Great innovations, LLC
blue tooth adapter $3X18 = $54 Amazon
Smoothboard software $25 X 18 = $450 Smooth Board Bulk Rate
LED economy IR Pens $10 X 18 = $180

Projector Picks:
Pico-Lampless BenQ Joybee GP! Mini-LED DLP Projector $400 X 18 = $7200

LG HS201 Slim Led Projector $500 X 18 = 9000

With Projector Mount:
Tilt Mount $15 X 18 = $270

Optoma HD66 3D Projector $650 X 18 = $11,700

With Projector Mount:
Universal Tilt Projector Mount $90 X 18 = $1620

So, the question remains. . .are they going to go for it?

Our new principal replied that he is going to pass the new technology to our school district educational technology director for consideration. We may still have some red tape with the School Board rules and potential contract conflicts with PolyVision. There may be software costs to consider as well, since the school district has already invested in the PolyVision compatible software at the high school and middle school levels.

IR Great, a reseller of the Smoothboard line, claims many open source and low cost software that is compatible with interactive whiteboard on their site:

Below is a link to the website for further information.

List of Free or Low Cost Software:(From IR Great)

According to IR Great, Smoothboard works with any mouse controlled software. The applications listed on the link (except Microsoft Office applications)are free or low cost and will greatly increase the interactive potential of Smoothboard. IR Great does not sell additional applications.

The following are the categories of software listed on the link, along with specific links to the vendor’s sites in each category.

Presentation Enhancing Software

Ritescript Ritepen: The best optical character recognition software, convert handwriting to text with ease in any application.
Foxit: The ultimate PDF annotation software, perminantly annotate documents with ease that scroll with the document.
Smoothboard Annotation Tool: Built-in Annotation Tool in Smoothboard which allows annotation on top of any application, save screen shots and use your desktop as a drawing board.
Linktivity Presenter.
Microsoft PowerPoint.
Open office Impress.

Interactive Whiteboard Interface

LectureScribe: A program for easily producing animated “whiteboard lectures” from a tablet PC or electronic whiteboard. LectureScribe is written by Brian C. Dean, an assistant professor of computer science at Clemson Univeristy.
* Kindle Lab: The open source IWB interface.
* Microsoft OneNote The unused gem of the Microsoft Office suite, provides a professional mature IWB interface, excellent for senior students, university students and adults.
Jarnel An open source equivalent to Onenote with lesser functionality.
Activinspire Program developed by Promethean. Run as personal edition.

Musical Software

Buzzmachines: A very easy to use software based synthesizer.

Artistic software

Artrage 2: A high quality art program with an intuitive user interface that allows the selection of medium, texture and colour.
Google sketchup: Create, modify and share 3D models.
Myoats: A interesting online drawing application.
Crayola: A collection of free colouring pages.
Graffiti Studio: Create a digital graffiti piece without the cleaning.
Imagination Cubed: Create a multi user collaborative artwork online
Mr Picassohead: Mr Potato Head meets Picasso

Physics & science software

Sketchy Physics: A plug in that applies the laws of physics to Google Sketchup 3D animations.
Phun 2D Physics sandbox: Play with physical concepts in a game like fun and engaging way.
Havok Physics: Use the same physics technology Game makers use (free license for education institutions).
PhET: Interactive Simulations Fun, interactive, research-based simulations of physical phenomena from the PhET project at the University of Colorado.
Gizmos: Virtual simulations and interactives
Edheads: A collection of virtual games and experiements on unique concepts
Interactives: A collection of quality science interactive modules

Mathematics Software

* Educational Java programs: A collection of educational Java applets
MathsTools: A collection of maths resources
* Gizmos: Virtual simulations and interactives
Centre for technology: Interactive Mathematics Projects using Macromedia Flash
National Library of Virtual Manipulatives: Virtual simulations and interactives
* Interactives: A collection of quality 3D maths interactive modules

Web 2.0/Online applications

skrbl: Collaborate online documents and whiteboard space.
Sketchcast: Create a movie of your sketch/drawing and microphone recording.
* Create a online collaborative mindmap.
Twiddla: Cooperatively mark up websites, graphics, and photos, or start brainstorming on a blank canvas.
WiZiQ: Teach and learn live online.
Dabbleboard: Online collaborative whiteboard.

Anatomy, Health and biology

Visible Body: Explore high quality anatomical structures and annotate within the application to explain concepts.
* Educational Java programs: A collection of educational Java applets
Cells Alive: Cellular biology through simulations and interactives
* Edheads: A collection of virtual games and experiements on unique concepts

Virtual environments

Edusim: Create and explore your own multi user virtual environment.
* Google Earth

If you are tech savvy, you can download the free version from Johnny Lee. (Note that the last update was in ’08 and that there is currently no free versions available for Vista 64 or Windows 7).

Wiimote Project is the forum associated with this looks somewhat abandoned as well.

I found the Smoothboard software to be reasonably priced at $23 to $72 per license type. Support for my questions was answered promptly by Smoothboard staff. The staff headquarters are located in Singapore and the e-mail response was in articulate English, I would never have guessed it came from abroad!

Make a comment if you have ever tried this technology out or ask me a question related to Interactive White Board technology!






About Angela Rupert

Angela Rupert is a freelance instructional designer and development consultant. Contact Angela Rupert for a free consultation at or (717) 480-1747.
This entry was posted in Development, Learning Technologies, Serious Games and Simulations and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to How to outfit a school with “Smart” Interactive White Board technology on the cheap!

  1. arupert says:

    Buy the infrared pen on amazon, its already built and cheaper then building it yourself!

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