InfoComm 2008: Displays, Monitors & Digital Signage

Elite Screens announced Kestral, a brand of portable electronic screens measuring 84 or 100 inches diagonally in either a 4:3 or 16:9 aspect ratio. The company also demonstrated its VMAX Plus3 electric projection screen, which can be used in large presentation halls and auditoriums.

LG Electronics displayed its Full HD 1080p LCD and plasma HDTVs, advanced "stretch" screens and touch signage applications, and Remote Jack Pack (RJP) solutions.  The company also introduced the new True3D monitor, which offers an interactive three-dimensional viewing experience, where special glasses are unnecessary.

Panasonic introduced the Pro Plasma Display, a 103-inch plasma display that delivers 1080p HD images. Wright State University in Dayton, Ohio, installed the display screen in its Presidential Conference Room, and university officials said they chose the product based on its size, sharpness, and clarity. Panasonic also introduced the UB-T780, an interactive whiteboard with a 77-inch screen that connects to an internet-enabled PC and a projector.

Sharp Electronics displayed its Sharp Digital Signage Software Package (SDSS), which delivers program creation, registration, scheduling, and distribution of pre-scheduled information on Sharp "PN" series LCD monitors. Different software packages allow users to create and display content on a single screen, as well as create content and remotely distribute programs and schedules over a network.

VITY Technology displayed touch panels, central controllers, scalers, and matrix switchers. The company’s touch-panel remote controls can communicate over a wireless connection, the company said, adding that integrating controls into an existing Ethernet LAN is simple.

Westinghouse Digital Electronics unveiled an all-included Digital Signage Solution that sports a 42-inch or 47-inch LCD 1080p monitor, a set-top box with digital signage templates for content creation and management, and a hard drive for media storage.

Wireless Ronin Technologies displayed Ronincast, a digital signage software program, and promoted a case study focusing on the University of Akron, which uses the company’s technology for marketing purposes around the campus.


InfoComm 2008: Document Cameras & Digital Presenters

AVerVision‘s SPB370 document camera, available in August, features built-in memory, DVI and VGA output, audio input and output, and an SD card slot. The new document camera also is IP addressable.

ELMO USA introduced the P30S Document Camera, which captures motion at 30 frames per second and uses a progressive scan with a 16x optical zoom lens. It delivers both PC and analog signals and contains an SD card reader.

Samsung debuted the new UF-130DX Presentation Station, a high-definition digital presenter with an onboard processor running Windows CE. The built-in AMD processor with Windows CE lets users upload their presentations directly to the device and is compatible with multiple memory devices such as compact flash cards, SD cards, or USB flash drives, Samsung said.


InfoComm 2008: Furniture, Consoles & Presentation Aids

Bretford unveiled a retrofit kit that enables schools to recycle existing media carts and helps them convert their carts to be compatible with changing technology. The company also introduced a flat-panel, wide-body cart.

Intellerum showcased its Laptop Center, which holds up to 35 laptops, with removable dividers for storage of other equipment and peripherals. The center has a three-point locking door.

Nomad Technologies demonstrated its multimedia podiums and presentation systems.  The systems, either permanent or mobile, integrate a wide variety of presentation equipment and are designed for use in many rooms.


InfoComm 2008: Interactive Whiteboards

Hitachi introduced the StarBoard FX Duo 88, an 88-inch interactive whiteboard that offers multi-touch capabilities and allows control using multi-touch hand gestures, as well as use of the presenter’s finger, an electronic pen, or any other object. Also new from Hitachi was the StarBoard FX Duo 63-inch interactive whiteboard, which–when used in conjunction with an optional rolling stand–can become a mobile teaching or presentation tool.

PolyVision displayed its Walk-and-Talk interactive whiteboard, whose interactive panel enables users to turn standard classrooms into engaged learning environments and can be used in auditoriums, labs, or modular classrooms as well. PolyVision’s interactive whiteboards also integrate seamlessly with the 3M Super Close Projection System, the company said.

SMART Technologies demonstrated its education solutions, including the SMART Board 600i interactive whiteboard system for educators, the 685 interactive whiteboard, the SMART document camera, and the SMART audio system. The 600i interactive whiteboard system combines a short-throw Unifi 45 projector and a SMART Board 680 interactive whiteboard. The system enables educators to combine multimedia elements such as videos and interactive demonstrations.


InfoComm 2008: Intercom & Communication Systems

Barix promoted its Annuncicom system, which can be integrated into a lecture hall PA system and accessed by computer at a later point. The Annuncicom is IP-based and can be used for PA announcements, two-way communication, and more. Barix also demonstrated its Barionet solution, a programmable telecontroller device that can be used to alert students and staff to a developing situation automatically over an IP network.

Calypso Control Systems displayed its Campus SV School Management Solution, which modernizes traditional bell, clock, and PA systems by utilizing an IP network. The company also debuted the CB-5000 networked touch-screen device controller, a 3.25-inch white backlit touch screen in a wall-mount enclosure, and the CA-1000SV audio amplifier, which can stream PA announcements, bell systems, emergency alerts, and other notifications in MP3 or WMA format.

Clear-Com showcased its software-based intercom system, Clear-Com Concert, which is based on voice-over-IP technology and delivers sound over a standard local area network or internet connection between local and remote users.

Technomad, a manufacturer of loudspeaker systems, introduced the Schedulon, an automatic MP3 player/recorder that can be programmed with daily or weekly tasks. Users can manage the Schedulon remotely through any web browser as well, such as by playing an emergency recording in case of a school lockdown or natural disaster.


InfoComm 2008: Media Capture, Storage & Streaming Systems

Advanced Media Design (AMD) announced a new version of MediaPOINTE, its AV-over-IP collaboration technology. MediaPOINTE Ensemble is a server that stores and streams video files over a network, and it allows organizations to consolidate disparate multimedia assets into a single unified content management portal. The company also unveiled AESOP, a device that is designed to store digital video files for easy access. AESOP connects directly to MediaPOINTE’s digital media recorder.

Echo360 presented EchoSystem, a lecture capture platform that lets students take advantage of on-demand features to replay a course lecture with visuals, which are synchronized with the instructor’s voice. Students have control of their viewing experience with DVD-like controls.


InfoComm 2008: Video Editing & Production

Broadcast Pix demonstrated a range of switcher panels that are priced for school budgets and can be easily used by students–making them ideal for school news programs, the company said. High school and college students producing daily or weekly news segments can use the switchers, including the Slate 1000 and Slate 2100, to edit stories, insert or remove graphics, and more. The switchers are suited for one student or up to five or six, and students who use the production system often leave high school or college with highly desired technical skills, according to the company.

TechSmith displayed Camtasia Studio, a recording and video distribution software package. Users can create video files, PowerPoint presentations, and more, and they can record, edit, and produce their own videos.


InfoComm 2008: Projectors, Lamps & Accessories

3LCD announced that it has shipped 50 million chips and was on hand to educate attendees about its new Color Light Output measurement. The organization also promoted the presence of 3LCD chips in projectors made by various companies at the conference.

BenQ showcased its DLP projectors, including the MP722 and the SP920. The MP722 has 3,000 ANSI lumens, a detachable keypad, 3D color management, and 11 sets of picture modes. The SP920 features 6,000 ANSI lumens, a dual lamp, a presentation timer, and quick auto search. BenQ also displayed its new short-throw projector, the MP771, which can project a 74-inch picture from a meter away.

Casio America announced the release of four new projector models. The new models feature RS-232 connectivity while still incorporating a thin body design. The XJ-SC200 series boasts "Casio’s Super Color" technology, and the XJ-S50 ("Casio’s Super Bright" series) is designed for high brightness applications.

Diamond Lamps displayed its low-cost alternatives to the lamp modules sold by projector manufacturers, which use the same lamps as those originally used in projectors, the company said.

Digital Projection announced that its single-chip iVision 30 and dVision 30 series projectors are now enabled with 1,920 x 1,200 resolution. The new WUXGA native resolution displays present a 16-to-10 aspect ratio–a format that is becoming widespread in high-resolution desktop and notebook computer displays, the company said.

Draper unveiled its Micro Projector Lift (MPL), a scissor-style projector lift that has received UL (Underwriters Laboratories) certification. The MPL operates using a three-scissor mechanism and is designed to work in places ranging from a small conference room to an auditorium or home theater, Draper said. The MPL is available with an optional Environmental Air Space Housing.

Mitsubishi Digital Electronics America’s Presentation Products Division announced the new XD500U-ST projector, which the company says is designed for educators and other presenters with limited space. The projector can display a 60-inch diagonal image from just 33 inches away from a screen or whiteboard. The company also introduced the WL6700U projector for education, commercial, and home theater installations.

Sanyo introduced an ultra short-throw LCD projector, the PLC-XL51, with networking capabilities that allow for monitoring projection functions and operation via a web browser. The projector, which can accommodate wired and wireless networking, reportedly can project images of up to 80 inches from a distance of only three inches. Sanyo also introduced a line of portable projectors featuring active maintenance filter systems.

Texas Instruments unveiled a lamp-free projector for home theaters that uses a PhlatLight LED light source and a BrilliantColor chipset. Like the deployment of TI’s now popular BrilliantColor technology, the company predicts this solid-state, lamp-free innovation will be incorporated into home theater projector units at first and then spread through corporate and education product lines thereafter.

Toshiba’s Digital Products Division announced the TDP-EW25U projector. This new DLP BrilliantColor wide-screen projector is wireless and works with Microsoft Vista Ultimate’s "Meeting Space2" functionality for remote sharing of presentation files.  Designed for education customers and small- to medium-sized businesses, the TDP-EW25U’s "extreme short projection" technology can produce a 60-inch image from just 2.4 feet away and allows the projector to be placed or mounted closer to the screen, resulting in a brighter image.


InfoComm 2008: Video Conferencing & Collaboration Systems

Danish Interpretation Systems promoted its DCS 6000 Digital Conference System, which has been installed at Lakehead University. Professors there are using video conferencing and web streaming technology to reach students around the world, and conference microphones, document cameras, and LCD monitors make it easy for all students, no matter where they are seated, to hear the instructor and view presentations.

Digital Samba introduced OnSync, an enterprise web conferencing and collaboration solution. OnSync is compatible with Macs, PCs, and Linux-based systems and can be used for webinars, distance education, and online presentations, the company said.

RADVision introduced SCOPIA Desktop, which connects remote users to an existing video network for voice, video, and data communications. The company also demonstrated its iVIEW Suite, a comprehensive management solution for voice and video collaborative communications. Users can manage and monitor video network elements, as well as schedule and control meetings, RADVision said.

Sonic Foundry unveiled Mediasite 5.0, a rich media communication and knowledge management platform for higher education. Mediasite Players include an on-slide magnifier to see close-up detail in a portion of presented graphic, and users can forward clips to other authorized users while watching a presentation. An updated Mediasite Catalog contains a list of the available content and RSS feeds that a school or university offers.

TANDBERG promoted the Codec C90, a telepresence and collaboration engine that delivers 1080p HD video and ultra wideband audio. Up to 12 HD sources and eight microphones can be connected at once, the company said.

TOA Electronics unveiled the TS-770 series Conference System, which can support up to 70 stations with each Central Unit.


Vendors target education with new AV products

Technology for delivering audio, video, and other school presentations must be affordable and simple to use if it is to transform teaching and learning: That was one of the predominant themes at this year’s InfoComm conference, held June 18-20 in Las Vegas.

Nearly 35,000 educational technologists and other IT professionals attended the world’s largest audio-visual (AV) technology conference–an increase of more than 3,000 over last year’s show. And from cables and connectors to interactive whiteboards and personal response systems, the focus was on affordability and ease of use for solutions designed with teachers, students, and school district IT staff in mind.



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For instance, the new ResponseCard Anywhere classroom response system from Turning Technologies, which has been beta-tested in about 20 K-12 districts, can be used without a projector or computer. Teachers use a receiver device to ask a question, and students use their radio frequency (RF) wireless keypads to respond. Results are displayed on the receiver unit’s LCD screen. 

The implications of this new product are encouraging for schools that do not have computers or LCD projectors in every classroom.

"It’s a huge change–it lets assessment happen anywhere,’ said Tony DeAscentis, the company’s vice president of marketing.

Teachers want to be able to use technology every day, he said–not just for an hour each day or during an allotted timeframe each week.

Creating solutions that are affordably priced helps put technology in the hands of educators and students who otherwise might not be able to experience it, company officials said.

3M Projection Systems also had its eye on affordability at InfoComm. The company showcased the SCP 712, a modular presentation system consisting of a projector, wall mount, and other components to make the system connected and interactive.

The system’s modular design allows schools to purchase different components as needed or wanted, instead of a pre-packaged bundle. An optional add-on feature called Annotation allows users to turn an ordinary dry-erase board into an interactive whiteboard using infrared technology and sensors. 3M representatives said the modular system is well suited for schools that cannot afford to buy interactive whiteboards or for those that have not yet implemented a technology plan that includes interactive boards.

Other companies displayed seemingly simple solutions that masked sophisticated technology underneath.

With technology claiming a firm spot in classrooms across the country, educators often can be overwhelmed by how to install and use it. To solve this problem, many of the products showcased at this year’s InfoComm were designed for easy, seamless use by instructors–as well as easy management by IT administrators.

Although the wireless wall panels from Crestron are geared more for a school’s IT and building infrastructure staff, the panels nonetheless illustrate how easy technology management should be, company officials said.

Crestron’s new Media Presentation Controller (MPC) connects, controls, and routes AV presentation equipment through a single application. Using any PC or other web-enabled device, school IT staff can monitor all of the devices that the MPC controls. A simple "help" function lets IT staff speak with an instructor in real time if that instructor needs help with the unit.

The company’s wireless green products, part of the Green Light family, allow for lighting and window-shade control. The systems also let IT professionals view their school’s carbon output, energy usage, energy costs, and energy savings per year based on how they have configured the system’s settings for their building.

The instant output, including energy savings, can help schools identify where they might be able to save a few dollars, potentially freeing up money for technology programs and initiatives.

Wireworks offers a single cord, the AV2000, for classroom podiums that combines audio, video, data, and control signal cables in a single connector. 

By eliminating countless different plugs and AV interface panels, educators won’t waste class time trying to figure out why all or part of their classroom technology is not working, company reps said.

Along the same lines, the Virtual Remote Control Center from 1UControl gives a teacher control over all classroom AV equipment from a single source, eliminating confusion that might occur when switching from one piece of AV equipment to another.

Extron Electronics announced new server-based software, called GlobalViewer Enterprise, for managing and supporting larger AV installations with a web browser. And SP Controls announced PixiePlus, a module that gives educators a simple, standardized control interface for projectors, monitors, or other AV devices. The interface is customizable and allows for a variety of configurations, SP said.

Vendors at the conference seemed to agree: Easy-to-use technology results in more learning opportunities in the classroom.

More news from the exhibit hall

Here’s a roundup of news from the InfoComm exhibit hall, organized by product type. (Just click each category link to view the relevant products and services.)

Acoustics & Audio

Includes information on new portable speaker and audio systems, sound amplification systems, wireless microphone systems, and more.

Cables, Connectors & Accessories

A big push at this year’s InfoComm seemed to be products designed for and around digital visual interface (DVI), which maximizes the quality of digital displays, and high-definition multimedia interface (HDMI), which is an audio/visual connector interface. HDMI connects digital AV sources such as personal computers and video-game consoles to compatible digital audio devices and video monitors.

Displays, Monitors & Digital Signage

A portable electronic screen, a new monitor that offers three-dimensional viewing without special glasses, and several digital signage solutions were on display.

Document Cameras & Digital Presenters

New devices from AVerVision, ELMO USA, and Samsung are highlighted.

Furniture, Consoles & Presentation Aids

A kit that enables schools to retrofit existing media carts to accommodate new technologies, a line of multimedia podiums, and more.

Interactive Whiteboards

New solutions from Hitachi, PolyVision, and SMART Technologies are featured.

Intercom & Communication Systems

Solutions for scheduling and broadcasting PA announcements, emergency alerts, and other one- or two-way communications over an IP network.

Media Capture, Storage & Streaming Systems

Systems for recording, storing, and playing back lectures and other presentations are spotlighted.

Projectors, Lamps & Accessories

Projectors were in full focus during InfoComm, and the debate over LCD vs. DLP technology has not abated. Companies such as BenQ, Mitsubishi, Sanyo, and Toshiba all displayed the latest in projector design. (For the latest information on LCD vs. DLP technology, see our recent Special Report on the topic.)

Video Conferencing & Collaboration Systems

New conferencing and collaboration systems from Sonic Foundry, TANDBERG, and more.

Video Editing & Production

A range of switcher panels priced and designed just for schools, and a software package for easily creating and editing videos and other presentations.