Monday, March 19, 2012

I Turned My Projector into a Smartboard Today!

I moved to a new district this school year. I've been going through painful withdrawal pains without a Smartboard. Ouch. One day I saw an article about a "Wiimote hack" that could turn a projector into a Smartboard. Johnny Chung Lee of Carnegie Mellon University came up with this brilliant idea. I watched the video below...but I thought it sounded difficult. (Don't worry though, I found the perfect solution.) Here is Johnny Chung Lee's video so you can get the basic idea:

Again, I thought it sounded a bit above my head. I wanted something prepackaged...and I found it!!! I went to I was able to order the software (Smoothboard), bluetooth, premade infrared pens, AND Wiimotes. I was so excited to hook it up this morning. My students were thrilled!

The Hookup
It was relatively easy. I followed the directions on BoonJin. First, I downloaded the Smoothboard software, and plugged in the bluetooth to my USB drive. Once my computer recognized the bluetooth, I was ready to move on. Next, I opened the Smoothboard software and waited for the software to recognize the Wiimotes. This is where I got my only glitch. My glitch was getting the Smoothboard software to recognize the Wiimotes. It turns out I hadn't read the directions one of my second graders helped me. Thank you Keaton! It turns out you don't just press the power button on the hold down buttons 1 and 2 until the software recognizes it. *Sigh* Details.

Wii Remote
Wii Remote (Photo credit: Kyota)
Next, I arranged the Wiimotes so they could pick up the input from the infrared pens as the pens touch the screen. I placed one Wiimote on top of the projector, and another on top of of a very tall cabinet. It worked! Finally, I ran the calibration that the Smoothboard software uses to make sure your infrared pens are accurate. Done.

Off and Running
My only problem is that my projector screen is too high for students to reach, and the screen moves a little bit. I've asked the technology department to direct my projector display to my whiteboard instead.  That will solve both the stability and location issues. If they won't, I'll have to figure out how to secure my screen.  

My kids LOVE it! They are so excited to have an interactive whiteboard. It engages their interest and gives them a new tool for learning. We were even able to play Math Lines on Primary Games today!

The Difference
The difference between this solution and a Smartboard is that you have to use the infrared pens to interact. A Smartboard allows you to use just your finger OR a pen. The pen is also not as accurate as on a Smartboard from what I've seen so far. That may change once I'm projecting straight onto my whiteboard.

This is a VERY affordable alternative to spending thousands of dollars on a Smartboard. If I can do can you. If not, maybe Keaton can come to your class too!

Again, the website is
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  1. I found that if you use more powerful batteries the accuracy is improved. I made my own pens so I was able to include the bigger batteries. The pen I made was something similar to this but used two batteries

  2. Great to know! Thank you so much. I'll look into that.

  3. Wow! Don't you feel smart? I have been wondering how to do the same in my classroom. I also have a hanging screen that's too tall for the students, but I also have a whiteboard. I love that one of your 2nd graders knew what to do. I teach 2nd grade too and it amazes me how tech savvy they are. I will difinitely be checking this out.

  4. Those 2nd graders are tech savvy for sure! I found out my district won't lower my I removed the adjustable leg sections of one of my long tables and placed it in front of the wall where the screen is. It turned out to be the perfect height for the kids.