The New SMART Board Pro Series: Democratizing Digital Contribution for True Collaboration


smart board pro

By Frazer Couzens
Manager, Enterprise Strategy at SMART Technologies 

You know SMART Technologies for the original SMART Board the AV industry’s first-ever interactive whiteboard. A lot has changed since this category was created, from its roots in front projection and “side of room” whiteboarding to an ever-confusing market of interactive displays all seeming to claim benefits of digital “collaboration.

But SMART isn’t looking at the past; it’s looking toward the future. It’s been doing so for the last 30 years. In fact, SMART’s new line of SMART Board Pro solutions is already in the future. And it’s helping customers realize true collaboration. How? We’ll let you in on three secrets to explain, revealing how SMART Technologies is democratizing digital contribution in the age of web-conference meetings.

Secret #1: SMART Is Not Only for Education

SMART is a clear leader in the education technology (#edtech) space, where it’s worked with teachers and students to design display features that boost collaboration and learning outcomes. What you may not know, however, is that this isn’t the only application SMART is playing in.

Our first secret: SMART is not only for education. Leveraging the knowledge it gained in the challenging classroom environment, SMART developed the new SMART Board Pro line for business. It’s ideal for conveying ideas, annotating and highlighting points of emphasis — and delivering presentations/lectures with higher levels of engagement.

If you haven’t seen them recently, take a look: SMART’s interactive displays include built-in iQ computing. (Think of it as a smart TV, but rather than allowing you to access Netflix or your favorite streaming apps, it lets you share content and use a digital whiteboard.) With proximity detectors, you don’t even need to worry about the remote control and how to turn it on. This has made all the difference in reducing the learning curve, enabling the casual worker to “walk up and use it.” This is crucial for the AV industry (and, more importantly, for your customers).

One reason SMART has dominated is because it has the most comprehensive tools (e.g., specific drivers like SMART Ink, etc.). History has proven SMART’s approach to be successful in getting users familiar and comfortable with their new technology, solving for that all-too-familiar fear of full-on user adoption never fully being realized. 

Secret #2: First in the Category Does Not Mean Slow to Innovate

You know a business or two that was first to its category; showing up before everyone else is a great accomplishment. A lot of these businesses sit back and ride the wave of success that comes with being first. In the case of interactive whiteboarding, it was SMART who showed up first. But instead of stopping and staying in that comfortable space, SMART kept going. 

Our second secret is that SMART, despite being the first to its category, has been innovating ever since its very first launch. With more than three decades of learning and feedback behind it, SMART has figured out what is necessary to drive digital collaboration — and the new professional line of 4K interactive displays is proof of this. The new Pro line makes total sense in ProAV.

Here’s how it works: You choose your SMART Board from the Pro series, then your conferencing platform (their board works with any of them — Skype for Business, Microsoft Teams, Webex, GoToMeeting, Zoom, Google Hangouts), then your meeting peripherals. It’s that simple. To go further, SMART’s iQ Android™ computing technology gives the user one-touch access to apps and features: customizable home screens, digital whiteboarding, web browsers, wireless screen-sharing, file and app libraries, and automatic over-the-air (OTA) updates. With iQ, you also have the ability to integrate SMART’s collaboration software — SMART TeamWorks™ and SMART Meeting Pro® — into the Pro models.

Here are the series you should know:

  • MX Pro: The MX Pro series provides all the interactive tools teams need to collaborate with ease; this is the value-priced SMART Board Pro, but it’s also built to last. It’s available in 65-inch, 75-inch and 86-inch sizes, and it includes a proprietary HyPr Touch™ technology, aiding in touch/pen performance (i.e., no lag). There are 20 simultaneous touch points for both Windows® and Mac®. The MX Pro, along with the others in the SMART Board Pro series, is designed with SMART iQ.
  • 6000S Pro: The newly upgraded 6000S Pro series now includes SMART’s highly anticipated ToolSense™ technology, its lead feature that bridges physical and digital spaces; the technology is exclusive to SMART (i.e., it’s nowhere else on the market today). Fundamental to ToolSense is that it’s intuitive — like having a sixth sense. Just pick up the tool or object and interact with the board. Then, the interactive display automatically recognizes a physical object and produces a digital interaction. Get the 6000S Pro in 65, 75 or 86 inches.
  • 7000R Pro: The 7000R Pro series is the hub of the meeting room. It’s differentiated in a couple ways from the 6000 Pro series, one of which is the larger size offerings in 75 or 86 inches. The 7000R Pro recreates a precise writing experience through HyPr Touch with EMR (Electromagnetic Resonance) technology, with support for more than 1,000 levels of pressure by the pens for an intuitive pen-to-paper feel. The 7000R Pro includes 20 simultaneous touch points for both Windows and Mac.
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For SMART, first to the category didn’t mean being slow to innovate. It meant the opposite. Choosing to improve itself continuously despite so much initial success speaks to the group’s core mission and product — a collaboration solution that helps teams achieve better outcomes.

Secret #3: Conferencing Is Not Collaboration

The UCC market has become so cluttered, it’s hard to discern what successful collaboration — and the technology that fuels it — means anymore. Our third secret is a perspective that’s helped SMART stand out in the modernized space of conferencing and collaboration.

Here it is: Collaboration is not realized when people just participate in a conference. Yes, conferencing is one step of collaboration, but it doesn’t mean the whole group is working together to reach a better idea. As an industry, we mix up the wordsparticipate” and “collaborate.” The reality is collaboration must include both contribution AND interaction. Not just participation.

Take web conferences. Video technology is certainly used in a majority of collaboration rooms today. But alone, video isn’t collaboration; it’s just a richer method of communicating. The AV market pawns off videoconferencing as collaboration, using it as a buzzword to sell product. A true collaboration product, however, ensures everyone’s ideas are heard without one personality overpowering the other — even in a room mixed with introverts, extroverts and anyone in between. 

SMART’s position, that digital collaboration has to include both contribution and interaction, has driven the design of its new Pro series solutions for business. It is why it created TeamWorks™ software, a next-generation meeting room hub for starting any web conference call with the touch of a button. Share your device’s content to the meeting without requiring downloads or apps, and join a “connected” digital whiteboard for all attendees to contribute, refine, add, insert, review and save.

To be clear, the new Pro series isn’t just a product upgrade. It’s a newly defined vision. With its business line, SMART is taking a huge step in redefining itself to the AV industry, targeting the collaboration-led UC space. Thankfully, the group already holds a top leadership position in AV (and has a solid history and compelling story to tell), which makes it well-suited to take this on.

Three Secrets Revealed. So What?

Instead of just specifying new technology, work with your customers to inspire better outcomes in your professional spaces (conference and meeting rooms, huddle spaces, training rooms, open spaces for collaboration, personal offices and more). Whether it’s for presentations and conferencing, ideation and innovation, command and control, or project management, SMART’s solution helps businesses realize true collaboration — a huge step forward for the AV industry.

Many options in the market will claim the answer to modernizing your meetings is to convert to a technology that includes a camera, VoIP mikes with wireless presentation, and an all-in-one touch display. But ask yourself this: Are you seeking a conferencing system or a full-fledged digital collaboration system?