InfoComm attendance increased in Las Vegas this summer.

InfoComm attendance increased in Las Vegas this summer.

“The AV industry is changing,” said Jeff Singer, marketing communications director for Crestron. “We have to redefine what AV is.”

Singer was speaking at the 2010 InfoComm exhibition in Las Vegas, North America’s largest audio-visual (AV) technology show. He was referring to how the lines between traditionally defined categories of products and services in the AV field are blurring—and never has that been more apparent than at this year’s show.

Unless they hired a systems integrator, for instance, school technology buyers used to deal with one vendor for classroom audio products, a separate vendor for digital signage, and yet other manufacturers for projectors and displays. At InfoComm 2010, however, it was possible to find ed-tech solutions that combined classroom audio with emergency alert, projectors with interactive pen displays, and even podiums with digital signage.

In other words, everything is now interrelated—and it’s all running on a single, IP-based platform.

To make it easier to manage multiple AV systems through a single interface, Crestron has introduced a new control system platform, called Power of 3. “It’s designed like an IT backbone, rather than an AV control system,” Singer said, comparing it to a computer’s operating system—giving users more speed, memory, and user rights in running their systems.

More importantly, Singer added, it can run multiple programs (up to 10) on the same platform simultaneously, independently from each other. That means while you’re making a change to one system, all other systems continue to operate seamlessly in the background.

If you’re a school IT director, you “can’t afford to have the security system or the HVAC system go down while you’re updating your digital signage,” Singer explained.

Solutions aims to ease deployment

Flexibility was a key theme at InfoComm 2010, where a number of companies demonstrated products intended to help schools deploy AV technology more easily.

With more than 60 years of experience in designing furniture that helps students learn, Bretford showcased a number of solutions aimed at simplifying the integration of technology into the classroom. These included laptop carts that can intelligently sense how much power is needed to charge the units and deliver just enough power to meet these needs, as well as a clutter-free system for delivering power to as many as eight computer workstations from a single electrical outlet.

Bretford also unveiled a first-of-its-kind lectern with a built-in, 40-inch flat-panel display on the front, designed to highlight speaker information or reinforce key lecture concepts, and it announced a contest in which it will give away more than $17,000 worth of classroom furniture to one lucky school or college.

Bretford’s next-generation laptop carts can store up to 20 laptops horizontally or up to 30 laptops vertically. Their 270-degree hinges allow for both front and rear doors to fold back against the carts’ sides, allowing for easy access to the machines, and their perforated metal top, sides, and doors give the laptops ventilation while recharging.

But it’s the carts’ “brain” that is their most innovative feature. The “brain” uses microchip technology to distribute power to the laptops proportionately, reducing heat and saving battery life at the same time.


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