Kaptivo provides a unique cloud-connected digital collaboration system.
Several years ago, I was working with an organization that worked with educators to ensure that all children had access to a solid early childhood education. It was a very worthy cause, but as I quickly discovered, technology in the classroom can be quite costly. To interact with other classrooms across the city, state, and even country, those educators would use a system called a Promethean Board. It’s an interactive whiteboard that combines multi-touch functionality with a dry-erase surface. This type of product makes it possible for collaboration to take place across many miles using the internet as its doorway. I was in awe about what this educational tool could do, but shocked at the cost (up to $7,000 per board). In a time when many children have trouble with paying for their books or even good shoes to wear to school, asking for a collaboration tool like that seems far too expensive. Apparently, there are some others out there who think as I do and so they developed a much more affordable option for interactive collaboration: Kaptivo.
Kaptivo is an IoT device that allows you to share the surface of any whiteboard online. Kaptivo has a connected micro-optical camera and advanced processor housed together in a sleek looking module that can be mounted to the wall above your whiteboard. The device was designed to help solve the challenges many working teams face these days with remote workers. I’ve been in that position before and it can be cumbersome to hold or participate in a meeting when there are people gathered together on one end of the phone while you are sitting alone in a remote location. Kaptivo can help to bring teams together even if they aren’t in the same physical location.
To begin with Kaptivo, you first have to install it. The arm that houses the camera is approximately 2-feet in length. So, you need to make sure you have enough space for that. Other than that, there are no major obstacles to overcome with the installation. The arm comes with a mounting plate, a control panel (with a mounting plate), and screws to use for attaching everything to a wall. For testing purposes only, I opted to create a simple set-up that didn’t require wall mounting just yet.
To get the camera rolling, you simply plug the Micro USB cable into the control pod and then plug the control pod into a power outlet. Then, the camera starts right up. It will automatically detect the corners of a whiteboard, but if for some reason it cannot, you will have the option to adjust it manually. From here, you must set-up your Kaptivo device online by visiting setup.kaptivo.live. This is a very similar process to setting up smart mobile WiFi devices through your mobile phone. You have to connect to the Kaptivo as a WiFi network first and then it pulls network settings from your computer or mobile device. Your Kaptivo board is given a unique id number that will be used for you to broadcast your whiteboard live online. You can share your screen by inviting others to view it and when you are done sharing, you can download a PDF of the screens that broadcast as if it were a slide deck.
Kaptivo includes a very helpful quick start guide with the device and also a pop-up tent with instructions so that you can display it in the conference or meeting room you are using the board in. I thought this was a nice touch as it notifies people immediately that you have this technology available.
Overall, I was very impressed with what Kaptivo could do. Here are some of my thoughts:
- Kaptivo doesn’t typically capture anything except what is written on the white board. There were a few instances when I moved the board or my hand happened to be captured that I think were exceptions and not the rule to this feature.
- The image you get is very clear. You will see from some of my example shots that there are some blotches on the board. I believe this is due to a spotlight I was using as well as the fact the the whiteboard is older and not a pristine white. If you use a dark enough marker on the board, it will register just fine on the computer screen.
- Kaptivo needs good lighting to broadcast a clear picture. I ended up using my phone’s flashlight as an option for additional lighting and it worked pretty well. I believe a standard conference room with overhead lighting will work just fine with Kaptivo’s camera. I would hope that maybe future models of the device would include an optional light.
- When you view a Kaptivo cast you need to realize that you aren’t really seeing live video. An image is captured every 10-15 second and then the image that is broadcast is refreshed. As long as you know this is how Kaptivo works you will be able to pace your meetings adequately.
- The camera arm does get a bit warm the longer you use it. I would just be aware of this and discontinue sharing as soon as you are done with a meeting.
I have included a short demo of the start up of the board and what a Kaptivo-cast looks like. And here is a link to the complete PDF of the demo.
I really like that this option for deeper meeting collaboration exists. It’s still a pretty young product, but works very well and I am looking forward to what Kaptivo develops next. For the price of $400, it’s a completely reasonable option for smaller companies and schools to use for distance learning and remote meetings.
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