Volume 8, Issue 8 — August 16, 2016
|Stratacache Acquires Scala — Good News in the Jungle|
By Lyle Bunn
Strategy Architect, BUNN Co.
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The August 15, 2016 announcement by Dayton-headquartered STRATACACHE of its acquisition of Scala, the high-profile digital signage software supplier is good news for end users, providers of the place-based media and the industry at large.
STRATACACHE operates over 1.5 million software and appliance installations for more than 425 end user organizations including Wal-Mart, McDonalds, Lowes, AT&T, H&M, Huntington Bank and many others. It has acquired and integrated other businesses such as PRN, Optika, Carmanah Signs and most recently intellectual property from VertiGo and Civiq into its increasing capabilities, and has been strengthened by the addition of deeply knowledgeable personnel. STRATACACHE has 18 corporate locations in North America with others in Europe, Asia and Australia. It has five development, four hosting sites and three network operations centers. STRATACACHE has served end users in direct supply and operates with a comprehensive support model.
Scala has a similar 25-year longevity, working with more than 500 partners in 100 countries to operate more than 500,000 displays. Scala’s strength has been in working with channel partners including integrators and distributors while assuring no channel conflict on situations where it would work directly with the end user.
STRATACACHE’s corporate health, deep engineering, operating, analytics and client service in its direct sales model and its experience in serving generally larger deployments of place-based media, is an excellent compliment for Scala with its channel strategy and a base of installations that can reasonably be expected to expand based on astute application of the media and ongoing developments.
This consolidation of capabilities enables better service of needs on the global stage through the combined strengths of these preeminent suppliers, each of which has been central to digital place-based media application and advancement. In STRATACACHE’s augmenting of its direct supply model with supply through channel partners and integrators as used by Scala, STRATACACHE will move the industry’s supply capacities to new levels. Current users of Scala will benefit from a deeper knowledge base and improved corporate stability.
In past acquisitions, STRATACACHE has empowered the acquired business unit while allowing them to operate entrepreneurially bringing subject matter expertise and active support to vertical market clients. It could reasonably be expected that Scala operations will be treated in the same way.
Innovation is a demonstrated priority of STRATACACHE as indicated by its ongoing developments in areas such as content strategy and composition, analytics, omni-channel, hardware price/performance improvement, display enclosures, tablet and mobile interactivity, anonymous audience detection and identification, traffic tracking, gestural interaction, augmented reality, human vision replication and other areas of digital media areas.
So, end users seeking location-based media innovation and the engineering and customer support teams of the two providers will benefit from the merging of innovation programs. And it could be entirely expected that innovation partners of Scala will be welcomed into the bigger sandbox.
Dot2Dot Communications of Toronto for example, acts as Scala Canada. As an independently owned and operated partner Dot2Dot has developed the Ad Manager overlay for Scala. It only operates with the Scala CMS and Dot2Dot’s ad management capabilities are introduced to end users by Scala and other partners where third party advertising or sponsor revenues are an element of the digital signage business model.
The combination of STRATACACHE’s system capabilities to handle in-store promotional spending and campaigns in large retailers (like Wal-Mart) and the Dot2Dot/Scala partnership bodes well for network operators and end users.
The integration of Scala into STRATACACHE operations offers end users an improved entry and migration path in their use of digital place-based messaging and engagement capabilities.
The acquisition of Scala by STRATACACHE provides a substantially stronger base of supply from the standpoint of functionality options, alternatives and scalability.
Consolidation of supply reflects the next natural stage of organic digital signage industry growth and positions the sector for greater contributions media commerce and the economic success of enterprises, industries, countries, regions and countries. As the pace of technology application accelerates for benefits “in the now,” strength of supply, as reflected in this acquisition agreement is a critical success factor.
The accelerated application of digital signage and overall industry development will benefit all. In short, end users will gain a broader and stronger supply option from the expanded STRATACACHE family of providers. The harmonizing and consolidation of research, development, innovation and best practices will accelerate use cases and standards of practice. The struggle of provider sourcing can be streamlined allowing end users to get on with the gaining the benefits of the media. Firms competing with STRATACACHE and Scala will “up their game” in the face of this combined supply capability.
This acquisition puts me in mind of The Jungle Book story that many parents have read to their children and is the subject of another recent movie version.
It’s a jungle out there for retailers, brands and others. But like Mowgli (the jungle boy) who is protected, developed and supported by the panther Bagheera, (representative of the fiercely competitive but somewhat private and elusive STRATACACHE) and a big bear named Baloo (representative of Scala), end users have been in good hands. Their combined contributions equip Mowgli to stand against King Louie who wants to be all-powerful (let’s call this online commerce). The Jungle becomes a better place, just as place-based media through capable champions can do.
Integrators and other channel providers will have access to broader capabilities and a growing market for the medium. Scala partners and proponents will benefit from the broader feature set and stability of supply offered by this acquisition.
Consolidation has not been expected as a needed feature of and for industry expansion. Sales (for suppliers) and acquisition (for end users) costs have hampered industry growth, detracting from investment on innovations that can significantly advance the use of place-based customer experience and engagement technologies. Technology providers such as IBM, Microsoft, HP, Cisco, Harris Corp, 3M and Google have made splashes in the digital signage lake, but without the significant, long-term implication or impact that large and institutional investors seek.
This acquisition of Scala by STRATACACHE is a giant step forward for digital signage and place-based media. More consolidation and expansion can be expected, on the basis that the medium simply makes business and economic sense through the enterprise and value that it delivers.
John F. Kennedy said, “Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country,” as a reminder that value in service is the only basis on which progress can occur. In the 1600s, Martin Luther launched the reformation by challenging “indulges” and institutional authority.
The consolidation of STRATACACHE and Scala as the major industry providers signals that the time is come for digital location-based media to reach new levels of enterprise and economic contribution.
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|Lean Model to Determine Designs|
By Scott Tiner
We have all heard, “Well that is how it was designed.” Or, “the integrators made this more complicated than it needed to be.” I, as much as anyone like to pass the buck, but when dealing with customers we need to make sure we provide the end result they want. A lean model of looking at design can help integrators provide the desired result the first time around, improving their relationships, reputation and future revenue stream.
The first step is to look at the Current (as designed) State. This is the state of how something operates right now. So, if you were looking into installing digital signs in a location that previously had corkboards, you would want to know several things about the current state.
- Are there rules about what gets posted on the bulletin board?
- How often is the bulletin board cleared off?
- Who “owns” the bulletin board?
The next step, and maybe the most critical, is to determine the Current (as-is) State. This is the way that things actually work. So, that list of rules you were given about what gets posted on the current bulletin board, does anyone actually know them, or follow them? If they tell you the bulletin board is cleared off on a weekly basis, does that actually happen?
Why are these types of questions important? Because if you design a system according to the as designed state, but that is not the actual as-is state, you are going to have unhappy customers. In the bulletin board example, if there are a bunch of rules, you will build the ability to follow these rules into a new digital signage system. This may cost development time, or a higher cost for the software. However, what if the customer never actually follows any of those rules? You have provided them what they asked for, but not for what they wanted. You have given them a product that costs more than what they need, and possibly added complexity to the system. Additionally, the person who suddenly has to monitor all those rules will feel as though this has caused them more work. Alternately, what if the people tell you they never follow the rules, but that they really want to start? This is critical to know before you design the system as well. Otherwise, you may observe them not following the rules, and build a system that does not allow them to enforce the policies they want.
So they key for these first two steps is to first determine how the current process/system is supposed to work. Often, that will not be how it actually works. Second, you need to determine how the system does actually work.
Now you have what you need to determine the Future (to-be) state. This is where you determine what the design of the new process/system will be. You need to put together what you have learned from the first two steps. As you work through this final step you should reference all the other things you have learned, and observed, through the first two steps. Now, you can start your design. When you present the final design to the customer, you should include your observations of all three states. Make sure you give them the opportunity to correct any of the observations or facts that you have collected. It is only through these steps that you and the customer can be on the same page about what they want. When that happens, you won’t hear the types of things that I wrote in the first sentence. Rather you will hear customers who are very happy with what you provided them. This means they will call you next time they need an upgrade or service.Leave a Comment
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|A Crack in the Wall Between the Real and Virtual Worlds|
By Leonard Suskin
Pixel and Ink-Stained Wretch
Assuming that you’ve not been living under a rock, you’ve at least heard about the Pokémon GO! craze. For the uninitiated, Pokémon Go is an augmented reality game produced by Niantic (in partnership with Nintendo, which owns the rights to the intellectual property on which it is based) in which one needs to hunt the titular Pokémon in the real world. Pokémon, once captured, can be trained, leveled up, and used to battle for control of Pokémon gyms, which are also real-world locations. It is, at the very least, an excuse for gamers to get out and have some exercise. For those of us in the AV industry, it brings the idea of augmented reality to the forefront in a way it hasn’t been before — even by similar AR games. So what does it mean to us? Perhaps nothing. Perhaps everything. More likely something in between.
What Is It?
This is not Niantic’s first game. In fact, Pokémon Go! Is based on the game engine originally developed for the science-fiction AR game Ingress in 2012, when Niantic was still part of Google. Those who’ve played Ingress recognize familiar elements. Important real-world locations (post offices, public art, libraries, etc.) become in-game locations — “gyms” over which you battle against opposing Pokémon and “Pokéstops” at which one can replenish in-game supplies. As with Ingress, the game is entirely dependent on your phone’s GPS and data connection.
Each game is built around a secret-history fantasy narrative in which the game world is presented as an aspect of the real world which is hidden from most ordinary people. For Pokémon players it is the existence of magical beasts; for Ingress it is the incursion of extradimensional entities called “shapers” into our world. In neither case is the story all that important; it takes a back seat to gameplay.
The new gameplay element in Pokémon Go is a visual augmented reality element to add to the location-based augmented reality. The first augmentation to our reality — that the water tower is really a Pokéstop in which one can replenish supplies — is familiar to Ingress players. The second comes when one faces an actual Pokémon and can see the creature on ones phone screen, superimposed on the real-world image from your camera. In some environments, the game engine appears smart enough to set the Pokémon on the ground or other solid surface; in others it seems to randomly float about, not terribly well integrated at all with its environment. While the cartoonish-looking Pokémon lacking the detail or realism for their appearance to be truly immersive, their visual presence in the real world is another step towards connecting game world with real world. Seeing a Pokéball bounce on the sidewalk at someone’s feet is a striking experience and represents a crack in the wall between the real and virtual worlds.
It can also be used to drive behavior. AV blogger and podcaster Corey Moss (@cbmoss, July 15, 2016) noted the following on Twitter: “I saw how an AV integrator has become a #Pokestop – is this the new way to find customers? #AVTweeps”
I don’t know how much the average AV integrator relies on walk-bys (I’d guess somewhere between “none” and “absolutely none”), but Moss does have a point. Remember I said that post offices, libraries and other noteworthy public buildings are Ingress portals? I missed a category: Every Duane-Reade store is also a portal. I am certain this was a deal with Duane-Reade to increase foot-traffic to their stores. Of course, foot traffic does more for a pharmacy/convenience store than it will for an AV integrator — though I can see an intriguing idea in sending people to an AV contractor’s more striking public projects if one could also call attention to them and highlight who it was that installed them.
The interesting thing here is that you have dual potential avenues to make money — one more insidious than the next. Think about this: It is possible, given the correct digital incentives, to influence where people go in the real world. It isn’t mass mind-control, but it’s something similar.
The Bigger Picture?
The question AV professionals are now asking each other is whether or not there is a bigger picture — if the broad adoption of this toy is a sign that AR or VR might be moving close enough to mainstream adoption to have an effect on what we do. I’ll say yes and no; yes in that AR and VR are each becoming prevalent enough and low enough cost that we need at least ask the question. The story twenty years ago was of advanced technology from the boardroom making its way to the living room. Over the past decade, the new story has been residential technology filtering up towards the corporate world. We now may be moving past residential and towards personal mobile technology. For thirty dollars you can put a cardboard box around your phone and turn it into a VR headet. For free you can download toys like Ingress or Pokémon Go.
Gary Kayye came closest to explaining the paradigm shift in saying that we each hold a “personal information device” which, in some ways, replaces a large-scale display. Another way of framing it is that a video display, a camera, a microphone and a loudspeaker are dispatched to everyone’s physical location at nearly any time.
One can send content to a display and a loudspeaker in nearly any location. And receive content from a camera and a microphone (and other sensors).
We talk often about unified communication, and unified communication strategies. VR and AR may not be complete solutions, but they can become part of a unified content distribution strategy.
Again — What Is It?
To understand the viral phenomenon of Pokémon Go and its sudden reach is a study in marketing and public relations. That’s important, but not everything; what’s important to us is to see what this tells us about technology, what has actually been built and what that means. Can something else be built upon it? Is it proof of concept to build something different entirely? Is it a metaphor?
So what is Pokémon Go? It is:
- The Game Engine. A software tool which first formed the basis if Ingress and is now being turned to a different genre. The system for taking location and identity and turning it into interaction with objected overlaid onto the real world.
- Hardware. It is facilitated by ubiquitous hardware. You have a camera. You have a microphone. You have a display, you have a loudspeaker. And sensors to know where they are. Always.
- Infrastructure. GPS Satellites and wireless data, available in broad areas of the country. To make it work.
- Culture. A growing willingness to view part of life through our devices, a lack of inhibition about sharing our data — now including physical location in the real world.
Finally, Pokémon Go is the story Niantic and Nintendo built atop the software and hardware, facilitated by the existence of culture.
The hardware is there for everyone, as is the infrastructure and a new culture. It’s now up to us to find ways to use it.Leave a Comment
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|The Cost of Late Adoption|
By Mark Coxon
If you are a student of technology adoption, you’ve most likely seen this curve.
It’s the Technology Adoption curve and it reveals how people adopt technology over time. Looking at the curve as an integrator, you may use this curve to justify a delayed entry into a tech market. After all, around 70 percent of consumers don’t come into the market until the middle. If you take that viewpoint, you’re not alone. In fact, according to data I heard come out of the InfoComm standards plenary, integrators seem to adopt new technology into their businesses in almost exactly the same way consumers do, with the majority waiting for the swell in the middle. I think that this is a major mistake.
Before you start to disagree too much, let me lay out why I think there is a unique advantage for integration companies to be innovators and early adopters when it comes to offering new products and services in their businesses.
First off, it’s a marketing and sales advantage. 70 percent to 85 percent of the integration community is probably not telling this new technology story to their clients yet. That’s a great advantage when pitching a job, especially if the client is tech conscious or savvy themselves. However, I think there is a unique advantage in the actual numbers as well.
Let’s look at another common curve. The Product Life Cycle curve.
This curve, when over laid on the Technology Adoption curve above, shows that most integrators are waiting until growth has been demonstrated or sometimes even until the product has reached full maturity. This may not sound like a bad thing. In fact, the terms growth and maturity seem to denote stability.
But stability and profitability are two different things.
Now given all of the above let’s look at a couple curves I came up with in thinking through this adoption trend.
The first is the product margin curve.
When a product is first introduced and is novel or innovative, higher prices will be paid by consumers. Given this, typically products have higher margins as they are introduced and as the product reaches maturity and then market saturation, those margins fall and then level off at some small differential above the manufacturing costs.
But selling the product is only half of your integration business. Unless you are a box mover, you are selling installation, programming and support services with these products as well — so you also have a Labor Margin curve to factor in here as well.
Notice anything? It’s almost the opposite of the Product Margin curve. In the beginning, when a technology is new, your integration firm will inevitably spend more time training and installing the product, troubleshooting errors, etc. However, as the product reaches maturity, labor margins increase with the efficiency of the installations, programming and support of the product.
Given this, you really need to look at the sum of both graphs to get a good picture of the Profit curve of a integrating a new technology. If the product costs and integration costs are about equal, then you get something like this.
As you can see the green line is the sum of the two margin curves for Product (orange) and Labor (blue). Of course depending on the price of the product(s) in the system, these curves could move slightly. The point is however that in the example above, the integrator in question adopts the technology early. This means that the product margins offset additional labor expenditure during the learning phase, and then as product margins decrease, the integrators experience with the product provides advantages in actual integration costs to increase labor margins. Overall, the two competing curves can level each other out, creating a stable profit line over time for the technology itself.
But what happens to the integrator who waits?
A delayed entry into the market in growth or maturity mode means that the integrator will not take advantage of early, higher product margins. However, the labor margin curve remains. As an integrator, it still takes your team some time to become familiar with the technology and gain those economies. The result is a product margin curve that remains the same and a labor margin curve that is delayed.
As you can see the delayed entry affects the stability of the green profit line. If you look at the curve profit curve above, you’ll notice that profit actually decreases initially, and that many times causes an integrator to rethink their entry into the new market and perhaps retreat, not knowing that the trend is a direct result of the late entry, and will at some point climb back up as efficiencies in installation and programming are realized.
If you want to compare the profit curves of integrator 1 and integrator 2, it looks something like this.
If you take a look at the two profit curves above, an early entry into the market not only allows Integrator 1 (dark green) the opportunity to turn profit for more time than Integrator 2 (light green), but also gives them an advantage in profit during a huge portion of the Technology Adoption cycle as a whole. They have earned higher profits that allow them to be more competitive in a bid situation as well as present a longer track record of success with the technology.
All in all, the early adopter from an integration perspective can benefit greatly from adopting technology early, capturing a large percentage of early adopters and also creating advantages downstream as the technology matures that allows the same firm to continue an advantage until the product fades toward decline.
From a product manufacturing perspective, many argue that being second may be better than being first in that the follower can learn from the leaders mistakes. That may also be true here with integration if the delay to market is relatively small. However, even in manufacturing, no one argues that there is an advantage to entering the market in the middle or at the end. It may be a good time to look at the way your integration firm is adopting new technology to see if you’re benefiting from an early mover advantage.
I’d love to hear your take here. Feel free to use the comments below to start the conversation.Leave a Comment
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|DigitalSignBuilder.Com Releases A Digital Signage Solution Aimed at Hospitals and Doctors’ OfficesDigitalSignBuilder.com has announced an “out-of-the-box digital signage solution” for hospitals, doctor offices, clinics and waiting rooms.
DigitalSignBuilder’s new hospital facility digital signage packages allow organizations to blend instant answers to patient questions, important policy updates, available services, payment options, insurance information and other relevant notifications into an easy to manage the system. Features include:
- Keeping staff up to date on policies and HR news
- Provide live, training of new protocols and procedures
- Share news of charity drives and health fairs
- Display wait times and valuable insurance information
- Entertain with feeds of health facts, tips, and advice
In addition, the new Hospital Wayfinding Digital Signage package allows for facilities to provide patients and visitors with Pinch and Zoom 3D “You are here” multi-floor multi-building maps. Every map can be connected to an interactive directory for one-click map directions. Each directory listing can feature a description, image and phone number of the destination. Here are all the details.Leave a Comment
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|Altinex Debuts Neutron MT322-105 and MT322-107 Power Distribution Cards for the MT302-201 Digital MultiTaskerAltinex just introduce the MT322-105 and MT322-107 power distribution cards for use with its MT302-201 Digital MultiTasker. Both units distribute AC power from a single AC source to multiple AC outlets. With these one-in, three-out AC power distribution cards, the outlets can be connected to any type of audio/video equipment. And both cards have built-in current measuring circuits to detect load levels. The value of these loads may be read over the IP port and an alarm can be triggered when power is exceeded.
The MT322-105 contains an IEC male connector for the AC supply input and standard NEMA 5-15R power receptacles for the three outputs. Built in sensors alert the user by flashing the LEDs when the load exceeds 9.5 Amp as well as a warning message over the IP port when the current draw approaches the maximum 10.5-amp limit. The MT322-107 international version contains one IEC male connector for the AC power supply input and three IEC 320 female outlets. With this model, sensors alert the user when the load exceeds 8.5 amps and a warning message is sent over the IP port when the current draw approaches the maximum 10-amp limit. Both cards have safety provisions that cause the cards to automatically start turning outlets off should the system approach maximum power draw. A message informing the user that outputs are being shutdown is sent to the MT302-201 Digital MultiTasker’s IP port.
Both the MT322-105 and MT322-107 are able to turn audio/video equipment on or off in a sequential order and the time delay between switching is also programmable from 0-50 seconds. The threshold level for the on/off detect feature is adjustable to accommodate different loads and determine when AV equipment is on or off.
Here are the specs.Leave a Comment
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|Extron Announces New Larger HDMI 4K Distribution Amplifiers|
Extron has two new 4K distribution amplifiers in the DA HD 4K Series, the DA4 HD 4K and DA6 HD 4K provide reliable distribution of a source video signal to as many as four or six displays, respectively. All three models in the HD HD 4K Series are HDCP compliant and support data rates up to 10.2 Gbps, Deep Color up to 12‑bit, 3D, Lip Sync and HD lossless audio formats. Extron technologies provide easy EDID and HDCP management, and automatic input cable equalization ensures signal integrity up to 50 feet (15 meters) when used with Extron HDMI Pro Series cables.
The DA HD 4K Series offers integration-friendly features that include automatic color bit depth management based on EDID, selectable output muting via RS‑232, as well as front panel indicators for easy monitoring and troubleshooting. They also feature Extron EDID Minder and Key Minder technologies to maintain continuous EDID communication between between connected devices and ensure simultaneous distribution of HDCP-encrypted source content. Each output provides +5 VDC, 250 mA for powering peripheral devices such as an Extron UHD4K 101 or HDMI 101 Plus cable equalizer. Now available in sizes ranging from two to six outputs to match the most common design needs, the DA HD 4K Series is ideal for applications that require the reliable distribution of a single HDMI source signal to multiple displays.
Here are the details.Leave a Comment
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|Atlona Ships Eight-Output 4K/UHD Distribution Amplifier|
Atlona announced it is now shipping its eight-output 4K/UHD distribution amplifier that features HDMI-to-HDBaseT distribution of 4K/UHD @ 60 Hz (4:2:0 Chroma sampling) video, HDBaseT transmission up to 70 meters, HDCP 2.2 support, and Power over Ethernet (PoE). The AT-UHD-CAT-8 also provides EDID management and advanced display control functions through Consumer Electronics Control (CEC) for use with home TVs.
In addition to HDBaseT outputs, the new DA provides an HDMI output for signal pass-through and daisy-chaining, and it is equipped with one IR and RS232 connection for the amp as well as one for each output channel.
The AT-UHD-CAT-8, which is rack-mountable and fits in one full-width single RU space, lists for $2,299 and it’s here.Leave a Comment
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|Global Sales of Commercial Flat Panel Products Rise 17 Percent Year-on-Year to Reach Shipments of 855,000 Units in Q2 2016The global commercial flat panel display market totaled shipments of 855,000 units in Q2 2016, a year-on-year increase of 17 percent.
Of the major product categories, the LCD videowall market shows the highest year-on-year growth rate but this positive trend is largely limited to China with sales in other major markets largely stagnant. In China, rising demand from the security industry has seen the market boom in the past two years, with Q2 LCD videowall volumes growing 86 percent year-on-year to reach shipments of over 140,000 units.
Beyond China, the market shows continued signs of stagnation, screen volumes falling 10 percent year-on-year. The replacement of tilled LCD solutions by large screen 4K panels and Narrow Pixel Pitch (NPP) LED products is one of the primary factors holding back the LCD video wall segment.
“The digital signage segment continues to see positive growth rates this quarter, aided by a major Quick Service Restaurants (QSR) installation in the US market. Despite this, rates of growth in the segment are not as high as in previous years,” commented Graham Cooke, Displays Analyst at Futuresource Consulting.
He added, “Rising penetration in key customer groups like Banking, QSR and Automotive means the market is showing signs of maturity in some segments. As volume growth slows, manufacturers are focusing on high value segments, expanding product lines in areas like high brightness, stretched display and 4K product lines.”
With slowing growth in both videowall and signage display sales, presentation markets are becoming an increasingly important segment with growth for both interactive and non-interactive solutions. “Both the education and corporate markets are seeing strong growth across a diverse range of geographies this year. The falling costs of large screen products alongside increasing demands for more collaborative work environments are two of the key factors increasing demand here,” says Cooke.Leave a Comment
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|Extron Announces New HDMI Cable Equalizer for 4K/60 Sources|
Extron just introduced the HD 4K 101 Plus, an HDMI cable equalizer supporting video signals at resolutions up to 4K/60 with 4:4:4 chroma sampling. Used at the destination end of a long cable run, the HD 4K 101 Plus actively equalizes poor or marginal source signals, reduces jitter and skew, and adds output pre-emphasis to reliably extend the HDMI signal. The HDCP 2.2-compliant equalizer supports HDMI 2.0b specification features, including data rates up to 18 Gbps, HDR, Deep Color up to 12-bit, 3D, HD lossless audio formats and CEC. To streamline integration, the 1/8 rack wide unit can be powered by the connected HDMI source or an optional external power supply.
The HD 4K 101 Plus compensates for poor HDMI source signals and low-quality cabling. It can be used in conjunction with products such as the Extron HD 4K 110 Series to provide a cost effective solution for extending 4K video signals between the source and the display. DDC channels are actively buffered, allowing pass-through of EDID and HDCP information between source and display. EDID pass-through ensures that the source video is at the optimal resolution for the display, and HDCP 2.2 compliance enables extension of encrypted content from Blu-ray players, satellite and cable TV tuners, DVRs, laptop computers, and other HDCP-enabled sources. These capabilities and other features such as a compact enclosure and ability to be powered by the source device make the HD 4K 101 Plus an indispensable addition to AV designs and existing systems with 4K video requirements.
Here are all the specs.Leave a Comment
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|Westgate’s Las Vegas Property Screams PIXELS!|
When you walk in to the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook (yes, that’s the entire name — just registered with the U.S. Copyright Office) you are simply amazed. I’d heard all the hype (and probably you have as well) but even it doesn’t do this install justice. What HB Communications, rp Visual Solutions and Christie accomplished is more than amazing, it’s STUNNING!
So, why? Well, let’s take a look at some numbers:
But, it was all installed (in the EXACT SAME PLACE as the old sports book — all lower-case and a non-registered name) without ever closing the sports book and debuting the new Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook! Yep, you read that right — it never closed.
- 61,932,520 pixels — the highest resolution install (highest density of pixels) in the world. Native resolution? 26,880×2,304
- 220-foot wide and 19-foot tall continuous — as in NO VISIBLE SEAMS — LED screen
- 4,166 square feet of images
- 15 miles of network, video and control cable
- 22 equipment racks
- 1680 Christie Velvet LED Tiles (each one with a 2.5 mm pixel pitch)
- All sold, designed, built, staged, installed, calibrated and brought online in less than three months from start to finish
“Westgate told us if we signed on to do the install, we had to do it by keeping the old sports book open,” said HB Communications Jim Burke. “We actually installed a false-front wall in front of the old projection-based sports book and re-calibrated the Panasonic projectors for the new throw ratio and kept it open the entire time we did the installation.
“We didn’t think this install could be done as quickly or as perfectly as they wanted it, at first,” said rp Visual Solutions President, Randy Pagnan. “But, we all worked together and met the deadline. And, in fact, we were done and the Westgate was still finishing construction on their own bar area – we beat the Westgate themselves!”
This was truly a feat as the Westgate insisted on not just a hard and fast deadline — as the Super Bowl was their drop-dead event they had to have it open for — but that it all be installed in the exact same place as their old sports book; a location that has housed it since the hotel was built in 1969 — the first mega-hotel in Vegas, in fact.
rp Visual Solutions Pagnan remarked, “We saw cable in that back room where we installed the the super-structure mounting systems that holds all the Christie Velvet LED Screens that was from the days when Elvis Presley, himself, performed there. The old cable hasn’t been touched and was probably 4-5’ deep in the floor. We had to leave it all down there as our deadline wouldn’t have given us the time to remove it. We installed on top of it.”
Both crews from HB Communications and rp Visual Solutions basically lived in Las Vegas for the last 60-days of construction and Christie had a crew on-site for the install of all of the 1680 Velvet Merit Tiles and the seven Christie Spyder X20 image processors.
All of it is controlled via a Crestron control system that allows the bar workers to control of the image displayed of every single screen. And, not just TV channel changing — image sizing, placement, audio, odds, everything. And, the entire thing can be controlled via a mobile phone, too.
“I have called up the system via the network on my mobile phone before and helped walk through user-interface issues,” recalled HB’s Burke. “The entire system is IP-based for everything but it’s full of redundancy so we can send signals, if both segments of the network — both the primary and backup network — go down via a digital video signal path, too — thanks to the design of the Velvet LED Tiles.”
The Christie’s Spyder X20 image processor individually (remember, there are seven of them in the system) handles 16 inputs of any kind (analog or digital) and can then send those inputs out analog, DVI, SDI, HD-SDI or even 3G HD-SDI to any of 8 different locations. So, everything is matrixes to send anything, anywhere. And the Spyder allows for images to be moved, sized, overlaid or displayed in any size, aspect ratio or resolution the person running the SuperBook at the Westgate wants. As you can imagine, most of the time, it’s showing 40 or so simultaneous feeds of sporting events that are being betted on in real-time.
The Christie Velvet Merit Series LED tiles were chosen for a few reasons. First, they are designed to be on 24/7 — and SportsBooks are open all the time. They never close.
Pagnan explains “We decided to save time, we’d not stage the entire install somewhere else – we’d do it there on-site. So, we literally turned on every Velvet tile and fed it a signal from the Spyder and tested each one before installing it on our mounting system. We had such a low failure-rate that it was ultimately immeasurable.”
The Velvet Merit Series has a 5000:1 contrast ratio, a 160-degree viewing angle and each tile is specified to be able to last 100,000 hours – and at 24-hours a day operation, that’s 11.4 years. That sold the Westgate on them as there was a half-dozen or so Chinese LED manufacturers who also bid the project.
But, mounting the LEDs was the easy part and marked the beginning of the end of the project for everyone. Specifying it and designing a system that could hold the giant 220-foot wide curved structure proved to be a challenge for Pagnan and his team at rp Visual Solutions.
“This system has over 14,000 pounds of steel super-structure behind it holding up over 50,000 pounds of LED screens. That’s 277-pounds per linear foot,” explained Pagnan. “This isn’t like installing the average video wall.”
rp Visual Solutions was picked because of their customization capabilities, explained HB’s Burke, “There really is only one company who could have done this and we wanted Randy and his team to to design the structure to hold the wall. We were all concerned about the short install time, but once we got him on board, we knew we could get it done and what they built was perfect.”
And, because of rp Visual Solutions design, the seam width (between LEDs) is less than .25 millimeters (yes, 10 percent of 2.5 millimeters) — thus, an undetectable separation between the tiles- that is the key to it all looking like one seamless image.
And, the result is nearly 62 million pixels forming one giant 220’ x 19’ image that can be ANYTHING, ANYTIME you want it to be — all in mere seconds. And, it’s the world’s highest resolution install — it’ll make it in the Guinness Book or World Records soon. How I know? Well, the current world record holder is sitting in Times Square only displaying a mere 24 million pixels.
But, more importantly, I will guarantee you that you will be hard-pressed to find anyone in AV — even Christie’s own competitors — who would argue that the Westgate SuperBook isn’t the best-looking LED install in the world, today. Like I said, it’s STUNNING.
To see an infographic with the details of the install, click here.Leave a Comment
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