AV Tricks & Treats
By Greg Bronson, CTS-D
As you’re reading this, Halloween 2009 is over and done with. But as I’m sitting down to start this month’s rAVe Ed AV Club column, the ghosts and goblins are making final preparations for their annual door to door trek. This year, the anticipation of candy-topia is enhanced by a rare opportunity of trick or treating on a school-free Saturday night, suspensely lit by an almost full moon. Not to mention the added bonus of an “extra” hour of sleep thanks to daylight savings time.
But not all is necessarily well; rain is lingering, and the big question of how many front porch lights will actually be on lingers. While “treats” are the objective, some misguided participants engage in “trick” type behavior. The experienced treat or treaters know the good spots, and avoid the notoriously bad ones. The particularly successful ones likely follow a plan based on last years take, leaving some margin to adjust their route along the way.
Back at the AV Club house, this Halloween story is being spun as a metaphor for navigating AV in education. No doubt, whether club members are working for the supply or demand sides of AV, each side’s perspective of what challenges (tricks) and rewards (treats) look like is unique.
Whether going out as ourselves, or in dress-up as a Real End User, technology manager, integrator, consultant, or manufacturer, our dealings within the industry can be fundamentally enhanced by developing an appreciation of the other’s perspective. While clearly our approaches to common problems will be different, the profession can only be truly advanced though learned experience of successful interactions of the past, with a little constructive optimization along the way.
To this author’s view, the following represent contemporary rewards (treats) and challenges (tricks) facing AV in Education:
Treats in the form of growing demand for AV communications: As the Real End User comes to expect more from personal AV, so do they of AV in educational facilities. Further, with the demand for a greener, less physically mobile population, AV support needs for distance learning increases.
Tricks in the details (and repercussions) of not following through on commitments: These lapses can look like a technology manager who doesn’t keep an integrator updated on where they stand on a particular RFP. Or, they may look like an integrator who sells an incomplete solution without highlighting technical trade offs.
Treats of new AV standards (like the work being done by Infocomm International staff and volunteers): With a need to be informed by technology managers’ experiences “in the trenches,” manufacturers can bring the reliability and professionalism standards offer.
Tricks of dealing with the “analog sunset”: This includes moving to the digital horizon without needless overlap or, even worse, gaps in service. Tricky digital technologies, driven by the consumer market, will need to evolve to fully address areas of potential roadblocks (e.g., HDCP) to how AV is used in Education.
Treats of working in a field that challenges one’s intellect and creativity as well as provides job stability and a comfortable living: Overall, as an industry, we face the universally stormy environment of a lingering recession (as does other industries). While some adjustment to how we operate is necessary, we can continue to build on past successes in applying AV to educational physical space.
While mostly just common sense, and to some degree stereotypes, these Tricks and Treats are offered as a reminder that the details of how we interdependently respond to opportunities (both the “good” and “bad”) really do make a difference. And, it’s not all about the candy.
The views expressed in this column do not necessarily reflect the views of the authors’ employer(s), past or present.
Greg Bronson, CTS-D, applies AV technologies in the development of innovative learning spaces for higher education. Greg spent the first 10 years of his career as AV technician and service manager, with the past 12 years as an AV system designer and project manager. Bronson currently works for Cornell University and has also worked for two SUNY (State University of New York) campuses as well as a regional secondary education service depot. Bronson is the originator of concept for Infocomm’s Dashboard for Controls and has had completed projects featured in industry publications. You can reach Greg at email@example.com
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PLUS Launches Revolutionary Product Targeted at SMART
Using Wireless Bluetooth technology, PLUS launched one of the most creative products we’ve seen in a while. Called the UPIC Wireless Interactive Panel, it’s a 64” or 72” diagonal (so far) portable (it rolls up) electronic whiteboard. Made of a thin and lightweight material, the UPIC is easy to transport. The panel rolls up and can be quickly packed away in its carrying case. Its magnet backing allows one person to easily set up the UPIC on any surface to which a magnet can be adhered: a blackboard, a whiteboard, or a steel wall.
What’s unique is that the panel does not require any power and it does not need a cord to communicate with a computer, therefore there is no power cord to connect… or to trip over. The unique digital pen transmits information via Bluetooth. Simply pair the pen with a Bluetooth-enabled computer (or use the included Bluetooth USB dongle) and the UPIC panel becomes an interactive board.
You need to go check this out as it’s worth becoming a PLUS dealer just to have access to this product. There’s no question this product WILL have an impact on SMART: http://www.plus-america.com/upic.html
For certain applications, the features of portability and wireless may be appealing. From a gadget geek perspective, the technology is intriguing. But will it (and/or a magnet) really stick to a blackboard?
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NEC Announces Centralized Advertising Platform and CMS for Digital Signage
This month, NEC (yes, the display manufacturer) announced a universal advertising platform for digital signage called VUKUNET. VUKUNET provides a centralized, automated platform designed to connect and distribute ads to digital out-of-home (DOOH) networks.
VUKUNET helps digital signage network owners generate income by making it easier to connect all screens that have time/space available on their networks to advertise. Ideal candidates are networks that have locations with heavy foot traffic, substantial dwell time, strategic monitor placement, numerous locations in key demographic areas, and that are able to run a variety of ads from different advertisers (as opposed to one brand). Some examples of these places are retail stores, hotels, airports, bus and train terminals, universities, hospitals, convention centers, stadiums, museums and restaurants.
So how does this work? Formerly, advertisers and ad agencies had to contact hundreds of different network owners to determine rates and availability. Now, the ADVUKU ad-serving platform, VUKUNET's companion for ad agencies and advertisers, consolidates everything to search for the best networks in any location. Additionally, proof-of-performance automated technology will allow networks to receive a consolidated payment on a monthly basis for the advertising.
The VUKUNET platform is also agnostic. It can run on any manufacturer's display, and works with networks using any CMS (content management system). It consists of the VUKUNET Ad Manager, which enables networks to run ads on their screens, and an optional Vukunet CMS, which is a fully-equipped SaaS (Software-as-a-Service) CMS that's free to VUKUNET Ad Manager participants as well as all NEC Display hardware customers.
Why should you, the integrator, care? Simple — this is a chance for you to make recurring revenue, via advertising. In the VUKUNET business model, not only the location owners get a percent of the advertising revenue (which will yes, pay for the hardware eventually), but also so do the integrators! And you don't have to sell the advertising – the ad agencies will do that. You just have to sell the DS system.
If you have previously sold DS systems, and the owners either aren't doing advertising, or are struggling with it, this can also be added to their system so both they, and you, will gain recurring revenue.
Read Gary’s column on VUKUNET and why he thinks this is a service offering ProAV dealers need to jump on here: http://www.ravepro.com/digital_signage/issues/2009/11/index.html#t0923
Learn more at http://www.vukunet.com
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Epson Launches Two Ultra Short Throw Projectors Aimed at K-12 market
Epson last week introduced the Epson PowerLite 450W and Epson PowerLite 460, providing educators with what they say is “bright projection, versatile viewing dimensions and easy-to-install solutions that fit their budgets.” Epson tells rAVe their stats show more projectors being installed in K-12 classrooms rather than rolled around on a cart so they said they included the hardware for installation. Is this a good thing to tell the ProAV market???
The 3LCD PowerLite 450W and 460 include closed captioning, a 10W speaker, the ability to deliver presentations over the network, and optional wireless capabilities and the $1,499 PowerLite 450W features a 2,500 lumens spec and WXGA (1440×900) resolution (16:10 aspect ratio) while the PowerLite 460 is priced at $1,699 and offers a 3,000 lumens spec and XGA (1024 x 768) resolution.
Although they aren’t on Epson’s educational site, yet, when they are, they will be posted here: http://www.epsonbrighterfutures.com/products/classroom
In the meantime, you can read their press release on them here: http://epson.ipressroom.com/pr/epson/multimedia-projectors/epson-introduces-two-ultra-short-112007.aspx
As was pointed out previously by an AV Club reader, wall mounting (by pros, of course) has appeal not only for simplicity of install, but also as a potential solution for spaces that have architectural “features” that restrict traditional ceiling mounting.
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Extron Ships "Extended Distance" Twisted Pair Receivers
Extron has started shipping the MTP 1500RL 15HD RS and MTP 1500RL 15HD RS SEQ Extended Distance Twisted Pair Receivers for VGA and RS-232. These receivers work with MTP Series transmitters to send high resolution video 1,500 feet or more and RS-232 signals up to 1,000 feet over a single CAT 5-type cable. The extended distance receivers are compatible with resolutions up to 1920×1200 WUXGA, and feature separate continuously variable level and peaking adjustments that precisely optimize image quality for various cable lengths. Each receiver also offers an additional female MTP buffered output, enabling up to eight receivers to be connected in series, reducing the number of parallel cable runs required. The SEQ model adds independent skew compensation adjustments for each color.
The extended distance receivers are housed in low profile, rack-mountable metal enclosures that can be discreetly mounted in racks or behind wall-mounted displays. They are compatible with the MTP Series of transmitters, switchers, distribution amplifiers, and matrix switchers and you can see all the specs at: http://www.extron.com/product/product.aspx?id=mtp1500rl15hdrsserie&search=MTP%201500RL
Pretty amazing what can be done with CAT5. Application that comes to mind for this kind of product is a large event requiring distribution to multiple screen, like commencement?
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Sanyo Launches 12K Lumen Projector
Sanyo is using a two-lamp system in a projector, the PLC-XF1000, to get what they say is 12,000 lumens brightness and a 4000:1 contrast ratio – the ultimate projector for Large Auditoriums. Equipped with Sanyo’s Active Maintenance Filter (AMF), which automatically changes the projector’s filter when needed, PLC-XF1000 projector is the second Sanyo model to be equipped with their proprietary QuaDrive optical engine which, on addition to three individual RGB panels, adds an additional color control device that allows the PLC-XF1000 to automatically control the amount of yellow light in the image, producing what we saw at InfoComm as higher luminosity with improved color accuracy and clarity- over traditional 3-color LCD. The PLC-XF1000 uses two high-output 330-watt lamps.
To learn more about the $25,000 WUXGA projector, go here.
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NEC Adds Entry Level Integration Projector for Higher Ed
This month NEC announced the NP610, a new entry-level installation projector geared mostly toward users at the university level. The XGA (1024×768) projector is 3500 lumens, and has a contrast ratio of 500:1. The NP610 provides integrated RJ45 connection and remote diagnostics, which enable the administrator to monitor and make adjustments to the projector via the network from a remote location. Its virtual remote technology allows communication over the VGA cable to control the projector directly from a computer, without the need for additional control cables.
NEC says the projector’s filter requires less maintenance and provides up to three times the existing filter life compared to previous NEC projector filters. The carbon savings meter calculates the positive effects of operating in ECO ModeT, which is encouraged by an optional message upon the unit’s startup.
Additional specs include:
- Brightness of 3500 lumens
- Native resolution of 1024 x 768 XGA
- Contrast ratio of 500:1
- Low power consumption of 312W Normal / 237W ECO Mode / 0.6W Standby
- Up to 5000 hours of lamp life (in ECO Mode)
- Comprehensive input panel, which includes DVI-I with HDCP, 15-pin, RCA and S-Video
- Built-in closed captioning, which enables decoding and text display from a video
- Automatic keystone correction technology, which instantly projects a square image even when the projector is set up at a steep offset angle to the screen
- Built-in wall color correction preset, which provides adaptive color tone correction to display images properly on non-white surfaces
- 7-watt speaker
The new NP610 will begin shipping in November 2009 with an estimated street price of $1499. The projector ships with a standard two-year parts and labor warranty, including the first year with InstaCareT (repair and return in three business days or next business day exchange).
For more information, go to http://www.necdisplay.com/Products/Product/?product=38662c26-8894-4672-b2a5-94902b3cb801
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InFocus Unveils New Digital Projectors with LiteBoard
This month InFocus announced a new series of digital projectors with features that the company says make them ideal for education markets. The DLP-based IN3900 series combines digital projection technology with LiteBoard™—an interactive solution that turns digitally projected content into a collaborative workspace.
As what the company says are the first LiteBoard-ready projectors, the IN3900 series adds a new level of interactivity to digital displays, allowing users to annotate, append and highlight projected content wirelessly using the optional LiteBoard Wand. Presenters can also project without a PC using any standard USB drive and the InFocus LitePort.
The IN3902 is 3000 lumens and has a native XGA (1024×768) resolution; the IN3904 is 3000 lumens and has a native WXGA (1280×800) resolution.
Designed for optimal flexibility, the IN3900 series offer standard analog VGA and HDMI 1.3, and wireless-ready support for InFocus LiteShow II™ for multiple users over standard WiFi, or InFocus DisplayLink™ Wireless for point-to-point connectivity over Ultra-wideband (UWB). Embedded networking, RS232 control and a built-in web browser enable full projector management over any network. Administrators can remotely access and control the projector to schedule On/Off times, preset maintenance events and anti-theft security alerts, or instantly broadcast messages or alerts using the InFocus Dynamic Messaging System (DMS). In addition, the IN3900 series has a low standby power consumption of less than 1 watt, representing a 90 percent reduction in power usage over legacy models.
The projectors are available now. The IN3902 (XGA) has a list price of $1499; the IN3904 (WXGA) has a list price of $1699.
For more information, go to http://www.infocus.com/Products/Projectors/IN3902.aspx or http://www.infocus.com/Products/Projectors/IN3904.aspx
Based on the description, this strikes me as the kind of unit that’s best suited for an instructor who is in the same classroom (with same projector) on a daily basis, allowing one to get fully comfortable with the specialized add-ons.
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Chief Adds WhiteBoard Mount
Chief’s has designed a new wall bracket that’s specially designed to mount an interactive whiteboard over an existing chalkboard. This allows installers to use the wall space while avoiding costly removal of the chalkboard. The mount offers flexible positioning with vertical, lateral and depth adjustments. Plus, it mounts to the wall without damaging existing boards and is universally compatible with most boards. When paired with a Chief short throw mounting system, you have a complete, unique whiteboard solution.
And, the new short throw wall mounts include several installer-inspired features to ensure fast, trouble-free installation. Achieve precise image alignment using the built-in telescoping extension of up to 54" and innovative lateral shift capabilities when spanning multiple studs. Includes exclusive micro-adjust leveling and height adjustment of the extension arm for a perfect installation. The new mounts feature built-in cable management for a clean installation and are designed for safety in any environment.
For more information on the entire system, go to: http://www.chiefmfg.com/productdetail.aspx?AccessoryID=1138
Can’t say I’ve run into a situation where mounting over an existing board was a consideration… but I guess one of you has? Chief says they’ve got it “covered” for you!
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Extron's GlobalViewer Grant Program
Remote Management of AV systems is going to be one of the fastest growing segments of the ProAV market. The Extron GlobalViewer Enterprise Grant Program provides qualified customers with their server-based, A/V system monitoring and resource management software. Applying for a GVE Grant is easy, and can be done online in just a few minutes.
GlobalViewer Enterprise provides powerful room control, scheduling, monitoring, data collection, and comprehensive reporting capabilities. Built on Microsoft .NET technology, GlobalViewer Enterprise integrates seamlessly with Microsoft Exchange Server and other popular facility scheduling programs for viewing room availability and managing meeting schedules.
GlobalViewer Enterprise works side-by-side with Extron's Free GlobalViewer Web application, and no programming skills are required to set it up or use it. The easy-to-use interface offers a view of the entire campus or district in a single window and access to detailed room data with just a click of a mouse. GlobalViewer Enterprise provides the capabilities to remotely manage A/V installations that span not only buildings, but cities, states, and countries.
If you're interested, check it out at: http://www.extron.com/company/gvegrant.aspx
It bears worth repeating that, yes, remote A/V management is an important tool to help efficiently manage one’s systems. And an attention-getting word here is “grant”!
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Well, that's it for this edition of rAVe! Thank you for spending time with us as we muse the industry's happenings. To continue getting my newsletter, or to sign up a friend, click the link below. To send feedback, don't reply to this newsletter – instead, write to Contributing Editor Greg Bronson at firstname.lastname@example.org, Publisher Gary Kayye at email@example.com or Editor-in-Chief Sara Abrons at firstname.lastname@example.org
A little about Gary Kayye, CTS, founder of rAVe and Kayye Consulting. Gary Kayye, an audiovisual veteran and columnist, began the widely-read KNews, a premier industry newsletter, in the late 1990s, and created the model for and was co-founder of AV Avenue – which later became InfoComm IQ. Kayye Consulting is a company that is committed to furthering the interests and success of dealers, manufacturers, and other companies within the professional audiovisual industry.
rAVe Pro Edition launched in February 2003. rAVe Home Edition, co-sponsored by CEDIA, launched in February 2004. rAVe Rental [and Staging] launched in November 2007. rAVe Ed [Education] began publication in May 2008.
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