Next-Generation Whiteboard Sessions - OZY | A Modern Media Company

Next-Generation Whiteboard Sessions

Next-Generation Whiteboard Sessions

By Vignesh Ramachandran


Because no one wants to stare at your boring PowerPoint presentation.

By Vignesh Ramachandran

You see them in the polished boardrooms of Fortune 500 companies, in the offices of startups next to the pinball machine and even in your kid’s second-grade classroom. Even in this digital age, the whiteboard retains a central place wherever groups meet to think it out.

But unless you buy a fancy and expensive SMART board, there hasn’t been much exciting innovation in the dry-erase world. The regular whiteboard is still the same glossy surface with stinky erasable ink that most of us grew up with. But a Boston-based startup wants to revolutionize your boring board’s capabilities with the power of a smartphone.

Rocketboard was created to integrate real-world collaboration and brainstorming with the digital world.

No, it’s not one more digital note-taking app. Rocketboard is a new service that lets you share video of your whiteboard in real time with anyone on an Internet connection. That means your team can do its usual whiteboard brainstorming session on a plain old whiteboard — no weird contraptions necessary — and the only extra you’ll need is the Rocketboard app fired up on a camera-enabled iOS smartphone (an Android version is also being developed).

Rocketboard requires you to position your smartphone so its camera can see the whiteboard you’d like to broadcast to your remote meeting attendees. You do have to draw little triangles on the four corners of your whiteboard so the app can recognize the board’s boundaries and optimize the image that’s shared. Your long-distance attendees can log in to the Rocketboard platform and see your whiteboard session in real time. Even cooler: The software can recognize a person standing in front of the board and subtract him or her from the image so no content gets blocked. Shadows and glares from the whiteboard are also removed.

An office meeting centered around a whiteboard

The days of the old whiteboard will soon come to an end if Rocketboard has its way.

CEO Joe Lemay, along with co-founder Alex Tsepkov, created Rocketboard to integrate real-world collaboration and brainstorming with the digital world. They’re starting from a solid premise: As a visual thinker, I’m far more creative coming up with ideas if I handwrite them on paper or jot them on a whiteboard than if I have to bang out bullet points on a PowerPoint. Not everyone shares the same preference, but Lemay says Rocketboard provides a technology that allows people to collaborate via a real-world writing surface rather than an electronic interface.

“You just want to get that idea out of your head,” Lemay told OZY, explaining how Rocketboard’s technology was designed to be integrated into your life so technology gets out of the way.

The new app is still in its early days, with roughly 1,500 active users playing with a limited beta version of the platform. Besides its application at companies, about 10 percent of users work in education, according to Lemay. Starting this fall Rocketboard plans to open up to more users. Most people will be able to use the app for free, but for larger corporate users, there will likely be a cost for added features like password protection.

Snapping a smartphone photo of your whiteboard after a meeting and sending it to colleagues in other locations is nothing new. But adding this handy-dandy app to your iDevice will enable you to stream an optimized, live look at your whiteboard session. And if you can persuade team members to stand up during meetings, your company’s creative energy and productivity might take off in unexpected ways.

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