2009 Winner: Outstanding Achievement in Information and Communication Technology
Innovative Company Is Major Contributor To Local And Global Economy
Beginning with the belief that education is a life-long endeavour and one educator can make a difference in a student’s life, SMART Technologies has been supporting educators by providing innovative products and services since 1991.
SMART is a Calgary-based company, an industry pioneer, and a market leader in developing collaborative products for classrooms and meeting rooms.
“Educators were the first to take an interest in SMART’s interactive whiteboards,” says David Martin, co-founder and executive chairman and an active member of the university research community. “They immediately saw the potential of SMART’s whiteboard as instructional, professional development, and student collaboration tools. Since then, that small group of educators has grown into an international community spanning over 175 countries.”
SMART invented the first interactive whiteboard to provide touch control of computer applications and annotation over standard Microsoft Windows applications. The SMART Board™ interactive whiteboard, connected to an LCD panel and a computer, introduced the world to interactive technology in classrooms, group meetings, and presentations. Millions of teachers and students use SMART products daily to help make classroom lessons more engaging and effective. To do this, SMART employs over 750 people in Alberta and has more than 1,300 employees worldwide. “We are a significant employer and contributor to the local and global economy,” Mr. Martin says.
SMART continues to invest in research and development to find new tools to enhance the functionality of the SMART Board and other interactive hardware and software products it creates. In 2004 the company introduced the SMART Board for Flat-Panel Displays, which played an integral role in the Mars mission. The product was incorporated with NASA’s plasma display system to create a network of Mars Exploration Rover (MER) Boards that help mission scientists and engineers with planning and analyses.
In 2008 the company introduced another first: the SMART Table interactive learning center, designed for preschool to sixth grade students. The SMART Table allows students to select or move objects, draw, or write on the screen simultaneously, and work together to find answers to preset questions. “Every day, organizations around the world are adopting new ways of working and learning together,” Ms. Knowlton explains. “Successful collaboration and learning requires clear communication of ideas, goals, and strategies, whether to others in the same room or across distances. Tools like those SMART makes that enable this kind of communication ultimately expand the potential of what students, business people, and others can achieve.”
Ms. Knowlton is also the executive director of the SMARTer Kids Foundation of which SMART is a founding and funding partner. The private organization gives opportunities for students and teachers to learn new skills and grow in self-confidence by placing technology, grants, and programs at their service. “When people first see our products, they’re delighted and intrigued by the “magic” that happens before their eyes,” Ms. Knowlton says. “The real value, though, is in being our customer and enjoying the benefits of our products every day.”