Let’s turn that floor (or table) interactive! — Part One
As an educator, most of you would probably be very much familiar with the idea of teaching using an interactive whiteboard, but how about an interactive floor or table? Imagine your students writing, drawing, annotating or playing interactive games on a normal floor/table turned interactive, doesn’t that sound cool and fun? As a matter of fact, students learn better when the learning is fun, and this is what we have in mind while designing our Interactive Whiteboard Systems — the wireless IW2 and the wired IS-01. Both of them enable you to transform most any flat surface in your classroom into an interactive whiteboard, instantly adding that “cool” and “fun” element to better entice your students.
Having said that, we decided to put IW2 to the test by creating an interactive floor with it right in our office. Along the way, we will be noting down the challenges, difficulties, fun and excitiment that we had, and not forgetting tips here and there. Though up to this moment we are still unsure of how things will turn out, we are super excited about the idea. But before we begin, there are a few points that we (and you) need to get it right.
Getting the necessary equipment
First on the list, getting the necessary equipment. For those who are already using the IW2 or IS-01, you would know that the IW2 is a 3-piece device consisting a Sensor Cam, an Interactive Pen and a Wireless Receiver, while the IS-01 is a 2-piece device without the Wireless Receiver.
You would also know that they both require a computer or laptop (Mac or PC), and a projector to work. It’s pretty much the same here, but there’s a catch. Depending on the type of projector you have, you’ll need to mount it differently. And in some cases, your projector might not be suitable for projecting an interactive floor. Ok, before you guys start drilling us with questions about the compatibility of your projectors, we are going to move on and leave the detailed explanations to the section on “Setting it up”.
Finding the right surface
The next on the list is to find a suitable floor projection surface. Don’t try anything reflective, fanciful or uneven, as these surfaces are likely to affect the pen trace of the Interactive Pen and result in inaccurate operation. Do also take into consideration the color of the floor surface as colors that are too contrasting may affect the visibility of the projected image. If it happens that the most appropriate floor surface that you can use is either too reflective, fanciful or having contrasting colors, there’s a workaround. You can either tape a big sheet of white paper onto the floor, or consider using the IPEVO 70” Projection Screen with magnetic backing as your projection surface.
Setting it up
Depending on your projector type and classroom layout, it can be a challenge and does require some quick thinking on your feet to create a most appropriate and workable interactive floor, but fret not, we are here to share some vital tips.
Mounting your projectors:
Back to the point on projectors. There are a few different ways to mount your projectors depending on its type.
The first way involves an ultra short throw projector. It is the easiest setup. You’ll just need to place your ultra short throw projector on a stand near the ground.
The second way is for a standard projector. You can mount your standard projector on the ceiling and point it vertically downwards at the area on the floor that you want to project on. Do refer to your user manual or check with your projector manufacturer to ensure that your projector can point straight down before attempting to set it up in this way. Damage to your projector may occur if it is not.
The third way also works for a standard projector. It involves using a mirror to deflect the projection downwards. Mount your standard projector to the ceiling and place a first surface mirror near the lens. The mirror has to be at a 45 degree angle so that the projected image is not skewed.
You can tell if the mirror is a first surface mirror by placing a pen on the surface of the mirror. If there is a space between the pen and its reflection then it is not a first surface mirror.
As we are using a standard projector — Dell 1610HD, we are going with the second way to mount it. Oh, and not forgetting to mention, we have already checked that our projector can point straight down.
Mounting your Sensor Cam:
Now that we are done with choosing the most appropriate way to mount our projector, let’s move on to the Sensor Cam. Do remember that as the Sensor Cam of IW2 (and IS-01) acts as its “eye”, it is necessary for the Sensor Cam to “see” the entire projection area so that any tappings or movements made with the Interactive Pen can be detected. Thus when setting up the Sensor Cam, do position the Sensor Cam directly above the middle of the projection area pointing down. This Sensor Cam position is the same for all three floor projection setups.
And now, you are all set to have fun!
In our next blog, we are going to walk you through the process of setting up an interactive floor in our office, so stay tuned!