SAN DIEGO, June 4, 2013 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Education technology is a growing industry and is attracting some manufacturers seeking to take advantage of budget-conscious schools with false claims about product performance, according to Pathway Innovations & Technologies, Inc.
School districts often purchase in bulk through a bid process that favors the lowest cost proposal. School purchasing agents may specify a leading brand, but allow substitute products to be offered if they "meet or exceed the specifications." That's where the problem is. Some manufacturers claim to meet the specifications, but their products don't.
Schools think they are saving money and buying products that will do the job, only to get sub-standard product, according to Pathway. A case in point is the document camera.
A document camera is a modern overhead projector that has become popular in classrooms. The growing document camera market has attracted a dozen new entrants to the field, many located in China where manufacturing costs are low. The technical specifications claimed by some of the new suppliers are impressive, but the usability of their devices is sometimes questionable.
Commonly referenced specifications of USB document cameras include resolution measured in megapixels and speed measured in frames per second. A quality document camera suitable for teaching should include a 5-megapixel sensor and video refresh rates of 15 frames per second or higher. However, although camera manufactures with products in the $100 range are claiming 5-megapixel resolution, they don't deliver the frame rate needed for teaching. Schools end up with a camera so slow some teachers use the term "seasick" to describe the effect on students.
Claims of a high frame rate and high resolution defy the logic that you cannot have both simultaneously in a low cost USB camera. The costs for delivering a true 5 megapixel document camera with a fast refresh rate are $200 - $300 at this time, not $100.
"There are companies out there selling snake oil," said Craig Justice, Vice President Sales, Pathway Innovations and Technologies, Inc., a San Diego, CA based manufacturer of scanners and document cameras called The HoverCam. "I would advise schools to physically evaluate products from an unknown supplier before purchasing or awarding bids," Justice said.
The HoverCam Solo 5 made by Pathway Innovations is engineered to deliver an optimal frame rate of 15 frames per second at a full 5 megapixel resolution. This is accomplished through specific patent-pending technology. At an educational price of $269, the HoverCam is less expensive than traditional document cameras using older technologies, but without sacrificing quality. For a video comparison of the $269 HoverCam vs. a $100 product claiming the same specification, please visit the HoverCam website at http://www.thehovercam.com/products/solo5/compare.
Education buyers purchasing products based on specifications alone or the lowest price should be careful. When it comes to document cameras in particular, a good quality document camera should incorporate a 5 megapixel sensor and deliver frame rates at a minimum of 15 frames per second, or faster, to be an effective teaching tool. Slower frame rates distract students in class. While the school thinks it is saving money, if the low-cost product ends up being a distraction instead of a useful, it won't be used and the school would have wasted money.
Source:Pathway Innovations & Technologies, Inc.