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A sexy interactive whiteboard? The Penveu could be it

New device from a nearly 40-year-old tech company could disrupt a $1.8 billion business. But first, its maker must persuade schools and businesses to try something new.

The new Penveu, from Interphase, an interactive whiteboard tool that the company hopes can disrupt a $1.8 billion market. Interphase

Interactive whiteboards are one of those unsexy business tools that companies everywhere depend on. All told, it's a $1.8 billion market that might seem to some to be one of the stodgiest around.

But a 38-year-old company on the hunt for a new business thinks it has found a way to upend that market. At the Demo conference this week, Interphase is unveiling its Penveu interactive whiteboard device, a tool that gives businesses an inexpensive, easy to use, and portable alternative to options out there today that can cost $2,000 to $7,000.

All that's needed is to be able to connect the associated Penveu box to a projector, monitor, or TV using a VGA connection.

Penveu is what the company calls an "interactive whiteboard in a box." At $500 (for the education market), and $700 for businesses, the device is a small, handheld tool that comes with the functionality of a mouse, and which can write (digitally) on any surface, from almost any distance. It can write in different colors, erase, and highlight anything in a presentation. Based in part on technology previously used for satellites, cruise missiles, and smart bomb navigation, Interphase calls the device "rocket science in the palm of your hand."

Each Penveu contains a high-speed camera, 12 accelerometers, three gyroscopes, and three magnetometers, all so that it knows where it's pointing. The image shown on the screen or TV, or on the wall (from a projector) has more than 200 targets embedded on it, and the camera in the device can see them, honing in on specific pixels, allowing the user to write or draw right where they want, from anywhere in a room.

Interphase is hoping it can sell significant numbers of the Penveu to schools, and it pegged its educational price to the level above which schools must go through complex hoops to get approval. And for business, the company hopes that the low price, and the modern design -- the Penveu was crafted by frogdesign -- will attract large numbers of corporate buyers.