Catching Up with Education At BETT 2022 – Part 1

It has been two years since I last went to BETT, which is a great place to catch up with trends in educational technology. Although primarily a UK event, it draws educators from all over Europe.

I enjoyed the visit – it was my first substantial trade show since the lockdown, which happened not long after BETT in 2020. I found a few things to write about here, but here are a few overview points before I get down to the nitty-gritty.

  • The big topic that I was interested in was the development of large interactive flat panels. However, there was really little progress in terms of technology or performance, although there have been changes in the market.

  • There was very little VR in evidence – and even what was there was largely related to non-educational platforms.

  • Dell didn’t attend, at least not as an exhibitor – a surprise as the firm has had a significant presence before and its key competitors such as HP, Lenovo, Asus and Acer were all there in some strength.

  • Unsurprisingly, there were few smaller Chinese vendors than there have been in the past.

  • I thought staff at Samsung might be talking about QD OLED, but they were barely even aware of it (although to be fair, Samsung won’t have meeting room or digital signage products with the technology).

  • I met several staff at different brands that were also involved with digital signage and they pointed out that retail is a particularly good opportunity at the moment. Retailers are having to work extra hard to get consumers back in store and displays are seen as a way of helping with that as well as promoting mixed ‘customer journeys’ of on and off-line purchase.

Interactive Flat Panels

There was little that was new in the IFPs that I saw at the show and from the vendors that I spoke to at the show. They included specialists such as Smart, Promethean, CTouch, Newline, Smartboard and Clevertouch as well as Vestel, BenQ, ViewSonic and Samsung. (I have an acronym that I put in my notebook Brand – SOS for Same Old Sh^htuff. That got noted a number of times at the show.)

Apart from SmartBoard showing some infrared touch screens with slim bezels and BenQ highlighting permanently anti-microbial glass, nobody was talking about improvements in touch. Several years ago, there would have been, as alternatives to infrared touch, quite a sprinkling of PCap demonstration units, but I didn’t spot any this time. Infrared performance has improved, while PCap has remained relatively expensive, so there is little demand for something better, now, I heard.

There was some detailed enhancement of IFPs with sensors, the addition of NFC to login without passwords, and different pens. Vestel, in particular, had a good range of sensors in its latest range.

 Vestel’s sensors

A big change since two years ago is that although 65″ is still the biggest single segment for most vendors (although not all), 75″ and larger displays have really increased in volume as the cost differential has been heavily squeezed. Even 86″ is growing usefully, I heard. As an example of the new environment, Clevertouch only had 75″ displays on show.

Supply chains have been a real challenge and continue to be so. Panels are not the real issue, but processors for IFPs, which typically have an integrated Android system unit. Hisilicon chips have been hit by sanctions against Huawei and one vendor told me that, bizarrely, for some products it had been forced to back down from 64 bit processing to 32 bit to ensure supply. However, that has meant problems with app compatibility. To ensure supply, forecasting of chips has to be a year ahead and in a market like education that is so affected by hard to predict factors like government policies on funding, that is really, really tricky.

Every company was highlighting its cloud management and content systems and they were highlighting the different versions of Android that they were either supporting or about to support. I heard that whereas a few years ago, the whole UK market really required compatibility with Smart software, these days there is more demand to be able to support Windows – which is usually done using OPS modules.

One vendor that I have known as a specialist in the sector for a number of years told me that UK government regulations about security and privacy were making things harder and harder for systems based around Android. “It wouldn’t surprise me if, in a couple of years, Windows takes over because of this”, he said. “Google really doesn’t make it easy for us”.

(I wondered if, perhaps, to better support the segment, Google might have to ‘fork’ the Android OS to develop a specific version, as it has done for Google TV. Is the market big enough, though?)


Although the benefits of large FPDs are well understood in the classroom, not everybody can afford them, and projectors are still being bought simply because they can be very cheap and there were several projector companies at the event. I’ll cover those a bit more in the second part of this report, next week, including what could be a very significant development in the LED projection market.


There were a lot of entry level and education notebooks, tablets and Chromebooks. As most are built down to a price and to be quite rugged, there was not much interest in the displays used, although Asus did have an OLED notebook. (more on that in Part 2).


Lenovo was showing a couple of VR headsets including the Varjo XR3 and its own Lenovo Pico headset. I’ll cover those in part 2 next week. Apart from that, I don’t think I saw any other VR at the show, although I didn’t spend a lot of time in the North Hall, where most of the educational software companies were).

In Part 2, I’ll give a bit more detail on what I did get a chance to look at. We’ll mark part 2 so that the two parts of the article are counted as only one if you have a free registration. (BR)

(By the way, as I was waiting to get my train to the event, I had the lucky chance to see a famous UK steam train, the Flying Scotsman, going through the station where I was waiting! Nothing to do with displays, but it showed the benefit of having a real camera and not just a smartphone!)

Flying ScotsmanFlying Scotsman – Click for higher resolution. Image:Bob Raikes