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What Is An Interactive Projector?

Have you heard of interactive projectors, but you’re not sure what they are or what they can do? Do you work in a job that requires you to give presentations to groups and you need a way to streamline your technology and visuals aids?

If so, this article on interactive projectors might be what you needed. This article will introduce you to what interactive projectors are, and how they work.

By the time you finish reading, you will be familiar with how you can use an interactive projector to make a dynamic and entertaining presentation.

You’ll also know how to set up an interactive printer as a collaboration tool to make your next project meeting more successful and productive.

Specially, we will discuss:

How does an interactive Projector Work?

Before you can understand how your interactive projector works, you need to understand what kind of interactive projector you have.

Consumers have different types of interactive computers to choose from. Each projector has a different style of input, and that is going to change how they work and what you can do with them.

We want to make this information easy to understand for users new to interactive projectors. We will go through each different projector, and go over what makes them unique and how they work.

Pen Based Projectors

girl using pen to write on a board of interactive projector

Pen based projectors are the modern standard when it comes to interactive projectors. They use infrared pens to allow you to write, save notes, interact with presentations, and design collaborative projects without using a computer or any other devices.

Pen based projectors work by creating an invisible grid over your projection. The projector then keeps track of where the pen or stylus is by tracking an infrared signal coming off of the pen.

By viewing the signal off of the pen, the projector can tell what you are writing, and by placing on the grid, can match it to the images it’s displaying from your presentation.

The projector saves the pen strokes you make on another layer that it displays over your original projection and displays them along with the original projection.

The projector can then save these notes to its own memory, allowing you to keep your notes separate from the presentation in case other people want to make their own notes or view the untouched original.

Some projectors also come with two or more pens, each of which is tracked with its own separate infrared signal. This allows you to collaborate with note takers or designers.

Everyone with a pen can create their own notes and designs at the same time. Pen based projectors are a great choice for anyone looking to brainstorm in small groups.

Touch Based Projectors

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Most interactive projectors work by tracking a stylus, but some offer users the choice to control the projector by using their hands.

These projectors track the presenter’s hands like they keep track of the pens. The projector displays an invisible grid over the original presentation, and keeps track of where the presenter moves his or her hand.

A touch based projector uses a light sensitive sensor to track where the light is blocked by the user’s hands. Instead of looking for an infrared sensor, it tracks your shadow over the presentation.

This is useful because you won’t need to keep track of a pen or buy more equipment to use your interactive projector. Unlike a stylus, you can never lose your shadow.

Since a touch based projector keeps track of shadow or light, it will not be able to tell the difference between different users all trying to take notes at once. It cannot create different signals or different people.

This makes touch based projectors less useful for collaboration in groups. It can also be a problem if someone walks in front of the projector. This will read as an input from a touch based projector, regardless if the input was intentional or not.

This can make touch based projectors impractical depending on where or how you intend to use them. Unless you think keeping track of pens will be a big problem, I highly suggest the pen based interactive projectors.

Wireless Connection Projectors

wireless connection projector connects with a tablet

Wireless connection projectors may suit your needs, but they are not truly interactive projectors like touch based and pen based projectors.

A wireless connection projector is a projection that can work with and connect with a tablet, PC, or other device to display what your device’s screen would display.

You can draw on a tablet and move through a power point display, and whatever you mark down on your tablet will be projected in real time.

A wireless connection projector won’t have its own memory, and won’t be able to save anything you do. It will have to go on your device’s memory.

I am including this projector here because they are often advertised as interactive projectors, even though they lack the key features that a pen based or touch based interactive projector has.

I recommend doing your research to make sure that your interactive projector is ready for interactive display right out of the box, with no added purchases or parts.

If the interactive projector you are considering does not have interactive pens included, or is not stated to be touch based, it may not have the interactive features you are looking for.

How do I use an Interactive projector?

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As we have covered, each projector is going to be different. I recommend you read the operations manual that came with your projector. It should give you the full details on how your model operates.

If you have a touch or pen based model of interactive projector, using it will be intuitive. We will walk you through the process of setting up and using a pen based projector, like the one listed here. 

Interactive projectors that use pens are the most common interactive projector, so you will probably be using a similar model. If not, it should be like any truly interactive projector that does not need another tablet or device to work.

Step 1: Set up your Interactive Pen

The first step to setting up the projector will be to get your interactive pen ready. This is a simple process, so don’t worry.

As long as the interactive projector is turned on, and the interactive pen has a functioning battery, you need to hold the interactive pen up to the projector screen and press down.

This will bring up a menu that will allow you to choose a tool with the interactive pen. Options will include different ink colors and line thickness settings like what you might find in a paint program. Other menu options can include erase tools, mouse buttons for use with a connected PC, which we will explain later.

Select an ink, and you can start drawing and making notes on your interactive projector by holding the pen up to the projector screen and drawing with it like a normal marker.

Every other step is automatically run by the projector. You do not need to sync the pen up to the projector or boot up software. The projector already knows what inferred signal to look for from the pen.

Step 2: Connect your Interactive Projector to your Computer

If your goal is to set up a marker and draw on your projector screen, you’re already done, but you can do a lot more than you can do with an interactive projector if you connect it to a computer.

Connecting your projector to your computer is like connecting it to a computer screen. You need to run the right cable from your computer to the projector. Depending on your computer, you will need to run an HDMI cable to your projector, or a VGA cable if your computer uses it.

In case you are new to projector set-ups, an HDMI cable looks like this. The port for it should look like a flat rectangle with a little bump towards the bottom.

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A VGA cable is much larger and looks different. Due to its size, you will often find screws near the port to help secure the plug. You can find a VGA port by the small holes in the port for the pins in the connector.

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If you are using a VGA connection, you might also need to run a cable from the headphone jack on your computer to the projector. This is not necessary if you have a separate speaker system set up or if you are using an HDMI connection.

Your computer is now connected to your interactive projector. Once you connect the cable, the programming in the projector should set everything else up.

Step 3: Running your Computer off of Your Interactive Projector

Once you have plugged your computer into your projector, take the pen and hold it up to the projector screen like before.

Instead of selecting a pen tool to draw on the screen, choose a choice from the menu that looks like a computer mouse. This will switch the display on the projector to show what your computer screen would show.

You can now use the projector’s pen like a computer mouse, to run any computer application you like while standing up in front of the projector giving your presentation.

Pressing the pen to the projector screen should work as a click on your computer. Pressing the pen twice will input a double click, and holding the pen down for a several seconds will input as a right click.

Using this set up, you can run PowerPoint from the projector screen, as well as any video player or other program you like.

By bringing up the menu again or by pressing a button on the pen, you will also be able to switch back to writing with the pen. This will allow you to make notes as needed, which you could then save as a file on your computer.

You can also use your interactive projector to collaborate on projects. Since an interactive computer can assign multiple pens, you can have several coworkers open and edit programs with you, like you were all working together on the same computer.

Final Conclusions

An interactive projector can help you keep up a good flow and pacing when presenting for a group. As someone who had made professional presentations at work, I would often become frustrated when I had to stop my presentation to transition to a new slide or bring up a new visual. Interactive projectors solve that problem by bringing the computer technology you need on stage with you.

Interactive projectors are also great for using visual aids to collaborate with people. If you are having a work meeting to go over a problem, letting different people manipulate the presentation and write down ideas at the same time streamlines the process.

Related post: Interactive Projector Vs. Smart Board: What Is For You?

Last update on 2022-08-19 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API.

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