Here at CNDLS, we’re dedicated to our effort of exploring new technologies, even those that seem the most enigmatic. This was certainly the case with the Jamboard, a relatively new product released by Google in May of last year. Prior to turning it on, one might wonder what exactly they are looking at. Is it a TV? An incredibly large tablet or computer? Imagine the surprise when you learn that it’s actually a unique reimagining of the whiteboard.

(Source: Google)

The foundation of Jamboard’s utility is its novel approach to white-board style collaboration. Ideal for meetings focused on brainstorming and developing ideas, as well as designing and giving demonstrations, the Jamboard is a digital canvas that anyone can contribute to. As a collaborative drawing tool, participants can become active in the session by drawing and writing, adding digital sticky notes, or by incorporating pre-existing digital content such as images, screenshots, and graphics. Since the Jamboard is connected to the user’s Google account, users are able to import Google drive documents as cropped images straight to the board for annotation, and because the Jamboard features its own web browser, participants can search for images online and add them to the board as well.

The emphasis on collaboration extends across devices. Participants can utilize their smartphones by submitting images, stickies, and documents directly from Google drive. Using a tablet or smartphone allows for even more interaction. By becoming an extension of the Jamboard itself, users can draw directly on the whiteboard from the tablet, or submit content such as photos or digital sticky notes from their smartphone.

Collaboration isn’t limited to those who are in the room. By utilizing Google Hangouts, participation is expanded to users working remotely through the use of the Jamboard’s webcam, allowing those operating the Jamboard to present visually and synchronously to a web meeting. As the owner of the Jam session, you can let those remote participants swap between seeing the room through the webcam or seeing the Jam session’s white-board. Once the Jam Session is finished, users are able to easily and digitally share the finished Jamboard session as a PDF. And for those who aren’t feeling that adventurous, the Jamboard accommodates traditional presentations by allowing users to mirror their laptop screen to the board.

Overall, use cases generally fit into one of three categories:

  1. Interactive Whiteboard for brainstorming, designing, planning, teaching and presenting.
  2. Web-conferencing to a Google Hangout that presents either the whiteboard to the meeting or a visual of people sitting in front of the Jamboard.
  3. The ability to plug in your pc or laptop and mirror your display in high resolution.

The Jamboard does have some drawbacks. There are some odd usability issues.  Why is the web browser limited to half the screen? Why can’t participants in a Hangout see both those in the room with the Jamboard and the Jam session at the same time? When importing Google drive documents, why can users only draw on images of that document, and cannot edit the actual documents themselves? Why aren’t there more “apps” than just the whiteboard itself?

Yet regardless of these design quirks, it still manages to do its job. By emphasizing creativity and collaboration, the Jamboard certainly acts as an exciting addition to any meeting, presentation, or design session. And with Google constantly adding updates to its device, what the Jamboard is now could be just the beginning.