I’m sure if we went far enough back in time, there was once a person in a cave teaching tribal hunting techniques while pointing at a cave drawing with a stick. And thus, the “pointer” was born. Sure, the stick became more uniform, it even evolved to collapse and fit neatly in a pocket protector! But, it was still, in essence, a stick. But, as classroom technology advanced, traditional pointers simply weren’t large enough to keep up with the ever-increasing screen sizes. Also, pointers required that the pointee (I’m not sure if that’s a word) be within three or four feet of the content. So, in the late 1990’s the laser pointer was and continues to be, all the rage for presenters.
But as with all things AV, here comes that pesky technology to throw a wrench in our perfect laser stick type device. While the laser pointer worked wonderfully with people physically in the room, it didn’t allow remote participants (via WebEx, Skype, Zoom, etc.) to join in the pointing fun. Remote participants were usually reduced to looking at the postage stamp sized video feed, occasionally seeing a bit of red flash on the screen. Even worse, the booming voice of “we can’t see what you’re pointing at!” never blended well with a well-choreographed presentation.
Enter the Logitech Spotlight. When I opened the package, I really didn’t understand what it was. I was expecting an elegant upgrade to their previous laser pointers, but it clearly didn’t have a laser. I thought “Gee, that’s an expensive PowerPoint forward/reverse device.” Clearly, I had no clue as to the power that was well masked in this seemingly benign device. I connected the fob to my computer and launched an Apple Keynote presentation, and nothing happened. Hmmm, so I broke down and read the instructions (to be clear, there was a VERY clear sticker on the device saying “Download software to activate highlight, magnify, and timmer… but who reads stickers these days?). After installing the Spotlight software from Logitech’s website and charging the remote via USB C (my MacBook Pro’s power supply worked like a charm), I was still a little stumped. OK, so I went into the software and programmed the forward and reverse buttons, and boom, we had a very nice little remote. But, what was this top button that looked like a laser pointer button? I tapped it, and nothing really happened. So I pressed if for a second or so and the spotlight feature appeared on the screen. “Oh, cool, so it’s like a virtual ‘laser’ pointer, but without the laser.” Then it hit me… this is actually a big deal.
By virtualizing the pointer, individuals viewing the presentation remotely can also follow along without having to ask the above mentioned “So, what are you pointing at?” The implications are wide-reaching in higher education. From Panopto classroom recordings to WebEx, and Zoom meetings, even Skype calls or YouTube videos can take advantage of this type of pointer when sharing content. Yes, many of these platforms have built-in virtual pointers, but that requires that the presenter is tied to the computer’s mouse. Even if you have a wireless mouse, you’re still tethered to a desktop or table surface. The Logitech Spotlight frees the presenter to walk anywhere in the room. The software is very customizable, so while you can use the very cool spotlight, you can also magnify an area, or set the device to work more like a traditional laser pointer.
But wait, there’s more!!! The Logitech Spotlight also offers a timer that will vibrate the remote to help keep your presentation on track with regards to time. This feature is a big bonus for those folks that have time-sensitive presentations. Finally, the remote can act as a wireless mouse to offer basic button pushing you might need during presentations (think start/stop videos, close a window kind of control). It’s great for basic control, but don’t throw your wireless mouse away as it’s really only intended for basic control, and it’s only as good as how steady your hand is.
If I have a criticism, it would be that the remote would infrequently “jitter” (not hit the exact spot I wanted to hit) or momentarily lose connectivity. This may be due to my penchant for upgrading my Mac to the latest and greatest OS before considering how it may impact the applications I use. Still, I found the device to be game changing if you live and die by the pointer.