Barco Rigiflex — the latest projection screen on the market

Practicality 

Barco has recently revolutionised the AV and VR industries by introducing the Barco RigiFlex — the first rigid, rollable powerwall screen. In the past, powerwall screens have been extremely difficult to manoeuvre, but Barco has addressed this problem. The screen not only has excellent visual performance, but it’s flexible nature facilitates transportation, installation and maintenance. This new screen features a flexible surface which can be completely rolled up (so it can be easily brought inside any building), and is available in any size — up to 10 x 4 meters/33 x 13 feet.

Impressive Visual Performance

Despite its extremely light weight (0.5 kg/m²), the innovative woven high polymer fabric of Barco RigiFlex offers extraordinary visual performance. It has similar quality specifications as top glass screens, delivering an authentic immersive interaction, as well as extremely high tension on the surface, ensuring toughness and stability. The screen will not vibrate, even when doors are opened or closed, or when there is strong indoor ventilation. In addition, the projection screen on the frame can be replaced or upgraded to meet new operation requirements.

We think this new product by Barco will pave the way for projection screen technology and look forward to seeing how the market will change over the next few years!

The Benefits of AV Technology in Education

In the past decade, audio visual technology has made huge progress in the education sector by creating an exciting and interactive environment which is more conducive to learning. Studies have proven that students react well to audio visual aids since they are found to be more attentive and retain information better, increasing productivity in the classroom or lecture hall. 

So what are some of the benefits?

  • AV engages students who may otherwise be disengaged or bored and makes learning more enjoyable. 

  • Promotes collaboration and communication between students — education is increasingly being seen as a collaborative exercise between educator and learner, rather than a one-way broadcast of information. Teachers and lecturers must work with their students, and students must be able to flexibly explore and learn in order to get the most out of their lessons. For smaller learning environments, such as huddle spaces, there is a growing trend for turning larger display screens into interactive surfaces. Touch-screen overlays for high quality professional displays are creeping into classrooms and enabling more flexible, collaborative learning through interactivity. Numerous providers have introduced interactive displays that come with an embedded Android operating system which enables teachers to download a variety of apps and means that learners can easily share content from their own devices on these larger screens — once again improving collaboration amongst students and teachers!

  • Helps students visualise rather than guess — with an AV solution in place, students who learn from seeing and interacting can thrive just as much as those who love to listen. 4K laser projectors which produce extremely high quality images are becoming increasingly popular and serve to enhance presentations and captivate the attention of the class. 

  • Promotes a wider selection of teaching tools — when a teacher is stood there with a marker pen and a whiteboard, they are on their own in terms of tools. Tools such as WePresent allows up to 64 users to all share and present content on a screen at any one time, making it easy for students to contribute without having to crowd around a whiteboard. 

  • Encourages students with various learning disabilities — students with hearing impairments are able to hear more clearly with audio enhancement systems. Audio systems can be integrated with an interactive whiteboard to boost a teacher’s voice via a microphone worn around the educator’s neck, allowing their voice to be distributed evenly around the class through wall mounted speakers. This technology helps students with hearing impairments to understand what the teacher is saying and gives them the opportunity to learn more effectively. Furthermore, for students with dyslexia who may struggle to process information when reading a textbook, interactive whiteboards enable teachers to create lesson content with colourful text, video clips and images, making the lesson content easier to digest. Pupils with ADHD can also benefit from what interactive whiteboards and touch screens have to offer since this technology encourages them to get involved and helps them to remain focused throughout the lesson. 


Home Cinema Projector Guide

Setting up your own home cinema has never been as easy as it is today, but there are a few things you need to take into account in order to get exactly what you’re looking for.

This guide will discuss a few important things you need to consider when making your choice…

Resolution

The most common resolution for home cinema projectors is currently 1080p, however there are now 4K ultra HD projectors which have a much higher resolution. 4K delivers the best results for home cinemas since on most screen sizes you won’t see the individual pixels, meaning it produces a smooth, high quality image.

However, don’t forget that your source material will make a big difference to the quality of your projected image. High quality sources are best viewed on projectors that do justice to high definition source material. Therefore, if you’re investing in 4K content such as Blu-Ray, then you might want to consider investing in a 4K home cinema projector to get the most out of what you’re paying for. 

Contrast Ratio 

This is the ratio between the white and black areas in an image. The larger the contrast ratio of a projector, the greater the difference between the brightest whites and the darkest blacks a projector can deliver. In practice, higher contrast ratios mean a better image because there is a higher level of projected brightness, which means your image appears less faded.

Brightness

Projector brightness is measured in ANSI lumens. Home theatre projectors generally start out at about 1000 lumens and range upwards to 2500 lumens and more. The number of lumens your projector needs depends on your viewing environment. It is better to have the room dark with as little ambient light as possible since this will not require as much brightness. 

Throw Ratio

Throw is the distance between the projector and the projection surface. Throw ratio is the relationship between that distance and the width of the projected image. For example, if a projector has a 2:1 throw ratio, then for every  2 feet increase in distance, the projected image will widen by 1 foot.

Therefore, depending on how far away your projector will be, you should make sure the throw ratio is sufficient to fill the surface you’ll be projecting onto.

Lamp Life 

Finally, don’t forget to consider the ongoing maintenance and cost requirements of your new home cinema system. Most home cinema projectors typically have a lamp life of between 2,000 and 5,000 hours, but this refers to the "half-life" of the lamp which is the point at which the lamp is half as bright as it was when it was new. Longer lamp life means lower maintenance costs as you won’t need to replace the projector lamp as frequently. 

However, if you want to avoid maintenance costs, laser projectors are an increasingly popular alternative championed for their cost efficiency and high quality images.

New Products Catching Our Attention

The first product featuring on this weeks blog is the OpusCube Fine Pixel LED Video Wall, designed by Opus Brilliance.

Opus Brilliance are planning on unveiling a fine pixel pitch LED video wall called the OpusCube. The OpusCube panels have a flat back and will be two inches thick when installed on the wall, as there are zero external cables.

Notable features of the OpusCube include:

- Seamless panel integration

- Low/no heat

- Fan free and quiet operation

- A six-axis perfect alignment system 

Each cube display is 640x360x55 millimeters and it uses 24-bit color processor has a refresh rate of 3840Hz. Each cube is also fully front serviceable for easy maintenance and includes a specially designed magnetic tile removal tool to easily remove and replace the modules. The video wall can either be wall or hanging/flown mounted and is only 2 inches deep with no external cables and a flat back for mounting. 

 

The second term featured on this weeks blog is Extron’s new TLP Pro 525T tabletop TouchLink Pro Touchpanel.

Their new 5″ tabletop model features a high-performance·quad-core processor as well as promising eight times more memory and an 800×480 capacitive touchscreen built with scratch and smudge-resistant Corning Gorilla Glass.

The TLP Pro 525T accepts PoE — Power over Ethernet, which amazingly allows it to receive power and communication over a single Ethernet cable.

All TouchLink Pro touchpanels can be customised using Extron’s GUI Designer software. This interface design software offers ready-to-use templates for a wide variety of rooms and presentation environments. These designs may be used as is, or equally can be customized for the application by simply changing individual graphic elements.

How Voice Control is Starting to Impact the Workplace

The average boardroom meeting starts 10 minutes late due to technology-related challenges. 

Whether it’s a memory stick not working or failing to get clear audio on a videoconference, everyone has experienced a meeting room horror story that completely destroys any hope for a productive meeting. However, gone are the days where employees just accept this as an inevitability of work. Employees, and to that end employers are now demanding easy-to-use technology in office spaces of all sizes and functions.

A shift in power over the past decade has meant  also meant workplaces must now listen to what employees want, and as a result workplaces have had to become more flexible in how, when and where employees do their jobs. This has meant that tools that aid in real-time collaboration are becoming a necessity, not a luxury, in maintaining productivity levels. 

By bringing the home to the office employers are now starting to use technology such as Alexa to provide the convenience of voice control in an office setting, without having to provide any training etc, as this is technology many are already comfortable with using. For instance, employees can now start a meeting simply by saying, “Alexa, start my meeting.” From launching a web conference to pulling up on-screen presentation materials, Alexa and other voice controlled technologies can help ensure meetings are timely, productive and free from the “technological fumbling” that usually plagues meetings. 

Voice control is no doubt transforming the way that we live and work, as one of the first personal—and, now, professional—forms of artificial intelligence to play a key role our daily lives. 

However the demand isn’t just in traditional homes or offices, but rather,in every space in which we live and work, whether this be in the hospitality or corporate sector…

As voice controlled systems become smarter and possess a greater number of skills and capabilities, we will soon be able to offer a nearly touch-less living and working experience. Soon enough, the idea of having a virtual personal assistant in any environment, trudging through our emails and organizing our everyday schedule, or just adjusting room settings to our liking, will no longer be a fantastical dream but, rather, a lived, and very real reality.

What to look for when selecting new products 

As AV suppliers our inbox is always inundated with messages from suppliers pitching us the 'newest and best' products.  

Unfortunately, nearly every one of these products are complete garbage and as a result these days we spend more time deleting messages than actually reading them. 

In the ever-changing technological landscape, it has become more important than ever to go out and find new products rather than waiting for them to come to us. It's simply unviable for our business to continually sell or install the same products we have in the past. 

This isn't to say it's essential to go out and find a product that will revolutionise the AV industry and the way you work, new products come in all shapes and sizes, therefore a new product might just make your work more efficient or easier. 

Lee Distad [Rave Publications] has identified some key considerations we feel are essential for any AV company purchasing new products to take on board. 

  •  Is it easy to install or difficult?  

The number one thing to take on board when considering purchasing a new product is whether the product will speed up our installs, reduce waste and deliver value to the client. 

  • Does this new brand exemplify the technology it uses?  

A second consideration should be whether the product is simply another off the shelf product. Or is the product a leader within its own category? As Lee Distad points out, although you should place emphasis on promoting your companies own expertise and not on the shiny equipment that you use, AV pros typically work with brands that are the leaders in their category as these brands are where they are because their products are the best at what they do. 

So remember, whilst some products may have an attractive looking profit margin, this isn't enough! You need products that are going to provide your clients with the best looking, and most effective installs. 

  • Find out how this new brand works with your existing control system

"It’s one simple sentence, but it matters a lot. Does your control vendor write modules for it? Is there an existing community of nerds with a knowledge database you can mine? Are you going to have to write everything from scratch?"- Lee Distad

Arguably the most important step is finding out how potential new products might affect your existing systems, if you don’t your engineers will most definitely let you know! 

 

We hope this blog has helped shed some light on the sort of questions you should ask yourself when purchasing new products! Comment what you managed to take from the post and what you'd perhaps like to see next time...