|Virtual Ink Electronically Records Whiteboard Information to PCs Using ADSP-2186|
White Boards with a Mission
When a couple of MIT engineers started Virtual Ink in 1997 they set out to solve a common problem that all professionals have when they need to communicate how does one both take notes and listen skillfully at the same time? Virtual Ink introduced mimio in 1998 as a lightweight, portable and affordable device that attaches to a whiteboard, connects to a PC and electronically records everything that is written and/or drawn. Notes from brainstorming sessions and design meetings can be instantly recorded and then shared with colleagues and customers across the table or in remote locations across the world in color and real time.
Beyond Early Adopters
After the successful launch of their first generation mimio product, Virtual Ink surveyed their current and future customers asking them what product changes and features they needed to add or change to make the product better. The overwhelming response was to make the product smaller, sleeker, more portable and to reduce set up time. This presented an almost impossible design challenge for the Virtual Ink engineers.
Technology Paradigm Shift
The design team quickly realized that, with all the required changes, some major engineering paradigm shifts would be required to take place. They needed to digitize raw data, this process had to now be contained within the unit and then synch with the computer. "Our original product used analog circuitry and 8 bit micro to send raw data to the PC. The new design required a 'stand alone' mode where the mimio recorded data to flash without being connected to a PC" explains William Moyne, VI's chief hardware engineer. "We couldn't continue down the 8 bit microcontroller path, we simply needed more horsepower." That is when VI realized that they needed a DSP solution and the expertise to make it work for them in their unique environment.
For Virtual Ink, the distinction started to become clear as Analog Devices presented a creative solution to overcome some of the development challenges that were standing in the way. The ADI team was able to prove that they had the technical expertise required to go the distance throughout the entire design process. That is when VI went 'digital' with the ADSP2186 and were able to embed all the filtering and post-processing originally done by the PC into ADI's DSP. The new DSP-powered mimio also helped VI win OEM designs because the capture technology could be embedded in other systems without the need for external post-processing of data. "Because of the support we received in launching this critical product line, Analog Devices and our distributor, Future/FAI Electronics, will continue to partner with us in creating premium low cost personal devices to help our customers communicate better," explained Stefan Kohler, VI's CEO.
For more information about Virtual Ink, please visit www.mimio.com.