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Interactive Screens For Less, To Go

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A wallet-sized sensor that works with a projector and computer to turn any hard, dumb surface into an interactive display is being introduced to the U.S. market. Early adopters say they are thrilled.

Photo, top, courtesy of fullcon. Photo, bottom, by Luke Abaffy
SMART WALL The U-Pointer can turn any computer image or projection into an interactive display. The size of the image is only limited by the projectors capability.
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“It's a tremendous opportunity,” says Andrew Berger, vice president of Parsons Corp., Pasadena, Calif. Berger acquired one of the devices, called a U-Pointer, in late May. He put it to work immediately for engineering design reviews. “You can create an interactive, wall-sized work space with it [and] document comments and change things on the fly. It saves any comments or marks that you make,” Berger says.

Markus Hill, technology vice president at Rodger's Builders Inc., Charlotte, N.C., says use is intuitive. “There's a natural interaction with the tablets and touch screens,” he says. “Technology gets in the way of processes sometimes. We see this allowing us to use technology to its fullest.”

The device comprises a sensor, a small tripod and an infrared-LED-tipped pressure-sensitive pen. A driver is downloaded for installation.

Users connect the sensor by USB to a PC; a projector or plasma screen displays the image. As long as it has a clear view of the image, the sensor may be placed anywhere within 25 ft of the display.

The software prompts users to calibrate the device by touching six targets on the screen. When the last target is touched, the display becomes interactive. The pen behaves like a mouse or stylus. It can work with any hard surface, including drywall or frosted glass. It comes with a markup tool but can be used with whatever software is available, although not yet with Macs. The price starts at $1,600.

David Fuller, president of FullCon Solutions LLC, Raleigh, N.C., is the exclusive U.S. distributor. Fuller says he found the foreign-made sensor while he was doing research to invent his own. He now is working to integrate the device with an interactive meeting service. “Imagine being able to manipulate and annotate live meetings through screen-sharing services,” Fuller says.

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