The idea that I have in mind is very similar to the Collaboration Using Multiple PDAs Connected to a PC" paper, where you have Palm Pilots used for changing the PowerPoint presentation.
Now, imaging instead of a Palm Pilot having a 8.5x11 tablet in front of you? Currently at meetings when there are PowerPoint slides involved, everybody gets his own printout to take notes on. With the tablet, instead of having the paper printouts, each slide just appears on the tablet in front of you. You can take your own private notes on it, and just like in the PDA paper you could scribble on your pad and have your notes show up on the main slide, and possibly on everyone elses slide as well.
The technology is pretty easy. I envision the tablet to be running PalmOS (color version). For data input, we can have a on-screen pop-up keyboard that people can either use with fingertips or a stylus, and Graffiti writing area. The tablet itself can be connected wirelessly (2.4GHz) to a base stations (which also acts as a charging station), which in turn is connected to the LAN via Ethernet. Each tablet will have a unique hardware address, allowing the main base station to distinguish between each individual tablet in the room. This could be modeled on the Jini idea, where the tablet will register itself with the base station upon entering and deregister (or more likely cause the registration to time out) after the tablet leaves the room.
Aside from the slide, each tablet can have a separate area for private notes, and each scribble on the slide itself could be denoted as a public vs. private note as well. In addition to that, we can build instant messaging applications, where each tablet user can talk and write notes to the other users in the room from his or hers tablet. Since the tablet is running Palm OS, we can leverage all the other applications that we have supposedly written for our Palm Pilots as well.
The device could look something like this. One important feature would be to ensure that it could be used both as a landscape and as a portrait viewing surface. Apple did that with Emate, where screen orientation rotated 90 degrees with a push of a button.
The example on the left is from a device called Qubit, which is supposed to be shipping sometime at the end of this year, from http://www.qubit.net.
The tablet was first introduced by Cyrix, which wrote a technical spec for it last year.
Nothing seemed to come out of it for a while, but there are definitely companies building these devices right now, so they should be available within a short time frame.
Ideally, the base station could automatically detect and handle multiple tablets at once. It would be also very beneficial to have the base station connected to the Internet/intranet, so that the meeting notes could be archived immediately. Network connectivity will also enable the users to access additional information during the meeting, it will make instant messaging simpler (we won't have to write our own wireless application), and so on.
The following sketch illustrates the use of the tablet:
A presenter has a laptop hooked up to the internal LAN. Base stations registers the PowerPoint slides going to the projector and transmits them wirelessly to all the tablets. Each individual person can now take notes on his or her own slides, and add public comments to the main slides. This will not only avoid all the paper printouts that usually get passed around, but will make each individual's notes available electronically later on for all the members of their own groups, if such need arises.
There are lot more uses to the tablet than the one described above. it could not only be used during meetings as a collaboration tool, but could serve as a web browsing device at home, as long as the base station is somehow connected to the internet (modem, DSL, cable modem, etc) and appropriate browser software is installed on the tablet.