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SmartBoard SBX885 Interactive Whiteboard Teardown

09 September 2011
The following is an overview of a teardown analysis conducted by IHS Technology Teardown Services.

Overview / Main Features

The humble whiteboard seems to be one of the last frontiers that technology, until recently has left untouched. In the post iPhone/touchscreen era, simply writing on a whiteboard with a marker seems intuitively to require a major leap forward. Productivity can be improved in offices and classrooms by making the whiteboard an interactive touchscreen that allows it to become an input device (like a mouse or pen and pad input devices) for a PC, but also makes it a large screen onto which images can be projected, as a form of display.

Smart Technologies offers many different types of these interactive whiteboards, offering different touch sensing technologies (resistive and optical we have seen so far in our teardown anlsyses to date), different size formats, but also different external options - mainly projectors - some of which are ultra-short throw projectors that can be mounted directly atop the whiteboard projecting images downward onto the board.

The SMART Board SBX885 interactive whiteboard is an 87 inch [diagonal] panel with optical sensing as input (via four cameras poised at each corner of the board). This particular model does not come with a projector, however there are variants SBX885i4 and SBX885ix models that do. The SBX885 also features a pen tray and comes with two pens and an eraser. There are color buttons on the pen tray that allow the user to select the pen color.

This optical input method is a step above the previous Smart Technologies board we analyzed (model 680) which featured an enormous resistive touchsceen layer and also offers a much different user experience, but requires sophisticated software for processing and ultimately interpreting the images of hands and markers on or near the surface of the whiteboard. Some of this software and processing requires more hardware (in the form of processors - see 'controller boards' in our teardown analysis). The specs of the board specifically state that the interactive whiteboard can accommodate 2 users working simultaneously on the board. It is speculated that the optical input may be to some extent, the underlying reason why more users cannot be simultaneously supported.

The SBX885 interactive board features a touch resolution of approximately 4096 x 4096. And, "The hard-coated steel surface is durable, optimized for projection, compatible with dry-erase markers and easily cleaned with whiteboard cleaner.

SmartBoard SBX885 Interactive Whiteboard Main ImageSmartBoard SBX885 Interactive Whiteboard Main Image

Target Market

Education and Corporate markets


Per press release - January 30, 2011.

SmartBoard SBX885 Interactive Whiteboard - Main PCB Top and BottomSmartBoard SBX885 Interactive Whiteboard - Main PCB Top and Bottom

Pricing and Availability

Pricing - Due to the primary sales channel for this type of white boards, there are a wide variety of pricing specific to the contracts struck with individual customers. However, a cursory scan of the online marketplace places an MSRP of $3,499 USD, with current retail prices vary from ~$2500 to ~$2800 USD (at the time of writing - August 2011).

Availability - assumed global

Volume Estimations

For the purposes of this teardown analysis, we have assumed a lifetime production volume of 150K units.

As a reminder, teardown volume production assumptions are primarily used for our cost analysis in terms of amortized NRE and tooling costs, especially for custom components specific to the model being analyzed (mechanical components especially). Unless assumed volumes are different by an order of magnitude, minor changes in volume (say 1 million vs. 2) rarely have a large net effect on our final analysis because of this.

SmartBoard SBX885 Interactive Whiteboard - Disassembly View 1SmartBoard SBX885 Interactive Whiteboard - Disassembly View 1

Cost Notes

Main Cost Drivers Representing ~69% of total materials cost

Whiteboard - Styrofoam Core Sandwiched Between 2 Aluminum Sheets, w/ 4 Pressed-In Internally Threaded Metal Inserts, White Painted

Analog Devices - ADSP-BF524KBCZ-4 - Microcontroller - DSP, 16/32-Bit, 132Kb SRAM, 32kB ROM, 48 GPIO, 400MHz

Aptina - MT9V034C12STM - Image Sensor - WVGA, CMOS, Monochrome, 1/3' Format, 6.0um x 6.0um Pixel Size, 4.51mm x 2.88mm Active Image Area

Main Box - Corrugated Cardboard, Printed, w/ 4 Cardboard Honeycomb Stabilizers

Enclosure, Main, Bottom - Stamped / Formed Electro-Galvanized Steel, Painted

Enclosure, Main, Top - Stamped / Formed Electro-Galvanized Steel, Painted

Cable Assembly - 15-Conductor Shielded Cable, Insulated, w/ 2 16-Position Pin Socket Connector, Heat Shrink Tubing, and Label

Best Friend Technology - PCBs - 6-Layer - FR4

Global Service Group - PCB - 6-Layer - FR4

Enclosure, Main, Horizontal Reflector Mounting Rail - Injection Molded ABS

Mock Dry Erase Marker - Co-Molded Plastic and Silicone Rubber, w/ Removable Felt Nib

Total BOM Cost $457.44

SmartBoard SBX885 Interactive Whiteboard Cost AnalysisSmartBoard SBX885 Interactive Whiteboard Cost Analysis

What Is Not Included in our Cost Analysis

The total materials and manufacturing costs reported in this analysis reflect ONLY the direct materials cost (from component vendors and assorted EMS providers), AND manufacturing with basic test. Not included in this analysis are costs above and beyond the material manufacture of the core device itself - cost of intellectual property, royalties and licensing fees (those not already included into the per component price), software, software loading and test, shipping, logistics marketing and other channel costs including not only EMS provider and the OEM's margin, but that of other resellers. Our cost analysis is meant to focus on those costs incurred in the manufacture of the core device and exceptionally in some circumstances the packaging and literature as well.

Manufacturing Notes

OEM/ODM/EMS Relationships / Manufacturing

EMS Provider unidentified.

Country of Origin / Volume Assumptions

Based on markings, the unit was assembled in Canada. Furthermore, we have assumed that custom mechanicals (plastics, metals, etc.) were also sourced in Canada, as the large scale of mechanical components do not necessarily lend themselves to importation (bulk).

Country of origin assumptions relate directly to the associated cost of manufacturing, where calculated by iSuppli. In the cases of 'finished' sub-assemblies (such as USB cables), we do not calculate internal manufacturing costs, but rather assess the market price of the finished product in which case country of origin assumptions may or may not have a direct effect on pricing.

Remember also that labor rates are applied directly only to hand inserted components and systems in our bill of materials, and although regional assumptions do, these new rates do not have a direct effect on our modeled calculations of placement costs for automated SMD assembly lines. ""Auto" inserted components (such as SMT components) placement costs are calculated by an iSuppli algorithm which allocates a cost per component based on the size and pincount of the device. This calculation is affected by country or region of origin as well.

Design for Manufacturing / Device Complexity

The Smart Board SBX885 interactive whiteboard as an overall component count of 1321 (excluding box contents), of which, 230 are mechanical in nature. As an aside, the other Smart Tech whiteboard we tore down had far fewer components (357 components not including box contents). This stems from the increased electronic components in this design, and the inherently more sophisticated approach of this optical technology versus resistive touch.

Component counts have a direct bearing on the overall manufacturing cycle times and costs, and also can increase or decrease overall yields and re-work. Our calculations of manufacturing costs factor counts and more qualitative complexities in the design.

Note that manual labor has a much smaller effect on auto-insertion assembly lines (for the Main PCB, for example), where manufacturing costs are much more capital equipment intensive and driven by these investment costs.

Design Notes

Our last Smart Technologies interactive whiteboard analysis focused primarily on the mechanical components within the design, as the electronics were, in fact, fairly simple, and the design was dominated by the mechanical cost elements including the very large scale resistive touch element. In this design, with four times the number of the components, the electronics and cameras make the design more interesting from an electronic perspective, though, in any such large design, mechanical elements will always play a large cost role.

Furthermore, it appears that because of the four camera design, it's not just the cameras that are multiplied by four in the design, but many of the supporting circuit boards and corresponding control components.

Here is a summary of the major components used in the Smart Technologies SBX885 design:

Optical Sensor PCBs - Camera Modules (x4)

The camera modules implemented in this design feature both an unusual resolution (WVGA or 800x480 resolution) when compared with more conventional VGA to 1.3MP units found in PCs and handsets, and are monochrome. This of course, makes sense in that they are only being used to detect the presence of physical objects in the field of view. The camera modules are otherwise similar in optical sophistication to basic camera modules seen in PCs and handsets, and are fixed focus. The camera modules appear to be custom made for this application and therefore we have built the cost of the modules from the ground up in our analysis.

800480 resolution (WVGA)

Fixed focus

Image Sensor - Aptina - MT9V034C12STM - WVGA, CMOS, Monochrome, 1/3' Format

Main PCB

Though each camera has a corresponding 'controller PCB', each with its own processor and supporting electronics, there is also a Main PCB which ties together the functionality of the board and acts as its core processor. The Analog Devices DSP on this board is the 5th of its kind in the design and presumably might be a 'master' microcontroller of the other 4 microcontrollers, each handling the images from the individual cameras.

This board features the following major components:

  • Microcontroller - Analog Devices - ADSP-BF524KBCZ-4 - DSP, 16/32-Bit, 132Kb SRAM, 32kB ROM, 48 GPIO, 400MHz
  • Controller PCBs (A, B, C and D) - 1 Each of the following per board
  • Microcontroller - Analog Devices - ADSP-BF524KBCZ-4 - DSP, 16/32-Bit, 132Kb SRAM, 32kB ROM, 48 GPIO, 400MHz
  • Memory - Etron Technology - EM638165TS-6G - SDRAM - 64Mb (4M x 16), 166MHz, 3.3V

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