Imagine an electronic blackboard with the memory and processing power of a computer and the ability to be shared by people located miles away from each other. That, in essence, is what Xerox Corp.'s Live Board system delivers. Combining a 67-inch color video screen, a wireless pen, and a 486-based PC that runs Microsoft Corp.'s Windows, the system serves as a "smart" writing surface that engineers and other professionals can use to make meetings and discussions more efficient and productive. Connect two of the boards by telephone and the Live Board lets distant groups collaborate. They can share information stored in the computer, annotate it by hand, store the final result, and make printouts on a laser printer.
Selling the new unit, which lists for $49,500, is Group Communications, a business that Xerox set up last September at its Palo Alto Research Center. To help put Live Board over, Xerox has hired a few dozen outsiders to beef up marketing. The first customers are engineering groups within Xerox, followed by the company's largest customers in industries such as pharmaceuticals and automobiles.