New developments in AV technology come into focus

TI, whose DLP technology is used in these lampless projectors, released an infographic suggesting that U.S. schools spend nearly $110 million each year on replacement lamps, though the company didn’t indicate the source for this figure. Besides saving money over time, the new lampless projectors are more environmentally friendly and turn on/off instantly, TI said.

In the current economic climate, “schools are finding themselves under increasing pressure to deliver stronger … results with fewer associated costs,” said TI’s Carver. “These new lamp-free projectors … reinforce our commitment to that goal.”

Digital signage becoming more versatile

The increasing versatility of digital signage was on display at this year’s InfoComm, as a number of companies introduced signage products with creative form factors that give schools more options for catching the eye of students and stakeholders.

For instance, Casio demonstrated both a “virtual presenter” and a “virtual book.” The virtual presenter is a life-size silhouette of a person, with a projector mounted vertically behind it. When you record someone delivering a greeting, a lesson, or instructions, and then play this video on the projector, the video appears on the silhouette—making it appear as if the person is in the room talking. The virtual book is a surface with a projector mounted below, shining an image up onto the book’s touch-screen interface—and users can turn the “pages” by swiping with their finger, which reveals the next slide or image in the presentation.

Black Box introduced wearable digital signage that is intended for face-to-face marketing. Called iCOMPEL, it’s a 2-inch by 2.5-inch display that attaches to a lanyard or lapel. Its rechargeable lithium-ion battery lasts up to 12 hours, and you can use a software interface to upload images and control the device’s message; when you plug it in to recharge, its content automatically refreshes. The miniature player is perfect for sales reps at campus bookstores to promote special offers, for example.

Peerless AV introduced a sleek kiosk enclosure for indoor digital signage. Designed to support 55-inch ultrathin LCD displays, the kiosk enclosure gives schools an easy way to display content in the middle of a room or foyer.

LG promoted a product called EzSign, a TV-based solution that offers an easy way for schools to introduce digital signage. Users create their own content on a PC using the free EzSign software, then transfer this content to the EzSign LED TV with a USB flash drive. You can display advertising, information, and a live television broadcast on the same screen.

Visix previewed a new application of its own that aims to give schools an easy and affordable entry point into digital signage. Called APPOINT, the product leverages the PowerPoint platform to provide a cost-effective option for budget-conscious customers (such as K-12 schools).

APPOINT will enable users to create and schedule presentations that run as a tab within PowerPoint. No separate content server is needed, and media players can be smaller, less expensive PCs, Visix said. The software supports multi-zone layouts and animations; it will be available by the end of the year.