January 27, 2010, the first-generation iPad is unveiled at an Apple press event, changing the way we interact with video display devices in a profound way. While becoming wildly popular amongst adults, the iPad has also become standard equipment for young children who now grow up with a touch device in their hands from adolescence. Touch screens have been around for a very long time. As a matter of fact, the first touchscreen operated by a finger was developed in the 1960’s. However, the introduction of consumer based hand-held touch devices, over the last decade and a half, have had a profound impact on the way humans expect to interact with video display devices.
It is almost strange now if you come across a public display or kiosk and it is not touch enabled. In fact, I recently attempted to interact with a display kiosk, in a hotel lobby, only to find it was not a touch screen. As younger people that were raised with a touch device in their hands come of age, the expectation for interactive devices is higher than ever. We’ve also seen a shift in many areas to a self-service model, for better or for worse, and each will have their own opinion about it, but it is the reality. For example, when was the last time you actually dealt with an agent to check into an airline flight? It is now commonplace to check-in, receive your boarding pass, and receive your luggage tag all without human interaction.
Practically all the major fast-food chains now offer the option of ordering your meal via a touch screen kiosk, instead of ordering from a human behind the counter. Many supermarkets now have more self-checkout lines than traditional cashier-based check-out lines. Large chain restaurants offer the ability to pay your check through a portable touch display on the table. Even when I go to have blood drawn at the lab or visit my doctor, the check-in process is via a touch screen. Let’s not forget the ATM, one of the earliest mainstream uses of touchscreen technology that I can remember.
Outside of self-service, touch-enabled displays can be and are being used in various applications, including classrooms for learning, interactive gaming and entertainment, digital wayfinding, lobby directories, control systems, POS systems, automotive, corporate boardrooms, and more. There are many brands and many sizes of touchscreens on the market today. So, what separates one from the other? To me, it is the accuracy and responsiveness of the touch, along with as the physical aesthetics of the device itself.
There are several different types of touch technology, such as Resistive, Surface Acoustic Wave (SAW), Infrared (IR), and Capacitive – to name a few. PCAP, or Projected Capacitive, has become more available in larger sizes, and provides superior accuracy and speed of touch – and uses a glass top layer allowing for that smooth edge-to-edge glass look and feel. I will not go into the individual descriptions of each of the above technologies, but note that PCAP has become one of the most widely adopted touch technologies now that it can be used on larger displays and provides both great performance and aesthetics.
To enhance our offering of touchscreen technology, Exertis Almo has recently partnered with MicroTouch, who has been providing touch solutions for the market for over 40 years with installations in 80 countries and over 100 patents. MicroTouch offers a wide range of touch solutions, including open-frame models designed to fit into kiosks, desktop, large format digital signage, all-in-one (with computer), and healthcare solutions ranging in size from 7” to 65”. Their new MACH family takes performance and aesthetics to the next level with an ultra slim design, radiused corners, and concealed ports and cable management, coupled with a sleek edge to edge glass finish with a scratch resistant anti-glare surface. Add to this the speed, accuracy, and responsiveness of PCAP touch technology and a three-year advance replacement warranty. This new partnership will further enable integrators to provide high quality innovative touch solutions to their clients. Please visit www.exertisalmo.com for more information.
Five Things to Consider When Selecting a New Projector
When it comes to producing large displayed images of 100” or more, projection technology is the front runner when it comes to cost, ease of installation, and system maintenance over time. While projector brightness is a key consideration, it is not the only factor you should be looking at when selecting a new projector. Here are some others that I recommend you should be looking at:
1. Projection Technology
If you have been in the industry for over a decade, you likely remember regularly being asked the question, “What’s better, plasma or LCD?” We no longer have that choice since the extinction of plasma displays, however, with projectors, we do have choices in the type of technology. The most common types of projection technology are 3 LCD, 1-Chip DLP, and 3-Chip DLP, with LCoS as a less common option for commercial projectors. While both are perfectly acceptable, 3 LCD typically will produce more vivid saturated colors and DLP may produce “blacker” blacks. Most noticeably with 1-Chip DLP, because of the color wheel, the brightness or lumen output when producing color images will often be significantly lower than the specified lumen rating. 3 LCD projectors will output the full specified brightness whether projecting full white or full color images. For more detailed information regarding color brightness, check out this article.
2. Resolution & Aspect Ratio
With projection, you have three common native aspect ratios to choose from (4:3, 16:9, and 16:10). According to PMA Research, over 75% of projectors sold have a native aspect ratio of 16:10, the majority of which are WUXGA with the remaining at WXGA. Additionally, they report that roughly 20% are native 16:9, with the majority being 1080p and a relatively small segment that are native 4K. This means there is still, albeit small, a percentage of native 4:3 projectors being sold. The important thing to remember here is that you want to match the aspect ratio of your screen to the native aspect ratio of your projector. Whether you are retrofitting a new projector to an existing screen, or installing an entirely new system, you need to be mindful of this. Also, be aware of the source signal you will be sending to the projector, especially if you need to display a 4K signal. While native 4K commercial projectors are expensive and choices are limited, there are many options that are native WUXGA (1920×1200) that support a 4K signal with pixel shifting technologies, like 4K enhancement.
3. Image Position & Adjustment
in a perfect world, you would not have to worry about projector placement relative to the projection screen, however, things like light fixtures and HVAC systems can prevent you from installing the projector dead center of screen. While most projectors offer horizontal and vertical keystone correction, you sacrifice some image quality when using this. A better option is to use a projector that features lens shift, so that the image can be repositioned horizontally and vertically without any digital manipulation of the image.
4. Throw Distance/Projector Placement
the projected image size will be determined by the available distance or “throw” you have in a particular space between the front of the projector lens and the projection screen surface. Unless the projector you are considering offers interchangeable lenses, as your desired image size increases, so does the required throw distance. A key specification of any projector or projection lens is the throw ratio. For a zoom lens, this is expressed as a range of two numbers representing distance compared to the number one, which represents your image width, for example (1.35-2.20:1). In this case, this specification states that the throw distance can range between 1.35 x the image width up to 2.20 x the image width. For a 10ft wide image, the throw distance then can be anywhere between 13.5ft – 22ft. It will be important to understand any limitations regarding projector placement relative to the screen and to choose a projector that will meet those requirements.
This may seem like a no-brainer since the majority of sources are now HDMI and pretty much every projector will include at least one HDMI input, however, in many cases the projector will be mounted just below the ceiling in the middle of a room. This could be a considerable distance away from the video source. Often, for cable lengths beyond 50ft HDBaseT HDMI extenders are used to send the audio, video, and control signals a long distance over a single Cat6 cable. Selecting a projector that includes an HDBaseT input can save you money on the extension hardware, simplify the installation, and reduce points of failure.
Whether you are looking to provide large images for a house of worship, create interactive experiences in classrooms, incorporate projected images into a presentation stage, integrate a command and control center, or deliver just about any type of large displayed visual image, a projector exists to get the job done.
What other things do you look for when specifying projectors? Let me know over on LinkedIn.
One thing that keeps me interested in my career is that our industry is ever-evolving as technologies are introduced and evolve over time. After 17 years of working in the world of Pro AV distribution, I never stop learning new things. Most recently, I was tasked with learning about dvLED to help support our sales team and customers on projects. While I still have a lot to learn, here are some key takeaways that I can share based on what I have learned thus far.
Pixel Pitch & Viewing Distance
The term pixel pitch was new to me, but it is one of the key factors to think about when designing a dvLED display project. Simply put, pixel pitch is the measurement, in mm, between the individual LEDs or pixels, measured from the center of one LED to the center of the LED adjacent to it. Naturally, as the pixel pitch value decreases, the resolution in a fixed size cabinet increases and allows for a closer optimal minimum viewing distance.
For this reason, it is important that you discuss with the client where the closest viewer will be in relation to the display so that you can choose a pixel pitch that is appropriate for the specific application, remembering that as pixel pitch decreases, the equipment cost increases. As a general rule of thumb that has been shared with me, you can multiply the pixel pitch by 10 to give you the approximate closest viewing distance in feet. For example, the recommended minimum viewing distance for a 2.5-pixel pitch wall would be 25 feet.
If you are like me, then often when you think about display resolution for common applications it is typically 1080p (1920×1080), WUXGA (1920×1200), or 4K (3840×2160), understanding that there are many others, but these are most common. With flat panel displays and projectors, the image size can vary while the resolution remains constant. For example, a 4K display can be 55” in diagonal, 98” in diagonal, or several other sizes, but the resolution will always be 4K. With projection, a native WUXGA projector, whether displaying a 110” diagonal image, a 216” diagonal image, or any size for that matter, the resolution will always be 1920×1200.
This is not the case with dvLED, as the individual LEDs (or “pixels”) mounted on the surface of the module are a fixed size, so that when the size of a dvLED display changes, so does the resolution. To illustrate this, let’s look at a dvLED panel that is 16:9, 27.5” in diagonal with a pixel pitch of 1.58. The resolution of this panel is 384×216. If you require a 1920×1080 display, you will need 25 panels in a 5×5 array making a 137.5” diagonal display, while if you require a 4K 3840×2160 display, you will need 100 panels in a 10×10 array making a 275” diagonal display, requiring four times the real estate!
In many cases, dvLED displays will either be wall-mounted or flown, although sometimes they can be ground stacked with the appropriate stacking hardware. Depending upon the size of the display, they can get quite heavy. For example, a recent 165” diagonal display (6×6 array) I quoted weighed just shy of 500lbs, and a 275” display (10×10 array) weighed over 1300 lbs. It is absolutely crucial that the structure or wall on which you are mounting the dvLED or the structure from which you are rigging can support the load.
Additionally, in order for a successful installation, the dvLED cabinets need to be perfectly aligned along the x, y, and z axes so there are no visible seams between the individual panels that make up the display. Since most walls will have some imperfections and not be perfectly flat, you will be faced with either using shims or exploring mounting hardware that provides post-installation adjustment of all three axes.
Power and Data
Unlike a traditional flat panel or projector, the display does not have a single power cord with dvLED. Instead, depending upon the size and resolution of the display, multiple AC circuits are required. If we go back to the 165” 6×6 array I referenced earlier, this display required six dedicated 110v/10A outlets. In this case, each AC circuit is powering six panels with a main connection to the first, then daisy-chaining with power jumpers to the next five.
In addition to power, every dvLED display requires multiple data connections between the display and the dvLED controller/processor using data cabling, such as Cat6. The number of data runs will vary based on the overall resolution of the display, but you can expect that the manufacturer will advise you during the proposal stage on the required cabling and power requirements for the specific project.
I am seeing more and more projects come across my desk that involve dvLED, and there has been dramatic growth in overall product sales in the category over this last year. There is no reason to believe that these trends will not continue, and I look forward to continuing my education on the subject.
This is part three of a three-part blog series on ARHT Media’s new Holographic TelePresence technology, distributed in the U.S. exclusively through Almo Professional A/V. Find part one here and part two here.
You’re in conference calls with partners and coworkers multiple times a day, day after day, week after week. Naturally, you can imagine 2D video meetings have gotten a little old and unimaginative.
ARHT Media and Almo Professional A/V have joined forces. The new partnership brings Holographic TelePresence technology and a new platform for it called the Virtual Global Stage. In case you have not heard, this exciting solution is coming soon to a virtual stage design near you.
While COVID-19 was completely unexpected, we now know a lot more about how work, UCC (unified communications and collaboration) and meeting culture will change. Acting upon this new knowledge now is totally in your power.
What is hologram technology used for? Here are a few applications for which Holographic TelePresence is a perfect fit:
Higher education. Yes, we can do our virtual teaching through video conferencing platforms. But with more than a few people on each session, the personal feel you’re yearning for pretty much vanishes. Classrooms are an ideal place for interactive holographic displays. Why? Because holograms prove particularly useful where a connection is valued.
In the classroom, there’s great importance in seeing facial expressions, storytelling through body language, reading the room before moving onto the next lesson. As great as it is to have Zoom and Teams for digital learning, truly connecting on a 2D platform is tough. Add holography, and picture the wildly enriched lectures and engaging experiences.
Corporate and UCC spaces. The second application to consider as a use case for Holographic TelePresence is corporate. Holographic TelePresence takes the idea of a virtual meeting and infuses it with new energy and possibilities.
While, for now, we see holographic display images used by the C-Suite, widespread use is very possible. In corporate environments, remote or otherwise, ARHT’s technology breaks down the limitations of 2D. Hologram tech in a virtual environment creates an interactive experience that benefits viewers and hologram presenters alike.
Live events, meetings and conferences. Live event programming, while fun and valuable, costs a fortune. Highly desired speakers only have so much time and availability. Consider the possibilities if, suddenly, neither travel nor a large venue were needed. That alone is enough to make an event planner smile.
How great would it be to virtually stage a room and have world-class speakers (think religious leaders, CEOs, politicians, celebrities) at virtual events if the in-person feel was maintained? Booking speakers virtually (who can “beam in” from their remote setup instead of getting on a plane) saves time and finances — plus, it greatly lessens the environmental impact. Through Holographic TelePresence, it’s as though hologram presenters are on stage next to each other.
A Visual Edge and an Emotional Draw: Now Is The Time for 3D Holographic Display Tech
Especially lately, high-status speakers like celebrities are in high demand. But does a 2D video appearance create the connection that an in-person one would? No.
3D hologram meetings and hologram teleconferences deliver a more lifelike presentation and create a bigger emotional draw. In an interview with Inavate Magazine, ARHT Media CEO Larry O’Reilly highlighted an example from December 2018 with “Aquaman” star Jason Momoa.
“He was rehearsing for Saturday Night Live [in New York City],” said O’Reilly. “On Thursday night, he just went to a different studio at 30 Rock, and we beamed him into Mexico City for fan engagement and media events at the IMAX theatre there. The next night, we beamed him into Comic-Con Brazil, where he addressed over 3,000 people live.”
Through its Virtual Global Stage, ARHT leverages the proprietary transmission software that powers its HoloPresence (or “holographic presence”) platform to “beam” multiple presenters into a virtual, online environment. Human holograms then appear in lifesize proportions and can interact with audience members (and the other panelists) virtually.
Hologram solutions are beyond what your customer even knows.
Some may claim that hologram media is a trend — or they’ll say it’s just emerging — but we know otherwise. The benefits of an enhanced teaching presence, a cutting-edge guest appearance or a town hall that doesn’t put you to sleep are massive. We’ve heard people say that futuristic solutions like human hologram technology are just a solution just looking for a problem. COVID-19 has changed this reality.
This is part two of a three-part blog series on ARHT Media’s new Holographic TelePresence technology, distributed in the U.S. exclusively through Almo Professional A/V. You can find part one here.
Providers like Zoom have done an amazing job supporting the new remote world this year. But if you’re now video conferencing all day, you may be “Zoomed out” from all the video calls. I know I am.
What seems like endless video conferences, webinars, and virtual meetings has been, well, fine. And necessary during this cultural shift in work and meetings. But we can only thrive so long on standard 2D video conferencing.
In remote and virtual settings, 2D video conferencing only scratches the surface of what is possible.
In part one of this three-part blog series, we gave you the scoop on something new and exciting that could change video meetings and virtual events. That something is called Holographic TelePresence, and it’s a solution from ARHT Media that brings lifelike, interactive holographic display content to your event, room or computer screen. Holographic TelePresences creates a unique and highly engaging experience like no other.
To add to the excitement, ARHT’s new Virtual Global Stage (VGS)platform is a premium, digital experience. It offers the look and feel of a professional broadcast but streamed online. Through the Virtual Global Stage, presenters, panelists and lecturers around the world can participate from wherever they can access a capture studio.
Imagine the possibilities when you eliminate the need for a huge venue, expensive travel, and the physical gathering of attendees.
Unlike AR and VR, No Headset Is Needed With Holographic TelePresence
Do you know how hologram technology works? Below, we explain how ARHT Media does it.
Using proprietary technology, capture studios, and standard projection equipment, Holographic TelePresence “beams” presenters into one or multiple venues simultaneously. You may also hear the technology referred to as HoloPresence, short for “holographic presence.” Presenters can be located anywhere in the world — they just need the equipment and access to the platform via the web. Along with a new hologram presentation platform known as the Virtual Global Stage, Holographic TelePresence enables hybrid events — with some participants attending remotely and some attending live.
In other words, ARHT’s hologram events can run with all-remote participants/presenters, or with some live and some remote participants/presenters. Attendees and speakers choose how they participate — remotely or face to face — which empowers choice and flexibility. The value is that events can reach their largest possible audience. Organizations can also deliver a premium experience that goes well beyond the 2D video call.
To explain how Holographic TelePresence works, we’ll distinguish it from holograms, virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR).
Holographic TelePresence vs. Holograms:There is a distinction to be made between true holograms — 3D images produced in mid-air — and Holographic TelePresence. The “ARHT” (pronounced “art”) in ARHT Media stands for Augmented Reality Holographic Technology. It turns out that ARHT’s solution is not exactly equatable to a hologram, even though the final result appears as one. (Quick note: we will refer to the imagery produced by ARHT’s technology as “holograms;” just know we’re using that term as a general understanding of the final result — lifelike images that appear to the audience as holograms. We’re doing that for simplicity’s sake, not specifically to annoy the technology purists out there.)
Holographic TelePresence vs. AR and VR: How does ARHT’s solution differ from other new hologram technology, virtual reality and augmented reality? VR blocks out your ability to see and hear the real world — usually through a VR headset. AR uses a computer and, sometimes, a special headset or glasses to create digital objects and overlay them onto what you see in our physical world. Are you familiar with Pokémon GO? That’s also augmented reality.
Holographic TelePresence is a projection that uses an illusion effect powered by ARHT’s “HumaGram” technology. ARHT’s technique is more sophisticated than others you may know, like Pepper’s Ghost. Contrasting AR and VR to Holographic TelePresence, ARHT’s solution is neither augmented reality nor virtual reality alone. Holographic AR is steps beyond — no headset or special glasses needed.
With these distinctions and a new understanding, we’re ready to reveal the minimal equipment it takes to deploy ARHT’s hologram technology in any space.
Debunking the Technology
To virtually stage a room, Holographic TelePresence requires a more precise setup than video conferencing or a remote presentation system, but the concept and necessary equipment are pretty straightforward. ARHT’s setup is a combination of video shot in front of a backdrop, then projected on stage (or “on stage,” if being done virtually) onto a screen. So, the production needs a screen, as well as controlled lighting, to ensure the projection is bright and visible.
In an article with Inavate Magazine, Andrew Parry, an online learning video producer at Imperial College Business School, explained further. Elements to consider include the capture space (plus, distance between camera and subject), the height/positioning of the camera, and lighting. In the case of Imperial College’s virtual stage design, Parry explained, lights placed behind the subject backlit everything, including shoes. He added that there were also two lights arranged in front of the subject to improve the lighting of the human hologram on the other end.
Factors such as lighting and camera angle ensure that the final result — holographic display images on the screen — is an accurate representation in terms of body shape and dimensions. Thankfully, the AV industry is quite familiar with the principles of projection, making the execution of this technology, once learned, quite straightforward.
Below, you’ll see some behind-the-scenes photos of the setup in a recent hologram teleconference held live with ARHT’s hologram tech. In the interview, rAVe [PUBS] founder Gary Kayye (beaming in from North Carolina) and Almo’s Sam Taylor (beaming in from Maryland) are using ARHT’s Virtual Global Stage. To the audience, the two appeared virtually on the same “stage” with no editing, and no latency lag, having a real-time conversation about the emerging interactive hologram technology.
Will Hologram Technology Change Business in 2020?
While holograms have gotten plenty of attention in the media these past few years, many could be asking if this is just a trend. Will on-stage holograms like ARHT Media’s become big business? What can we expect from hologram technology in the future?
We believe any industry — higher education, live events, advertising and entertainment, healthcare, corporate spaces, meeting spaces, you name it — will benefit from 3D holographic display technology.