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Behind the Scenes

"Panaboard" Electronic Whiteboards Revolutionize Classrooms and Training Sites

May 24, 2011
Electronic whiteboards (copy boards) are used in classrooms and meeting rooms all over the world today. Panasonic marketed its first model in 1985. Called Panaboard, it scanned text and other data that was written onto it, and then printed it out onto heat-sensitive paper. Since then, functions have increased year by year to allow printing onto plain paper, linking with a PC, and more, as Panaboard continued to enter global markets one after the other.

Highly Popular in Classrooms

The interactive type elite Panaboard UB-T880 that was first marketed in Japan, Europe and America in 2010 has gained strong popularity in classrooms. The reason for this is that, in addition to letting you project images from a PC screen and then write text onto the images, its interactive function makes it possible to operate the PC screen right from the Panaboard itself. Built-in speakers also produce PC sound with excellent clarity. And other notable features include a unique touch panel that lets you write on the board with either an Electronic Pen or simply with a finger, and the ability for up to three people to write on the board simultaneously.

  • This video shows the UB-T880 features.

    * The products shown in the video are European models. Descriptions using other-brand software and peripheral equipment are also included.
    * The specifications of products, peripheral equipment and software may vary depending on the sales region. For detailed information, please contact your nearest sales outlet.
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    Brennan Payton
    General Manager, Panasonic System Networks Company U.K. Ltd.

"Each country and region inside Europe has its own government, its own educational policy, and its own language. This means that being able to supply software that meets these needs is essential for Panasonic to gain market share. Daily efforts are also required to ensure that the educational committees in each country and region are aware of Panasonic offerings."

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The UB-T880 booth at an educational exhibition in Paris, France, in November 2010 was well received. Young students were also anxious to try it out.

It All Began with Innovative Manufacturing

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    Takeyasu Saito
    Product Planning Group
    Imaging System Business Unit
    Panasonic System Networks Co., Ltd.
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    Hiromi Tanimizu
    Staff Engineer
    Imaging System Business Group
    Imaging System Business Unit
    Panasonic System Networks Co., Ltd.
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    Atsushi Tani
    Staff Designer
    AVCN Design Group 4
    AVC Network Design Sector Design Company
    Panasonic Corporation

Panasonic first entered the educational market in 2008. Because other brands had already established a market presence, it was critical for Panasonic to develop highly unique products with clearly superior technology.

Development Points

  • Study how classroom lessons are given in areas all over the world, and conduct surveys to determine factors such as how easy conventional products are to use. Learn the differences that exist between different countries and regions in order to establish a clear road map for design, e.g., whether the product should be used in combination with existing blackboards or alone as an electronic whiteboard.
  • Make it possible to write on the board with only a finger. Also, allow several people to write simultaneously.
  • Aim to develop a product that is easy to operate and can be used freely and as intuitively as possible, much like writing with a ballpoint pen on a piece of paper.
  • Aim to develop a product that is also easy for children to use, and that is highly durable.

Key Technology: Projection-Type Electrostatic Capacitance System

Studies that were conducted together with the R&D Department led to the decision to develop a multi-touch operation panel based on a new touch panel technology called a Projection-Type Electrostatic Capacitance System.

What's a Projection-Type Electrostatic Capacitance System?

A sheet containing electrodes in a checkerboard-like pattern is built into the electronic whiteboard, and each of the places where the squares meet has a capacitor that stores electricity. A tiny amount of electrical current flows through the checkerboard-like electrodes, and when something touches the board, the electrostatic capacitance of only the touched part changes. The change in that value allows the system to detect the place that the finger or Electronic Pen just touched.

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    A small electrical current flows through the electrode sheet inside the board. When a finger or Electronic Pen touches it, an electrical change occurs at only that location and is immediately detected.

The greatest difficulty in developing this panel was unifying the touch sensitivity. Even though the checkerboard pattern covers the panel with a fine network of electrodes, there are a variety of changes that occur because some of the places that are touched lie between two electrodes, or at the intersection of two checkerboard squares. If the detection sensitivity varies depending on the location, the positional recognition will not be accurate. As a result, detection precision was increased by using not only the single point that was touched, but by combining it with sensitivity values for several locations in the vicinity of the touch to determine the touch location.
Designed in this manner, the UB-T880 lets you enlarge and reduce graphics, and switch modes with a menu window, all with intuitive fingertip ease.

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Also, for example, when someone places one hand flat on the board while using an Electronic Pen in the other hand to write text, the board is able to judge from the area of the flat hand and the amount of time that it remains on the board that it is not writing text and hence, is not part of the text that is being written with the other hand.

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    The UB-T880 also allows up to three people to write on the board at the same time. Furthermore, there is almost no restriction on the writing area.

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    This test instrument is used to set the touch sensitivity.
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    In order to achieve compactness and a mass-production design while creating a high-precision touch panel with electronic whiteboard dimensions, Panasonic began by developing its own unique LSI.
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    A melamine board is used for the front surface to give the board durability and strength. The board also has a stable design so it won't fall over if a child bumps into it, and rounded trim on its corners helps to prevent injury if someone runs into it. A variety of measures have been taken to ensure safety in use.

Teachers want to be able to talk face-to-face with their students instead of staring into a PC. The natural, intuitive operation of the UB-T880 lets them do exactly that with the same ease as the familiar blackboard.

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Panasonic will continue to conduct research in order to develop electronic whiteboards that offer optimal use in the educational environments of each country and region. In this way, we will apply our innovative manufacturing to enhance the learning power of students all over the world. We hope you will look forward to our future achievements.

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