"I don't want to see your face!" doesn't sound like the most collaborative way to talk to someone, but it just might be. If you're stuck in a videoconference staring at your remote collaborators, but what you really need is to see their data or work together on a whiteboard, what do you do?
The tools at our disposal today are lacking in this scenario. Sure, we could jump over to the conference room whiteboard and start writing, but that leaves our remote collaborators squinting; and apart from asking us to verbalize what we just wrote up, they can't do anything. It's an unsatisfying state of affairs, which is why so few of us do it.
Creating the possibility of working together effectively on a whiteboard, while scattered across time zones, is the long-running vision of Rafi Holtzman and his team at Luidia. Luidia's eBeam technology lets users convert any writable surface--a whiteboard, definitely, but also a window, a mirror, or a table--into a shared collaborative canvas.
The core of eBeam is a small device that clips to the edge of your whiteboard and captures the movement of your pen, which is housed in an unobtrusive digital sleeve that communicates with the eBeam tracker on the side. If remote participants are in the meeting, you can share what you're writing or drawing with them via screen-sharing meeting technology--they can see it on their screen or project it onto a whiteboard.
But for true multisite, large-format tactile collaboration, you could have an eBeam-enabled whiteboard in your location with a short-throw projector above the screen, and your remote collaborators could have the same where they are. What you write on your board they see via their projector. What they write on their board you see via your projector. You both have the same image and can work together, although you're in different buildings, cities, even countries. Removing the barriers to co-creation on a physical yet virtual whiteboard is finally possible.
While it's new to the business market, Luidia has been active in the education field for many years. With all the technology available to students at home and play, they expect an entirely different style of teaching and learning than they did 20 years ago. Using eBeam technology in the classroom lets students collaborate on learning, lets teachers bring rich media to life within lessons, and brings distance students into teaching moments.
Next up for Holtzman and his team: Transform the way businesspeople work together around unstructured data. With bandwidth a non-issue, display screens of high quality, and slate tablet ubiquitous, Holtzman wants business collaborators to "touch and feel" unstructured data in a more natural way, contributing wherever they are as though they were there.
Michael Sampson is a collaboration strategist and author. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or +64 3 317 9484 (New Zealand).
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