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Education Featured Article

July 20, 2009

U.S. the Largest Adopter of White Boards: Smart Technologies

By Rajani Baburajan, TMCnet Contributor


SMART Technologies is the leading provider of interactive whiteboard technologies to educational market. The company recently announced SMART Board SBD600 series interactive whiteboard with dual touch, which lets two users touch or write on the board’s surface simultaneously.

 
SMART Technologies continues to lead the interactive whiteboard market with 50.2 percent of the market share in this category. The company recently reported that in the first five months of 2009, from January to May, SMART sold nearly 65,000 SMART Board interactive whiteboards to U.S. customers, a 28 percent increase over sales in the same period last year.
 
TMCnet recently caught up with Terry Wason, area manager, CEE, Russia and India, to get a glimpse of SMART Technologies’ offerings and the impact of these technologies in the current education market. The exchange follows.  
 
TMCnet: What are the key offerings from Smart Technologies?
 
Terry Wason: SMART Technologies invented the SMART Board interactive whiteboard in 1991 and today continues to lead the interactive whiteboard market. Futuresource Consulting, a leading global research company that has tracked sales in interactive whiteboard sales for over eight years recently reported that SMART held a 50.2 percent product category share in Q1 2009, an increase of over 3 percentage points higher than the previous quarter. In Q1 SMART sold more interactive whiteboards than all manufacturers combined.
 
SMART continues to lead the market with innovative new products and integrated solutions that are designed to work together. The SMART Board interactive whiteboard and SMART’s notebook software are SMART’s core products and the company continues to expand its product line to include flexible learning tools to support individual learning, small-group learning and whole-class learning. This year, SMART introduced Touch Recognition to all their new SMART Board interactive whiteboards, dual touch to the SMART Board SBD600 series interactive whiteboard and widescreen format to the SMART Board 600i interactive whiteboard system, the SMART Board 685ix interactive whiteboard system and the SMART Podium ID422w interactive pen display.
 
TMCnet: How have white boards and other collaboration tools influenced U.S. education market in the recent years?
 
TW: The use of ICT for education – specifically the use of interactive whiteboards – is accelerating rapidly in the United States. In fact, the U.S. is currently the largest adopter of interactive whiteboards in the world with more installations than any other country. According to Futuresource, in the first three months of 2009, interactive whiteboard sales in the U.S. totaled 56,293, nearly a 10 percent increase compared to the previous three-month period. Of these, SMART sold almost 34,000.  For all of 2009, the United States is forecast to install nearly 275,000 interactive whiteboards – the largest number ever for one year. SMART’s strong position in the U.S. undeniably reinforces it as the number one choice for interactive whiteboard purchases among educators across the country.
 
TMCnet: What is your outlook on educational technology solutions market? How is the industry expected to grow in the coming years?
           
TW: Educators around the world are embracing the positive effect that a fully enabled ICT classroom can have on teaching and student learning outcomes. The interactive whiteboard is at the core of this offering. More than two million interactive whiteboards are now installed worldwide, and the product category continues to exhibit strong growth. Futuresource forecasts that the global installed base will triple over the next five years to more than seven million. The consulting firm also predicts that one out of every five classrooms worldwide will have an interactive whiteboard by the end of 2013. Other education solutions for the classroom include interactive response systems, document cameras, classroom audio systems, interactive pen displays and wireless slates. While the current market penetration for these types of products is not as strong as it is for interactive whiteboards, use of these products is increasing.
 
TMCnet: How is Smart Technologies positioned in this market?
 
TW: We believe SMART is the company best able to offer education solutions for the ICT-equipped classroom. We have the most comprehensive offering of any interactive whiteboard company – including all components necessary for improving student outcomes through ICT implementation: Technology products such as those listed in the previous answer, content and resources anchored by our award-winning Notebook software, professional development and user communities, and services and support. SMART has always been the global leader in the interactive whiteboard product category. We’ve maintained that leadership because we have a complete offering that makes it easier for our customers to get the most from their investment in our technology.
 
TMCnet: What are the key markets favorable for Smart Technologies?
 
TW: A global company, SMART Board interactive whiteboards are installed in more than 175 countries. Key markets for SMART include the U.S., the U.K. and EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa). We also see tremendous potential in markets such as India, Brazil and China.
           
TMCnet: What are the new solutions in pipeline?
 
TW: SMART’s products are designed to seamlessly integrate into classrooms and give teachers the tools to encourage collaboration and enrich students’ learning experiences with digital, interactive lessons. SMART products help teachers engage all types of learners, increasing student potential and improving learning outcomes.
 
We support every step of a successful implementation and offer continuing value to teachers through products, professional development, resources and support. As perpetual innovators, we are constantly enhancing our education solutions. Below are the newest additions to SMART’s product line.
SMART Board 600i interactive whiteboard system (see image right)
 
The third-generation 600i interactive whiteboard system combines a SMART Board 600 series interactive whiteboard and one of two new boom-mounted projectors. The new system is available in two screen formats – widescreen with a 16:10 aspect ratio and standard with a 4:3 aspect ratio.
 
SMART Board 685ix interactive whiteboard system (see image below, left)
 
The SMART Board 685ix interactive whiteboard system offers you an unparalleled  experience. Combining a widescreen SMART Board interactive whiteboard and an ultra-short throw projector, the 685ix is a virtually glare- and shadow-free system.
 
 
SMART Table (see image at right)
 
The SMART Table is the world’s first multi-touch, multi-user interactive learning center. Designed specifically for early education, preschool to fourth grade students (ages to eight), the brightly colored table has a touch sensitive surface where groups of students can simultaneously interact with digital content.
  
SMART Podium ID422w interactive pen display (see image below at left)
 
With high-definition resolution in a 16:9 aspect ratio, the new SMART Podium offers exceptional interactive space in a large, widescreen 22” (56.0 cm) display. With the intuitive, easy-to-use interactive pen display, users can write over your favorite applications in digital ink, save notes and access any Web site or multimedia file while projecting everything users do onto a SMART Board interactive whiteboard or large screen.
 
SMART Interactive Classroom PE
 
A leading-edge, fully integrated classroom technology bundle that brings together a powerful selection of classroom technology products, The bundle includes a SMART Board™ 680i or 685i interactive whiteboard system, SMART Response interactive response system, an AirLiner wireless slate, a SMART Document Camera, a SMART Audio classroom amplification system
and SMART Notebook SE bracelets.
 
SMART Board SBD600 series interactive whiteboard with dual touch, which lets two users touch or write on the board’s surface simultaneously.
 
 
TMCnet: Any expansion plans in the near future?
 
TW: SMART has made a strategic investment in EMEA to support this growing market segment. More than 80 SMART employees and 40 certified distributors are positioned in EMEA to grow this market. SMART has two European Centers, one in Bonn, Germany and the other in Paris, France to provide customer training, workshops and product demonstrations. In March, SMART announced an agreement with Zollner Group, one of the world’s leading contract manufacturers to assemble the SMART Board 600 series interactive whiteboards at their facility in Vác, Hungary. The assembly facility has the capacity to produce more than 125,000 SMART Boards per year, significantly increasing SMART’s annual global production.
 
TMCnet: What impact has recession brought to the industry as a whole and specifically to SMART Technologies?
 
TW: Regardless of the economic environment, educators everywhere, including India, will always use available resources to deliver improved student learning outcomes.  A significant amount of research has been done by a variety of independent organizations around the world which demonstrates that that effective use of classroom technology, and especially interactive whiteboards, results in significant improvements in student learning outcomes.  In addition, many educators and political leaders identify education as a key priority and driver of improved economic environments.  Preparing students for the 21st century technology-driven workplace will help drive economic prosperity over the long term.  Finally, interactive whiteboards in particular are among the most cost-effective investments to bring technology into a classroom in a way that reaches all students.  At an affordable cost, a teacher can deliver engaging lessons to a whole class of students on a variety of subjects, in a variety of levels and learning styles, for many years.  There are not many other purchases that provide better return on investment. SMART is prepared to work with education officials in India to ensure as many teachers and students as possible have access to our technology-enabled learning environments.

Rajani Baburajan is a contributing editor for TMCnet. To read more of Rajani's articles, please visit her columnist page.

Edited by Amy Tierney




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