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An Inside Look at the HDBaseT Standard, Part 1

Aug 2, 2012 11:36 AM, With Bennett Liles

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Editor’s note: For your convenience, this transcription of the podcast includes timestamps. If you are listening to the podcast and reading its accompanying transcription, you can use the timestamps to jump to any part of the audio podcast by simply dragging the slider on the podcast to the time indicated in the transcription.

HDBaseT made a big showing at InfoComm this year along with hardware with it built-in. Micha Risling, marketing chair of the HDBaseT Alliance is here to explain the technology, clear up some of the technical points, and let us know what’s coming next with it, coming right up on the SVC Podcast.

SVC: Micha, thanks for being on the SVC Podcast and I’ve been wanting to talk about HDBaseT for a good while now so tell me about the HDBaseT Alliance. Who’s in it and how did it all get started?

Well, actually probably two years old by now. It was formed by Valens, Samsung, LG, and Sonic Features Entertainment with a clear objective of promoting the HDBaseT technology as the connectivity of choice. The Alliance, like other alliances normally do, is responsible for the specification, certification program, and promotional activity. We have 40 members and we see the numbers growing so over all we are very excited with our Alliance and it’s a very active one. [Timestamp: 1:34]

It sounds like more people are getting on board all the time and one of the things that a lot of people are wondering about is when are we going to be seeing more of the actual hardware with HDBaseT built-in? I know we saw some of this at Infocomm this year so where are we now with native HDBaseT devices entering the market?

It’s never enough. People expect to see more and more, so I would say that there are hundreds of HDBaseT products already in the market and I believe you are seeing many of them at Infocomm and what is probably most important is the feedback that we actually get from vendors who are selling them and more important the end users who are using the product. And the feedbacks are nothing less than great so we have switchers from all the leading brands including Alliance members such as Crestron and Extron, AMX, Atlona, Gefen , Grandbeing, and others. We have projectors launched at Infocomm from Panasonic and Projectiondesign will probably be available in the next couple of months. We have digital signage display from a company called Primeview and as you can imagine those are the ones that I can disclose I can tell you that other products have been developed and we expect them to hit the market in probably the end of 2012, early 2013. So overall there is a huge momentum around HDBaseT products are from, which is probably what interest our audience. [Timestamp: 3:01]

Right, I would think that this year is going to be a pretty big one for HDBaseT looking at what was at InfoComm and the new projectors coming in. No external boxes needed. Just plug straight into the RJ-45 on the projector and everything goes through there. So what are the implications here for digital signage? I guess one of the big things is that you can run power on the same cable.

Yeah, power is one of the features. As a general statement digital signage is clearly one of the segments that we in Alliance are after. We speak with installers and system integrators who specialize in this market like we do and ask them what are the needs? You will probably get a combination of the need for high quality video, long distances, high reliability of installation, flexibility, scalability, lower cost of ownership would be great and probably a few others that I forgot but in a nutshell I would say that this is exactly what HDBaseT delivers. Now as you consider the install base of HDBaseT ports as you said we’ve seen that at Infocomm, mainly in the form of switchers and matrixes, that are already installed like in schools, universities and other public places you can imagine how easy it is now for installers to install digital signage displays and that HDBaseT technology is built-in and yes, both daisy chain and star topologies are supported. Power is first is one of the elements that excite most of them and we anticipate some digital signage displays especially those who are okay with 100W, which is what is being supported to implement also the power of HDBaseT feature. [Timestamp: 4:45]

And one of the things that interests me particularly since I work in the academic AV market is its potential there, say for multiple classroom situations.

Yes, especially given the installed base because the companies already using HDBaseT are very familiar and well positioned in this market and now exactly as you said today you need a kind of an extender on the remote side that you will be able to hook up to a projector digital signage and one of the reason why projection manufactures and digital signage manufacturers decided to use HDBaseT is simply because they were asked by the installers themself because you know it doesn’t make sense to go all the way with a single cable and by the end of it you need to use an extender and then you need to take out the HD mic cable and internet cable and other control cables where it makes sense to simply go all the way with HDBaseT using the RJ45 connector. [Timestamp: 5: 42]

Now if we can get a little more on the technical side briefly here, there’s a lot of talk about the 5-play signal and all of the different things you can convey. What actually happens to the HDBaseT signal when it enters the display device and how does that differ from just running HDMI into it?

So it’s a kind of a magic, but let me try to get you some data on that side. So let’s focus on the receiver side because we just said digital signage. So on the receiver side we have a chipset that performs the magic, the Valens VS100 is the chip set that does that and in a way it demodulates the signals that are coming from the line table. Originally it’s been modulated using the propriety version of something that you’re probably familiar with is the Ethernet pulse amplitude modulation. This is what is being used with gigabit and ten gigabit Ethernet. So the chipset demodulates that and then encapsulates the different signals. You can see that as is taking the five different signals, capsulate that and then the receiver actually needs to encapsulate that and then you get the native HDMI and Ethernet and controls which are part of the 5-play. I know it sounds easy but in reality the nature of the infrastructure that we are dealing with mainly the cables because we are dealing with poor cables and the patch panels and the distances they all require sophisticated best-in-class DSP based techniques and this is, I would say, the magic behind the HDBaseT technology. As a side note, you better know how to design advanced physical layers before actually going and developing the technology like HDBaseT. [Timestamp: 7:28]

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