Ready To Present

The ReadyToPresent Blog

Posted in Introduction by Albert on 26 November 2008

This blog follows the design development of the “ReadyToPresent” device for the BigBlueButton web conferencing client. The intent is to eliminate the hassles of carrying, connecting, and setting up several pieces of equipment — laptop, web-cam, microphone, and speakerphone — needed to broadcast a presentation. Our vision is to be able to have all the necessary hardware consolidated into a single unit that can be set up and taken down easily.

Just like the software is being developed on an Open Source platform, the design for ReadyToPresent is being developed under the Creative Commons Licence (SA). So feel free to distribute or add to this project, but please make sure you credit the source.

Comments, critiques, and feedback are all warmly welcomed.

Learn more about the software: BigBlueButton

Future forward

Posted in Preliminary Design by Albert on 26 May 2009

While working on finalizing the first prototype some issues came up during the building phase and after its completion.

As mentioned in an earlier post (regarding aggregate audio needs) the audio devices were liable to change as newer devices are found and the software develops. It was always the intention that the case could adapt to new hardware by designing a new foam insert. An assumption was made that netbooks would become more powerful and faster and that the integrated devices, such as the webcam and speakerphone, would be of high enough quality that external ones would no longer be necessary.

But right now the case has been designed for the specified hardware.

Which meant that the design had to incoporate the USB cables needed to connect and power the devices.

Undercuts to accommodate USB cables

Undercuts in foam insert to accommodate USB cables

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First Prototype

Posted in Preliminary Design by Albert on 26 May 2009

After some epic struggles working with styrene, rapid prototyping, and foam insert suppliers, we’ve finished a semi-functional prototype of the ReadyToPresent device.

R2P detail

Continue on to read about and see the development. (WARNING: JPG heavy post)

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Verisimilitude (a $2 word for CAD renderings)

Posted in Preliminary Design by Albert on 23 April 2009

Here is a look at the proposed design for the Ready2Present device:

renderings1

If you would like to take a look at the CAD files, they’ve been uploaded to BigBlueButton’s Google code site. As part of the open source design aspect of this project we’d like to share the design and see people adapt it to their needs or specifications. The design proposed here is simply that, a proposal. There is always room for improvement and it would be great to see the ReadyToPresent device evolve.

Link to SW and IGES files

I’ll be posting about the physical prototype in the next week, so stay tuned!

Mid-March Madness

Posted in Uncategorized by Albert on 16 April 2009

xtagduetbigpict

Audio Testing

In mid-march Fred and I did some testing of the audio components to see how they would perform in a classroom environment. The hardware we tested was the Revolabs xTag Wireless Mic and the Phoenix Duet PCS USB Speakerphone.

I used both of these components in my room, and individually they seemed to work great. The xTag microphone had an impressive range and the audio came through clearly on the other side. The Phoenix speakerphone also worked well; the sound seemed crisp and clear. But my 200 sq. ft. room misled me.

In the classroom environment the Phoenix speakerphone did not meet expectations. It was difficult to hear the speakers on the other end and when the volume was set to its highest level the vibrations would distort the sound to the point where we couldn’t understand what they were saying. It was able to pick-up audio but it was apparently faint.

When we switched the system back to the Polycom, all the remote students agreed that they were able to hear the professor much more clearly.

polycom

Aggregate Audio

This forced us to re-evaluate how the audio would work on the R2P. As we tried to think of ways to improve the audio we also realized that Windows doesn’t allow multiple audio devices to be used to capture audio, at least not natively. Interestingly there is a feature on Apple’s OS that allows you to create a driver for an “aggreagate audio device” which effectively allows you to mix multiple audio inputs. Linux for that matter also grants you more flexibility in setting up multiple audio devices.

We needed to do this to avoid an audio echo heard by remote students that is created by having two audio inputs. We thought of a software-side solution that would switch between the wireless microphone and the speakerphone. There was worry however, of cut-off created by the decibel gate – so that there would be a delay between when somebody started speaking into a device and it actually activating and transmitting the audio.

This is an issue that still requires a solution.

Concept Development Revisited

Posted in Concepts, Preliminary Design by Albert on 16 April 2009

To further recap, here is a visual of the sketch development that shows some of the key issues I was focusing on when I was thinking about the ReadyToPresent (R2P) device.

concepts (more…)

The “re-iterative” process

Posted in Introduction, Preliminary Design by Albert on 16 April 2009

There’s been a lot of develoment in the past two months on the ReadyToPresent device. I don’t want you to think we’ve been sleeping all this time. Well, maybe sleeping on updating this blog – you know how these things go.

Just to recap:

The ReadyToPresent (R2P) device helps you broadcast a lecture or presentation to an online audience. It also allows you to record the event for later playback. Right now, the device is intended for education purposes so that it can work in a classroom where there is a physical audience and a remote audience (think, distance education).

use-scenarios

Right now the R2P consists of:

  • a netbook,
  • a webcam,
  • a USB speakerphone, and
  • a USB wireless microphone.

Off-the-shelf ComponentsThe R2P will:

  • allow you to adjust the webcam to optimize the video capture.
  • require only one power cord and possibly a network cable (if WiFi is unavailable).
  • integrate a tripod mounting bracket into the case (so that it doesn’t need to be placed on a stool, chair or desk).
  • be portable and easy to setup.

Early Concept version 2

Posted in Concepts, Testing by Albert on 10 February 2009

After building the first cardboard mock-up I continued to develop the concept until I reached this point. The main driver for further development was to see how efficiently I could pack the netbook, webcam, speakerphone, and wireless mic into a box.

Concept 2 Sketch

I thought this concept with a sliding tray had some potential so I made another mock-up in cardboard.

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Open Source Industrial Design projects

Posted in News by Albert on 10 February 2009

I’ve been on a bit of a hiatus from the ReadyToPresent project but that doesn’t mean I’ve not been keeping tabs on things.

Here are a couple links to projects that are taking Industrial Design into a practical methodology.

Asus WePC: Crowdsourcing the next PC

 

BugLabs: BUG+IDEO

These two items started making the blogrounds earlier this month so they’re old news in internetland. But the ideas of crwodsourcing, community-building, user-configured designs are exciting. Now, I know there are a lot of “pros and cons” to open-source design but it is inspiring to see these ideas synergize (30 Rock anyone?) with design.

More Concept Development

Posted in Concepts by Albert on 19 January 2009

Here are some more concept sketches from the end of 2008. I was trying to consider alternatives to a simple “boxy-briefcase” design but found myself going in circles trying to keep it simple. 

Concept Montage 1    

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Competitor research

Posted in News by Albert on 16 December 2008

It crossed my mind to do some keyword searches on Google for what the ReadyToPresent device is. The search for `webcast kit`brought up this tasty link:

VBrick Systems

Their VBExpress looks interesting, but I can`t seem to find any more images or info besides what is on the datasheet.

If you see or know about any other similar projects we`d love to hear about them.

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