Hardware

Below we have listed the main hardware items you could currently use in the SMILE room and why, all of these can be substituted depending on the projects size and as technology changes. These may also change as new technology is released so we will keep this page updated.

 

Computer System

Computer System

There are many computer systems out there with the capability to run a SMILE room; our favourite is Dells ALIENWARE range which are designed for 3D gaming and are perfectly suited to our needs (looking really cool is just a bonus). Alienware has two desktop machines with different configurations which help to fit our needs and varying budgets. You can use certain laptops but we would recommend a desktop due to the length of time it needs to be on and the upgradeability of them.

We need a powerful machine to run the room which will support either Nvidia’s 3D Vision technology or AMD’s HD3D technology to run real time 3D simulations. As more and more companies release 3D content for use in education, we are seeing the need for a high spec machine to run it, because of this we would recommend an Intel i7 processor with a minimum of 8Gb RAM (ideally 16Gb RAM), to make sure you do not need to upgrade too soon

 

 

Logitech Surround Sound Speakers

Surround Sound

For the sound we wanted and easy to use system that can be directly connected to the PC and deliver the quality demanded by the project and yet not break the bank. After a lot of consideration we have currently decided on Logitech’s Z906 5.1 surround sound speaker package which is also THX certified.

 

 

Sound Bars

Sound Bars

In many cases putting up separate speakers is not practical due to room layout and other times you need to think about the noise, it’s great to have this amazing sound pumping out, but not if next doors class is distracted by it. Having speakers on the wall can cause too much noise in the room behind, but with a sound bar this can be reduced.

We have looked at this for Design 1 as there is a classroom behind, while design 2 is separate from the classrooms and would not suffer from these problems. Also sound bars can be a cheaper and easier to fit option. For design 1 we have been looking at Yamaha who produce some excellent bars at varying budgets.

 

 

Lenovo Wireless Touchscreen Monitor

Lenovo Wireless Touchscreen Monitor

When starting this project I knew I needed a wireless touch screen monitor, but there were none on the market so I had to look at alternative solutions until this year. At the CES show in January Lenovo demoed there ThinkVision LT1423p, a 13.3” rechargeable wireless touchscreen monitor, the perfect solution to our room control needs. As the unit is touchscreen if you pair it with Windows 8 we have a very easy and effective way to control the main computer, the display work very much like a tablet but the processing power is from the computer which gives us the fastest tablet available. Using Windows 8 start menu we have access to all programs and apps we need and as the display is mirrored to the main screen a way to control the content being displayed on either projector or both at the same time. It is also USB 3, so even if the battery is flat we can simply plug it into any USB 3 port and continue.

 

 

 

Windows Kinetic 2

Kinetic for Windows II

With the success of the original Kinetic for Xbox, Microsoft is releasing Xbox One with a second generation Kinetics sensor. Microsoft also has a version of the sensor for Windows which is seeing a new version; this new second version has greatly improved sensitivity and tracking. This one device could end up being the most valuable item in the entire room, considering how the first version was used we should see some amazing uses for it including controlling the entire room with our bodies, being able to play virtual instruments together at the same time, it is already being used for animation and with the increased sensitivity will be able to add more movements and expressions. One of the greatest advancements could also be for children with disabilities, both physical as well as mental to access and control their environment and interact with onscreen content.

 

 

Epson EB-W16SK

Epson EB-W16SK

The Epson EB-W16SK is Epson's first passive 3D projector system (uses cheap glasses you would use at the cinema), that uses two projectors stacked together. Designed for large audiences (10 or more), this affordable and easy-to-use 3D projector system delivers bright, sharp projections in either 2D or 3D.

This would be my current projector of choice in any smile room if you have the room, but compared to the two projectors below it has three problems. This first being the fact it is only HD 720p and not Full HD 1080p (blu-ray quality). The second is that it is not a short throw projector, to get a big image you need a big room (about 5 meters long to fill a wall about 3 meters wide). The third is that you need a special silver screen which is expensive and very fragile, to get around this you can use Screen Goo to produce a screen on the wall (please see the Fixtures page for more information on Screen Goo).

Even with the three issues above if you have a large enough room this is a great choice, mainly due to the cheap glasses and the fact passive projectors cause less eye strain.

 

 

Benq Blue Light Projector

Benq Blue Light Projector

After much research the Benq Blue Light Projector was a clear winner for this project, unfortunately due to its resolution it cannot be used for the main screen, but it is perfect for the secondary. With a contrast ratio of 80000:1 and a lamp life of 20000 hours, combined with excellent reviews this is a perfect choice.

We wanted a projector for the second screen which is very clear and cheap to run. It is quite expensive so you might also look at cheaper alternatives. Also in our designs we only have one projector for smaller projects or smaller schools.

 

 

Benq Full Hi-definition 1080p Projector

Benq Full Hi-definition 1080p Projector

When we started this project we could not find any projector that met our needs, but as we progressed we saw technology catch up with our vision and now we have full Hi-definition 1080p 3D projectors. The Benq has received extremely good reviews and most importantly is short throw (you can get a very big picture, with the projector close to the screen, a must in smaller rooms). The cost was also a great consideration as this is the one piece of equipment that will probably be the first to be replaced in a few years as 4K projects and movies are released.

This projector uses active shutter glasses that are expensive, but if you are only going to have small groups at a time (10 and under) this can be a great choice based on cost and the fact this projector is Full HD 1080p projection (the same as Blu-ray). Also if you already have 3D ready projectors in the class room, the same glasses this projector uses can be used in the class rooms.

 

XPAND - 3D Glasses

XPAND - 3D Glasses

XPAND 3d active shutter glasses are already being used in education throughout the world with great success, they have been proven to be well designed and manufactured at a sensible price. We wanted to use glasses that could not only be used in the SMILE room but can also be used in the classroom with any DLP projector.

One consideration we have needed to look at is the class room, if you already have 3D ready projectors in the classroom these active shutter classes can be used in both a SMILE room as well as the class room.

 

 

Philips hue Lighting

Philips hue Lighting

This innovation from Philips may seem like nothing special but appearances can be deceptive. These colour changing bulbs/lights use LEDs which use very little power and give off virtually no heat, but the really innovative part is how you control them, using an iPhone, iPad or a PC or MAC from any location in the world with web access, imagine how we can teach the students about communications and transmissions using this. To find out more please see this YouTube video: http://youtu.be/s_U87WHHX3g or visit Philips Hue website at: https://www.meethue.com

What’s even more exciting is that Philips has now opened up the coding behind HUE to developers to allow them to create their own apps and programs that will take advantage of HUE’s capabilities.

What does this mean? You can control the lights using any method you like including sound responsive, movement interactive and even depending on the colour on a screen. Someone as already created an interactive book where as you progress through the story the lights change colour to match the story. Over time we hope to see even more creative ways of using and interacting with the hue lighting system.

 

 

 

Apple iPad & Apple TV

Apple iPad & Apple TV

If you watch TV or read a magazine you know what an iPad is and with the huge wealth of educational apps and control apps for devices such as the PHILIPS hue lighting. This will be combined with an Apple TV to allow us to use Airplay, this means we can mirror everything on the iPads screen to the projector, this will allow the teacher or student to use any app on the big screen. To broaden this Apple TV can be used in classrooms to access both iPads as well as any content stored through iTunes on the main computer in the SMILE room.

 

 

Aroma Generator

Aroma Generator

The Aroma generator is manufactured by Experia and produces aromas/smells that are perfect to use whilst storytelling or theming, by simply pouring some oil into the heating receptacle and turning on. With over 500 aromas available including, Mummy (Egyptian), Dinosaur, Farmyard, swamp, Tropical rain forest and Volcano, there is an aroma for every occasion. We intend to use this in conjunction with other sensory stimuli to add to the weighted memory theory.

 

 

Wii U games console

Wii U - Games Console

The benefits of using a Wii in schools has been on the news for years now and integrating one into the SMILE room has been a way to add one to the school. The Wii can be used for sports games as we all know, but can also be used for music lessons, learning, developing hand eye coordination and also to help children with ADHD/ASD focus. There has been a lot of questions about with console to use in the SMILE room, but the Wii U has been chosen for one very simple answer; it is to be used in a Primary school and only the Wii has so man games/programs designed to primary school aged children.

 


SMILE room Project - 27 Cresswell Drive, Hilperton, Trowbridge, Wiltshire BA14 7TN
E: smile@bythegate.com