Tag Archives | Vaddio

It’s time to move conferencing to the cloud

Video as a Service
There has been a lot of chatter lately in the world of technology about migrating away from physical devices. Our IT counterparts are well ahead of the AV industry in this regard, having spent the better part of the last decade migrating sprawling data centers and costly servers into tight, compact, and easier to manage virtual environments.

While this isn’t a completely fair comparison, as the majority of audiovisual equipment can’t be virtualized, there are AV applications that must be modernized, and move away from physical devices into the 21st century. The easiest application to migrate, that offers the highest return on investment, is a no brainer: videoconferencing. Though many users have trepidation about using the enigmatic “cloud,” migrating conferencing can drastically cut costs and help maintain sanity.

It’s time to ditch traditional videoconferencing equipment. It is expensive, can be difficult to use, and without an incredibly costly, dedicated support staff at meeting time, meeting organizers often have trouble using the system. It also requires compatible services at each location connecting to join the meeting. Continuing to design and install traditional videoconferencing systems can be costly and frustrating to users and support personnel alike, and yield a lower return on investment than originally hoped for.

Continue reading It’s time to move conferencing to the cloud on AV Network

Note: When deciding to write on this topic I really wanted to include this mostly not-appropriate-for-a-publisher’s website video of a character from the TV show “The League” talking about the cloud. I find it especially funny, as many users don’t always understand the concept of the cloud, and are somewhat apprehensive about adopting it as a core strategy. I, for one, don’t think any of the users I’ve come across in the industry think it refers to a cloud of smoke, though; I guess that’s a good start.

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consumer technology- not all bad, really

Consumer technology in small huddle room

This is a companion piece to the article I wrote on Consumer Technology Consuming the Enterprise.

As a higher-ed technology manager YES! I have my gripes about consumer technology infiltrating and starting to replace some of the technology customers are requesting in projects. Don’t get me wrong, buying a consumer display vs buying a professional display for a conference room that might be utilized once a week for two hours definitely makes sense. But as I outlined in my previous article, there are legitimate causes for concerns, from my vantage point, with saturating designs with consumer technology. This isn’t to say all consumer technology is bad, or evil, per se. In fact, there are several amazing products that enable me to design a little bit better that are built on “consumer technology mindset”

There are several categories where consumer technology influence have caused professional, enterprise-level, manufacturers and developers to change their product offering to offer better solutions at a more desirable price point. Here are several of them:

Video Conferencing: Years ago, it used to be if you wanted to host a video conferencing with another office, or a remote employee, you need a sophisticated, and involved, teleconferencing system. However, thanks to the consumer market demand and integration of services such as Skype, Microsoft Lync, google hang outs with legacy teleconferencing systems like Polycomm, Cisco Tandberg. Notable products in this category: Vaddio EasyUSB products and AV Bridge, Microsoft Lync and  Blue Jeans Networking.

Ad Hoc Presentations: With the advent of everyone’s favorite trade show buzz phrase “huddle rooms” (also accepted “huddle spaces”) the emphasis on easy to use, small footprint presentation and collaboration equipment has increased tremendously over the past few years. Now the technology isn’t completely revolutionary, but a lot of home AV technology has been incorporated and improved upon to offer better connectivity in this space. For instance, building on consumer technology for wireless display between cell phones, tablets and computers has resulted in several key products that are being considered for AV designs I’m currently working on. Notable products in this category: Barco ClickShare and Crestron’s AirMedia (for powerpoint or other static content).

Consumer Level Displays: I have one conference room on my campus that isn’t terribly big and when it was previously designed the designer specified a 40″ professional display for the space. Looking back, when that room was built, it was likely this was the “bees knees” of technology, and certainly the price reflected it. Certainly at the time the room was built there was a huge, HUGE trade off between your average consumer grade display and professional display products. Thankfully, from a cost perspective, the gap has lessened between the two and I’m able to incorporate improved consumer grade displays into my enterprise level designs. A very popular professional display company sent me their updated pricing sheets yesterday and it seems I can buy 5 consumer displays for the price of one commercial display; or roughly 3 commercial displays for the price of a new car. Improved products in this category: Sharp Aquos and Samsung

The bottom line of my ongoing debate between whether or not to incorporate consumer elements into designs for enterprise level systems is making sure I can get the desired functionality of what the client’s want with a reliability and quality that will last for a lengthy period.

Have you used any consumer elements in your enterprise design? The comments are yours.


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My Take: InfoComm’s Big Winners

InfoComm this year was a blur. Last year I did UBTech and InfoComm and felt like I had way too much free time. This year, to correct this, I decided to load up on meetings and stay as busy as possible to make the most of the InfoComm experience. I wrote a little, last week  about my time in the CTS prep class and subsequent test; and the inherent value of continuing education. I feel the best approach to the InfoComm experience is to balance a little better between the Show Floor Only mentality, and the Load Up on Meetings stance. This year’s InfoComm was the largest show on the east coast, and it was massive. Here are my top winners from this years’ show.

  1. 4K
    We all remember the incredible consumer demand centered around the introduction of 3d displays and projectors a few years back; this year’s big staple for all manufacturers was 4k. Unlike 3d, I think 4K/8K will enjoy far more stable demand in both the consumer and professional AV markets, especially once content beyond digital signage and computer generated signals become more prevalent. The caveat is, if this content doesn’t become readily available, 4k/8k will wind up serving a very niche market. In my opinion, the two winners for 4K at this years’ show was LG’s 84″ 4K monitor, and Christie’s 4k 60hz projector. I would love to own both these pieces, but have to wait until the cost comes down.
  2. MS Lync Integration
    Shortly before last year’s show in Las Vegas we began implementing Microsoft Lync; and I went to InfoComm looking for all the AV I could possibly integrate with Lync to enable it to be a full UCS for our campus. I was incredibly disappointed, and almost frustrated to find out there were no real AV appliances ready to integrate with Lync. Around that time, Vaddio released the Easy USB line of professional USB peripherals for computer based web conferencing: Webex, Skype, Google +, MS Lync etc. This product line represented a solution to a few of our problems at an affordable price point. This year, however, I was blown out of the water by Vaddio’s Huddle Station and Group Station integrated approach to computer based Web Meetings. I look forward to implementing this product line to address a number of needs we have in conference room video conferencing capabilities.Additionally, Crestron was a big winner in this space. They debuted the Crestron RL system designed to integrate Lync for professional Video conferencing. With solutions for single and multiple displays, and system control and automation, Crestron as made incredible strides to reaching the those using Lync. I’m really interested in seeing this product in action in a live demo.
  3. Cloud Conferencing
    Two years ago I was hopping on an elevator in my hotel to head to my room after a long day at the show; I noticed the group standing next to me all had red badge holders (exhibitors) and saw them eyeing my green badge holder (education customer) and my heart sank. I really didn’t know if I could handle another sales pitch, especially on an elevator with no escape or distraction. As it turned out these fine people were from a startup called Blue Jeans Networks, allowing users of different VTC systems to meet seamlessly in the cloud. Cloud Interoperability Providers represent a tremendous benefit for organizations with different methods of VTC to be able to connect with each other. This year there were several other key companies in this market. I look forward to seeing how cloud interoperability grows and becomes more affordable.

There were lots of other great things that I would love to buy and use, but aren’t great fits for my particular application requirements: Projection/Display mapping technologies, waterproof speakers, speakers that looked more like art than actual speakers and a host of fantastic other products. Sometimes I wish I could win some sort of AV lottery and just have all this great technology.

What were the three best things you saw at InfoComm?

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