2. Sony Introduces Affordable Wireless Projector
Sony's new 3-chip XGA resolution LCD projector comes in the form of the VPL-CX85 and includes wireless via the 802.11b WIFI standard. Like virtually all networkable projectors, presentations can either be served to the projector via a network connection or to be sent and played from the projector via the Sony standard MemoryStick flash media card port.
Specified at 3000 ANSI lumens and weighing in at 8.7 pounds, the CX85 includes two remotes - one a basic presentation remote and the other is a presentation remote that includes slide advancement buttons and a laser pointer. And, like all projectors in this price point, it includes automatic vertical and horizontal keystone correction and RS 232 control.
3. SMART introduces new ConferencePilot; Replaces Remote
SMART's new ConferencePilot control software 1.0 allows control of videoconference functions from the computer or the SMART Board interactive whiteboard. Functions such as camera movement, zoom and audio controls can be controlled on any computer and are optimized for use with SMART Board interactive whiteboards.
ConferencePilot software uses a network connection to communicate commands between the computer and the videoconferencing system. ConferencePilot software's on-screen controls can also launch complementary data-sharing applications such as SMART's Bridgit data-conferencing software and Microsoft's NetMeeting.
ConferencePilot software is available as a free download from http://www.smarttech.com/conferencepilot for SMART Board interactive whiteboard and Sympodium interactive lectern customers.
4. Mitsubishi Goes Sub-$1,000 with SE1U SVGA Projector
Mitsubishi has a new 4.5-pound sub-$1,000 LCD projector, the SE1U. It's a pretty basic projector and almost identical to all the other $999 projectors, but the specs aren't bad -- it is specified at 1200 ANSI lumens and 400:1 contrast ratio. Pricing is $995.
The SE1U has 4:3 aspect ratio (native 800 x 600), vertical digital keystone correction and measures a compact 11.4" x 2.1" x 8.1".
5. 3M Introduces S10 Projector
3M's new projector is 1200 lumens, XVGA (800 x 600 resolution and weighs 6.6 pounds. It has 300:1 contrast ratio, vertical keystone correction, and 16.7 million colors.
What's different about this projector is its design. First, the box is very attractive with a curvy, modern design. Second, the projector is on a swivel base, making it very easy to adjust the image horizontally.
6. Da-Lite Announces Theater-Lite Screen
When space is an issue, or when you don't want a screen permanently mounted on the ceiling or wall, a screen that you can fold up and stash in the closet sounds ideal. That's the idea behind Da-Lite's new Theater-Lite screen. This lightweight screen features quick setup by just releasing and raising the extension arm. You can then unroll it to whatever height you want and it's ready to use. When you're done, you can store it in any storage space, including a closet.
Theater-Lite is available in HDTV format sizes in 60 inches and 80 inches diagonal and includes Da-Lite's exclusive Wide Power viewing surface.
7. Creating Spaces - Houses of Worship
Throughout history, prophets and religious figures had to "seek the high ground" in order to be seen and heard by their followers. Today, churches, temples and mosques (reflecting many centuries of construction and architectural styles) are keeping pace with their media-savvy congregations in order to get their messages - and inspiration - across to the faithful using professional audiovisual equipment.
Whether it's the first audiovisual installation for a small country chapel, a modernization-upgrade for a large, urban synagogue, or a full television ministry broadcast center, almost every house of worship today recognizes the value of visual and audio techniques.
Those who haven't yet adapted might not realize that today's technologies and the tricks of the business we use in our installations have surmounted most problems with combining the high technology of today with the tradition and history of worship. The concerns that sometimes arise are:
In truth, it's about communication. And die-hard traditionalists can appreciate that if religion doesn't reach out and grow, the size of the congregation can decline. Houses of worship are used for a variety of purposes - what works well for a visiting guest speaker needs to adapt to a holiday pageant or musical presentation. And audiovisual installations, in many cases, are proving to stimulate and expand religious education programs and, importantly, increase use of the facilities.
- Fear - We're very traditional; our members won't know how to use it and we might break it. (Today's equipment is very user-friendly.)
- Esthetics - All that bulky high-tech stuff will detract from the beauty of our church. (The clever, compact and low-profile design of modern equipment can be hidden or well-integrated by professional designers.)
- Acoustics - Our cantor sounds great right where he is; why should we make any changes? (We haven't seen an audio system yet that couldn't be improved so that the entire congregation hears the same quality sound.)
- Cost - That's a luxury for mega-size congregations; we only have two services on the weekend. (Systems these days are designed for flexibility so that you can start small and add functionality as desired.)
Many houses of worship today incorporate complete AV systems into their sanctuaries and other facilities, and regard it as a necessary adjunct to the nature and focus of their particular congregation. Are they youth-oriented? Missionary-oriented? Social and community-service minded? Is music a major component of their religious expression?
Whatever the end-use, an integrated audiovisual system might consist of professional level video projectors, projection screens, video cameras, computers, microphones, speakers, mixing consoles, closed circuit television, special effects lighting and even videoconferencing. Depending on the specific needs, DVD/CD players and recorders, plasma monitors, and electronic whiteboards might assist for particular purposes and applications.
Professional audiovisual technology allows for dynamic presentations with changes of mood, display of inspirational pictures, images, and lyrics. What's more, announcements, information, video clips, and regular rotations of sermon notes and sacred verses are easily accomplished.
Integrating high-tech audio and video equipment into houses of worship is transforming the experience of congregations to include many different sensory levels. And while lay volunteer/technicians aren't producing commercials for the Superbowl, many are proving to be creative and enthusiastic learners in using their skills to serve their faith.
Explain your ideas, dreams and budgets to us. Quality audiovisual consultation is available for houses of worship of all shapes and sizes. We can answer your prayers for the customized system design that's right for you.
8. Case study -- Connecting Classrooms
In the more sparsely populated areas of the world, it's difficult to deliver education to the most students at reasonable costs. That's the case in a 15,000-square-mile area of Alberta, Canada where six high schools teach as few as 12 students at a time. More importantly, not all the schools teach courses that are required for admission into the universities, so some of the students didn't have a way to continue their education.
That has changed, for the better, with a project called Rural Advancement Community of Learners (RACOL) which beginning in 2002, funded technology to link these schools together to deliver consistent, high quality courses.
First, a broadband network was installed to link the schools. The network, called SuperNet, is powerful enough to handle real-time broadband, including videoconferencing, multicasting, voice-over-IP, etc. It is said to be 1,000 times faster than a home-cable Internet connection.
Next, an MPEG-2 videoconferencing system was installed, and each classroom has videoconferencing capabilities
Students sit in "learning suites" -- rooms equipped with a collection of monitors and interactive video displays.
Classrooms are equipped with two large monitors at the front of each room plus two smaller monitors at the back which duplicate what is on the front monitors. The images displayed on the screens are the same at all school locations. Students can see the teacher on one monitor and a six-way split-screen displaying the six classrooms on the other monitor.
Customized touch screens with "question buttons" allow students to let teachers know when they have questions and the teacher, who can see each classroom, can answer them. They also have an "I'm lost" button so the teacher knows when to stop and review the information.
Each location also has a Rear Projection SMART Board 3000i interactive whiteboard, a document camera and a CD-ROM/DVD/video player. The teacher uses the 3000i to access and control computer applications. Teachers and students can also write on the interactive whiteboard using their finger or a stylus. All the activity performed on the 3000i is viewed live by students in every location on their respective 3000i's. The lessons are then stored and made available to students for review later via streaming video.
Students can switch between watching the image of the instructor, the other students and the 3000i and bookmark areas they want to view again. The system is currently being used to teach math, physics, science, French, aboriginal studies and career and life management.
Each location also contains four Polycom Via Video units that enable students at different locations to work together in small groups
Everything that happens synchronously is stored and made available to members of the class asynchronously via streaming video. A special application has been developed to allow a student to switch between the image of the instructor, the students or the electronic whiteboard while the sound continues, and to bookmark locations in the stream for later review.
Of course, many of these technologies can be used to link any sort of organization with satellite locations. It's just wonderful to see technology so well applied to such a worthy cause as education of students who otherwise wouldn't have access. And, as one official put it: "Although it sounds like an expensive system, the learning suites will actually save money. It's hard to get someone as specialized as a physics teacher into some of those schools."