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Will whiteboards become part of the collaboration experience at events?

This morning, I read an article on interactive whiteboards that got me thinking about whiteboards and collaboration in events.  The article indicated that interactive whiteboards were improving learning and collaboration in educational environments. Also, it said that 1 in 7 classrooms will be using these interactive whiteboards by 2011.

It made me wonder – will we start seeing whiteboards and interactive tables at meetings and events?

For those of you that are new to interactive whiteboards – Wikipedia has a great definition and description of the technology: Interactive Whiteboard. It should help you understand the difference between whiteboards and interactive whiteboards.

Collaboration Lounge for Events

Sometimes, we forget that people need the space and tools to communicate and collaborate at events. A few weeks ago, I learned about a new concept called the Collaboration Lounge that solves this problem (see Meetings Podcast Interview with Jay Smethurst). Essentially, a collaboration lounge is a networking space outfitted with comfortable furniture, markers and whiteboards. Participants use these whiteboards/markers much like they would use the back of a napkin or scrap paper to draw pictures and explain ideas. In some cases, Jay’s team will create visual summaries of breakout sessions and post those in the collaboration lounge, too. Then, participants can use those summaries to share ideas across sessions or expand on key points.

Interactive Collaboration Tables

From a technology point of view, it seems that the interactive technology is arriving in tables too. In this example of a collaborative table – you can start to imagine how this might work in large groups that are doing idea sharing, brainstorming, etc.


While that video gets me excited about the future of collaboration, it still seems a bit futuristic for most events – today.  Having said that, Microsoft launched an interactive table called Microsoft Surface in 2008. Sheraton Hotels is one of the customers using the technology – in Boston, Chicago, New York, San Francisco and Seattle.

Have you seen this?

To get a feel for the way people are using these tables checkout Fast Company’s “Killer Apps for Microsoft Surface.” The article pulls together several video links of different applications of Microsoft Surface — including my favorite the DaVinci.

What do you think?

Do you think that these tools can help you (or your clients) create interactive and collaborative experiences for participants? Will we start seeing whiteboards, interactive whiteboards and tables at events? Are you interested in using (or already using) these types of tools in your events?

Written by

Samuel J. Smith is the Managing Director of Interactive Meeting Technology, LLC. He wakes up every morning to save the world from stuffing attendees in chairs for hours on end at events. Oh, and he has small children who usually want some breakfast.