Interactive Administrator

Tech Trends

Interoperability: SMART Products Follow Standards, are Future Proof and Open

Interactive Administrator once again talked with Vaughn Keenan, vice president of product development at SMART Technologies. In the previous article, Keenan explained how SMART’s products integrate and meet industry standards. In this discussion, he explains interoperability and what it means to SMART users.

IA: What role does SMART play in the development of industry interoperability standards as they relate to classroom technology?

Vaughn Keenan: As the global leader in interactive whiteboards, SMART has a responsibility to customers, educators and students to be involved at a grassroots level. We recognize that interoperability makes classroom technology easier for educators to adopt, and that’s our overall goal. To that end, we actively participate in the creation of standards, both nationally and internationally.

Creation and implementation of industry standards is challenging because of the diverse needs of many stakeholders, but we are committed to being involved in the creation of interoperability standards for technology in education. For example, we support the common file format initiative for interactive whiteboards in the UK, and we have been one of the key stakeholders helping to define the specification. As well, SMART representatives sit on committees and engage in formal dialogue with policy makers, and we are represented in industry associations such as ISTE [International Society for Technology in Education], SALTIS [Suppliers Association for Learning Technology and Interoperability in Schools] and SIIA [Software and Information Industry Association]. These are all associations that shape standards.

“At SMART, not only are our products inherently interoperable, we also wanted to offer resources to help third parties integrate with them.”

Vaughn Keenan

Senior VP, Product Development

SMART Technologies

IA: What is the purpose of the SMART Development Network?

Vaughn Keenan: At SMART, not only are our products inherently interoperable, we also wanted to offer resources to help third parties integrate with them. So we’ve created the SMART Development Network to house these resources, which include a number of software development kits. These SDKs allow third parties such as researchers, academics and software and hardware developers to create and build products or applications that integrate with ours.

For example, the SMART Board SDK enables users to create applications that work with the features of the SMART Board interactive whiteboard. We also have an SDK for the SMART Table interactive learning center. The SMART Table SDK supports development in C++, C#, VB and Java languages, and includes source code for multitouch interface elements such as photographs and text regions. Much like Apple invites developers to create applications for its popular iPhone, SMART encourages third parties to develop multiuser, multitouch education content and applications for the SMART Table using our development tools. With additional applications from third-party developers around the world, the SMART Table will become an even more engaging and intuitive classroom solution for our users.

IA: SMART recently announced a new web-based version of its award-winning SMART Notebook software. Is this another example of openness?

Vaughn Keenan: It certainly is, and we think it’s significant that SMART is the first interactive whiteboard company to create a web-based collaborative learning software. SMART Notebook Express will give users universal access to tens of thousands of free resources, regardless of platform, file type or brand of interactive whiteboard. The web-based version will also allow sharing of SMART Notebook files and content with no need for software installation or user logon.

IA: Can you share some examples of future-proof SMART products?

Vaughn Keenan: The bulk of new features added to SMART products are software based, which means the products evolve as we introduce new features in response to customer feedback. For example, with the SMART Table, we continue to add new multitouch applications to increase the number of ways a teacher can use the product to support learning in the classroom. With the SMART Product Update, users are automatically prompted to upgrade to new versions of software as SMART makes them available, which ensures the SMART Table has longevity.

Two other examples of future-proof products also come to mind. SMART offers 16:9 and 16:10 SMART Board interactive whiteboards that support widescreen projectors, in keeping with the trend toward widescreen film and video. And our SMART Board 600 series interactive whiteboard was designed with an expansion slot located in the Pen Tray. This extra space allows customers to add hardware upgrades in the future, such as a projector control button.