When the iPad first came out and attorneys began using it as a tool to help present their cases visually, I thought how great it would be if a presentation could be seen by all participants on their own tablet as opposed to projected on a screen. This personal contact with the tablet in their hands would resolve a major limitation on presentations given on a screen, which is a lack of resolution. When you project a presentation, you lose 60 to 70 percent of the resolution you get from your computer screen, and the viewer has to look across a room, which is why you need to make fonts quite big and images quite bold. iPads with retina display have better resolution and can be viewed close up, which means that detailed charts and diagrams are possible to show in a way they would not be if projected.
Wouldn’t it be great if every juror in a jury trial were provided a tablet to view an attorney’s presentation in high resolution? Or, if a group of attorneys could each view a presentation on a tablet during a meeting?
With this idea of presenting directly to other tablets in the back of my mind, I was interested when I recently received an email notice from SlideShark advertising you can “broadcast your slides over the web for FREE this month!” As one who is easily distracted and likes playing with new things, I couldn’t resist trying it out.
First of all, SlideShark is a great program that I recommend for sharing PowerPoint presentations online and on your iPad, iPhone or other tablet. It allows you to easily upload any PowerPoint you have created on your desktop, and it translates the presentation into a web format that also works on an iPad. Since Microsoft has never released an app that shows PowerPoints on the iPad, it really is the next best thing. The only downside is that the presentation is not editable on the iPad, so any changes must be made in PowerPoint on your desktop and then re-uploaded as necessary.
That being said, it’s a great way to share presentations with all the animations intact, and to show PowerPoint presentations on the iPad. For a trial team, SlideShark can be used to share the presentation with everyone who needs to see it for comment and revisions without having to send large PowerPoint files to many different people, which is limited by email restrictions on size and bandwidth of the team. (Often a trial team is holed up in a hotel using their Internet, which would limit the download of files but would not restrict viewing the same files online through SlideShark, which takes much less bandwidth.)
SlideShark has a “broadcasting,” or sharing, function that is really quite simple: Since SlideShark requires you to upload the presentation to their server, SlideShark creates a “broadcast” by allowing you to give access to others to see the online presentation through an email invitation. You can send this invitation to anyone, whether they have an iPad, a desktop or whatever, and they can join to see the presentation as you give it so long as they have an active internet connection. As you change a slide on your iPad, a message goes to the server, and it changes the slide being shown to the audience. This is equivalent to using a service like Webex meeting to share your screen and show people whatever is on your screen.
One drawback I noticed is that animations that work on the iPad do not “broadcast” to the viewers. Therefore, you are left only with static screens when broadcasting a presentation. I also noticed a delay that ranged from 2 to 10 seconds on changing the slides. This could well be disconcerting to a presenter. However, the biggest limitation is that the broadcast must go through an active Internet connection, and all devices or computers must have an active connection as well. While possible in a courtroom, this is hard to set up and makes its application unlikely in the court. In short, the SlideShark broadcast function may work fine for a small meeting over the Internet, but it’s certainly not the app that will allow presentations to tablets in a courtroom (at least yet).
Looking into SlideShark prompted me go back to an app that has been around for a while called Idea Flight that is a more promising app for courtroom use and large meetings. Rather than have the presentation go through a live Internet connection, which causes the delay identified above, Idea Flight uses a WiFi or Bluetooth connection to send the presentation directly to the other iPads or tablets.
While it only will display PDFs, if you are not using animations, then it does a very nice job of sending the presentation to any tablet without any delay. The presenter can choose a setting whereby the viewer can control the presentation themselves and move forward or back, or they can limit the viewer to only seeing what the presenter is saying at the time. If you are connecting by Bluetooth, you are limited to 4 other devices, but if you are using WiFi, you can have up to 16 people viewing at the same time. It’s easy to bring a device like an Airport Express ($99) into a courtroom and create a local WiFi network without Internet access. (See this earlier post for how to set up wireless connection to use your iPad in court.)
While I’m still not convinced this is all worth the trouble (let alone the cost of 12 to 16 iPads for the audience), using this technology meetings to allow all the attendees to follow along with their own tablet might well be something worth considering. In any event, it’s always good to be looking forward to what the next technological advance in the courtroom may be.
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