3. Draper Announces Folding Screen
Draper introduced a new folding screen designed so that it can be carried anywhere and set up in minutes. This is a handy solution for tradeshows, staging of all sorts, education - anywhere you need a screen but don't need a permanent screen installation.
4. Samsung Exhibits Large Displays
Although not yet on the market, Samsung showed two huge displays at InfoComm. One was an 80-inch plasma screen and the other, a 57-inch LCD. Samsung has turned out to be quite the innovator in recent years. The company is also at the forefront of DLP television innovation.
5. Dukane Puts Mobility Into Presentations
Dukane introduced a fully mobile presentation system so that you can take your presentations on the road with full functionality. The Mobile Presentation System includes a projector, document camera, DVD/VCR, speakers, voice augmentation and more. This is a nice system for a variety of users, including trainers and other traveling educators, sales professionals - anyone who needs to take presentations on the road.
6. Kramer Announces 18-Input Switcher
Kramer Electronics introduced the VP-725DS/VP-725DSA, an 18-input switcher that should accommodate the most sophisticated of AV installations. The switcher also provides high level scaling that offers user-selectable output pixel rates including VGA, SVGA, XGA, SXGA and UXGA, HDTV up to 1080i, and several optimum plasma and projector rates, including 1365x1024, 1366x768 and 1024x852.
The unit has full ProcAmp controls for the scaler output. It features selectable output color space (RGB or YPbPr) and a text overlay feature for easy insertion of subtitles or script. In addition, the VP-725DS and VP-725DSA offer Kramer's advanced K-IIT Picture-In-Picture image insertion technology for insertion of any video source into a graphics source, or vice versa. The PIP image can be positioned and sized anywhere on the screen, or displayed as a split-screen image. The unit also contains Kramer's unique FTB (Fade-Thru-Black) technology for clean, glitch-free switching.
The VP-725DS switcher includes 18 inputs, made up of five video groups with four inputs each- composite video, S-video, component video (RGB or YPbPr), DVI-D (two inputs only) and VGA. In addition to providing an up- or downscaled output of the selected input, the VP-725DS also functions as 4x1 switchers for each video group (2x1 for DVI).
7. Listen Announces Infrared Listening Systems
The new Integrus is a 32-channel digital infrared (IR) transmission system used for language interpretation and multiple channel listening, especially helpful in Europe where the requirement for language interpretation is an essential requirement for business, government and other entities. Integrus is the first fully digital infrared system based on the new IEC 61603, part 7 industry standard for digital IR transmissions.
The system uses eight infrared carriers in the 2-8MHz range. This makes the system immune to light interference so it can even be used outdoors in bright sunlight. The system delivers impressive audio performance with a signal-to-noise ratio greater than 80dB, less than 0.05% distortion, and a frequency response of 20 to 20kHz.
Listen's other new IR product line is used for SoundField applications. The new IR SoundField offering includes two wireless microphones: a hand held IR Wireless Microphone Transmitter (LT-75) and the IR Body Pack Transmitter (LT-70) that can be worn on the belt or with a lanyard around the neck. The transmitters radiate infrared light to one of three different receiving options, each offered in one or two channel options.
The IR Receiver / Speaker (LR-61 for single channel, LR-62 for dual channel) is a plug-and-play system that's simple to set up and use. It's ideal for use as a portable system or for applications that don't want any wires. The IR Receiver / Amplifier (LR-11 for single channel, LR-12 for dual channel) can power speakers directly and is ideal for installed systems. For installations with an existing sound system, the IR Receiver (LR-21 for single channel, LR-22 for dual channel) can deliver the audio signal from the transmitters to the sound system.
8. Creating Spaces - The School Gymnasium
Decorating for the prom with crepe paper streamers and tin foil stars is pretty much passé, as school gyms increasingly keep pace with technology that rivals ESPN and MTV. Schools of every size and vintage find that installing the audiovisual amenities once found only in professional sports venues can excite alumni, increase sponsorship, and even serve as a tool to recruit top athletes.
Whether equipping a small, rural high school, a suburban community college, or a Big Ten university, there is a wide range of display signage, live-feed cameras, scoreboards, and speakers to accommodate the size, seating capacity, and various uses to which gymnasiums are often put. Case in point: a high school in New Jersey determined to "upgrade" its 1,000-seat gym and make it available to the neighboring community for entertainment and public performances. A professional level sound and lighting system was installed that could adapt to multifunctional purposes - from a band fund-raiser to an educational assembly to a touring Broadway show.
Roar of the Crowd
Gymnasiums tend to be reverberant rooms, and no two are alike. This poses special problems for design engineers in several ways: speakers need to be placed for optimum coverage, so that everyone can hear equally well, regardless of where they are seated -- no "dead zones" for some fans, while others are "blasted." Speaker placement (and the manner in which they are secured) must also take into account the errant basketball or volleyball.
An acoustical survey should be the first step - measurements that will help us, the systems integrator, determine loudspeaker locations that efficiently permit quality and impact of both speech and music. Choice of equipment and placement must also allow for clear, intelligible announcements that will override crowd noise and minimal distortion to avoid "listening fatigue." Typical components for a gym sound system might include:
- Digital mixer and signal processor
- Power amplifiers
- CD/cassette deck
- Wireless microphone system
- Handheld microphone system and stand
- Headworn mic
- Antennae with cables
- FM transmitter
- Equipment cabinet
If your gym has particularly difficult acoustics, specialty equipment may be needed: Autolevelers compensate for quiet voices and for loud, excited voices without distortion. Automatic noise sensing levelers have a sensor which monitors the crowd noise, and adjusts the sound volume accordingly. Speech processors digitally process spoken words to improve clarity, helpful under high noise conditions.
Visualize the Win
The explosion (figuratively and literally!) of scoreboard technology continues to delight fans of nearly any sport. The school gym takes no back seat, with remarkably sophisticated choices. Electronic scoreboards offer large-screen video displays (live or pre-recorded) instant replays, animation, graphics and scrolling, programmable information. LED technology is preferred, for its energy-efficiency, low wattage, long life (diodes have no moving parts), and brightness. Display size and resolution are varied to meet the size and seating arrangements of the viewing audience.
Scoreboards are available with software to score virtually any sport - from wrestling to gymnastics to hockey. They include multi-purpose time clocks, to indicate, for example, the "shot clock" for basketball, and offer minute/hour timers, and a stop watch function. Even today's modest scoreboards feature changeable text lines for advertising messages, sponsor recognition, player information, and acknowledgement of special people or groups in the crowd. They typically have a built-in processor linked to a controller, for pre-programming and timing of messages. Special effects, siren or buzzer sounds can be added.
If your venue is large, keeping the crowd informed and entertained can continue with additional real-time message and video displays at key locations - the entrance, concession and merchandise sales areas - even the parking lot. A major Midwestern university recently upgraded its basketball assembly hall to include two large auxiliary scoreboards at either end of the court (in addition to the new, center-hung, customized board), and ten game clocks in various areas of the facility. The primary scoreboard can be lowered, disassembled and stored when the space is being used for other events that require existing rigging.
Depending on the complexity you desire (and your budget), software systems can turn your gym into a broadcast center, with activities and events shown live on cable and community television, closed-circuit television, or large-scale LED pixel displays.
Home Court Advantage
Since the plans and specifications for creating your state-of-the-AV-art gymnasium will be highly technical, we make sure your contract includes training of your faculty, staff or students and full tech-support. Display system design that incorporates scoring and timing systems, as well as the unique acoustic and audio demands of your space should only be entrusted to experienced professionals. We know the drill. We're suited up. Let's play ball.
9. Sound Matters
Talking heads seated around a rectangular conference table used to provide the only sound during meetings. Whether the room was designed as a glass fishbowl or with windowless security didn't much matter in terms of hearing during the meeting. But the meetings were boring, and they were ineffective when it came to sharing information.
One of the factors often overlooked when equipping today's meeting rooms is how sound carries in the room. Whether the room is small or large, the wrong acoustics treatment, or no treatment, makes listening less than pleasurable.
Room acoustics are tricky. Furnishings have a large impact on the quality of the sound. Heavy carpet will absorb more sound than bare floors or thin carpet, as you know, but did you also know that the corner where the walls meet the floor will reflect sound directly back to the direction of the source? That starts to matter when you have a room with lots of angles and solid floor-standing furniture.
Every room must serve a variety of sound sources. In a conference room, the acoustics that might sound great when a speaker is presenting might sound muffled or blaring when video is played. And different video sources deliver different audio quality. A CD, DVD, VHS tape, computer file and Internet stream will differ from each other. A man's voice with more bass will carry differently from a woman's voice with more treble.
Does it matter? It certainly does. If it's too hard to hear muffled sound sources during presentations, it is a strain on the listeners and they will stop paying attention. If the sound bounces all over the room it can be deafening. And consider a room that's used for audio or video conferencing. Not only will rustling papers, scuffling shoes and HVAC systems reverberate throughout the room and send unintended sounds over the microphone, they can be so loud as to make the speakerphone think someone is speaking, thereby interrupting the people on the other end.
Ideally, the room acoustics would be managed at the same time the AV system is designed. The wall treatments, window treatments, floor covering and types, amount and placement of furniture are determined simultaneous to the selection and placement of the projector, screen, microphones, speakers, video cameras and cabling. And, importantly, the AV components can be integrated in the décor so that speakers are built into furniture or recessed into walls or ceilings in locations that take advantage of the room's particular acoustics, and microphones are placed to pick up voices and minimize ambient noise.
We know it's not always possible to design the acoustics at the same time as the AV systems. In fact, we are often called by organizations to review a room's acoustics and AV components to recommend improvements. If your conference room can use an acoustic makeover, give us a call!
The annual InfoComm conference, the only trade show that focuses exclusively on ProAV, was held in June in Atlanta with a record turnout of almost 23,000. This is a hot market and more organizations than ever will be installing new or upgraded ProAV systems this year. In fact, the market is expected to increase 27 percent this year alone.
Here are some of the trends that can help your organization's communications this year.
A couple of years ago, putting everything on the network seemed like a good idea. Now it's a great reality. Projectors, displays, conferencing and control - it's all hooked up to the LAN now and with WiFi gaining popularity as well, soon many of these devices can also be connected, and sending all sorts of data, including video, wirelessly. But no matter how they are connected, the beauty of networking is central control, so that all components can be turned on and off, can be monitored for security, can send an email when a lamp needs replacing and in some cases, can even send and receive files.
These days, it's not unusual for IT/AV professionals within the organization to hire companies such as ours to not only design and install networked systems, but also to monitor and maintain them, taking the everyday hassles out of keeping all the devices operational.
There were not a lot of new product categories, no products that we hadn't seen before. But exciting was what is being added to current technologies. Control touch panels from the major manufacturers now allow on-screen annotation and can take advantage of wireless networking. Audio conferencing is now smaller, portable and plug and play, and controlled wirelessly so that a powerful audio conferencing system can be set up anywhere in minutes. Video conferencing and all its components, including HD resolution, can now work over IP.
One company showed a projector that has an XP operating system built into it, with high enough resolution that you can show four windows onscreen at once, including video! This is the ultimate in flexibility - you can display up to four inputs such as computer files, internet browsing, video from DVDs - anything that your computer can display, but on a large projection screen. For meeting rooms that get a lot of use and would make good use of the different sources, this is a dream product.
Projectors themselves are smaller and lighter, more powerful with sharper brighter images, and now come in every configuration possible from paperback novel size to 2048 x 1080 native resolution. And once a secret among employees, "crossover projectors," or projectors that work for the corporation during the week and entertain the family on weekends, are now not only accepted as standard practice, projectors are actually being marketed for dual use.
The term digital signage is thrown around a lot lately. What it really means is networked messaging. These systems are used for corporate-wide messaging to employees, retail store advertising, lobby greetings, restaurant menus - anyplace you need to send visual messages. The beauty of these systems is that if you have one display or 100, the software allows the operator to create messages on the fly and send them to the display. In the case of multiple displays, the operator can send different messages to individual displays or "blocks" of displays and schedule the messages to change any time of day, months in advance.
The latest digital signage systems use LCD, plasma or DLP displays and these displays were absolutely everywhere on the show floor. That's good news and bad news for you. The good news is the unbelievably wide availability. The bad news is that your purchase decision just got much tougher. But it's not really bad news since our company has kept up on all the product features and options so that we can specify the displays that will work best for your application and budget.
Focus on Application
One of the best features of this year's conference was the focus no specific applications. There was a coinciding conference called EduComm for K - 12 and higher education technology professionals. The Collaborative Conferencing Program focused on video-, audio-, web- and data conferencing, the Pro Track conference as simultaneously held for multimedia professionals and there were special sessions for those in the houses of worship, IT, and digital cinema professions. Of course, as always, there was an extensive offering of courses, both application- and technology-specific.
If you would like to hear more about the products and technologies we scouted for you, give us a call. And of course, if you're interested in attending next year's InfoComm, we'd love to spend time with you on the show floor so we can take you to see the products that we think you'll want to see.