CompetitiveAnalysis-EricFung

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Contents

Restatement of Idea

Our group's application aims to assist math and science teachers in planning out a lecture's use of whiteboard space. They will use the app to best highlight important items, for example, by making them large or by leaving them up for the longest amount of time.

The brainstorm and proposal can be found at this page.

List of Competitors

  1. Whiteboard Pro: Collaborative Drawing
  2. ZeptoPad
  3. NetSketch
  4. Whiteboard Capture Pro
  5. Pocket Whiteboard
  6. JotNot Scanner
  7. Presenter Pro
  8. doodleme
  9. Qipit White
  10. Whiteboarder

Analysis

1. Whiteboard Pro: Collaborative Drawing

Whiteboard Pro is aimed at amateur drawers. Our target user group is unlikely to use this app as it is, since it is a basic sketching app. Aside from choosing brush color and thickness, two iPhones running the app can connect to each other and share a whiteboard. You can also save your progress as a photo, and open up a photo for editing as well. We intend to retain the ability to choose colors and save multiple boards, but the collaborative element is unnecessary for our purposes. The app is simple enough: the primary view is the drawing canvas, and tapping with two fingers brings up the menu. We hope to be able to maximize our board space similarly while providing easy access to functions.

2. Zeptopad

Zeptopad targets slightly more advanced sketchers and designers, a group that does not overlap with our target users. Zeptopad allows for drawing vector images, meaning the items that are drawn can be scaled as you zoom in and out. The app also provides relatively sophisticated functionality for a mobile graphics application, including gradient fills and copy/pasting elements. Because of the variety of functions available to the user, the app seems to depend on several multitouch gestures that may or may not be apparent to the user right away. We'd like our interface to be easier to learn while keeping a level of functionality for common tasks, such as adding a theorem to the whiteboard (for example).

3. NetSketch

NetSketch seems to be another app for amateur to intermediate drawers. It is unique in that it allows more than just two iPhones to connect at a time. You are able to group your drawing buddies and allow or deny these groups from viewing/editing certain sketches. NetSketch also offers the ability to export your sketches to email or a gallery hosted on their website. This kind of functionality, though it may be appropriate for NetSketch's target users, does not quite fit our users. Our teachers tend to prepare and present their lectures individually, rather than work on them with several other people. Our app will most likely not feature NetSketch's unique features, but will still allow for saving your work and zooming and browsing different whiteboards.

4. Whiteboard Capture Pro

This application is listed in the app store under the "Business" category, so it seems to target people in business environments who frequently take notes during a presentation or a brainstorming session. As a result, math/science students may find a use for the app, but probably not math/science teachers. The application makes use of the iPhone camera so you can take a high quality photo of a whiteboard after notes have been drawn on it. There is a slider to adjust settings so that stray artifacts are removed from the final picture. Saved boards can also be sorted into folders. This app's strongest functionality does not really apply to the goals of our group's application. The diagrams generated will already be high quality, so there is no need to adjust for noise. We would add functionality from this app only if some teachers went out of the way to put up their lecture notes before lectures and captured them afterward.

5. Pocket Whiteboard

Pocket Whiteboard is yet another drawing application for amateur drawers. This app has even less functionality than the previous whiteboard apps, allowing you only to choose from a limited amount of colors, with a fixed brush width. There is a replay button, which I assume redraws the board from beginning to end (I was unable to find a video of this feature in action). The interface resembles a whiteboard, with icons for different marker colors, which makes the app considerably easy to pick up and start using. For the purposes of comparison, we also plan to let the user step through the states of a board as more notes get added and erased. Hopefully, our interface can be as simple as Pocket Whiteboard's.

6. JotNot Scanner

The application targets users who frequently need electronic copies of documents but do not own an actual scanner. Judging from its ability to connect to a variety of online services, such as Evernote, Google Docs, and iDisk, its target users probably are somewhat more technically knowledgeable and are familiar with using such services. Teachers may fall into this category, but not necessarily. This app allows you to take pictures of documents or any surface with writing on it. Then you can skew the resulting picture and perform post-processing like editing the white balance or removing shadows, so it looks just like it was scanned. Then you can export the resulting picture as a PDF to online services as listed above. JotNot's extensibility with these services better integrate the app into regular usage, but only if you already have accounts with them. These features are totally optional and can either be kept or left out, depending on how our target users want to save their lecture notes.

7. Presenter Pro

This application is geared towards anyone who wants to improve their presentation skills, particularly those who give presentations for businesses. This audience is a bit broader than math and science teachers, though they too can benefit from this app's presentation tips. The app acts as a coach on improving the presenter's body language, word choices, presentation structure, use of visual aids, and vocal inflection, where ours acts as platform for improving visual aids alone. I like their shake functionality that provides a random tip, possibly so that presenters can get a quick tip to remind them mid-presentation. But this app seems best used before the actual presentation, whereas ours is used both before and during the presentation.

8. doodleme

doodleme is in many ways like Whiteboard Pro. Judging from the informal nature of the name and website, its primary users are most likely casual drawers. It also allows two iPhones to connect to each other and share a canvas. You can keep track of common doodle friends, a feature that is not necessary for our app's purposes. Much like Whiteboard Pro, its interface is very unobtrusive, a usability element we'd like to retain.

9. Qipit White

Qipit White is extremely similar to JotNot Scanner. It targets users who need copies of documents or whiteboard notes but do not own a scanner. Its only real notable difference is in the services it is paired with: Evernote, Twitter, and Facebook. Like JotNot, this app allows you to take pictures of documents or any surface with writing on it. Post-processing is done automatically to remove shadows, so it looks like it was scanned. Then you can export the resulting picture as a PDF to online services as listed above. Qipit's compatibility with Twitter and Facebook make it more appealing to students, so similar features are likely to be left out of our app.

10. Whiteboarder

Whiteboarder is similar to JotNot Scanner, being geared towards users who need to capture whiteboards for business purposes--this does not explicitly include our target user group, though they may find a use for it. Just like JotNot, the application uses the camera and directs the user to point out the four corners of the "document" to skew it into its proper orientation. Rather than exporting to Evernote or Twitter or such, you can actually print it via a shared printer on the network. Its usability is quite simplified: the company takes much pride in its image enhancement algorithm that automates removing noise and boosting contrast. Ideally, our app would be able to automate organizing data, but it's probably best to leave it in the hands of the teachers, who can use the app to fit their personal style of teaching.

Summary

I've discovered that most applications available are generally centered around two tasks: freestyle drawing or capturing notes already drawn on a whiteboard. There is only one app I found for preparing presentations, and that was focused more towards practicing inflection and gestures, not visual aids. Since a drawing application alone is easy enough (considering we coded a basic one in such a short time), the competitors offer the additional ability to collaborate: view and edit your drawings on multiple iPhones. Some of the capture applications allow you to share the whiteboards similarly, either via email, printing them, or online services like Evernote and Dropbox. Our application's focus deals primarily with organizing notes BEFORE they go on the whiteboard, rather than DURING their presentation (the process of drawing them) or AFTER they are up (capturing whiteboards before they get erased). Furthermore, our application is meant to assist in providing an optimal layout, a feature that none of the other apps I've found can do. These features make our proposal a much more unique solution than what is currently available.



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