An interactive projection uses a special projector and pen-like controller to project a computer-based interactive environment onto a wall. These projectors are used most commonly in schools, but also in business presentations, because the user can draw on the board and open programs at the same time. Everything is controlled from a light-emitting pen, which can be used on-screen or off-screen, depending on the needs of the user. Unlike interactive whiteboards, which are similar devices, an interactive projection device can be moved around from room to room. The projector and light-emitting pen connect to a computer to work, so no special software is needed, and any software can be used via the projector.
Using an interactive projection and a computer are very similar. The major difference is that, instead of a mouse, the operator uses a light-emitting pen. The pen emits light and this light makes the projector respond, so the operator can stand a distance away from the screen and still interact with the image projected. The operator also can write directly on the screen, as if using a whiteboard or chalkboard.
An interactive projection is similar to an interactive whiteboard. Both use nearly the same software, and both are interactive and allow operators to use programs or write on the screen, but the difference is their mobility. An interactive projector can be taken off the ceiling or wall — wherever it is mounted — and moved to another location; an interactive whiteboard is meant to be a permanent installation. The interactive projector also is cheaper, though a whiteboard does tend to function better with the interactive features.
When an interactive projection is cast, it connects to a computer, which runs the interactive program. Except for a program needed to make the projector and computer integrate, no other special programs are needed. Aside from drawing on the screen, the operator also can open movies, files and programs. This allows teachers and presenters to show complex data or renderings without having to export the files for a video player.
The most common users of interactive projections are teachers, followed by business presenters. With teaching, the initial novelty of an interactive projection may keep students interested in the class. After the novelty is gone, teachers still can make use of the projectors by opening files and easily erasing the board on which he or she wrote. Business presenters use these projectors to easily show presentations to stockholders and other business people, because it gives the presenter better control of the presentation file.