Digital Chalkboard

Posted by on Oct 15, 2012 in Hardware, Insight

Some of the schools I attended as a kid were so old they had traditional chalkboards. Can you imagine such a thing? Real chalk! Our educational institutions have certainly evolved since them. They went from chalkboards to whiteboards, now many schools have been implementing Smartboards. I am certainly curious to see what the next advancement will bring. When we speak of all the ways digital will replace static, we often miss some areas that are not immediately recognizable. Chalkboards certainly represent one of those areas.

Apart from institutions of learning, chalkboards are often used in many types of signage displays. For instance, I have seen them used as digital menu boards, as static signs in craft stores, as price boards at the grocer, and in a miscellany of other applications–which include school classrooms. These uses for chalkboards and whiteboards are certainly warranted, but I’m sure if we thought creatively enough, we could most definitely think of some ways in which these static signs could be replaced by their digital counterpart.

I probably do not need to rehash the benefits of such a replacement. Shoot, I talk about the benefits here on this blog ad nauseum. On the contrary, I think it may be important to defend the static signs first. After that, then we’ll go into a bit more detail about the

While there are many reasons to replace chalkboards and whiteboards with digital, there are also ways in which this is not necessarily the best idea. To have me say that the sales lift will outpace the cost enough that a viable ROI will be achieved on a DMB could be quite ludicrous. In fact, there are many applications where chalkboards are used because they give a particular type of ambiance to the venue. This could be particularly true in a deli scenario where the menu items are displayed on a curb, much like the photograph I’ve included in this post. Indeed, not all digital signage will effectively work for replacing every situation. There are times when the cost is too great and the change in atmosphere too off the beaten path that using it as a chalkboard replacement is simply not the best of ideas. Taking all the factors into play (cost, change in atmosphere, functionality, and ease of use) we can certainly see that digital is not always the lesser of two evils.

I was with my wife the other day at the craft store. We were looking for photo frames as a gift for a family member. While I was there I noticed the store had some permanently installed chalkboards on display where they would change out regular promotions, sale, and coupon items by erasing and writing on the chalkboard. So naturally, Nate Nead says to himself, “why the heck don’t they replace those with digital.” After discussing it with my wife, she knowingly reproved my thought with, “because that would be appropriate at Best Buy, but not at the craft store.” She was right, like she is so many times. It simply would not have worked with the atmosphere.

While I have spent much of my time today defending why digital would not work in particular settings, I’m certain digital would work for a great number of chalkboard and whiteboards which exist today. As a method for information distribution, the boards would simply work as a way to do that more quickly, timely, and spicely (that’s a word that means aesthetically pleasing). But, as we’ve discussed, it all just depends on the venue and existing atmosphere.

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