Front projectors have been the leading technology in the education market due to its price advantage over other technologies. However, increasing need for student engagement and collaboration is driving significant change in instructional technology in classrooms. While widespread use of interactive flat panel displays may take a few years, Interactive White Boards (IWBs) are commonly used in the education vertical, particularly in K-12 schools, due to their price, flexibility, design and ability to engage with students.
An IWB system comes in a combination of a whiteboard, a projector, a computer and software, which allows users to run content from a computer screen to the whiteboard. Utilizing touch recognition, the content on the surface of the board can be controlled and edited using a touch pen, finger, or pointer. The edited information can be saved, shared, printed, or updated on a website, giving accessibility to teaching materials outside of the classroom. Resistive and electromagnetic technologies are the two best suited touch technologies for IWBs. IWBs are best supported by short throw projectors as they minimize shadow, glare, and projected-light distractions.
Interactive flat panel displays provide the latest interactive technology for collaboration. The higher resolution of flat panel displays makes presentations more visually striking. Optical and infrared are the two most commonly used sensor technologies in interactive flat panel displays. Both technologies offer high performance, robustness, and scalability for large size displays.
According to the latest release of Signage and Professional Displays Market Tracker, front projectors were the leading technology in Q3 2014, comprising nearly 50% of the total units shipped in that quarter. The education market, in particular, benefitted the most from seasonal purchases across the globe. IHS anticipates the front projector market to grow in the coming years; however, its share is expected to decline due to increasing demand of LCD interactive flat panel displays in the education and corporate market.
Although interactive flat panel displays have several performance advantages, their widespread adoption in the education market is limited due to their higher cost for comparable sized IWB. For large audiences and bigger classrooms, 80-inch to 105-inch size screens are recommended for delivering lessons. Education market is price-sensitive and IWBs continue to dominate K-12 classrooms. In the higher education and corporate markets, interactive flat panel displays are more popular. Unlike the K-12 education market, these markets are not price-sensitive and value performance and aesthetics. Corporate meeting rooms use interactive flat panel displays for sharing and viewing graphics, spreadsheets and other high resolution contents.
Smart Technologies, Promethean, Mimio, and Teamboard are some of the established interactive whiteboard manufacturers worldwide. They offer a wide range of product lines, including interactive flat panel displays and interactive software solutions to address corporate and education markets. With the increasing demand of IWB across various regions, several Taiwanese and Chinese brands such as Hitevision, Nanhao, Gaoke, Shenzen iBoard Technology Co. Ltd. and Beijing Moly Technology Co. have made their foray into the industry. These brands are competing on price.
Moving forward interactive flat panel displays will capture some share from IWBs, particularly in corporate and higher education markets. However in the lower end market where cost is a primary factor, IWBs will have to compete with other portable cost effective interactive solutions, like Luidia Inc.’s eBeam Edge and Mimio’s Interactive Xi Bar.