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Video Booming in Corporate Markets, Industry Vets Say

Dec 14, 2006 4:22 PM, By John McKeon

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Veterans of the professional AV market, interviewed at last week’s Government Video Expo in Washington, D.C., agreed on one point: Video is booming throughout the business, corporate, education, and government segments, driven by exploding bandwidth, better compression, and a growing portfolio of products.

Both manufacturers and systems integrators were on the show floor at the Expo, displaying products with broad applications in the private sector as well as government. These products included a pervasive emphasis on video for conferencing, display, and other purposes.

Jerry Gale, VP/Marketing at SPL Integrated Solutions, says there’s a trend toward more video, plasmas, and LCDs. “The number of videos you see now is unbelievable,” Gale says. “The size of the jobs coming in now is remarkable.

Lee Wolloff, Northern U.S. regional manager in Christie Digital’s control room division, says highly capable control rooms and display walls are turning up in a multitude of new settings, including smaller corporate environments than ever before. A large factor in this trend is declining prices, he adds. Wolloff notes that a buyer today can acquire a two-by-two array of 50in. rear-projection display cubes, offering 2400x2000 resolution and accommodating up to 16 display windows per cube, for about $120,000. A highly capable display wall processor may add $70,000 to that price tag—meaning that less than $200,000 can buy a very flexible and functional display system.

Companies from electric utilities to financial services are exploring what these display options can offer their operations, Wolloff says.

Video conferencing is also going more deeply into high quality video. Mike Savic, director of marketing at VBrick Systems, says clients are recognizing that you get more information with video, including conferees’ facial expressions and other nuances. Expanding bandwidth, coupled with the spread of easy-to-use devices such as Windows Media tools, have made video-intensive conferencing available virtually anywhere, Savic says.

“Today you can do a webcast from anywhere, from a hotel room, for instance,” Savic says. These webcasts can be synchronized with PowerPoint presentations, web browsing, and high-quality audio video. New wireless strategies are allowing this ubiquitous video environment to embrace cell phones and PDAs as well.

VBrick CEO Rich Mavrogeanes, feels the AV industry, with its growing links to IT and infrastructure specialists, has reached a critical point. “Compression has continued to get better and better,” he says, “and at the same time you have a relentless increase in the amt of bandwidth. Today it requires under one megabit/second to send broadcast-quality video.

“I think we are at an inflection point right now,” Mavrogeanes continues. “There now is sufficiently good compression technology, just at this magic, confluent moment, when there is sufficient bandwidth to utilize that compression technology, and that’s why you’re seeing digital video really, really take off now.”

Mavrogeanes says, “this video explosion creates an opportunity for professional AV specialists to make some hay. Video no longer has to be one-way. It can be two-way. Being able to deploy two-way broadcast-quality video really changes things, and that’s an area where I think AV professionals can really excel.”

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