SMART Board with Cisco Video Conferencing

Overview

The initial request came from my CIO at the time, who was really big into video conferencing.  We had just signed up with Zoom at the time, and he wanted a way to use our Cisco Video Endpoints with a touchscreen, but didn’t want to use a Cisco Board.  He was actually very adamant that we used SMART brand boards, actually.  After initial concepts, I sat down with our AV vendor and came up with this concept, which uses a Cisco Webex Room Kit Plus codec along with a SMART Board.

The goal was to make a collaboration room that is as easy to use as possible.  We wanted users to be able to walk in with their laptops and either use their own laptop or a room based PC and log in with their own credentials so that they have access to their own private files, but in a collaboration space.

Hardware Design

The SMART board requires a USB 3 connection to be associated with each video input (HDMI). This associates the touch inputs with the video stream selected and allows the computer to be controlled via the SMART board touch sensors.

To accomplish this while making the user experience as easy as possible, we installed a Crestron controller as well as an Extron USB switch. Both computers, the in-room PC and the user Laptop were given a USB connection that goes to the USB switch and an HDMI connection that goes to the input connections on the codec. These two devices then have a single output to the SMART board display.

When the user walks in the room and taps the screen of the Cisco Touch 10 to wake up the system, the codec outputs a wake-up message that the Crestron Controller see’s, which then relays the wake up to the smart board so that the board powers on and goes to the right input. The same process is used to shut down the board when the codec goes into standby or is shut down.

When the user selects share on the Cisco Touch 10, the codec outputs a message and the Crestron controller knows that a specific input has been selected. The Crestron controller then sends a message to the USB switch via RS-232 letting it know to select the associated USB input from the right computer.

You can see what this looks like from a hardware perspective in the image below.

User Workflow

The user workflow is very simple:

  1. The user comes into the room and taps the touch screen to wake up the system. They will be presented with a standard list of options.
  2. The user connects their personal laptop to the HDMI and USB cables located on the table.
  3. The user taps the blue Share button and is presented with the option for either the In-Room PC or the Table Input. They will select whichever option they wish to use.
  4. The user can now walk up to the board and begin utilzing touch functionality.

One important thing to note here is that the in-room PC has the smart board software installed, so you can write anywhere, however that license only comes with, if I remember correctly, 7 end user licenses per board. So we didn’t have enough for every users personal laptop without purchasing more. For this reason, we didn’t install it on any laptops. So if the user wanted to use their laptop, they could still use the “draw” functionality within microsoft products, but they couldn’t use the SMART drawing tools.

For anyone curious, the cost of these rooms were roughly $23,000 per room including all hardware and labor costs.

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