Back to the (AV) Future
By Greg Bronson, CTS-D
AV technology in Education has made big advances over the last couple decades. It’s been (and continues to be) a great time to be involved with ProAV. And with spring upon us and “renewal” in the air, it’s exciting to consider new possibilities. But as we all know, to get to May flowers, we must make the best of April showers.
I‘ve been spending some rainy days going through and purging old paperwork. When doing so, two documents managed a further deferment of their trip to the recycle bin and got a quick re-read. Their stay of execution was actually due to their titles, being seemingly relevant to current hot AV in Education topics. The first, published in a trade magazine was titled, “How to Sell Videoconferencing Services within Your Organization.” The second, an academic paper authored by yours truly, was titled “Applying Telecommunications to Smart Classrooms.” Funny though — I couldn’t remember reading, let alone writing, either of them before!
Actually, the technical information contained within is quite unremarkable and not something I’m advancing here as recommended reading. But nonetheless, I was surprised (and even motivated) by a few points that were made, as well as the context in which they were written. I’ll hit the high points of these pieces for you and then offer what coming across them has got me thinking about.
First off, the “How to Sell Videoconferencing…” piece notes that a leading success indicator from those involved with videoconferencing was the actual usage (my emphasis) of videoconferencing systems. Further, they note, “The more it was used, the more successful it was perceived to be.” Well, like… Duh, you say! But, in fairness to the writer (Francine Crème Thuston), I’d have to say, and actually believe I’ve written so in this column previously, that on a whole, this technology really is still way underutilized. Anyways, Francine cites research (through one on one interviews) of 12 companies involved with videoconferencing and of those 12, eight mentioned saving time and associated travel expenses as justifications for the technology. Really? Another big Duhhhh! Also catching my eye was that Ms. Thuston asked them all what they would have done differently. Her summation of the feedback: all responded to a common theme of “better planning prior to implementation.” So the takeaways here: use the systems more and when putting them in, make sure to plan carefully. Hold those thoughts.
Now for the “Applying Telecommunications to Smart Classrooms” masterpiece (he says, tongue in cheek!). After a general overview of the concept and purpose of smart classrooms, I wrote that direct dial support phones, hard wired priority security systems, network based remote data/media retrieval are all conventional examples of telecommunications usage in such equipped classrooms. Do I hear more DUHS!? Well, yes, pretty basic tried and true stuff (even if I did write it). But, it’s really the date of authorship that makes this, and the above noted article, noteworthy here. But before I reveal that, how about this quote? “A future application would be to use the dial-up line to call a ‘smart’ classroom control panel, from the central playback site. This would allow staff to preconfigure the room equipment and facilities for an instructor, without running from room to room.” What was I thinking! Clearly the network would be a better avenue for connecting the rooms vs. lowly dial-up.
Ok, so when were these written? Well here is the interesting (and somewhat troubling) part. The first was published in Telecommunications magazine in the December 1992 issue. The second, handed in as a term paper, was written in April of 1993. Err, let’s see; that’d be about SEVENTEEN years ago! So much for current “hot” topics!
Sure, the technology has advanced almost amazingly over that time. But fundamentally, in context of what was being written so long ago, and what the current events and technology are dictating, it seems the design concepts driving them haven’t moved much at all. So, I offer to you, the AV Club: On at least these two topics, perhaps we’re really needing, and due, a paradigm shift in approaches.
On the videoconferencing front, instead of the conventional, “what rooms need what components to become videoconferencing capable?” shouldn’t the question (approach) be more like “what rooms don’t need to be VTC capable moving forward?” For the smart classroom telecommunications issue of “what kinds of telecommunications (network) services are needed to connect certain aspects of AV equipment?” shouldn’t our mindset be more like “what does the room AV wiring topology look like with all AV interconnected via telecommunications (network)?”
Oh, look! The sun is out. Just be sure to plan that garden carefully before we go outside.
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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Is there a Flex Display In Your Future?
By Steve Sechrist
Sr. Editor/Sr. Analyst, Insight Media
At CES, we reported on seeing the new tablet from Hearst Publishing spin-off, Skiff, a 10-inch EBR that uses LG's flexible e-paper display (TFT on metal foil). Now LGD is showing off the goods in its newest flex display with a whopping 19-inch flexible display on metal foil. How big is 19-inch, you may ask? Open a Time Magazine (or other standard format publication) and hold it vertical from the top — that’s 19 inches with front cover and back cover, open and exposed. And even more impressive, the new LG display flexes — perhaps not quite as much as the flimsy Time (about 50 pages this week), but there is little rigidity in this "now you’re talking e-paper display." Still no word on color, but the size and 0.3mm thickness means things are getting very exciting.
The company is confident that its new flexible technology will be a hit with OEMs and will open up the new e-paper market, calling it, "…the next-generation display sector of e-paper," according to VP of LG Display, Dr. In Jae Chung.
And this is no one-off prototype device. The company is planning the launch of a slightly downsized 11.5-inch (standard notebook paper size) flexible e-paper display production line, sometime before the end of June 2010.
Not many details were released on just how LGD got there, but the LG Display R&D Center described a "robust backplane process" in a paper co-authored by Chun, et al., and delivered at the last SID in May 2009 by Chung’s colleague, Chang-Dong Kim. The invited paper is titled: Development of TFT Process and Circuit Integration on the Flexible Substrate to Enhance Flexibility of the Display. Here’s an excerpt:
"We have set up single STS plate process (short for stainless steel substrate) based on conventional a-Si backplane process and used a relatively thick STS (SUS430) materials instead of a thin sheet as a substrate to adopt simple processes without any carrier glasses and additional adhesive layer… This process technology is very useful for adopting current equipments for mass production." The paper went on to say the a-Si TFTs are back channel etched.
Digitimes reported on another aspect of the new LG flex technology saying that, "…to help facilitate flexibility, LG uses a "gate in panel" (GIP for short) approach that integrates the gate driver IC onto the flexible substrate. To save space, this component is usually attached to the side of the more rigid glass substrate panels, but would prevent flexing if side mounted here."
Chung has worked in this field of LCD for almost 30 years and spent the last 20 at LGP (LG and Philips) and now LG Display. At an earlier presentation given on flexible displays, Chung once said: "…It is expected that the remarkable development of the printing technologies and the organic electronics can realize the rollable, extremely low price, and even disposable displays." And while the industry is still working on a couple of those dreams (larger-sized disposable organics as in OLED), we do see the fruits of a lifetime of work in displays coming to light in the new LG Display 19-inch panel. We look forward to a variety of new larger EPH displays coming out this year, including flexible substrate mounted, like this new LG.
Steve Sechrist, a senior editor and analyst at Insight Media, is a 13-year display veteran with experience in business development strategy, competitive market analysis, and technology writing. He is responsible for the editorial management of Insight Media's Large Display Report and Mobile Display Report. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org
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Chief Releases 3 New Mount Accessories
This month, Chief Manufacturing announced several new AV shelf accessories — a large shelf accessory for swing arm mounts (PACCS1) and two video conferencing camera shelves (PAC716 and FVS251).
The PACCS1 holds AV components below a TV display that is installed using Chief swing arm or ceiling mounts. This accessory allows AV equipment to move with the display. In addition, it allows vertical and extension adjustments to fit most component and flat panel combinations. It’s compatible with any Chief medium or large swing arm and ceiling mounts that use the 14×14" (200x200mm) Q-Latch mounting system and it includes slots to provide room to strap components to shelf for safety using the PAC103 accessory. It can be seen here: http://www.chiefmfg.com/productdetail.aspx?AccessoryID=1153
The PAC716 is a 14" (200 mm) video conferencing camera shelf that can be installed above or below the mounted monitor. The shelf is a great solution for boardrooms and other video conferencing applications, and is compatible with all Chief carts, stands, swing arm mounts and ceiling mounts that use a 14×14" (200×200 mm) Q-Latch system. It can be seen here: http://www.chiefmfg.com/productdetail.aspx?AccessoryID=1140
Finally, the FVS251 is a 14" (200 mm) video conferencing camera shelf that is specifically designed for FUSION™ fixed or tilt wall mounts. The shelf can be installed above or below the display without adding any depth to the installation and allows horizontal and vertical adjustments. It can be seen here: http://www.chiefmfg.com/productdetail.aspx?AccessoryID=1114
Nifty! What more can I say?
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Mitsubishi Releases Two Projectors Aimed at ED
Mitsubishi has announced two new projectors that target cost-conscious customers looking for classroom or meeting room projectors. Blasting a spec of 2300 and 2500 lumens of brightness respectively, Mitsubishi’s EX200U and EX240U XGA projectors project XGA resolution (1024×768) images using a 6-segment color wheel in a DLP-based projector.
Mitsubishi’s EX200U weighs 5.3 pounds and the EX240U weighs 5.7 pounds and both have what Mitsubishi is specifying as a 4000-hour lamp life.
Learn more about them at: http://www.mitsubishi-presentations.com/products/projectors/EX200U.html
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Extron Launches New Presentation Classroom Controller/Switcher
Extron added a new all-purpose classroom controller/switcher in the form of the MPS 409 – a switcher for integrating digital and analog signals. It combines five independent switchers in one rack-mountable enclosure: 3×1 HDMI with embedded audio, 2×1 DVI, 2×1 VGA/HDTV component video, 2×1 composite video, and 9×1 analog stereo audio.
For system design applications, the MPS 409 features three selectable switching modes, including the ability to route all DVI and HDMI sources to the display using a single HDMI cable, and it maintains continuous EDID communications between the HDMI, DVI, and VGA sources and the display device and ensures the reliable display of video. HDMI and DVI inputs and outputs are HDCP compliant, ensuring the display of content protected media.
The MPS 409 will start shipping this month and you can see all the specs here: http://www.extron.com/product/product.aspx?id=mps409
The features and specs listed sound right on the mark for a hybrid (new digital and legacy analog) switcher for bread and butter presentation environments.
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Vaddio Shows Video Whiteboard
Vaddio, known primarily for specialty pan/tilt/zoom cameras and high-end camera control systems, announced that they’re getting into the whiteboard market via the launch of the first high definition (patent pending) Video Whiteboard. Vaddio says their new Video Whiteboard completely replaces the existing need for fixed or PTZ cameras in a classroom system environment.
The Video Whiteboard can be used in a variety of applications from videoconferencing, content creation, IMAG, rich media systems or in any system designed to incorporate a whiteboard as a video input device – but it’s aimed at the classroom market. Because no dedicated PC is required, Vaddio’s Video Whiteboard is compatible with any videoconferencing, TelePresence, distance education or video media distribution system. In addition to HD/SD video outputs, data can be captured and stored as a JPEG on any USB flash drive. Because of the closed operating system, there are no hardware requirements, software hassles or operating system issues.
Using Vaddio’s EZCamera Cabling System with HSDS, power and USB data are run over a single Cat5 cable up to 100 feet from the whiteboard to the Video Whiteboard Quick-Connect interface. The Video Whiteboard Quick-Connect outputs DVI/HDMI or analog component HD video with supported HD resolutions of 720p and 1080i, as well as analog composite SD video – both NTSC and PAL. On the front of the Video Whiteboard Quick-Connect is a USB port for plugging in a USB flash drive and saving a JPEG image of the whiteboard.
Here are all the details: http://www.vaddio.com/press-release_10.04.09_video_whiteboard.php
From the description this seems to be a somewhat new breed of whiteboard, taking fuller advantage of being in a digital to digital world. I could envision scenarios where not having to have a PC could be really beneficial. I wonder how the software interface is?
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Chief Launches Projector Security Cage
Chief Manufacturing recently showed the latest addition to its line of projector enclosures. The PG3 extra large projector security enclosure is perfect for gymnasiums and auditoriums. It fully encloses larger projectors and the projector mount in a locked steel cage to prevent theft and damage.
The PG Series of cages are now available in three sizes and can be ordered in both black and white. All enclosures can be installed over pre-existing installations without disturbing current projector settings, and also allows for roll, pitch and yaw adjustments. The PG3 can hold projectors up to 25" wide (63.5 cm) x 25" deep (63.5 cm) x 10.75" high (27.3 cm). A hinged door offers easy projector access and the adjustable front opening accommodates different lens positions.
To learn more, go here: http://www.chiefmfg.com/productdetail.aspx?AccessoryID=1155
Let’s face it; some places are just high theft environments. As such, the physical (and visual) deterrent of cages like these is needed. Now even available in white!
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VISIX Adds 12-inch Interactive Room Sign to Product Line
At the DSE 2010 Show (Digital Signage Expo), Visix unveiled the newest member of its interactive room sign line – the MeetingMinder 1200i. This addition to the Visix room sign family provides a 12-inch surface-mount option with touch screen capabilities, event-scheduling support for Dean Evans & Associates EMS Software, Microsoft Exchange and support for multiple operating systems.
The MeetingMinder 1200i is a surface-mount display with a low-profile depth of 1.02 inches and weighs less than four pounds. Creative mounting offers additional advantages pertaining to local electrical and fire codes. Surface mounting eliminates the need to penetrate the wall, install a UL-certified back-box housing, and recess the room sign. Plenum air space requirements are no longer a factor in surface-mount applications, thus reducing the cost of the deployment.
rAVe NOW Video actually shot a video of this 12-inch monitor at the DSE 2010 show – check it out here: http://www.ravepubs.com/index.php?option=com_ravevideo&view=ravevideo&ravevideo_id=474
Thanks for the video, rAVe! I’m guessing digital signage is just taking hold in many education applications. If it hasn’t “touched” you yet, say tuned as it surely will as both an end user and service provider.
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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 email@example.com, Publisher Gary Kayye at firstname.lastname@example.org or Editor-in-Chief Sara Abrons at email@example.com
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.
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