By: Ian Cohen
With all the technology available, and what I refer to as “Redundant Device Syndrome” or RDS for short, it is a wonder that anyone ever talks to each other. Most eyeballs are almost constantly glued to screens big and small (including my own), and it often feels isolating, distracting, and counterproductive. This phenomenon is apparent everywhere you look, heads down not looking forward, fingers flying and tapping buttons and keys. Our minds are ensnared by this new age of technology and ease of access of information and entertainment. I’m guilty too.
Now enter the world of InfoComm. This is a show that seeks to resuscitate something that we’ve lost site of for a little while, and helps to counter the lack of social connection we abandoned somewhere in the mid 1990’s. InfoComm is providing a way out from being sucked in. A way to adjust to the Internet and the barrage of information and content that attracts us every day. InfoComm is helping us reconnect with each other again, in a modernized manner. Yes, it does involve technology and playing with devices, but never before has the potential for significant human intellectual evolution and advancement been greater.
On a micro level, you have the manufacturers, integrators, developers and early adopters that are preaching the concept of UCC. They are the ones who understand the technology, and are forging forward to provide an environment that will make it easy to use it and grow. In some ways, I don’t think they even realize how important the work is that they are doing, and how it affects the future over the next 20, 50, 100, 500 years etc from now. Yes, these folks are all trying to make a living, pay their bills, but guess what? What you are doing now will profoundly affect future generations and the way people interact.
During the show, I spoke with some manufacturers, and other industry professionals, to get their take on what’s happening with UCC, and the movement. Even though UCC seems like a marketing buzz phrase, its underlying meaning is important. Although there are many manufacturers developing technologies and innovating to facilitate UCC, several stand out. One of them is Marshall Electronics.
Marshall has traditionally been thought of as a monitor manufacturer, and that it generally resides in the professional broadcast AV market. However, Marshall has been positioned at the forefront of several different markets, through technologies such as IPTV, Pro Audio, Security, and Unified Communications. So, because the engineering department at Marshall has its deep roots in providing broadcast-grade and pro audio production equipment and solutions, they have been able to do something special for UCC. They have a distinct advantage with being able to engineer broadcast-grade products and pull from the depth of experience they have in delivering video and audio to a professional market, and apply it directly to UCC applications. What they have done is take all of the broadcast technology they understand and in several instances pioneered, and adapt it to UCC. Because of this wild card, the UCC market benefits as its users can get the true taste and feel of a broadcast style experience, right in a huddle room, higher education application, corporate, or any other web based collaborative environment.
Perry Goldstein, Director of Marketing for Marshall Electronics and MXL Microphones explains, “What we are doing is improving the picture and audio quality through transmission, better quality camera’s with professional camera settings, better quality lenses, interchangeable lenses. And then we are improving the experience by allowing multiple camera’s and professional grade conferencing microphones into that collaborative environment.”
Devan Cress, Director of Sales for the Broadcast AV Division of Marshall says, “To put in some other focuses related to UCC, on the higher education side of things, there are a lot of different avenues where our solutions fit into those collaborative environments. In the higher education field our POV cameras can be used in a distance learning classrooms and university media programs. For example, if you are a college, and you have multiple campuses, it’s just a matter of the instructor transporting the video there, so that either remotely from your home, or from a remote location, you are able to view the classroom situation and participate in it.”
Here are a few viewpoints from some of the industry professionals I spoke with:
Michael Artsis – 5 time Emmy Award winning host, producer, journalist, director, and CEO of BeTerrificwww.beterrific.com
“It seems like, more than any other trade show, InfoComm is a place where people come to learn from each other, learn about the industry, and collaborate. That seems to me, the diamond in the rough of this show. As far as integrators directly, especially when you talk about digital signage, the integrators are the impetus for all the collaboration. The integrators come here and they come with their customers’ needs, and it spurs the whole thing. They say ‘We need this for our customers, and this is how you can improve your product, and oh by the way, you might want to talk to that guy over there because he’s got something and you guys can work together to create a solution’, and then they make introductions. The integrators are the glue to that joins different manufacturers together so that they can provide solutions that foster UCC.”
Brian Arrowood – President, StreamVu, LLC.www.streamvu.com
”At InfoComm, you have more possibilities for collaboration. You are able to reach out to partners that bring a different piece to the puzzle. It’s all about solving a problem, forming alliances, to form solutions. Because the companies are working together, you’ve got that education about ‘tell me more about what you do’, you see the openings and you see the light switch go on. Through all of this collaboration, best of all, we can help the end customer because now we are going to pull the synergy of multiple companies together, and install a solution that works in the field.”
Jon Goldberg – President, The Padcasterwww.padcaster.com
“The one thing I’ve observed from InfoComm that makes it different from some of the other shows is, I think the other shows are overwhelming. And I think InfoComm is BIG. And there is a big difference between BIG and overwhelming. Here, you can get stuff done, you can have conversations, you can go offline, you can hear yourself think, and improve collaboration.”
In conclusion, on a macro level, UCC will force advancements and waves of change at much higher speeds. There is no supercomputer that will be able to compete with millions of connected minds and relationships once this thing called UCC is up and running at full speed.
By: Ian Cohen