GTSI adds MicroTouch whiteboards to GSA sked

MicroTouch Systems Inc. said last week that Government Technology Services Inc. (GTSI) now carries the company's product line of electronic whiteboards to General Services Administration schedule customers.

MicroTouch's suite of four products - which resemble typical whiteboards used in conference rooms to illustrate points and display diagrams - hook up to PCs and can store print or e-mail whiteboard illustrations in real time. Images also can be shared instantaneously with users at remote locations via the Internet or local-area networks.

James Sortino vice president of sales and marketing for MicroTouch's Business Products Division said the deal with GTSI represents his company's first major foray into the federal market. "Obviously GTSI being one the largest suppliers to the federal government is a key partner for us " he said.

"With federal procurements expected to exceed $10 billion this year clearly this is a market where we want our electronic whiteboards to be " Sortino said. "We really want to create a whole new category of peripherals in the federal government."

All of MicroTouch's whiteboards allow users to save everything written in up to five colors to a PC while other applications are running. They can print and save directly from the whiteboard e-mail notes to participants without saving them to the hard drive and conduct real-time teleconferences with remote locations. The products connect to PCs through standard RS232 serial ports without special interface cards and use standard dry-erase markers.

GTSI will resell all four of MicroTouch's products. The Ibid 100 electronic whiteboard measures 2 feet by 3 feet and was designed small "so it could be put in every cubicle" in an office Sortino said.

He said users can install the whiteboard on their desktop computers in about 10 minutes.

The Ibid 150 is an upright version of the Ibid 100 measuring 3 feet by 2 feet designed to replace conventional flipcharts. The Ibid 300 measures 3 feet by 4 feet and is designed for use in larger conference rooms.

The company's most recent product the Ibid 400 allows users to project their PC screens onto the whiteboard and use it as a touch screen. "The board becomes your mouse " Sortino said. The 400 also allows users to connect multiple boards to create up to 48 square feet of writing area he said.

"Collaboration is vital to the government now " Sortino said. "They are looking at a lot of distance learning applications and collaborative tools. I think they will be very interested in these products."

Tim Collins director of vendor relations at GTSI said the company has already sold some of the MicroTouch products to users in the Defense Department. He said DOD customers are using the products in much the same way they might use video teleconferencing systems.

For example some customers use the whiteboards to share graphical and text information with others in remote locations Collins said.

He said the products also come in handy for DOD software engineers who may be collaborating on a concept and need to transmit drawings to each other.Collins added that he has become a user of the technology himself. "I just had one mounted on my desk because I found I could scribble rough thoughts on it and share them with my colleagues - just as if they were here in my office " he said.

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