No Moving Parts AV… Virtually
By Greg Bronson, CTS-D
Back in the day, there was more than one "what if" conversation about the virtues of an AV system that had no moving parts. Mind you, this was a time when practically everything AV still had some degree of mechanical componentry. Think audio taper potentiometer in an equalizer, four head helical scan drum in a VCR or any number (and types) of dry contact relays in a control system. But it seemed with the emergence of digital audio sampling and memory chips dropping in size and cost, the “no moving parts” concept really looked within reach.
From a repair service perspective (my own vantage point at the time), it seemed like a dream to be able to lighten the toolbox of spray contact cleaner, alcohol pads and burnishing cloth. They were such messy things to have to wield just to make intelligible sounds and sharp looking images. There was even some background mumbling that if this prediction (yeah, right!) actually came to fruition, perhaps the toolbox itself, and even the owner of said toolbox, would simply gather dust, with socket sets, pliers, and the small Persuader (a.k.a. the hammer) no longer regularly needed.
Meanwhile, the end user was conditioned to expect to see a trained AV operator in the room or may have even been prepared to occasionally "persuade" the system themselves. This is because, despite our best effort toward proper alignment, cleaning and lubrication, the various legacy mechanisms were glaring weak links in the AV chain. And it wasn't just the AV component that would take a hit when something didn't work right, but also, potentially, the AV Pro's reputation as well.
As it turns out, link-by-link those weaknesses were actually replaced by electronic alternatives. Although even when milestones like the first generation personal music MP3 players with all electronic memory storage (and no moving parts), the doubful side of us insisted that was only audio — video would be a different matter entirely! And it’s true that right now, any significant (e.g., multi-user) amount of video will still involve mechanical spinning disks (hard drives), it's undeniable that Moore's Law will virtually eliminate even those old clunkers. This is not to mention there is no serviceable parts in these mechanisms anyway.
Nostalgia aside, the no moving parts AV era is upon us and has introduced a host of features that, in the end user’s mind, make the potential increased reliability of no moving parts almost irrelevant. And while many of us in the AV Club are ourselves leading edge consumers of the new innovations, we're also finding ourselves at the epicenter of a whole new level of service orientation. After all, these systems don't need regular cleaning, adjustment or lubrication… Do they?
This leads to the new "virtual" AV toolbox, one that substitutes contact cleaner with anti-virus software, alcohol pads with Apps and burnishing cloth with the delete key. But why just stop with maintenance tools? Keep emptying the old tool box to ready for the wave of adjustments and new installs by replacing the socket set with SaaS products, pliers with permission and rights management and the Persuader (of course) with the reset button!
So for the most part, gone are the pitfalls of the mechanical, whether due to friction, particulate buildup or oxidation. And thus so too has the prominence of heavy old toolboxes diminished. But what with an ever-increasing end user group, greater in both size and expectation, the owner of an AV toolbox, restocked with different tools, should be as busy as ever.
The views expressed in this column do not necessarily reflect the views of the authors’ employer(s), past or present. Leave a Comment
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
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Where We're Going, We Don't Need Codes
By Johnny Mota
Are you one of the lucky individuals who scored a Kinect on Black Friday or maybe you already had one? Either way, if you have the XBOX 360 + Kinect, go turn it on and update to the new dashboard. Go ahead; I’ll wait.
Last night the new dashboard update went live to all users and, well, it’s awesome.
Last month I talked about gesture and voice controls, and now, aside from the Kinect hacks already out there, Microsoft has done its own tweaks and incorporated a lot of that into its new dashboard.
Last night I was at a friend’s house, turned on the old box, and behold — a new update was ready. So, naturally, without reading of course, update we did. I remember hearing about the update earlier during my morning caffeination session (where I tend to read and research) and I was wondering why it didn't happen earlier in the a.m. For whatever reason it was delayed.
Anyway, first thing I did was ask it to make me a sandwich, but sadly, no sandwich was to be had. Then, my buddy told me to shut up as he waved his hand towards the Kinect motion bar. It recognized him, and after he activated the voice controls, he was able to dig down into the menus via voice and change pages with a flick of the wrist and a swipe of the hand. As I sat there in awe, I wondered how long until we will be controlling other devices in the home with motion and voice.
Recently Microsoft announced what it is referring to as Code Space, “a system that contributes touch and air gesture hybrid interactions to support co-located, small group developer meetings by democratizing access, control and sharing of information across multiple personal devices and public displays.”
After reading about this awesome new tech, I figured that it’s still pretty far out and away from ever becoming a reality. The latest rumors about Microsoft’s new XBOX say that it will have a new Kinect that will be able to read lips and track fingers. Well if you just watch this video, you'll have already seen it in action. The future is here, now. Let’s get this b*%$! up to 88 MPH and go back to the, um, you know.
I can see Code Space being a big deal on the commercial side of AV and automation and then eventually in residential, but not anytime soon (by the time we get this in homes, we will all be like the humans in WALL-E, floating around aimlessly, with snorkels on so we can breathe as we are molar deep in are double wide popcorns at the 5D Theater). I mean, really, how many of you are going to take the class just so you can get this week’s fix of Dr. Oz? Although, in his defense, he is a genius (pretty sure Dr. House would beat him down, emotionally and physically). Boardrooms and educational facilities are where Code Space is going to thrive. The ability to share content from around the room and being able to multitask with others on a collaboration level is extremely useful, not to mention cool beans and the cat’s meow.
Side note: I would take that class, just so I could see a Dr. Oz/House showdown.
Honestly though, I don’t think it would be that tough to learn how to use Kinect (yourself) as a “Universal Remote.” Just using the gesture and voice controls last night was easy and required no thought at all to navigate to my desired functions. But that was only one specific device, not several devices working together to create a seamless user experience. I, for one, am excited to see where we’re going.
OK, now think, when was the last time you saw a TV without a remote? When was the last time you had to actually get up and turn everything on manually? When you find yourself changing channels with voice commands and gestures controls as you accidently break a lamp and slap your buddy on the couch next to you because you were too lazy to get off the sofa and do it yourself, go outside and hug a tree. Then, carry on living back in the future. I’ll be there waiting.
Johnny Mota is an integrator at http://vsys.us/, tech geek, artist and tech blogger at rAVe [Publications]. Reach him at email@example.com or on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/jmota3
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Pre-orders for Samsung SUR40 for Microsoft Surface Now Being Accepted
Microsoft is now accepting pre-orders for its next generation of Surface, the Samsung SUR40 for Microsoft Surface, from Samsung resellers in 23 countries worldwide. Leave a Comment
Automotive, education, finance, healthcare, hospitality and retail are just some of the industries targeted to take advantage of the $8,400 SUR40 with Samsung’s PixelSense technology, sleeker form factor and horizontal/vertical orientation options. The flat-screen panel from Samsung uses 2 million built-in sensors.
Here are the specs: http://blogs.msdn.com/b/surface/
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New ViewSonic Projector Features Campus-Wide Network Management and Smart Eco Technology
ViewSonic's new PJD6 Series DLP projector line (PJD6223, PJD6253 and PJD6553w) are Crestron- and AMX-enabled and specifically designed for classroom and corporate environments. Equipped with Crestron RoomView and AMX's InConcert, the new line is also integrated with Smart Eco technology — the projector raises and lowers light output based on the ambient lighting in the room, thus saving energy by using less power when in a dimly lit room. Leave a Comment
The projectors are spec'd with a longer lamp life (6000 hours in Eco mode) and 3500 lumens (2700 lumens on the PJD6223). Connectivity includes HDMI and multiple PC and video inputs, a dynamic movie mode for image contrast, digital keystone correction and a 10-watt integrated speaker.
The PJD6223 and PJD6253 are both networkable XGA 1024×768 projectors, while the widescreen PJD6553w offers a WXGA 1280×800 native resolution. Full specs are here: http://www.viewsonic.com/products/pjd6253.htm
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Barix to Launch Compact Paging System
Barix AG is set to launch a new paging and intercom over IP system dubbed the Annuncicom PS1 Paging Station. Featuring two backlit push-to-talk buttons, volume control and a built-in speaker and microphone, this system gives security guards, receptionists and other operators a simple way to make announcements to an entire facility. It's IP addressable, allowing systems integrators and end users to take advantage of existing infrastructure, reducing costs and equipment requirements. Power over Ethernet (PoE) capability further simplifies installation, requiring only a single cable to the device. Leave a Comment
The PS1 can also merge with background music systems, which is ideal for retailers, restaurants, hotels, clubs and other entertainment venues that wish to break into a stream with announcements. Bi-directional capability enables intercom for facility-wide, two-way communications, taking the PS1 beyond a basic paging device for ski areas, university campuses and other large areas that require talkback capability.
Complete specs are here: http://www.barix.com/IP_Paging_IP_Intercom/1171/
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Lencore's New Paging Distribution System Ships
Lencore Acoustics, known for its commercial sound masking systems, has announced the availability of its Global Music Page Interface, a different type of paging distribution system that the companys says will change the way audio and sound contractors design, install and manage paging communication systems. Leave a Comment
Lencore’s Local Music Page Interface (MPI) replaces all the bulky head end equipment that is typically associated with music and paging systems. When connected to Lencore’s Spectra i.Net System, programming can be set for up to 1.5 million square feet. The MPI allows the ability to use up to 99 individual zones for paging using standard DTMF tones. The system is also programmed for all-call emergency broadcast paging.
The addition of Lencore’s Global MPI allows for priority paging. Utilizing a client’s existing telephone system (with open ports across multiple buildings), the Global MPI allows a user to send an all-call page to every connected building at oncem, allowing for real time communication for company or campus wide announcements. However, in the case of a localized emergency, the system’s tiered paging provides for a top priority, emergency microphone page override per station.
For complete specs, go here: http://www.lencore.com/product-services/paging-and-music-systems
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NEC Adds 7000- and 8000- ANSI Lumen Projectors
Today NEC Display added two new models to its PX Series projector line, the PX700W and PX800X — both install projectors that are aimed for large auditoriums and venues like houses of worship, higher education, corporate and retail environments where there is high ambient light or the need for a larger screen size. Leave a Comment
The 7000-lumen PX700W and 8000-lumen PX800X are ProAV projectors with dual lamps and inputs, including HDMI, DisplayPort, USB Viewer and three separate analog computer inputs in addition to Open Pluggable Specification (OPS) slots. It supports multiple input cards, including an HD/SD-SDI and single board computer (SBC). Additionally, the projectors’ networking capabilities include integrated RJ45 and optional high-speed wireless (LAN IEEE 80.11b/g).
Both are spec'd to have a contrast ratio of 2000:1 and use lamps with a 2500-hour life in Eco-mode. They can also be stacked with up to four projectors to create one huge seamed image.
Full specs are here: http://www.necdisplay.com/p/np-px700w-08zl and here: http://www.necdisplay.com/p/multimedia-projectors/np-px800x
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AvaLAN Debuts Solar Powered Surveillance Pole
Now you can place a surveillance camera anywhere without needing to provide power or data wiring to it, thanks to AvaLAN's new solar powered Surveillance Pole. It consists of a 12 foot steel pole wrapped with a rugged thin film solar laminate array, topped with a Mobotix high resolution camera and connected to a network with a 900 MHz wireless Ethernet link. Leave a Comment
This solution gives you the ability to capture video, process it on the pole and stream it back to an attached network storage system or view it live from anywhere in the world (via the web). The camera has dual sensors to provide day/night viewing with an integrated DVR so that any data interruptions will not cause lost frames. The 900 MHz wireless Ethernet radio link provides a range of up to 20 miles or the ability to penetrate walls and trees with AES encryption and robust data reliability. The solar array is a triple junction amorphous silicon unit with a durable ETFE polymer coating (Teflon-like) and a maximum output of 68 watts. Batteries in the base of the pole allow continuous day/night operation.
Just bolt the pole to a concrete pad or pier or use the Dirt Set option, aim the camera in the desired direction (it allows digital pan and zoom), aim the radio antenna toward the network receiver (also included and pre-configured) and begin collecting important surveillance information.
The AvaLAN AW900SSPK Surveillance Solar Pole is a differentiator that AV integrators can offer that marries AV and IT technology into one security solution for campus-wide or facility-wide security. More details on the $10,000 turn-key solution can be found here: http://www.avalanwireless.com/product-details-900_mhz_surveillance_solar_pole-1044.htm
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Listen Debuts ADA Calculator App for iPad and iPhone
Listen Technologies has debuted a simple-to-use mobile App for the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Assistive Listening Standards. The ADA Compliance Assistive Listening Calculator is a complete tool-set for understanding and calculating your facility requirements to meet the 2010 ADA STANDARDS FOR ACCESSIBLE DESIGN. Leave a Comment
Complete with an easy-to-use calculator, e-mail capability, ADA information links, product assistance and quote request button, this application will take out the guess work for ADA requirements.
The mobile App is based on Table 219.3 Receivers for Assistive Listening Systems from Section: 706 Assistive Listening Systems of the Department of Justice Title III of the ADA. The table outlines the minimum number of receivers/assistive listening devices (ALDs) required based on the capacity seating of assembly areas and the minimum number of ALDs that are required to be hearing aid compatible.
The ADA Compliance Assistive Listening Calculator App is available for free on the iTunes store here:
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Extron Ships Compact Audio Mic/Line Mixer with DSP
Extron is now shipping its new MVC 121 Plus — a compact, three-input stereo audio mixer featuring a digital signal processing platform for audio signal mixing and control. The MVC 121 Plus features a stereo line level input and two mic/line level inputs with 48 volt phantom power for condenser microphones, plus fixed and variable stereo line level outputs. It offers gain, filter, tone processing and parametric EQ. Quick configuration using the DSP Configurator Software allows the MVC 121 Plus to be installed in very little time. The MVC 121 Plus is designed for presentation applications that require line and microphone audio mixing with DSP in a small form factor. Leave a Comment
The DSP built into the MVC 121 Plus provides wide dynamic range and utilizes 24-bit audio converters with 48 kHz sampling to maintain audio signal transparency. Convenient, easy-to-configure tools are available to control level, high and low pass filters, and bass and treble shelving filters. The DSP Configurator Software features an intuitive on-screen layout that offers fast access to digital audio signal processing tools as well as audio mixing. Designers can quickly get a snapshot view of the entire audio system, including processing blocks and mixing points.
Here are all the specs: http://www.extron.com/product/product.aspx?id=mvc121plus&s=0
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Elite Screens' New PowerMax Series Offers 1.1 Gain
The PowerMax Series from Elite Screens is an electric screen encased in an aluminum housing with a 1.1 gain, matte white, fiberglass-backed or tensioned material (coming in 2012). Using what Elite calls a fast-acting 14 rpm tubular motor spec'd with a 4.4-foot pound lift capacity, the PowerMax has a standard power connection that comes complete with an in-line up/stop/down toggle switch for operation, as well as an IR/RF and 12-volt trigger control package. Leave a Comment
Available in 90”-165” diagonal sizes in either a 4:3 (NTSC) or 16:9 (HDTV) aspect ratio, it will list for $499. You can see all the specs here: http://www.elitescreens.com/index.php?option=com_content&id=1230&lang=en
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Polycom Integrates Luidia's eBeam Technology
It's a common problem — remote participants in videoconference often have trouble seeing the whiteboard content. The Polycom UC Board solution combines a compact infrared sensor that attaches to a whiteboard or LCD screen, and a wireless stylus that meeting hosts can use to sketch, write, and annotate as they would use a pen or marker. Leave a Comment
The Polycom UC Board is a simple solution combining a plug-and-play receiver, a stylus for ease-of-use and a compact design for portability. The software natively integrates with the latest Polycom RealPresence Room HDX solutions. As part of the solution, Polycom leverages eBeam technology from Luidia, which turns many common flat surfaces into collaborative workspaces where the capture, saving, and sharing of digital content is made easy.
The Polycom UC Board lists for $1,999. Complete specs are here: http://www.polycom.com/products/hd_telepresence_video/realpresence_whiteboard/uc_board.html
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Second Generation Pico Projectors Debut with BenQ First
BenQ today introduced the next generation of its popular mini projector, the BenQ Joybee GP2. Building on the success of its GP1 predecessor, the GP2 projector features the same black and white housing while adding a number of enhancements including a better user interface, 720p HD-ready video capability, short-throw projection, an integrated iPhone/iPod dock, an optional three-hour battery pack and a multitude of connectivity options. Leave a Comment
Based on high-efficiency 3LED illumination and DLP projection technology, the light and compact 565-gram, palm-sized BenQ Joybee GP2 offers simple plug-and-play operation, 200 ANSI lumens of brightness. It can project up to a 160-inch screen, according to BenQ. (Editor's note: You'd better be sitting in a pitch black room with not even a night light on if you want to project 160 inches using a projector with 200 lumens of brightness.)
The BenQ Joybee GP2 connectivity includes USB and SD card viewers, a document viewer for Microsoft Office and PDF documents and mini HDMI for tablets and smartphones. A USB display feature allows users to connect their computers to the mini projector using a USB cable — no driver required — while the USB file transfer function lets them transfer their multimedia files to the unit's 2GB of on-board memory storage.
It lists for $550. Details are here: http://promotions.benq.us/microsite/miniprojector/
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AMX Ships Vision2 Streaming Video System
AMX is shipping the new Vision2 IPTV system (version 7.2), which includes several new capabilities that enable companies and universities to develop or upgrade video communications initiatives. Leave a Comment
IP video has become a core communication tool, but for casual users, operating recording and management software can be complex. The new release of Vision2 features a control API that allows digital video to easily be integrated into an AMX control system for user-friendly management with capabilities such as one-touch recording and archiving. And, addressing the increased use of mobile devices, AMX has added a new user interface that allows Vision2 content to be viewed on-the-go.
The new MPEG Reflector Appliance function gives organizations the ability to deliver live streaming video to multiple remote locations using a single stream per location. With this capability organizations can provide video access to satellite campuses without overwhelming their corporate Internet connections due to high-bandwidth video. The Vision2 additional features include customizable layouts to create menus and guides – with custom brands, logos and colors – for Vision2 compatible set-top boxes. On top of the new features, Vision2 continues to make recording and managing video easier, like adding metadata to recorded content to aid in searching for videos.
For more details, go here: http://www.amx.com/vision2/
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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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