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Ask Slashdot: Replacing Paper With Tablets For Design Meetings?

Unknown Lamer posted about 2 months ago | from the where's-the-messagepad-now dept.

Portables 143

New submitter faderrider (3726665) writes I work in the healthcare design industry and our firm is looking to get away from using paper during our design meetings. My first thought was to load our reports and plans on a tablet, bring a half dozen or so tablets for attendees and somehow create a local ad hoc network that would allow them to view my desktop. A little more thinking brought me to consider the value of attendees being able to mark up documents on their own, or take control of what is being viewed to talk through ideas. Is anyone else out there doing something like this and if so what are you implementing? Specifically the challenges i see are creating the local network, establishing share/control relationships between tablets and managing any documentation markups attendees may make during the meeting. I am also looking at the Samsung 10.1 as the hardware but would be interested in any recommendations. I can also provide, most of the time, web access via my phone but would prefer not to rely on a service like WebEx or JoinMe.

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Use Paper (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47370127)

You'll waste the whole meeting fiddling with the technology and getting used to the UI. Just use paper until the design is pretty stable, then go to the computer. Better yet, use a whiteboard. That's what they are for.

Re:Use Paper (4, Insightful)

UnknownSoldier (67820) | about 2 months ago | (#47370265)


We've been using wheels for thousands of years and I don't see anyone complaining about that.

Use what works instead of a "solution looking for a problem."

Re:Use Paper (4, Funny)

Cryacin (657549) | about 2 months ago | (#47370617)

The 3m corporation would be in dire straights where it not for agile design meetings. Nothing beats post it notes on windows, doors, other people's foreheads to get the creative juices flowing.

Just a fad (1)

cruff (171569) | about 2 months ago | (#47370875)

Nothing beats post it notes on windows, doors, other people's foreheads to get the creative juices flowing.

I've only seen this technique described in one of those all hands employee training meetings. You know the type, a useless meeting that is a mandatory attendance training session. Never once seen post its used in any meetings after that. What a waste of money.

Re:Just a fad (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47371405)

I have -- it's very common to do agile and kanban with a flurry of post it notes on the whiteboard.

Re:Use Paper (1)

cayenne8 (626475) | about 2 months ago | (#47370763)

Yep, with some thingsâ¦dead trees work best.

Re:Use Paper (1)

DragonTHC (208439) | about 2 months ago | (#47370309)

This isn't star trek. I agree paper removes the obstacle to design.

Ayup (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47370449)

Paper works pretty well for getting rough drafts and design notes and whatnot else. Then scan'em and do a transcript, clean up a bit, flesh it out, and you have a design document. Same with whiteboards: Take a picture, transcript, etc.

Where paper gets wasteful is if you have to produce N copies of design documents that're ream thick, for every draft. But by then I suppose you'll have a workgroup set up with some shared storage and such.

If that doesn't seem like a reasonable tradeoff, OP should probably add some more detail to the problem. Just what is it you're after, "be modern"*, or rather "have a working workflow"?

* Whatever that may be. The late E.W. Dijkstra, famous computer scientist, was known for his lucid writing, circulated in xeroxed handwritten notes. Easy now, don't let your head go a'splode.

Re:Ayup (1)

aaarrrgggh (9205) | about 2 months ago | (#47370705)

I agree with the parent's general process, but I do have meetings each week myself with 30 attendees and quite literally a ream of paper printed for each person. The actual drawings aren't re-printed for each meeting, but an updated 75-page schedule, 150-page RFI log, and 200-page submittal log is provided to each attendee, along with about 25 pages of meeting minutes and current issues.

It is hard to have a more efficient set-up, as the meeting is basically a coordination meeting for 5 different paper-pushers from different companies. Paper quickly becomes the lowest-common denominator. (Really pissing me off is the fact that the three people from my company all need to scan the documents afterwards to pick up their individual notes!)

If I was running the meeting, I would require a 2-page summary from each paper-pusher on open items, and have a projector that can be used to provide additional information when needed. Distribute the whole package electronically before the meeting and let people figure out how the heck they want to deal with the information themselves.

Re:Ayup (1)

Russ1642 (1087959) | about a month ago | (#47371627)

All 30 of them really need to see the full RFI log? Use a projector or get a big TV. Load up the logs and now everyone can see the logs. Nobody's taking any real action in a meeting anyway, they just need reminders on what to do afterwards.

Re:Ayup (1)

Blaskowicz (634489) | about a month ago | (#47371713)

What about distributing three tablets per person (!) : one with schedule, one with RFI log, one with submittal log - and then handle the minutes and issues whichever way.

The tablets (hopefully thin and nice to handle) would actually be e-ink readers, or have high res monochrome LCD or just regular displays showing static mostly black and white content, but whatever let's ignore the technical aspects of the tablets. What matters is the content, and the tablets are "disposable" and meaningless - the people who distributed them will collect them back at the end anyway. When you're given the tablet, it's just programmed to show you the 150 page monster, certified to be up to date (just because there's a date, revision number, checksum etc. on the first page)

So : no distracting OS and icons and myriad stuff and uses on the tablets, no need to deal with networking and acquiring the document from whatever servers and systems and making sure it's the right version, everything works immediately for every one.

I will admit the idea is from a certain series with starships and captains, where they deal with their "tablets" without giving a damn about them. It's just a screen with data downloaded for reading only and they hand them to each other freely, as if they were a piece of paper or a CD-R.
You could even quite litteraly "print" to the tablets. Print your huge reference document to a special "network printer" and you get a stack of 30 baked tablets for the attendants.

Solution (1)

justthinkit (954982) | about a month ago | (#47371953)

Have a request sheet for those who want copies of each document. Catch is that you get "charged" for the paper you consume, with the charges coming out of a special "Think of the Children" end-of-the-year bonus.

Paper consumption would drop to almost zero.

Re:Use Paper (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47370453)

Potentially slower security leaks using paper too.

Re:Use Paper (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47370485)

Don't forget HIPAA compliance. It is a good chance that the tablets won't pass the compliance test unless they were given a corporate profile that has verifiable encryption and remote wipe capabilities.

Re:Use Paper (1)

robot256 (1635039) | about a month ago | (#47371211)

Good point, but it sounds like the OP deals with medical devices before they produce any medical information, so there there should only be industrial espionage to worry about...

Re:Use Paper (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47370489)

A comment below [] had an applicable quote: "technology for the sake of technology".

No tablet (computer, not wax or clay) is more intuitive and immediately usable than a piece of paper. Paper is, in a lot of cases, also faster than a tablet for marking down some quick note.

Print double-sided and find a box for recycling.

B-b-b-but SHINY! Want to play with SHINY! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47370529)

Oh, look, a squirrel!

Re:Use Paper (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47370545)

Even better yet there are interactive whiteboards [] out there which fill the same role and will probably cost you roughly the same as buying a dozen iPads.

Re:Use Paper (1)

robot256 (1635039) | about a month ago | (#47371261)

And have the benefit of only taking half the meeting to get working right, and if it's a really nice one then when it breaks in a month you can go back to using it as a regular whiteboard.

Re:Use Paper (1)

QilessQi (2044624) | about 2 months ago | (#47370649)

^ The parent's comment goes to eleven.

I use an Android tablet with Evernote (and great handwriting-based input) every day, and yet the greatest benefit it has is letting me take pictures of the whiteboard and go back through them when I do the real design document in a desktop word processor. :-)

Re:Use Paper (1)

Dishevel (1105119) | about 2 months ago | (#47370781)

Actually you could fairly easily set up a quick, small Google Apps Account with 10 - 20 users and use the tablets and the computers to work collaboratively and simultaneously on documents created there with very little training for the Admin or the end users. Not super powerful but probably more than enough for that type purpose. Cheap too.

Re:Use Paper (3, Interesting)

vtcodger (957785) | about a month ago | (#47371075)

You'll waste the whole meeting fiddling with the technology and getting used to the UI.

I'm old and retired and far past meeting age (thank god). But my take is.

You'll not only waste the first meeting. Probably much of the first six meetings. And significant chunks of later meetings. And probably you'll need to spend time training any new participants in later meetings.

And ... you probably want computers with real keyboards so people can type notes and make corrections and not have to worry about spurious touches doing stupid things.

I've never encountered any sort of computer drawing tool that wasn't excrutiatingly painful when compared to paper and something pencil-like. Doesn't mean one or more don't exist. But usability for graphics in a free wheeling environment really is something you should consider.

Not that what the poster wants isn't desirable. But what is really wanted is probably a process that can be "imported" and adopted to local needs, not a technology you can order 8 of from your hardware monger. In particular one should view any off-the-shelf commercial solution with the same attitude you'd take toward a large dog who is growling at you and foaming a bit around the mouth.

Would salesmen lie to you? You betcha. It is what salesmen do.

Re:Use Paper (1)

Chris Mattern (191822) | about a month ago | (#47371219)

I've never encountered any sort of computer drawing tool that wasn't excrutiatingly painful when compared to paper and something pencil-like.

From which I can infer you've never used a really decent graphics tablet + stylus. It's the standard tool of the many, many artists who have given up physical media to go digital. Of course, it's not a convenient thing for everybody to use in a meeting.

Re:Use Paper (1)

Oligonicella (659917) | about a month ago | (#47371437)

I have a couple and they're only really good if your final product is digital in original intent. If not, they're far less responsive than the physical processes. Your key phrase is "given up physical to go digital". That's an up front choice which then empowers the tablet. Otherwise, the tablet is anything but ad hoc.

Re:Use Paper (1)

LifesABeach (234436) | about a month ago | (#47371251)

Digital Tablets are a useful tool, until it becomes evidence.

Re:Use Paper = FASTER (1)

BoRegardless (721219) | about a month ago | (#47371299)

Design discussions proceed fast and with dozens of suggestions. Post-it notes and yellow pads are extremely quick and if a partner wants a copy of your notes, a cellphone camera shot will do it pronto.

Dear God WHY? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47370181)

Paper works great. get better lighting and cameras to capture and share your work on paper. Paper doesn't crash, paper always has a hard-copy backup, and paper can be HUGE, which is great for collaboration. We use 24x36" sheets and stick them to the walls. There is no digital system that can cover an entire wall and give everyone a giant scratch pad.

Re:Dear God WHY? (3, Funny)

TheRaven64 (641858) | about 2 months ago | (#47370499)

Paper doesn't scale very well. I have a repository for a project that's been going on for a few years and has a few hundred photos of whiteboards. Trying to find one is almost impossible because there's no full-text search for photos of whiteboards. If you don't need diagrams, then running OpenEtherPad with a machine connected to the projector as a client and just saving the output is much better, but I've not found a good equivalent that supports drawing (especially not free-form drawing on a tablet or whiteboard and then automatically recognising shapes and handwriting, as the Newton's drawing program did 20 years ago).

Re:Dear God WHY? (1)

Krishnoid (984597) | about 2 months ago | (#47370819)

I have a repository for a project that's been going on for a few years and has a few hundred photos of whiteboards. Trying to find one is almost impossible because there's no full-text search for photos of whiteboards.

Isn't that exactly what Evernote [] is supposed to be able to do?

Re:Dear God WHY? (5, Insightful)

unrtst (777550) | about 2 months ago | (#47370869)

Paper doesn't scale very well. I have a repository for a project that's been going on for a few years and has a few hundred photos of whiteboards. Trying to find one is almost impossible because there's no full-text search for photos of whiteboards.

Then you (or they) are doing it wrong.
IMO, any and all meetings should have an agenda, stuff happens (notes/etc), and a follow up summary. That last part is what you appear to be missing.
Stick someone in charge of doing the wrap up.
(optional) Everyone should send their (brief) notes to that person or group at the end of the meeting.
Said person then writes up what was covered, logs the white board pictures and such (obtaining ID's or URL's in the process of doing so), and puts those in their summary doc.
FTS (full text search) will find the summary, and you can find the relevant white board pics from there.
One could also add a lot more document management stuff (just an example, but knowledgetree can work well), and add comments and tags to each individual whiteboard image.
Any text on the whiteboard could be transcribed as well and included in the summary doc and/or the image metadata.

More work? yes.
Much more work? no (most of that should already being done, else the meeting was either insubstantial or a huge waste of time... in either of those cases, the summary should be trivial to write: link to previous summary + note of "not much has changed").
Much more useful? yes.

Evernote + Sketch (5, Insightful)

NitzJaaron (733621) | about 2 months ago | (#47370183)

As a UX / Product Designer, I've spent years and years taking down everything in notebooks, and doing collaborative design work on large-scale quadrile paper. Until about a year ago. I was getting tired of scanning in or completely re-drawing final product designs, and moved to use Evernote + Sketch to collaboratively develop & design software, websites, and products. What's nice about Evernote and Sketch is that they are 1) Integrated, 2) Work on Windows/Mac/iOS/Android, 3) Easy to use, and 4) Make sharing documents and graphics nearly instantaneous as long as everyone has network access. We've moved to doing all of our requirements and specs in Evernote, and using Sketch to get first drafts done digitally. We also scan in drawn pictures & other misc. materials to be stored in Evernote. It's a great combo & repository.

Re:Evernote + Sketch (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47370231)

Shit, you might as well use Paint and share drawings via 3.5" floppy disks.

Paper with Tablets (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47370221)

How about a Smartboard, our school system uses them without issue.

The WHAT industry? (3, Interesting)

xxxJonBoyxxx (565205) | about 2 months ago | (#47370241)

>> healthcare design industry

What do you design? Interiors? Landscaping? Workspaces? Networks? Something else?

Re:The WHAT industry? (1, Flamebait)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | about 2 months ago | (#47370555)

Perhaps he works on the Obamacare website.

Re:The WHAT industry? (1)

jesseck (942036) | about 2 months ago | (#47370609)

They design your healthcare - treatment plans, hospital stay, standard fees, all that. This way, when hospitals replace patient care with "efficiency", the execs can at least look at their pocketbooks and be satisfied. I know a few healthcare workers that see patient care going to shit while their metrics get more demanding. Anyways, people will pay for efficiency and a design team that uses tablets is more effective than one with paper (and greener!) - so in the end it makes sense: If you want efficient healthcare, go with the ones who use tablets.

Re:The WHAT industry? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47370789)

Anyways, people will pay for efficiency and a design team that uses tablets is more effective than one with paper (and greener!) [...]

Both "more effective" and "greener" claims are generally assumed... but by no means fact.

Is having it on a tablet really efficient, or is that just a stop-gap for poor planning? How green is it to use a tablet for, say, 50k "pageviews", compared to reading 50k pieces of paper? You need to factor in pollution and energy use over the entire cycle from earliest beginnings (rare earth ores, crude oil for plastics, wood pulp, chemicals, etc.) to actual use (printing the paper, light for looking at paper, though reading tablets with backlighting in the dark isn't much fun either, and they need charging, etc.), to phase-out, replacement, and recycling (pretty good for paper these days, how about electronics?).

Honestly, I've often seen people tout "efficiency" and "modern times" and whatnot, but then fail to really leverage the technology and even fail to out-perform already-existing (and known to be inefficient) paper processes, that just saying "oh yeah it's more efficient and greener" isn't going to win me over without some serious backing. It's an interesting question nonetheless, and one that really does deserve getting an answer. Unless you believe that while designing new processes and workflows, "keeping an open mind" would allow you to just exclude everything we already have because, you know, we already have that.

Re:The WHAT industry? (1)

anjrober (150253) | about a month ago | (#47371017)

Did you just make up that answer? really, not being snarky...
insurance companies, large AMCs and IHNs, and CMS make up standard fees
ACOs are driving the industry to care teams and they make up treatment plans
you know a "few healthcare workers" quaint
tablets (not in healthcare design industry, i have no idea what that is) in healthcare absolutely make healthcare more efficient when used correctly.
follow a complex order from floor to pharmacy and back and you will immediately see the need for automation
if the slashdot crowd had any idea how inefficient many hospitals are they would be screaming for automation.

all of that said, i really do have no idea what healthcare design industry means. i work in healthcare software. that means what it sounds like.

Re:The WHAT industry? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47371473)

Using plastics, metals, oil, coal, etc. is greener than paper? Interesting.

Re:The WHAT industry? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47371243)

>> healthcare design industry

Then HIPPA isn't a concern. If you were in the actual industry...

My experience (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47370249)

We plugged an appletv into our guest vlan and then plugged the HDMI output into an input on the projector in a conference room. Anyone using an ipad can share their screen easily. The catch is that it's ipad only. I don't think there are any free apps for android.

      We also have Crestron AirMedia boxes networked the same way and attached to other TV's in other conference rooms. They allow full PC desktop sharing, but only screenshots, pdf's and office applications (shown as screenshots and not actively updated) on android and IOS.
If anyone knows of something better, I'd like to hear about it!

Re:My experience (1)

zugmeister (1050414) | about 2 months ago | (#47370421)

I have a client with a very fancy (and frighteningly expensive) Crestron setup, and nobody uses it. Too complicated and does not give repeatable results.
OTOH, for about $35 one can get a Chromecast and via their "beta" functionality export the screen of any computer running Chrome. Sure it's laggy and I don't think it does sound, but when someone just wants a powerpoint on the screen with no room full of people waiting, it does the job admirably.

LOL! How about in... (1, Funny)

Type44Q (1233630) | about 2 months ago | (#47370277)

Replacing paper with Tablets

How about in the bathrooms? :D

Re:LOL! How about in... (2)

CWCheese (729272) | about 2 months ago | (#47370341)

That's where those flexible OLED screens will come in handy

Re:LOL! How about in... (1)

darthgnu (866920) | about 2 months ago | (#47370509)

I use bash, dash and ash for that !

Just use a cheap access point. (1)

Ransak (548582) | about 2 months ago | (#47370311)

Pick up a $30 access point that supports WPA-PSK, put it in the middle of the table and only power it on during the meeting. Unless you have a specific need for net access it doesn't even need to connect to a WAN. You can buy $50 off brand tablets running Android from most Chinese manufacturers, pile them up and hand them out like coasters preloaded with the wireless key and Screenshare or Splashtop.

Re:Just use a cheap access point. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47370557)

Why? Your phone/tablet can already do this.

Look at and Boardthing (2)

jddj (1085169) | about 2 months ago | (#47370315)

Boardthing is very exciting, but just coming along now. will let you collaboratively sketchboard, and has good mobile coverage on iOS and Android.

Have spent a lot of time researching collaborative sketching for design, and it's a real mess. There are some great collaborative whiteboards, but they're not evenly good on tablet and desktop, iOS and Android. Some need special ports. Some have presence and video/chat capability, but again, not evenly implemented everywhere. would be my first stop, after a lot of research.

Re:Look at and Boardthing (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47370415)

Boardthing is very exciting, but just coming along now. will let you collaboratively sketchboard, and has good mobile coverage on iOS and Android.

Have spent a lot of time researching collaborative sketching for design, and it's a real mess. There are some great collaborative whiteboards, but they're not evenly good on tablet and desktop, iOS and Android. Some need special ports. Some have presence and video/chat capability, but again, not evenly implemented everywhere. would be my first stop, after a lot of research.

You sound a little too enthusiastic about

Re:Look at and Boardthing (1)

jddj (1085169) | about a month ago | (#47370985)

Full Disc: I've taken a workshop with Dave Gray, who's driving Boardthing. I'd love it to be dominant. But it's not quite there yet.

I don't have any financial part in Not even a paying customer yet - trying to get it moving in my business.

I'm enthusiastic because I looked at 60+ tools and was disappointed often. Spent $300 of company money on some hardware that didn't work out. isn't perfect, doesn't do all I'd like (would like interactive whiteboarding, f.e.), but it's the best compromise I've found.

Don't have a dog in the hunt financially.

Re:Look at and Boardthing (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47371021)

SMARTboard collaborative whiteboards from SmartTech are another solution. They allow you to interact with the whiteboard content from a connected device like a laptop.

Re:Look at and Boardthing (2)

jddj (1085169) | about a month ago | (#47371117)

In my 60 products, looked at these, and they're very nice, but they're expensive fixed-point solutions. Not the right thing for a home office, f.e. unless you're loaded.

Boardthing, and a few other applications will remember what you've done while nobody's logged in. Think of them as a little like Pintrest for business, but with design tools built in.

Re:Look at and Boardthing (1)

jddj (1085169) | about a month ago | (#47371181)

(Replying to myself, yeah, I know...).

Should also point out that my research was around remote collaboration.

If you're all in the same room BY ALL MEANS USE PAPER!!!! Check out Leah Buley's work on Sketchboarding, and check out Design Studio Methodology.

There's absolutely NO reason to use remote/online collab tools over paper if you're all in the same place. You're closing off the cheapest and most flexible channel for a starter.

battery power... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47370319)

Looks like battery power will determine how long these meetings will last. Never had that problem with paper.

Re:battery power... (1)

Mordok-DestroyerOfWo (1000167) | about 2 months ago | (#47370455)

Considering that I get about 10 hours out of my Nexus 7 (2012) without any issue, I seriously doubt that battery life will be the limiting factor.

Re:battery power... (1)

rogoshen1 (2922505) | about a month ago | (#47371509)

eep. after 45 minutes most meetings are just one growling stomach away from turning into the thunderdome.

Whiteboards still work. (1)

gstoddart (321705) | about 2 months ago | (#47370361)

You know, Whiteboards still work really well. They even have fancy schmancy smart whiteboards which are networked. Hell, they make collaborative software which has some of these features.

Every time I see one of these things it seems like people are using technology for the sake of technology.

A whiteboard, an easel board, pen and paper ... all of these technologies still work well, and will continue to do so.

I can also provide, most of the time, web access via my phone

Or, you know, your company has much better infrastructure and technology than your phone.

If I was in a meeting and someone said "I will provide web access via my phone", I would have to start laughing at you and not take you seriously.

Re:Whiteboards still work. (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | about 2 months ago | (#47370689)

You know, Whiteboards still work really well. They even have fancy schmancy smart whiteboards which are networked. Hell, they make collaborative software which has some of these features.

I read this and thought that there must be at least one OSS package to record a whiteboard or chalkboard, deleting the moving subject and automatically taking the interesting stills. I didn't find anything immediately but I did find out that you can buy a product (eBeam) for as little as $250 to record your whiteboard. It seems like this provides the balance between digital notes and traditional pen jotting.

whiteboard + camera + projector (1)

oneiros27 (46144) | about 2 months ago | (#47370775)

I completely agree. The problem with a bunch of tablets is that everyone's off looking at different things. With a whiteboard, you can much more easily tell who's paying attention to the discussion vs. reading their e-mail.

You want to be able to save what was discussed? Bring a camera. The important thing is to take the picture without a flash from a stable location. You might have to experiment with where to take the picture from, so you don't get too much glare from the lighting in the room.

Sometimes you need to show something that you don't want to draw yourself -- that's where the projector comes in. Although whiteboards don't make the best projection surfaces (due to glare issues), you can then mark 'em up w/ the pens, then take a picture so you have notes for later.

If you need to *also* take a set of more permanent notes while you're working, either get a large pad of paper that you can keep to the side of the board. (I like the ones that are also giant Post-It notes) or a second projector w/ someone typing up notes as you go.

I'm not a fan of 'smart whiteboards' as I've heard nothing but bad things about them. I've probably been to more than a dozen conference rooms, and when I mention the one sitting against a wall, I'm told it's either broken, or a pain to use. (the one exception was an elementary school, which we only used it as a projector). The only advantage that I'm aware of is for when you're having a meeting that has participants in multiple places -- which I've never had to deal with.

Re:whiteboard + camera + projector (2)

gstoddart (321705) | about 2 months ago | (#47370883)

I'm not a fan of 'smart whiteboards' as I've heard nothing but bad things about them. I've probably been to more than a dozen conference rooms, and when I mention the one sitting against a wall, I'm told it's either broken, or a pain to use.

That has been almost universally what I've heard.

It's out of order, or nobody knows how to use it, or the people who know how to use it look at it with disdain and continue with the plain old whiteboard. (I'm not talking about a specific brand, just the digital whiteboards in general.)

I've been in numerous rooms which have these, and I have yet to see a single one in use. When I ask, people usually laugh and say "because it's useless".

For me, the old school whiteboard, and the easel with the giant post-it notes is still what works. Everything else is cumbersome to use, doesn't work as advertised, or is generally regarded as more trouble than it's worth.

Sometimes, low tech is a much better solution. It works, everybody knows how it works, and you don't spend half of your meeting messing around with it, and a bunch of time after your meeting getting your data out of it.

Sadly, for many many people, there is a pretty constant attempt to introduce more technology into everything, even if that technology doesn't come anywhere near living up to its claims.

Get a document camera (1)

KamikazeSquid (3611985) | about a month ago | (#47371103)

Why not get a document camera that can record still images to an SD card?

Elmo 1341-64 model Classroom Doc-Tor AP TT-12i Interactive Document Camera and ASK Proxima C3327W-A LCD Portable Projector Bundle System []

There are also document cameras that can record full-motion video. The model I've linked to is somewhat expensive but there are cheaper options available.

Incomplete Specs (2)

UrsaMajor987 (3604759) | about 2 months ago | (#47370375)

You have left some important information off. Is the meeting being held at the customer site or your facility? Is there a need for people to join remotely? These days not everyone is in the same room during a meeting. I really think that something like Lotus LiveMeeting might work best. Remember a key point; the decision makers in such efforts are frequently technically illiterate. Keep the presentation as simple as you possibly can and don't forget printouts of the presentation that people can mark up by hand.

Existing tools (1)

lindenfan (1480171) | about 2 months ago | (#47370385)

We use Google Docs in meetings for things like this, but it may not do the job if your collaboration is more around graphical elements. Multiple collaborators, no need for fancy networking or meeting software. I had hoped that I would be saying Wave, but...

"healthcare design industry" isn't a thing (2)

Gothmolly (148874) | about 2 months ago | (#47370399)

It's a term you made up, to apply to a made up industry which fastens, remorah-like, to socialist government crap.

Dittio on paper (1)

Registered Coward v2 (447531) | about 2 months ago | (#47370475)

Having tried similar rings, here are some issues we ran into:

1. Latency. Nothing breaks up a train of thought than having too wait while the tablet tried to draw on the screen.

2. Such setups ar e by nature 1 to many; i.e. only one person can draw while many can view. It's real hard for someone to make a quick note or addition like you can by walking up next to them, grabbing a marker and drawing.

In the end, utility won out over cool technology

Re:Dittio on paper (1)

aaarrrgggh (9205) | about 2 months ago | (#47370749)

Best way of managing those issues I have seen is to project on a whiteboard, markup there, while someone independent is marking up the PDF files electronically. When the discussion is finished, project up the markup PDF.

Re:Dittio on paper (1)

Registered Coward v2 (447531) | about a month ago | (#47371379)

Best way of managing those issues I have seen is to project on a whiteboard, markup there, while someone independent is marking up the PDF files electronically. When the discussion is finished, project up the markup PDF.

Agreed. That's similar to what we do as well.

First things first... (1)

QuietLagoon (813062) | about 2 months ago | (#47370477)

Are you sure that moving from paper to tablets will make those meetings more productive? or more creative?

What is the purpose of the meeting? How will using a tablet vs using paper enhance the meeting towards the goal?

Re:First things first... (1)

bluefoxlucid (723572) | about 2 months ago | (#47370527)

A white board that records (electronic whiteboards) would be very useful, but individual paper notes are also good. The focus should be enhancement, not elimination.

By the same token, you could teach your employees Teeline.

Re:First things first... (1)

Just Some Guy (3352) | about 2 months ago | (#47370639)

Also, something like a Livescribe [] pen that records what you right might be the ultimate setup. You're letting your team use tools they're already familiar and comfortable with (ballpoint pens) while still getting the advantages of recording notes as they're taken.

OP: know how you hate it when work gives you some weird-ass, nonstandard tool to do your job ("we've decided to standardize on programming editors!")? Yeah. Why would you want to do that to everyone else?

Re:First things first... (1)

bluefoxlucid (723572) | about 2 months ago | (#47370807)

I ditched the Livescribe in favor of a Nemosine Fission. Awaiting the Neutrino.

Re:First things first... (1)

TrollstonButterbeans (2914995) | about 2 months ago | (#47370541)


have you tried whiteboard paint? (1)

clovis (4684) | about 2 months ago | (#47370495)

The hospital I worked painted the walls of the conference rooms with whiteboard paint and put out baskets of dry-erase markers.
There's a drop-down screen with a projector for showing a computer screen.
There are many advantages.
You don't have to have your computer support person standing by all the time for when contractors/ sales people get in there and screw everything up.
You can have multiple people/teams in the same room working on different approaches (different walls) simultaneously while being able to see everyone else's ideas.
We snap photos of what we want to go with and then edit the work in a document later (if we want to preserve the results).
I suppose people off-site could watch through webcam/skype etc.

Re:have you tried whiteboard paint? (1)

turp182 (1020263) | about a month ago | (#47371119)

I didn't realize they made whiteboard paint. That sounds cool.


A step backwards (1)

DoofusOfDeath (636671) | about 2 months ago | (#47370519)

Paper exists for a reason, people.

Can you imaging 10 people with tablets in a room? The sound of hammers and chisels would be deafening! You couldn't hear anyone speak.

Re:A step backwards (1)

gstoddart (321705) | about a month ago | (#47371001)

And, half of them would immediately start checking their email, playing Angry Birds, or generally doing anything but paying attention to the meeting.

I had a manager several years ago who could not be separated from his BlackBerry.

One day, we had a meeting to bring him up to speed on a bunch of things. He had asked for this meeting. In fact, he insisted on it.

The problem was, every thing we told him, would be followed with him looking up from his BB and saying "what? sorry, I missed that." I eventually told him that if he would care to have a meeting with us, we'd be happy to schedule one, but if he's going to spend the entire meeting on his BlackBerry that I would be happy to answer any questions via email and not waste my damned time watching him pay no attention to a meeting he asked for.

And then I walked out of the meeting to demonstrate my point about how bloody rude it was when he wasn't paying any attention either.

The next time we had that meeting, he actually left his BB on his desk.

Digital devices do NOT make for good things in meetings, because all of a sudden people are focused on anything but the meeting. And then it just becomes unproductive and frustrating.

Re:A step backwards (1)

Russ1642 (1087959) | about a month ago | (#47371809)

We all check our emails and do other stuff online anyways. Chances are that at any given time only three people in the room actually care about what is being discussed.

I've been there (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47370565)

I used to work in that industry. You have money to burn. Get tablets. Load up the software. Collaborate to your hearts content. You will find that you not only waste time but money as well.

Drop all this nonsense. Use a whiteboard. If you need a copy, just pull out someone's phone and take a picture. Not only is that cheap, but it works and you won't waste time fiddling with the all the shiny tech.

This is a case where low tech wins big.

The only case I can see where you need the technology is when the meeting has participants that are remote. Then you should still ditch the tablets and use existing laptops/desktops and proven meeting software that already does exactly what you want.

Tablets are overkill (1)

polyp2000 (444682) | about 2 months ago | (#47370579)

Sounds like your just looking for an excuse to get some new gadgets. Whiteboard + Digital Camera - job done. Or if you want to get really funky howabout an interactive whiteboard? N

SMART kapp (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47370605)

Acts like a regular whiteboard with automatic connection and saving of content. Works better than flipboards.

Will be available soon: SMART kapp []

Maybe Promethean Boards? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47370673)

Probably paper is best, but my kids' school uses Promethean Boards, like a smart whiteboard/projector combo. If you want to toss ~$6k or so on your wall, give it a look!

Dice has further broken SlashCode! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47370675)

Purely offtopic but:

Beta is crap. Classic really isn't classic but still many of us come here with NoScript active and/or scripting BS turned off completely. Yeah, they started using obnoxious javascript and Ajax before Dice but it just keeps getting worse and worse. Now a visitor with scripting off can't read at 0 much less -1, classic hasn't been an available option to AC for far too long, the junk you get with nobeta isn't near as obnoxious as Beta but you keep degrading it. Be nice if it would default to the old true slashcode when anyone comes here with the very dangerous scripting off.

Ah no (5, Interesting)

Charliemopps (1157495) | about 2 months ago | (#47370685)

Stop, just stop,

I do meetings like this ALL DAY LONG. No offense, but there's always someone like you that wants to introduce some new technology that is supposed to make us so much more efficient. Instead we spend half of every meeting trying to get that new tech working.

The best way to lead a meeting that I've used:
A conference room big enough for everyone.
An overhead projector hooked up to a computer.
Remote into your personal workstation from that computer.
Have project goals in whatever tool you use at your company. Personally, I prefer a shared spreadsheet, either Excel or Google docs.
Avoid large project management software packages because they require everyone that needs to see them to have a license. They rarely do.
Log minutes in a text document that can track changes (word or whatever)
If there are people not in the room you can share your desktop with them have have a conference bridge the can call into for audio.
Discourage using whiteboards for the sake of your remote users. Also, you cant save whiteboards. I had ours taken out years ago.
PAINT actually comes in handy if you get fluent in it. I can do some pretty complicated flowcharts using it, very quickly... then later put them into visio so they look nice and are editable. I'm actually vision certified and can use it fluently. But I can do a flowchart in Paint in about 1/10th the time. Box, Line, Circle, Text, done! It doesn't look great, but this is a meeting not an art studio.

Now the person LEADING the meeting is not the person at the keyboard.
"Charlie, bring up the requirements. Thanks..." etc...
The leader, leads the person at the keyboard. The person at the keyboard is only focused on having the correct things up, and logging of whats decided.
When you're all done, you send everything (or a link to everything) out to everyone that was there with a statement like "This is the result of our meeting, please review" etc... so corrections or clarifications can be made. Changes should be "requested" not simply made without talking to anyone.

I know it's clunky, but it works. I've tried damned near everything. We have a lot of managers that like to fall for online marketing so every few months there's a new initiative. I'll keep letting them bring the stuff up and we can keep trying. I imagine one day there will be some new neat way of doing things. But it's not here yet, and tablets are certainly not going to do it.

Re:Ah no (4, Insightful)

radarskiy (2874255) | about a month ago | (#47370997)

"Also, you cant save whiteboards"


Everyone has them in their phone now. Take pictures of the whiteboard, and the person assigned to take minutes will redraw the diagrams nicely later.

Re:Ah no (1)

KamikazeSquid (3611985) | about a month ago | (#47371335)

He said "for the sake of your remote users." That implies live viewers or participants from another location. Taking a picture of the whiteboard with a camera is not a good solution for live remote viewers, you need a real-time video feed of everything taking place on the whiteboard.

Re:Ah no (2)

Charliemopps (1157495) | about a month ago | (#47371519)

Right, if you don't have remote users, then it's less of an issue. But the thing is, I run a lot of meetings where I need to explain some fairly complex technical things to non-tech end users. I need to be quick, agile and able to answer completely random questions I never though of off the cuff without thinking about it too much. I get into a routine and find it hard to switch my methods because my audience has changed. I used to be a big whiteboard guy. People would tease me because they'd enter a room after I'd left and there'd be a mural of my terrible handwriting/spelling in there.

Now I use paint for what I used to use the whiteboard. The Text object makes my handwriting better, and I'm not stuck with the 3 dried out markers that hadn't yet been ganked out of the room for my colors.

Re:Ah no (1)

KamikazeSquid (3611985) | about a month ago | (#47371173)

If you have remote users, get a document camera. Hook the document camera, room computer, laptop VGA connection, etc., into a video switcher. Send the output of the video switcher to a video splitter. Hook the splitter up to your digital projector on one end and a lecture capture system on the other. Then your remote users can see video from whatever device you're currently showing on the projector to the in-person attendees.

For bonus points, hook up a camera in the room and send the camera signal to the lecture capture system as well. Set up a monitor at the desk for the presenter so they can also see what is currently being projected on the camera. You can even set up camera controls at the desk, maybe have a few buttons for pre-set camera angles to focus on points of interest in the room.

Source: 7 years of experience in distance learning applications.

Re:Ah no (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47371483)

fyi etherpad is awesome

Paper First, Then Digital (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47370803)

I am an expert with CAD. Even so, I start with paper first. Then I move to Catia. It's a faster work flow. On the tail end, I used to think an all digital work flow was the ideal work flow. Now I think that paper is a better output format for engineering work. The process of committing ideas to paper exposes weaknesses in design.

Maybe design means something different for the submitter. But I think the lesson still applies.


What problem are you trying to solve? (1)

RJFerret (1279530) | about a month ago | (#47370953)

our firm is looking to get away from using paper during our design meetings


What problem are you trying to solve? Without understanding the problem, nobody can provide pros/cons or cost/benefit of alternatives, much less come up with a solution to...?

Once you actually identify the problem, the solution might become self-evident. But just listing your ideas and seeing if others have implemented things similar to your ideas won't resolve the circumstance.

(Meanwhile, perhaps quit and find a job outside of the design field, a field where identifying and clearly communicating problems is key to coming up with designs to resolve said problems. My guess is sales might be a better fit, given the suggestion of throwing hardware at people being a benefit, for no apparent reason.)

Re:What problem are you trying to solve? (1)

praxis (19962) | about a month ago | (#47371079)

I came here to basically ask the same question, although without the jab that the quester is bad at his or her job. One gets good at design by attempting more design and learning from one's failures and shortcomings. One does not get good at design by becoming a salesman or saleswoman. That said, in this case, identify that problem you want to solve and communicate it clearly; a design might coalesce from that process even before engaging others.

So, what is the problem you want to solve?

Re:What problem are you trying to solve? (1)

rogoshen1 (2922505) | about a month ago | (#47371577)

I'm guessing about 99% of it is

"because green."

Use paper, CC the NSA later (1)

cpghost (719344) | about a month ago | (#47371063)

Seriously... paper is the superior alternative here. It doesn't interrupt your and your coworkers' train of thought, it has backup, it is the fastest way to collaboratively design and modify designs... and it has the added advantage of being unspyable by the NSA, GCHQ, the Chinese, or other industrial espionage outfits who rely on ElInt. Prepare your designs on paper. There'll be enough time to translate your final design on a computer and CC the NSA and competition later.

In health care?? (1)

RobertLTux (260313) | about a month ago | (#47371151)

I would suggest using tech in 2 different groups

1 where it is absolutely needed: As you can see in this video patients that have a combined Coughing Fit and Projectile Vomit episode are spraying material beyond ....

2 Only when you can justify putting said tech in a BURN BAG with the rest of the stuff from case 1

just remember paper can be put in a Burn Bag without having to file an EPA damage report.

If you actually need to use tech then plan on having meetings to

1 agree on a solution
2 actually implement said solution

Use a document camera (1)

KamikazeSquid (3611985) | about a month ago | (#47371239)

I see a lot of people suggesting that you use a whiteboard and then use a digital camera to take pictures of the whiteboard. That might work as a low-budget solution, but if you have some money to spend and authorization to spend it, just get a document camera. You probably already have a digital projector in your meeting room. With a document camera, you can project anything on the screen. Many document cameras have built-in features for recording images or video, and you can also use it in conjunction with a lecture capture system if your meeting has remote participants or if you need to give an online presentation in that room.

Low-budget option: IPEVO Point 2 View USB Camera []

Mid-budget option: Elmo MO-1 Visual Presenter []

High-budget option: Elmo TT-12 Document Camera []

We tried and dropped it due to cost (2)

harl (84412) | about a month ago | (#47371259)

We tried something similar. We ended up dropping it because we couldn't justify the cost. Each ipad costs around 20,000 printed pages for the hardware alone. That's before labor and ancillary software licensing.

Whiteboard + Your Camera phone (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47371279)

Simple is best. For a meeting a big ol' whiteboard like we've all been using since 1534. Once done, take a picture of it and mail out the .jpg to everyone like we've been doing since 1908 ( or 2008...whatever )

Keep it simple, simon.

Mimio Teach (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47371391)

I think that paper will still work best but if you really want to use technology I just tried out a product called Mimio Teach ( the other day and it worked really well. The version we had allowed us to write on the whiteboard as we normally do and it recorded the writing as it occurred. It worked really well. Before erasing the whiteboard, click the button to create a new page and your previous board of data was saved and still ready to be viewed later. The product is about $1000 but it was surprisingly good and can be mounted to any whiteboard magnetically so it can be moved from room to room. setup was easy too. My college and I tested it for a couple of hours trying out the features and trying to see what the limits are. It was able to record a large whiteboard with not issue. It also allowed for the students in our case but participants in yours to take control of the recording and write using their tablet using the Mimio App. I could see this fitting your needs fairly well.

duh (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47371477)

Its called a white board or sometimes a dri erase board. Easy to use. Cheap. And snap a photo of the result. Email done. Don't over think it.

You still use paper in 2014 ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47371711)

Paper, what is that?
Some 2000 something technology?

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