Virtual Ink untethers Mimeo whiteboarding product

Virtual Ink, vendor of the electronic whiteboard Mimeo, on Tuesday at the Demo conference will unveil its move into the wireless world with an upgrade it calls "category breaking."

Mimeo x i (for NeXt Ink) is a departure from the company's four-year-old Mimeo electronic whiteboarding product in that it allows users to record whiteboarding writing without a PC and with almost no setup time via wireless connectivity.

"We're looking to take the barrier to use so far down ... it's a reinvention of the category," said company President and CEO Greg McHale, based in Boston.

Mimeo x i is a foldable gray-and-silver device that snaps to whiteboards with suction cups. Using a DSP chip to process ultrasound and infrared input, the upgrade is substantially smaller and flatter than its predecessor, though it still weighs about 2-1/2 pounds.

The breakthrough from a usage point of view is the addition of flash memory, which allows the device to story the recordings of a whiteboarding session, freeing users from having to connect PCs to the Mimeo appliance.

The upgrade is also designed for "personality modules," essentially plug-ins that support different connectivity options. The first module, called Link USB, allows a user to take the module from the Mimeo appliance and use a USB cable to download the contents of the whiteboarding session to a PC.

At Demo, 3Com is expected to show off a proof-of-concept module for Bluetooth that allows the data to be fed to a PC via a wireless connection, and ultimately to a corporate network. Virtual Ink is publishing the specifications and plans to develop a version for IRDA to connect to PocketPCs or Palms; the company expects that third parties will create a WiFi module.

Mimeo x i will cost $699 and will ship by the end of March. A Bluetooth module is expected for release next quarter.

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