Volume 6, Issue 1 — January 26, 2017
|Three Strategies For Creating Awesome Signage Content|
By Victoria Ferrari
Account Executive, Synergy CT
Welcome to the third and final (for now) installment of this blog series on digital signage. We’ve covered why you need digital signage in your lobby and even offered some creative ways to use digital signage technology in our first two posts. Now it’s time to talk about the most important aspect of your lobby signage: the content.
Figuring out what you want your messaging to convey, what you want it to look like, how to get it to properly display on the installed technology, and who is going to create it are all critical components to a comprehensive content strategy. Whether your signage consists of a simple LCD panel, a curved DV LED wall, a mosaic configuration, or other display technologies, content is the key to using digital signage effectively
Digital signage doesn’t consist of display technology alone. You should also consider the hardware and software solutions which allow you to process and display your custom content. There are solutions all over the spectrum of cost and capabilities — such as high-end enterprise solutions offered by Haivision, simpler solutions like Brightsign, and mid-sized solutions from Visix and SVSi.
There are a lot of digital signage solutions out there and the choices can be overwhelming. An AV provider can offer key insight to help you find a solution that fits your goals and your budget. Every project is unique, so defer to the expertise and vendor relationships of your AV provider to figure out which back-end solution makes the most sense. After all, that’s what AV experts are for!
No matter what, your content strategy will be a deciding factor in which digital signage solution best fits your needs. So the first question to ask yourself is, Who is going to handle our brand storytelling?
To help you answer that question, let’s look at three strategies for creating a killer digital signage content strategy!
1. Leverage Your AV Partner’s Vendor Relationships
Many digital signage vendors offer content creation as a part of their signage package. A knowledgeable AV integrator can help you find a dependable technology provider who will help you strategize, create and manage your content going forward.
Visix is one such digital signage company that we recommend both for software and content creation. In addition to enterprise-level digital signage software, their award-winning creative team can bring your signage to life by developing branded messaging for your signage that draws viewers in and encourages them to act. Simply put, their goal is to make your signage impossible to ignore.
No matter what signage solution you go with, it’s important for your message to have a consistent tone and visual style. It’s a good idea to create and stick to a brand style guide that incorporates your company’s colors, fonts, graphics, and other components of visual identity. Visix’s creative team can even help you start from scratch and develop a content strategy tailored to your corporate vision.
2. DIY Content Creation
Another way to get creative branded content for your signage is to do it in-house. If your internal marketing is up to the task, this is certainly the most cost effective option. This is a good option if your marketing team has graphic designers and software experts who are experienced with tailoring content for digital signage.
It may also be a good way to go if your company would like to offer an intern position. Many talented graphic designers and digital artists these days are looking for just this kind of career path when they get out of college. One of them may be just the right addition to your team, and bringing them on staff would allow for quicker design changes and more consistent messaging.
It can be good to have outside perspective for content creation, but there’s also a benefit to having content creators on staff. It’s often easier to create engaging brand content when you’re plugged into the company. Internal content creators may be better able to understand and express your company’s message.
3. Hire a Third-Party Design Firm
This is probably the most expensive route for content creation, but depending on your budget and business goals it may be the best option. Many advertising and digital teams specialize in digital content strategy, and the results of good design are hard to beat.
It’s important not to write off this option simply because of the cost. Because content is the most important aspect of digital signage, you should consider the long-term ROI of expertly designed content for your signage. If you can afford it, hiring a team of experts who specialize in content strategy is the best way to ensure your digital signage reaches its full potential.
Content Doesn’t Reign Alone
There’s a bit of a chicken-and-egg scenario when it comes to digital signage. Should you decide on your hardware technology first and then address content to fit? Or should you start with content and optimize the hardware to match your creative vision?
The answer is, it depends.
If you’ve already set the look and design for your lobby signage—if it functions as a digital architectural piece in an expansive lobby area, for example—you should probably decide on the content first and then get hardware for maximum visibility and optimization. But in another scenario, it’s possible that your content won’t need to come first.
Although content is “king,” context is just as important to the success of your digital signage. In fact, context is the key to any branding or marketing effort. That’s why you shouldn’t discount the value of an experienced AV partner who can design an environment that maximizes the impact of your digital signage.
But even with the right environment and the latest signage technology, content is still the most important factor in the success of your signage. Without a solid content creation strategy, a sign is just a sign.
This column was reprinted with permission from Synergy CT and originally appeared here.Leave a Comment
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|Temporary Installations Provide Opportunity|
By Scott Tiner
In October, the Bates College Museum of Art opened an exhibit titled, Phantom Punch: Contemporary Art from Saudi Arabia in Lewiston. The title plays off the famous bout between Muhammad Ali and Sonny Liston in 1965 in our small town. The exhibit is culturally enlightening and eye candy to those of us who are A/V fanatics. This is the first exhibit the museum has put on that includes large amounts of audio visual technology. In total, the exhibit has three projectors and three monitors displaying the content of the exhibit. The museum space at Bates consists of two floors, the top being a high ceiling, wide open space with wood floors. The lower floor is also wide open with wood floors, but has a lower ceiling.
Thankfully at Bates we have two excellent people on our AV staff who were ready to jump to the challenge. Our senior AV analyst, Ben Lizzotte (@benlizzotte), took on the challenge of designing the system. The challenge included designing audio for the large cavernous space upstairs, along with keeping the budget under control. Ben settled on Epson projectors, including one short-throw projector, BrightSign digital signage boxes for content, and Audio Spotlight speakers by Holsonic. The speakers were chosen in order to present localized audio in an open space without a lot of bleeding sound into the other exhibits. Our AV analyst, Ben Pinkham (yes, they are both named Ben), assisted with the install of the equipment.
As a group, we struggled with the budget constraints and the value of the investment in the technology. Some things, like the BrightSign players, are offered at a low enough cost that they made sense to purchase straight out. Additionally, there seems to be many uses for these devices around campus, so we were confident we could reuse them. However, other things, like the 80” display and the short throw projector, are costly and don’t have an immediate use on campus after the exhibit. Finally, we had to wonder about the hidden costs of our staff designing and installing the equipment. We estimated that over 80 hours of staff time was dedicated to the design and install of the system. While our client was very happy with the product, and the visitors love what they see, we need to think about the best way to handle such a request in the future.
We did some investigation with our local integrators, but they did not have a model for such a request. If we were to rent this equipment from them for three straight months, we would clearly spend more than if we bought the equipment. The firm we spoke with was not prepared to offer different costs for longer term rentals. Once the install was done, we computed the costs of the install and equipment, we began to realize that this type of installation could provide a business opportunity to integration firms. If the integration firms already have a rental division they have a head start. The firm could rent us the equipment needed, at a cost slightly under what we would have paid if we purchased it. This allows them to make a profit on the equipment while increasing their rental inventory. The new equipment would be valuable to the firm, as they would not have to wait through the length of time it normally takes them have a return on their investment for rental equipment. It would be immediate. It would provide value to us, by saving us money, and not leaving us with equipment that we need to store and may never use again.
Installation is also an area where an integrator could provide us value. We were fortunate that this installation came at a time when our schedules were light(er). Ben(s) installed the exhibit over two weeks in October. Had this happened during our very busy summer schedule or the first month of classes, they simply would not have been able to get it done. Even during the slower month of October, some things had to be put off in order to get the work done. If you have read my columns in the past, you know that I argue for colleges completing installs internally. This is because I believe keeping the knowledge of the install inside the institution provides great value in the future. However, a temporary (three- to four-month) install does not qualify for this same long term value. Using our internal technicians to focus on other projects, while outsourcing this install seems like the wiser long term value.
While this example is about our museum, we have encountered similar issues with our theater and dance departments. They have demanding AV needs for a short time during their rehearsal and performances. Once those are done, they may go a long time without needing technology, and when they do need technology, it may very well be different from prior needs. With most colleges and universities having theaters and museums this seems like an opportunity for integrators to open up a profitable new segment of their business.
As always, I am curious to hear what others do about these installs. Do you do them internally and purchase the equipment? What do you do with the equipment when you are done? Do you rent the equipment and outsource the installation? If so, how does that work for you?Leave a Comment
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|The Outlook for Digital Signage in 2017 Is More, More, More|
By Lyle Bunn
Strategy Architect, BUNN Co.
Yogi Berra wasn’t referencing digital signage when he said, “It’s very tough to make predictions, especially about the future.” Digital signage and place-based media can apply present status, and, with a wide enough view of the lens and clarity into the depth, know what is coming in 2017.
The proposition is simple. More digital signage equals more wealth – for end users that apply it, and the suppliers that provide it.
2017 will be characterized by “more.” But it is the life cycles of application and supply that will factor most significantly into the outlook for this media sector in 2017.
The outlook is threefold for end users In the year of the enabled consumer and omni-channel as both drive forward unabated. Firms that have used the media and assess its impact will increase their use, led by gap analysis and growth planning. In realizing its investment worthiness early adopters will drive innovations in content strategy, tactic and composition, viewer targeting and day parting as well as operating efficiencies. Current users will drive significant industry investment as they expand their use. The best of suppliers will benefit most.
New users tend toward simple solutions as they minimize investment and risk in putting their foot in the water. Integrators and small suppliers will benefit most from new users.
The majority of users in the middle of the bell curve with new users at one end and the most experienced at the other will add employee hours to their operations as the medium finds a growing place within their enterprise. These will drive education and publication consumption to much higher levels.
- More innovations will be driven by experienced end users seeking more business value.
- More new deployments will be driven by the later majority of end users based on their confidence through seeing their competitors apply it.
- More investment will be made as virtually all current end users seek to expand their benefits through incremental improvements.
Measurement, (the basis of investment decisions and approaches) has been pregnant with the gestation period of an elephant, though some can rightly say the analogy is closer to that of an acorn. (There is an oak tree in there, but all the conditions have to be right for even a sprout to appear beneath the light of day).
Digital signage has too often been considered in a fairly narrow range of benefits and the lack of tangible impact and attribution data that can validate increased investment has been the failing of end users and operators.
Analytics capability typically has required more effort than brains, so has not distinguished itself in operations. But “content” as the sibling of analytics, requires brains and optimizing content requires analytics if it is to be treated as anything beyond craft and artistry into the science that it is.
Content delivers the value of digital signage once the technology is in place. The technology wants to, and will deliver more messaging productivity with more compelling images and more efficiency in 2017.
Content will be a significant growth area in 2017 as it contributes higher return on investment and validates technology investment. No end user wants digital signage. What they do want is greater efficiency in messaging and engagement impact.
- More content strategy, tactics, audience targeting, day parting will mean significantly more content and innovation in composition.
- More analytics and impact assessment will be used to drive content ROI.
Starbucks, for example recently debuted a cartoon web series titled 1st and Main that has implications for on-location digital signage. In the overlap with “owned” media, brands that have established their social media channels are well positioned to take short-form story-telling content into their physical locations.
The retail infotainment media channel has too many branding possibilities to be overlooked. There is a reason that many retailers have put their online social media channels in place with many taking the early steps with in-store digital media. People love stories and animated content can deliver a moment of joy, add character to a brand, build aspirations, inform and entertain while adding ambiance and vitality to the brand. Reducing perceived waiting and dwell times are the icing on the branding and merchandising cakes. Marketing meets selling with in-store media.
Key markets for 2017 include retail, food services, financial services, hospitality, health care, education and staff communications.
More digital signage in physical retail locations will help retail and other customer-facing brands to move to a new level of location appeal, branding and merchandising. Digital signage will help drive online and mobile success.
Share of wallet for food spending and information about food (e.g., calories, nutritional value, allergens, ingredients, sources) will continue to drive digital signage investment. Order accuracy is a high priority for quick service and fast casual restaurants, and service times have been declining against the backdrop of consumer preference and greater consumer choice.
Financial services must capture the millennials demographic as a primary long- term growth market while increasing the number of products per customer. Insurance, securities, wealth management and accounting service are compelled to innovation in their marketing models in order to compete.
Hospitality as a services industry must increasingly tap into the “experience economy” by making their locations the destination of choice while attracting engagement with onsite amenities and on-premises services.
Health care providers that move beyond outdated magazines and TV in their waiting rooms toward health improvement information and onsite education will enjoy greater branding, consumer selection, revenues and donations.
More architectural media will be added to increase the attraction to physical locations and enable better customer and staff engagement. Advances in OLED production by firms such as LG Electronics provide dramatic improvements in media appeal and the ability to integrate new generation displays into an environment. The capacity of OLED to present High Dynamic Range (HDR) content further enables media presentation.
Integrators of audio/visual, information and security technologies stand to benefit greatly as small and medium sized enterprises follow large businesses in digital signage installation. The onus has been on end user to define the benefits that they may receive, but they must have the confidence in technology supply as well as in the knowledge that integrators are bringing deep awareness and insights into how a digital signage investment will support their achievement of business goals. Integrators have not benefited to the extent possible by engaging with digital signage. Knowledge is their key to success. When Integrators simply respond to a technology requirement they can quickly erode their margins and supply positioning, but being part of defining the solution that addresses business problems and opportunities through digital signage puts their capabilities in high demand and is the stable, certain ride to success. Integrators will bring:
- More capability to planning and technology recommendations.
- More demand for education and training to support end users.
More capacity by large turnkey providers will be added. The integration and network operations services of software, connectivity and media services providers will continue to expand fueled in part by acquisitions in 2016 which have gone a long way toward enterprise integration of the medium. Large providers are poised to add double-digit numbers of new staff members their teams.
More supply capability through turnkey supply and tighter supply relationships among individual providers that reflect the village of supply. New providers will integrate the management of multiple media types and technologies.
More effort for industry-wide benefits on the part of industry associations must surely be undertaken in 2017. The challenge of patent trolls has been increasing with patent holders harvesting licensing revenue agreements from suppliers and end users. This industry-wide issue is one that digital signage trade associations can play a coordinating role in addressing.
Digital signage associations and event producers can play a key role in profiling how digital signage and place-based media contribute to location-based and omni-channel marketing. “Digital” has advanced with many silos of initiatives within the enterprise and efforts related to customer experience and big data can fuel application of the medium.
At an uppermost level of consideration no supplier has a unique solution. It is at lower levels that differences, in some cases very big differences, emerge. And every application is unique to the priority of problems solved and opportunities realized. Content strategy and tactics enabled by technology infrastructure will increasingly define the return on investment. As It is imperative to diversify the brand in the context of omni-channel, more functionality aimed at integrating media devices will be added in 2017.
In 2017, more success will go to end users and providers who work for it, by gaining knowledge and using this for directing their efforts and consensus development. Gap analysis will be the key enabler of digital signage in 2017.
This column was reprinted with permission from Lyle Bunn.Leave a Comment
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|2017 Will Be the Year of The… My Predictions for the Upcoming Year in AV Technology|
By Gary Kayye
After years of a terrible world economy and very little innovation, 2016 was a boon for new technology — especially in the world of AV. And, some of it crossed both high-end residential as well as commercial. Let’s take a look at a little of what was 2016 and then I’ll tell you want to realistically expect from 2017 in the way of innovative technology in AV.
4K, 4K, 4K: I have to start with that one. 2016 will forever be remembered as THE YEAR 4K debuted. It was the talk of all four major trade shows including ISE, InfoComm, Integrate and CEDIA Expo. We’ve seen more 4K products (including displays, cables, switchers, scalers, decoders, transcoders, servers and media players) than any other single technical innovation of the year. 4K is going to be big business and HUGE in 2017 — keep reading to hear why.
2016 FINALLY brought us the long-promised AV/IT convergence that everyone’s been touting (including yours truly). Sure, we’ve had networked-audio for years — thanks to Audinate’s Dante system. Video seemed like it was never going to be networkable, but companies like AptoVision have led the way in AV-over-IP systems, partnering with more than 10 different companies that are already building 4K-over-IP systems or plan to in 2017. Those include ZeeVee, iMAGsystems, IDK and Gefen. In addition, biggies like Crestron and AMX have also announced 4K-over-IP systems. And, each one of those companies is offering a plethora of options — with various compressions rates — depending on what your customer wants quality- and cost-wise.
The laser projector made its debut in 2016 with companies like Sony and Barco leading the way — they shipped laser-phosphor products that not only promised to have amazing colorimetry, but actually did. Laser might well end up being the saving grace for the projector market too, as it’s currently being swallowed up by the flat-panel monitor companies.
With regards to flat-panels, the big news this year had to be from LG. LG managed to launch both concave and convex displays as well as what they are claiming as wall-paper displays. All of them use the future-forward-thinking OLED technology that we’ve been hearing about for, well, a decade. At ISE, InfoComm and at Integrate, LG had one of the most popular booths as everyone wanted to see the creative applications of OLED.
Speaking of large booth crowds — Sony, at InfoComm 2016, blew away all booth attendance records with the launch of its Micro-LED called Canvas. It’s expensive but the company showed a pixel-less 8Kx2K resolution image that was 35 feet wide. If you were listening at InfoComm, it’s all you could hear anyone talking about it.
Innovations in 2016 weren’t relegated to video. In fact, 2016 was a big year in audio too. Harman — the industry’s biggest audio company — was purchased by Samsung, but not before debuting the largest line of network-based audio products across six different subsidiary brands. All use Dante as the networking platform and allow for networkable everything — including speakers individually addressable via the network. Now, just about every speaker company does this. So, instead of planning the “zones” of a distributed audio system before install, you can do it any time now — and change them on the fly.
Have you heard of Amazon Alexa? Although it’s aimed at the consumer market (to encourage them to order more stuff from amazon.com), it’s being adopted by all the control system companies as an option for voice control. Amazon is happy to oblige, making its API for Alexa development open and free for anyone to use!
Finally, collaboration. It moved from a word meaning people working together on something to one that means the same thing as a Barco ClickShare. Yes, that happened. The ClickShare, although launched in 2012, is still dominating the wireless-collaboration market (meaning, connecting multiple laptops, tablets or phones to the same display over an ad-hoc network). Sure, there have been imitators, but Barco crossed the 150,000 unit sales mark in mid-2016. That’s a lot of boxes. Also, never underestimate an end user’s love of a simple, giant button.
So, on to 2017
If you want to see the future — I mean years-out future — go check out anything that Oblong is doing. You interact with a truly collaborative system with natural hand gestures and it’s always connected — no having to go to a meeting 15-minutes before it starts to make sure the AV technology works. It’s always on. But not everyone can afford a room that STARTS for $150,000 and moves up from there.
In 2017, we will see some major technological developments (some from the consumer market that will trickle-up to the commercial market) that will get nearly every room more than halfway to an Oblong Mezzanine room for way, way less. How? Well, read on!
First, let me start with the Digital Canvas. Now that we have 4K in both flat-panels and projectors, we will see the opportunity of a lifetime. And, the death of the projector can be slowed down if you offer your clients with something I call the Digital Canvas. The Digital Canvas concept is simple — and now we have projectors high-res enough to do this — instead of deciding what size screen to put in a room based on least-favored-viewer stats, you put in as big of a screen as the room can handle — fill the front of the room with projection, if you can. Then, use the projected image to provide you with your “normal-sized” projected image for PowerPoint or whatever else you’re showing but use the leftover projected image (mind you, it’s all in 4K resolution so you can actually have four PowerPoint slides up simultaneously in native resolution) to project stuff like the preview slides, a clock or even social media feeds. All simultaneously filling the front of the room — thus, you make a giant Digital Canvas.
A flat-panel can’t do that.
So, the benefit of 4K isn’t just prettier pictures — it can help us turn every room space into a Digital Canvas. By the end of 2017, this Digital Canvas concept will start to catch on as 4K projectors will be 30 to 50 percent less expensive than the first generation launched this past fall. And thanks to laser imaging, the colorimetry will be stunning. We will see blacker-blacks and whiter-whites and thus all color will look better. So, laser can be the saving grace of projection.
However, that won’t be fast enough to save the projector from being pushed almost totally out of the small to medium-sized meeting room. Nearly every integrator that specifies a screen that’s 80” or smaller now uses a flat-panel instead of a projector. That number will grow to 94” by the end of 2017 and could reach 100” depending on what Samsung, Sharp and LG decide to debut in 2017. But expect the 100” LCD to come down, considerably, in price next year.
Speaking of flat-panels, as I mentioned above, LG (and Samsung) both have curved displays which, in to digital signage, make for some creative installs. 2017 will be the year the TV/monitor moves into art in a big way. We will see more flat-panels installed for digital signage and museums than any other year before now — expect that growth to be in the 20 to 25 percent range. And, the more creative the install, the more profitable it will be. 4K will also massively drive down the price of 1080p displays, while the 4K TVs themselves will be 50 percent of what they were in cost in 2016 by the end of 2017 — making for more to install.
Virtual Reality (VR) has been in the ProAV market for years — in fact, years ago, there were companies that come to shows and built VR caves — using projection. But, now that Facebook owns Oculus, Samsung has its VR Gear and Microsoft is shipping its VR games, what is relegated to gaming now will move in to the commercial AV space. The cost of developing content for VR applications will be driven down so we, the AV market, will need to get in to the VR market for higher-end installs — virtualization in architecture, visualization of fashion, recreating history in museums and a plethora of new applications where content drives the display format. And, you will even be selling the gear, too.
Speaking of content, the way the digital signage industry works now is soon going to be the way you’re designing classrooms and meeting rooms. So, why not get into digital signage to learn it now? Here’s the deal: All the content in a digital signage system isn’t carried from display to display via HDMI or VGA. It’s all driven by the network. All the content is sent to the various displays from an integrated cloud-based network. So, playing the content doesn’t require a computer to be connected to the display (or at least the kind of computer you know computers to be). But, the content travels across the network and is output through a $200, $99 or even a $25 media player — like a purpose-built digital signage computer. So, that methodology is what will happened in the not-so-distant future of the classroom and meeting room. If the content (e.g., PowerPoint, website, slide-deck) is on the network, there will no longer be the need for a dedicated computer or VGA port or HDMI port in the room. Just keep it on the network and “play” it using the display’s media player — one that’s built-in (e.g., Samsung SmartSign) or using the $25 media player (e.g., ChromeStick). So, that, alone should be reason enough for you to get into the digital signage network (to learn how to design the classrooms and meeting rooms of the future). But in case that’s not enough — how about the fact that the digital signage market, although less than 10 years old, is larger than the entire education AV market? And, in fact, it’s the fastest growing segment of AV right now.
Collaborative systems, rather than products, will be the wave in 2017. Everyone was rushing out to build the Barco ClickShare competitor for the past three years but, everyone failed miserably. But now that the wireless collaboration market can be realized (thanks in part to bandwidth and in larger part, thanks to Barco paving the way), you will see more collaborative systems — even Barco is doing it with its new WeConnect. Sure, we will see more ClickShare competition in 2017 but, more importantly, we will see a plethora of companies debut complete integrated systems you (that are all 100 percent network-based) and you can drop in to nearly every room. Sure, not every room, but 90 percent of them, however. This will be big.
Simplicity will be a HUGE theme in 2017. This is what Amazon Alexa is all about — people turning complicated systems into something you can talk to to carry out commands — sort of like an iPhone Siri for your room. Speaking of Siri, Apple has already staked a claim to controlling the home, and everything in it, via Siri and its new HOME app. So has Google with its home line where you tell Google everything you want to do — and assuming you have Android, it works. You will see a massive more towards simplification from everyone in AV — less individual boxes and more integrated systems (or all-in-one) solutions.
Finally, there’s one thing that I skipped that needs to be mentioned as our industry has, forever, been driven by the display. Well, I already predicted that nearly any projection system that’s under 100” would be relegated to flat-panels. And, I told you all about the applications of 4K and why it will usurp 1080p. But, in 2017 we will see the rise of tiny projectors (some pico and some just ultra-portable) cross the 3,000- and 4,000-lumen category and be cheap — like $1,000 cheap. This could change everything. And, no, it does NOT spell doom and gloom for AV. This will provide the ability to put displays EVERYWHERE. Think about it — imagine classrooms with projection on all four walls. Imagine the previous slides on the left and right walls in a lecture hall while the current slide is front-and-center. Well, you’ll be able to spec that inexpensively by the end of 2017. So, instead of putting in just one display at the front of every room, this is true multi-imaging. That’s our future!
Oh, did I forget to mention the forthcoming 8K displays? Ugh, ran out of space in this column…Leave a Comment
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|DENON Intros ENVOI Portable Battery-Powered PA SystemEnvoi is a compact AC/battery-powered PA system designed for professional-grade sound reinforcement to an outdoor event or large interior space when there is no access to AC power. Envoi can operate for up to 12 hours off its built-in rechargeable battery, which provides a cord-free power supply for its powerful internal Class D amplifier. The amplifier drives a high-output 10-inch 2-way speaker system in a compact, lightweight enclosure. Envoi can also be plugged into an AC outlet.
Envoi also streams music wirelessly from any Bluetooth-enabled device, plus with its TRS Aux output, you can daisy-chain as many additional Envoi speakers as needed.
- Two-way active speaker (10-inch low-frequency driver, 1-inch high-frequency driver)
- Built-in rechargeable battery provides up to 12 hours of cordless sound
- Includes 16-channel UHF wireless microphone with automatic tuning and batteries
- Bluetooth connection for wireless audio streaming
- Built-in USB/SD (MP3/WMA) player for unattended playback
- Pole-mount socket, telescoping handle and transport wheels built in
- Two-band EQ and reverb effect
- Mic 1&2 combo inputs with Mic/Line level selector switch
- ¼-inch aux input connector
- Built-in storage holds two microphones and accessories
Here are all the specs.Leave a Comment
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|Sharp Intros New “Value-Priced” PN-C Series AQUOS BOARDsSharp today announced its new PN-C Series AQUOS BOARD interactive display systems. Available as a 70″ Class (69.5″ diagonal) model and as an 80″ Class (80″ diagonal) model, the new PN-C series is aimed at businesses and schools looking for value-priced interactive displays.
Priced 30 percent lower than the PN-L series, the PN-C805B and PN-C705B both recognize up to 10 touch points with four-person simultaneous use, up from six touch points and two-person use with the previous PN-C series.
With the launch of the new PN-C805B and PN-C705B, Sharp is for the first time introducing direct bonding technology to its AQUOS BOARD interactive display line, allowing for a highly ergonomic touch and feel. Sharp says this technology creates a user experience as close to pen on paper as possible. That’s because the protective glass is bonded directly to the LCD panel without any air gaps. This minimizes parallax difference, allowing for smooth writing operations and clear visibility.
Designed for a more intuitive experience, the PN-C series brings frequently used features, such as power on/off and input switching, backlight and freeze, to the front bezel. The new backlight control button allows for energy savings during breaks, and allows users to hide their screens without removing the content, adding a layer of convenience and security for fast-paced business and learning environments. The new freeze function allows users to easily capture a freeze frame from a video to quickly enable on-screen annotation. Another new feature added to this AQUOS BOARD interactive display series is the ability to connect webcams at multiple locations, providing users with even greater flexibility when videoconferencing. The new PN-C series is engineered to be used continuously for up to 16 hours a day /7 days a week, making it an extremely reliable tool for the classroom or the office.
The SHARP Pen Software incorporates a menu comprising of icons that provide easy access to pen settings and other functions. In overlay mode, users can write onscreen annotations or graphics directly onto photos, videos, Adobe PDF documents and common Microsoft files, such as PowerPoint. Downloadable SHARP Display Connect software allows the PN-C805B/C705B interactive displays to share its onscreen content with up to 50 devices, helping facilitate lively discussions and paperless meetings in both business and educational settings.
Both will ship in late January. Here are the tech specs.Leave a Comment
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|KLARK TEKNIK Ships DM8000 Digital Audio Processor|
KLARK TEKNIK has started shipping its DM8000 advanced digital audio processor for installation applications featuring configurable DSP, audio networking and acoustic echo cancellation.
Aimed at teleconferencing and videoconferencing applications, the DM8000 integrates via USB, and the 1U rack mount chassis can also be remote controlled using built-in Ethernet and RS232 ports. The DM8000 is included with KLARK’s DSP Designer software containing a library of processing modules. Multiple DM8000 devices can be linked, creating a network for system-wide programming and control of a variety of input sources and that network can accommodate multiple mic inputs, a live band or stereo music source, as well as telephony — and send the mixes up to six destinations. The DM8000 uses its eight channels of wide band AEC to detect and eliminate secondary room reflections from the signal path.
The DM8000 will list for $1,149 and here are all the tech specs.Leave a Comment
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|Altia Systems Claims to Kill the PTZ with Integrated Three-Camera Solution|
Everyone knows the value of a PTZ in conference room solutions. But, in small rooms, what if you had an integrated solution that used three cameras that covered the entire room — would you need an PTZ?
That’s what Altia Systems is hoping will replace the PTZ — the company’s three-camera packaged solution called PanaCast 2. It’s basically three cameras shooting one continuous seamed image that’s 180-degrees and 4K resolution. While wide-angle or wide field-of-view cameras have been around for a long time, most produce significant distortion, causing horizontal and vertical lines to bend (so-called barrel distortion) and form a very unnatural image unusable for videoconferencing.
Altia took a different approach. The company took three HD cameras (each with a more modest field-of-view) and stitched the three images together dynamically in the camera while also adding image correction to produce a single video stream that can cover up to 180° with very little distortion (the image below is an example of a room covered by the PanaCast 2).
It’s an interesting solution and one that will certainly be emulated by the biggies in the market — and, if Cisco, Polycom and Logitech aren’t already considering buying Altia Systems, they should! It’s compatible with every single VTC system (hardware or cloud-based) on the market today (yes, including Skype) and just plus into a computer’s USB port.
Here are all the specs.Leave a Comment
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|Extron Gives Away the Best Educational Resource on HDR EverWith 4K becoming the next big thing in projection and already big in consumer TVs, mastering the impact of HDR (High Dynamic Range) isn’t going to be an option — your clients will want to know (and it will become an amazing sales tool). But do you even understand it?
When HDR is added to a 4K/UHD display, the differences between 4K/UHD and HD are striking; maybe mesmerizing is a better word. HDR video technology incorporates greater color accuracy and a wider range of displayed luminance than 4K/UHD that lacks HDR. Extron’s FREE white paper tells you everything you need to know to understand HDR — and it includes a glossary, list of standards, answers 100 percent of the 4K HDR questions you will ever get and explains the impact of different (coming) color bit depth standards.
You can download it here.Leave a Comment
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|Renkus-Heinz Introduces New T Series Loudspeakers|
Renkus-Heinz just introduced the new T Series of professional loudspeakers for installed and live sound applications. The next generation of the company’s TRX Series, the T Series is designed for installed sound applications, including houses of worship, performing arts centers, transportation hubs, museums and other public spaces. The all-new T Series incorporates redesigned HF and LF drivers for better performance and even more transparent sound.
Available in both powered (TA Series) and passive (TX Series) models, T Series loudspeakers will be built to order with a variety of horn pattern for optimal coverage control, and will be fully customizable, with Renkus-Heinz’s custom color matching and weather resistant options.
All T Series models incorporate the latest generation of Complex Conic Horns, with optimized drivers to provide clean, natural sound and tight pattern control. Unlike conventional loudspeaker designs, Complex Conic horns provide consistent beamwidth over a wider frequency range, with what Renkuz-Heinz says is a natural, transparent sound.
Renkus-Heinz T Series loudspeakers will be shipping in spring of 2017. The company will be previewing the T Series at ISE 2017 in Hall 7, Stand X-185 at Amsterdam’s RAI Center from February 7-10, 2017. Here are all the specs.Leave a Comment
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|NEC’s New Digital Signage P and V Series Powered by Raspberry Pi|
NEC Display Solutions Europe today launched the P and V Series, a range of professional MultiSync large format displays for digital signage as well as presentation use. The new displays support the NEC Open Modular intelligence (OMi) platform, enabling the creation of tailor-made solutions for signage. Scalable computing power such as Raspberry Pi compute modules or Open Pluggable Specification (OPS) Slot-in PCs can be seamlessly embedded into the displays to create a fully integrated solution.
The P and V Series line-ups each consist of three models, ranging in size from 40 to 55 inches (P404, P484, P554 and V404, V484, V554). With an elegant and slimline design, both new Series of displays allow for an unobtrusive integration. They are suitable for installations in retail, leisure and museum environments, for corporate signage solutions, passenger information, quick service restaurants and all other public spaces.
The V Series features a display brightness of 500 cd/m², providing effortless readability under common ambient light conditions. The higher 700 cd/m² brightness level of the P Series, guarantees captivating readability in applications where ambient light is high. Both Series use an anti-glare surface to reduce reflections effectively.
The MultiSync P and V Series also delivers enhanced imaging performance via its SpectraView Engine, a colour stabilisation solution which for flagship P Series allows full control of brightness, colour, gamma and uniformity for precise and natural reliable images. Additionally, the combination of high end colour performance with extreme viewing angles driven by hardware calibratable 12 bit Look Up Tables (LUT) enable viewers to benefit from consistently accurate rendering ofimages such as branding and corporate identities.
The P and V Series large format displays are easy to install and operate. Using the free multi-display management software NaViSet Administrator 2, companies can manage all connected display devices from a centralised location. Suitable for 24/7 mission critical applications, the meticulous selection of industrial-grade components and careful design of the P and V Series ensures continuous operation in demanding usage scenarios.
The new NEC P and V Series large format displays will be on show at the NEC Display Solutions booth 5-R24 at the ISE trade fair in Amsterdam 7 – 10 February 2017. Here are all the details.Leave a Comment
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|Cisco Debuts Spark Board and Spark MeetingsToday, Cisco launched two all-in-one, cloud-based products in Cisco Spark Board and Cisco Spark Meeting.
Cisco says it invented Spark Board to clean up the conference-room chaos and connect physical rooms to virtual spaces. The Cisco Spark Board will be available in both 55” and 70” sizes. It’s basically a few products in one, including:
- A wireless presentation device which, as you approach, will recognize and greet you — no Bluetooth or special Wi-Fi or network connection required. You control it all from your PC, Mac, tablet or mobile phone. Cisco says they achieved it through a tight integration with the Cisco Spark platform plus a totally-new “ultrasound” wireless pairing technology.
- An interactive digital whiteboard at its heart, Cisco Spark Board users interact with it locally or via a Cisco Spark app, remotely. Cisco says it all is in real-time and simultaneously. It automatically saves your work to a space that the whole team shares so that you can always pick up where you left off later. Of course, Spark Board integrates video calls and it’s software is integrated with a security platform called crypto.
- The Cisco Spark Board has what Cisco is calling “theater-quality” audio and video. Its integrated with a 4K camera as well as a microphone array and their VoiceTrack technology.
Cisco has also launched Spark Meetings. By adding some of the popular meeting capabilities from Cisco WebEx, it in essence extends the meeting to include the time before and after — and in the process creates a fundamentally new way to meet. Cisco Spark Meetings is basically the Cisco Spark Board in your pocket. You can whiteboard together — even if no one has a Cisco Spark Board. They’ve built the functionality into all of the Cisco Spark apps. You can use it to schedule a meeting — it creates a team space so you can create the agenda, get all the people involved, share content and chat back and forth. Users can also post meeting comments, follow-up action items or notes from the meeting are all in integrated into Spark Meeting.
Cisco also changed the way a user navigates in the Cisco Spark app. An activity-based workflow will be the same on all of your devices: desktop, mobile phone, tablet, Cisco Spark Board.
The 55-inch version of the Cisco Spark Board will ship within a week and will list for $4,990. The subscription will cost $199 per month and include the cloud service, help desk and software upgrades. Cisco will make a 70-inch version of the board available later this year for $9,990.
Here are more details on Spark Board, while here are complete specs for Spark Meeting.Leave a Comment
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|Middle Atlantic Steps Up Universal Control for AV Applications|
Middle Atlantic Products has expanded its lineup of power solutions with the new Controlled Wall Plate. Designed for simplified and convenient universal control and efficient integration, the Controlled Wall Plate provides extended power and control capabilities to AV, residential, and security devices within a compact, single-gang design.
Available with 15A NEMA or 20A Neutrik PowerCON receptacles, the Controlled Wall Plate has an internal power supply that completely removes reliance on external input voltage, which is susceptible to voltage drops on the wire, furthering the system’s reliability. Both models feature LED indicators and low-voltage, integrated contact connections at the rear of the unit, which alleviate the need to run exposed control wires to the front of the wall plate. The PowerCON receptacle option provides the additional security of locking the power cable to the device and wall, mitigating the risk of the powered device becoming unplugged.
Its compact, decorator-style single-gang form factor fits standard wall or floor boxes as well as within a partitioned, multi-use box. You can check it out here.Leave a Comment
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|NEC Intros InfinityBoard for Collaborative Meetings|
NEC Display Solutions Europe has announced the InfinityBoard, an all-in-one display solution, available in 65” and 84” sizes, aimed at BYOD, collaboration in interactive workspaces and huddle rooms. Designed for video conferencing, creative brainstorming, presenting, reviewing and collaborating, the InfinityBoard provides a modular platform.
Based on ultra-high definition (UHD) 65” and 84” large format displays with InGlass touch technology, the InfinityBoard solution provides what NEC is calling a seamless, paper-like touch performance using a passive precision pen. NEC says this allows users to be creative with finger and pen differentiation allowing for intuitive touch, interactive writing and palm erasing.
The large surface allows users to create, annotate and present on an infinite canvas with the ability to import and export content thanks to the supplied whiteboard application. Using a new collaboration software, the InfinityBoard supports wireless presentation, screen to device and screen to screen interaction. These features keep the InfinityBoard vital to new and modern ways of working. Using NEC’s MultiPresenter function, the solution also supports bring your own device (BYOD) initiatives, enabling users to wirelessly stream what’s on their phones, tablets or notebooks.
The InfinityBoard provides maximum comfort for video conferencing thanks to a combination of the integrated software-powered high-res Huddly camera with 120° viewing angle, the loudspeakers by SEAS and an optional audio microphone conferencing solution, called TeamConnect Wireless, from Sennheiser. It’s also adjustable to accomodate users of different heights and includes a modular open pluggable specification (OPS) Slot-in PC with Windows 10 operating system.
More details will be posted here eventually.Leave a Comment
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|PixelFLEX Intros TrueFLEX 1.9 mm Flexible LED|
PixelFLEX just announced the introduction of a 1.9 mm version of their TrueFLEX LED flexible video panel. Available in a 400-millimeters wide by 300-millimeters high panel, the new 1.9 mm TrueFLEX is designed for fixed installations which require an ultra fine pixel pitch and a high-resolution LED video pallet in a flexible format. Now available in 1.9 mm, 2.5 mm, 3.0 mm, 4.0 mm, 6 mm and 10 mm indoor pitch options, the TrueFLEX LED video system attaches via magnets and its fanless design allows for a no-noise LED display in any space.
Designed to create seamless convex or concave curved video walls, TrueFLEX offers a wide range of pitch options for high-resolution and creative LED video content. Its slim and ultra lightweight construction provides a low-profile installation that needs very little space for wiring and mounting and provides single module replacement for easy onsite service. Using magnetic LED modules and set screw ports, TrueFLEX can easily attach to virtually any surface, and the external sending and receiving control, paired with quality connectors, guarantee safe and reliable module connections.
Here are the details.Leave a Comment
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|Extron Introduces New SoundField XD Two-Way Ceiling Speaker|
Extron introduced new SoundField XD model SF 26CT, a 6.5″ two-way ceiling speaker featuring an 8″ (20.3 cm) deep composite backcan for use in plenum rated ceiling environments. The driver complement includes a 6.5″ (16.5 cm) woofer coupled to a 3/4″ (1.9 cm) ferrofluid-cooled dome tweeter. With a UL 2043 listed composite speaker enclosure, the SF 26CT meets UL requirements for smoke and heat release in plenum air spaces. A magnetically attached grille with a thin-edged bezel gives the SF 26CT a refined appearance on the ceiling. The SF 26CT offers both direct 8 ohm and 70/100 volt operation with a behind-the-grille, six position power selector switch. With 70/100 volt taps at 8, 16, 32, and 64 watts, the SF 26CT can be used in applications where a high power distributed speaker system is needed.
Designed with the integrator in mind, SoundField XD speakers are constructed using a two-piece modular design with a separable back can and baffle, which simplifies installation in both single-trade and division of labor installations. These speakers include a cable/conduit access plate that can be oriented as side mount, for low clearance ceilings, or as top mount for blind-mounting into drywall ceilings. Extron’s Opti-Torque indicator rings provide a visual indication when the locking arm screws have been sufficiently tightened, preventing damage to the speaker caused by over-torqueing.
Here are the details.Leave a Comment
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|New Industry Alliance Set Up to Manage AV-over-IP Standards (Sort of) – Donâ€™t Expect MuchAptoVision, Aquantia, Christie Digital, NETGEAR, Sony and ZeeVee today announced that they have formed the SDVoE Alliance to standardize the adoption of Ethernet to transport AV signals in ProAV environments, and to create an ecosystem around SDVoE technology that allows software to define AV applications.
Many AV distribution and processing applications that demand zero-latency and could potentially benefit from SDVoE technology, which provides an end-to-end hardware and software platform for AV extension, switching, processing and control through advanced chipset technology, common control APIs and interoperability. SDVoE network architectures are based on off-the-shelf Ethernet switches thus offering substantial cost savings and greater system flexibility and scalability over traditional approaches such as point-to-point extension and circuit-based AV matrix switching.
SDVoE Alliance founding members claim to bring different perspectives to the SDVoE initiative spanning the entire ecosystem with expertise in chipsets (AptoVision, Aquantia), switches and storage (NETGEAR), and AV end points (Christie Digital, Sony and ZeeVee). The SDVoE Alliance already benefits from over 35 shipping products and numerous installations in healthcare, enterprise, entertainment, hospitality, retail, houses of worship, government, military, industry and security.
The alliance seeks to:
- Standardize adoption of Ethernet to transport AV signals in professional AV environments
- Offer end users increased flexibility, with applications more tailored to their particular needs, and the opportunity to reduce both capital and operating expenses
- Enable more cost-effective architectures for AV signal distribution using Ethernet switches
- Provide a reliable and more versatile alternative to point-to-point extension and circuit switches
- Facilitate true AV/IT convergence such that high-quality AV networks and data networks can simultaneously share a single infrastructure platform
- Bring ecosystem partners — AV equipment manufacturers, AV software developers, switch manufacturers, chipset designers, technology providers and system integrators — together under a single banner to foster collaboration
- Bring awareness to new opportunities by educating the industry and offering training in the new paradigm
So, here’s the problem with this: There’s no diversity on this alliance. And, note that the big switching and distribution companies aren’t listed — for example, Extron, Crestron, AMX, Kramer, etc. And, until they do, this is a useless alliance. And, industry alliances like this don’t successfully create standards when the people with a vested interest in their own technology being used (i.e. AptoVision has a reference design for sending AV-over-IP that’s being sold as BlueRiver NT) are on the committee. And, in this case, they started it. In fact, the so-called “industry alliance” press release was sent via Janet Matey — the Marketing & Communications Manager for AptoVision (look here, she’s listed right on there website as the Media Contact for AptoVision) who is also now in the position of Marketing Coordinator for the SDVoE initiative.
So, do you really think this is an independent alliance working on independent standards?
Here are more details on the alliance.Leave a Comment
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For all you REGULAR readers of rAVe AVBuyers.Club out there, hopefully you enjoyed another opinion-packed issue!
For those of you NEW to rAVe, you just read how we are — we are 100 percent opinionated. We not only report the news and new product stories of the ProAV and HomeAV industries, but we stuff the articles full of our opinions. That may include (but is not limited to) whether or not the product is even worth looking at, challenging the manufacturers on their specifications, calling a marketing-spec bluff and suggesting ways integrators market their products better. But, one thing is for sure, we are NOT a trade publication that gets paid for running editorial or product stories. Traditional trade publications get paid to run product stories — that’s why you see what you see in most of the pubs out there. We are different: we run what we want to run and NO ONE is going to pay us to write or say anything good (or bad).
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A little about me: I graduated from Journalism School at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (where I am adjunct faculty). I’ve been in the AV industry since 1987 where I started with Extron and eventually moved to AMX. So, I guess I am an industry veteran (although I don’t think I am that old). I have been an opinionated columnist for a number of industry publications and in the late 1990s I started the widely read KNews eNewsletter (the first in the AV market) and also created the model for and was co-founder of AV Avenue, which is now known as InfoComm IQ. rAVe [Publications] has been around since 2003, when we launched our original newsletter, rAVe ProAV Edition.
rAVe ProAV Edition is our flagship newsletter with what we believe is a reach of virtually everyone in the ProAV market. rAVe HomeAV Edition, co-published with CEDIA and launched in February 2004, is, by far, the largest ePub in the HomeAV market. We added rAVe Rental [and Staging] in November 2007, rAVe ED [Education] in May 2008 and then rAVe DS [Digital Signage] in January 2009. We added rAVe GHGav [Green, Healthcare & Government AV] in August 2010 and rAVe HOW [House of Worship] in July 2012. rAVe Radio, our podcast network, was launched in 2012. AVBuyers.Club, our first publications targeted at end users, launched in May 2015. You can subscribe to any of those publication or see ALL our archives by going to: http://www.ravepubs.com
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