Penveu smart 'whiteboard' pen on test in US schools

The Penveu The pen can be used to "write" on any flat surface

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An innovative electronic pen which could replace whiteboards is to be tested in schools in the US.

Los Angeles Unified School District, the nation's second largest with 770,000 students, will soon try out the gadget, named Penveu.

The handheld wireless device "electronically" works on any surface such as a bare wall, computer monitor or pulldown screen.

Penveu's makers say it is far cheaper than existing whiteboard systems.

The device, which writes, points, and highlights on any flat surface, costs $499 (£312) for educational use - far less than existing interactive whiteboards which can cost more than £2,000.

Additionally, Penveu is easier to assemble and use than traditional electronic whiteboards.

Penveu, essentially, becomes an interactive whiteboard that is so precise both students and teachers can use it close up or from the back of the classroom.

The pen uses technology known as "embedded computer vision", first designed for satellites and military navigation systems.

The Texas-based Interphase Corporation has refined the technology over the past three years; it has applied for patents.

'Hyper-connected'

The company will unveil Penveu at Demo, a conference for emerging technologies in Silicon Valley.

After connecting to any VGA-ready device (old-fashioned projector, TV or monitor) on any operating system, Penveu is able to draw, write and highlight in nine bright colours without tarnishing the surface.

Penveu being shown on a wall Any content created by the Penveu can be saved for future use

It works like a portable electronic wand and the "ink" can be erased with a click of a button. Content, such as lesson plans or slide presentations, can be saved for later reference.

Warren Dale, who makes technology recommendations for Los Angeles schools, is an early enthusiast. He said this generation of "hyper-connected" children "are used to a much higher level of stimulation".

"Today's kids are all about collaboration, Facebook, taking and sharing pictures, making and sharing movies," he told the BBC.

"With Penveu, I can easily and inexpensively add another collaborative tool in the classroom."

Mr Dale said that as an educator with over 30 years' experience, he had observed classroom technology improving student learning and test scores.

"I see [Penveu] making a major impact in US classrooms," he said.

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