How Do Smart Boards Work?

By Tiesha Whatley

Smart Boards are developed by SMART Technologies as an interactive whiteboard with a touch screen. It was first introduced in 1991 as a way for presenters to control Windows-based applications easily. Smart Boards are finding their way into classrooms, training sessions, conferences and board meetings. The environment allows instructors and presenters to control a presentation in a more flexible way than just sitting behind a computer and projector.

Using and connecting a Smart Board is very easy and uncomplicated. The projector and Smart Board are connected to the computer. Through the projector, an image of the computer screen is displayed on the Smart Board. The Smart Board then takes it a step further and acts as an interactive touch screen monitor for the computer. By touching the Smart Board, the user is able to click on buttons, highlight text and drop and drag items right from the Smart Board.

The Smart Board can be connected to the computer either wirelessly or through cables. The wireless connection works the same as WiFi or Bluetooth. Connecting through cables can be done with either a USB or serial ports. Using a wireless connection is preferred for larger rooms because it eliminates tripping over twisted cables. The projector is then connected to the computer. Supply all three items with power and you are ready to go.

Smart Boards come with different options for the screen type and resolution just like choosing a television set. You can either get a flat-panel or projection screen. The additional options for flat-panel are either plasma or LCD. For the projection, you can choose rear- or front-projection screens.

The resistive technology used in Smart Boards is the same that is used with PDAs. This allows the Smart Board to be able to process the movement of a finger or pen tool when it touches the surface. The resistive technology is basically a sheet of thin resistive film over a sturdy backboard. When the finger or the pen tool glides over the resistive film, it causes the reflective film to touch the backboard. This is then sent as an analog signal to the computer. In some models, Digital Vision Touch is used for this function instead of the resistive film, which is a much better solution because it doesn't have the same limitations as the resistive technology.

Some other elements that can be used for the Smart Boards are pen tools, software, video player, recorder, on-screen keyboard and screen shade. The Smart Board comes compatible with some of the technology already used in today's classrooms and businesses.