Cleaning Up Whiteboard Pictures

I've seen many recommendations to take pictures of whiteboards, with a digital camera, instead of using printing whiteboards or copying the contents down by hand.

Two things come to mind:

Easy of camera connectivity. It would be handy to be able to plug the camera into any PC in the office, without having to install drivers first. Some Olympus cameras appear to offer this with "USB AutoConnect". (See http://www.olympusamerica.com/oai_pressDetails.asp?pressNo=131 ) Would anyone like to comment on their experience with this feature (i.e. does it work well)? Do any other brands offer something similar?

Cleaning up the images afterwards. Options include:

These vary widely in price, and presumably quality of the end result. Would anyone who's used these like to comment?

-- JohnRusk

Update: I have tried all three of the programs above. On my machine, only the one from Polyvision worked reliably. -- JohnRusk

Note, every digital camera dealt with recently has usb support, which didn't need additional driver support; typically, the camera is recognized as a form of removable media. -- WilliamUnderwood

I dont like taking copies of whiteboard notices, because ImproveInsteadOfCopy. -- GunnarZarncke


I've found that GIMP is good enough to fix up the images - and the built in photo viewing gimickry in WindowsXp allows the pictures to be seen at will (Assuming an organisation using Windows machines, of course).

Something I've always wanted to try - using a Whiteboard for brainstorming in a meeting, but having a PC, Camera and projector as well. While the meeting is going, take snapshots before erasing the whiteboard, and have them available on the projector for reference.

Anyone tried this?

-- BevanArps


Only part of it. One surprisingly helpful approach (sort of an incomplete merger of the two) that we use a lot is to use a PC with projector to display information on a whiteboard. Somebody can then walk up and freely 'annotate' the PC image. However, to date, persistence of these notes has only been done by someone copying down the changes afterwards - I think using a digital camera in conjunction with this approach could be fruitful.

However I'm a little concerned with, well, scaling if you display a whiteboard photograph on a projector. If the projector's image isn't comparable to the size of the whiteboard, then you'll be seeing the whiteboard at (for example) only 75% of its original size. Harder to see... and what if you annotate it (with the method I described above) and made another photograph? Smaller and smaller, hah!

It's certainly something to play around with, however. Whatever keeps modeling agile, I guess...

-- JosephRiesen


It's been four years since the last edit and the appliactions mentioned above are no long available. Here's a little howto that works with most photo applications (tried it with the Gimp and Paint Shop Pro) and doesn't contain histogram tweaking.
 1. duplicate the layer, make sure the top layer is active
 1. (gaussian)blur the new layer. You shouldn't be able to read the text anymore. 
 1. set the layer mode to dodge
 1. invert the layer

-- RemcoBoerma


I have updated the Polyvison reference above. Whiteboard Photo most certainly exist and works extremely well in the above mentioned scenarios. If you are located in the US you can by it online. In Europe, you will have to buy it from their local office in a country near you. It is not promoted by Polyvision, since it in a sense undermines the need of smart boards. We use it to document whiteboards, flip-over charts etc. It automatically corrects, flash reflections, perspective and contrast.

Another program is Clearboard http://www.softtouchit.com/products/clearboard/index.html, but it has a slightly less optimal handling of red color and not quite as flexible correction of perspective. But stil quite ok - alas - payware.

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