At first glance, SMART Technologies’ new 6000S Series includes the kind of features you’d expect from a high end interactive display screen. Available in 65-, 75- and 86-inch varieties, there’s support for Chromium-based browsers and other education apps via the company’s ‘iQ experience’ platform, and an update to existing tech in the form of ‘Hypertouch’, which enables the screen to operate with lower latency and precision while recognising up two 20 unique touch targets at once, rather than the eight simultaneous finger touches of previous models. What makes it more unusual is that it’s been designed with an eye towards future applications.
The new 6000S includes a sensor array that measures proximity, for turning the screen on and off based on nearby movement, but also as ambient light, temperature and humidity. The company hopes that the latter three will help education researchers gather useful metrics regarding classroom environments, though the mechanism for storing and sharing that information remains under development.
But perhaps its most arresting feature is what SMART Technologies calls ‘Tool Sense.’ Building on the company’s previous work with pen technology – which enables two users to interact with the same screen using differently coloured pens – we were shown how it’s possible to interact with the 6000S using physical objects.
We watched as building block-style cubes with a letter on each side were utilised in an early years literacy activity. Pressing a specific side against the screen caused that letter to appear, accompanied by verbal feedback and a visual association. The scope is there for the screen to recognise unique letters, words and shapes in an unusually tactile way, but how the technology ends up being used remains to be seen. The 6000S is presently shipping with the technology on board, but SMART Technology’s cubes aren’t ready for prime time just yet. The company is embarking on a listening and research exercise among teaching professionals to hone the technology and get a better sense of where it can help, though presumably users will at some point be able to specify their own custom tools and symbols. In the meantime, further details can be found at smarttech.com.