Pupils and teachers using the modern day, ICT-focused classroom, stand to benefit from two unique new products designed for use with the increasingly popular interactive whiteboard. Award-winning product design specialist, Industrial Design Cons
Pupils and teachers using the modern day, ICT-focused classroom, stand to benefit from two unique new products designed for use with the increasingly popular interactive whiteboard. Award-winning product design specialist, Industrial Design Consultancy Ltd (IDC), was called on by Steljes to develop a secure, vandal-proof projector mount and a sturdy step for children that would make the whiteboard more user-friendly.
Called Steljes System 10, Steljes has developed a state-of-the-art projector solution in collaboration with Toshiba.
By carefully analysing the ergonomics of classroom use, IDC’s in-house team of product developers, engineers and project managers worked together to create a design that addressed the issues central to schools – health and safety, ease of use and assembly, and security.
Stephen Knowles, managing director of IDC, explained, “The user is often forced to shade his eyes from screen glare, so we worked on a design that would, uniquely, extend up and away from the wall at a specific height and angle. The projector’s light path is kept on the whiteboard and well out of the presenter’s eyeline. It also means that the teacher and class can see each other, and shadows are dramatically reduced.”
Designed to fit at various wall heights, the mount can also be used with all whiteboard sizes and types. During the concept phase, IDC balanced the requirements for usability, aesthetics and structural stability using an efficient and elegant suspension bridge-type arrangement. During the prototyping stage, tooling costs were saved by using low-volume aluminium and plastic casting processes to manufacture the parts and test the design prior to committing to production tooling.
IDC incorporated another feature that is entirely unique, not only for mounts used in the education sector, but beyond. Traditionally projector mounts have relied on two-man teams for assembly and consisted of breakable brackets that are easily removable by thieves or vandals. IDC devised a sturdy pivot system that allows the mount to be erected and finely adjusted by just one person inside hours, easily supporting its own weight so that it can even be left halfway through assembly if necessary.
With schools investing in such an important piece of kit for the classroom, security was a key design feature. The mount was built to be both solid and robust, using only security screws to make it very difficult to dismantle. An optional secure cage keeps the projector hidden and protected as a secondary deterrent. If the projector were removed from its cage illegally, it could not be turned on – making it instantly redundant to a potential thief. Its external control panel, exterior image control buttons and power switch are all carefully integrated into the unit’s secure, wall-mounted connection panel and remote control.
“The projector mount is a ground-breaking design. It’s extremely secure, easy to assemble and convenient to use, without compromising on aesthetics. The simple design reflects its ease of use,” commented Ashley Rudd of Steljes.
The design is certainly a first for the education market, but its benefits could also extend to the corporate sector too.
IDC is also finalising a second design for Steljes that will be sold as an additional option to schools: a solid step for children to gain access to interactive whiteboards.
“Whiteboards are normally placed at teacher height, therefore children are not always able to reach the interactive whiteboard to physically participate in the ICT-based teaching approach. We felt there was a simple and hugely beneficial way to get children more involved in the interactive process, and that is the design of a step that will meet all the necessary health and safety standards,” said Mr. Rudd.
IDC worked within a two month design and prototype delivery period. A solid resin model weighing some 100 kilos was used to show the initial design. This was then developed into a glass fibre prototype that was both safe and strong for use at the major education trade show, BETT, where the product was extremely well received by the education sector. The final design will use rotationally moulded polyethylene.
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