by Kirsten Nelson
New Hope, MN—Last week, Vaddio introduced its EasyUSB series of professional AV-quality computer peripherals, which are aimed squarely at allowing AV integrators to capitalize on the soft-codec trend—enabling them to build enterprise-quality videoconferencing, lecture capture, and webcasting systems to make Joe CEO’s desktop applications perform at a higher level.
To further complete the picture, this week Vaddio announced a collection of partnerships with soft codec service facilitator VidTel, multiparty videoconference enabler Blue Jeans Network, and streaming technologies manufacturer Sonic Foundry.
“The fastest growing segment of videoconferencing is soft codecs—it’s not appliances,” noted Vaddio president and CEO Rob Sheeley. The major videoconferencing manufacturers are following the lead of web-based applications by becoming software companies, he elaborated. “They realize that the idea of appliance-based sales, it just isn't going to happen, because with a soft client, now they fit directly into the IT infrastructure.”
|Vaddio’s EasyUSB provides tools to build enterprise-quality videoconferencing systems integrated with affordable soft codecs.|
The angle that AV integrators need to focus on in this scenario, Sheeley observed, “is that IT guys still don't know what sounds good or looks good. They know how to network a building, but they still have the same challenges they had before. Designing an audiovisual systems is as much an art form as it is a science, and being able to understand speakers and get the right coverage, EQing it, setting up mics, all those steps require a very thorough knowledge of the industry. Just as is the case with setting up a camera and having the right lighting, these are all things that are in AV integrators' DNA. They've got those skills and capabilities.”
Proof of the need for integrators’ expertise is in the fact that as more PC applications are used for group functions and remote collaboration in meeting room and lecture capture scenarios, AV presentation tools have become as essential to productivity as a mouse and keyboard. The integration of these two separate technology worlds is what Vaddio had in mind when it developed the EasyUSB series of professional AV-quality computer peripherals.
As the analog world of AV collides with the digital demands of IT, the latter department often wondered why they couldn’t plug broadcast-quality cameras and microphones directly into a PC, observed Sheeley. “The question we asked was, what if we made transducers—speakers, microphones, displays, video cameras—that would plug into the computer, which would then stream that high-quality broadcast-level audio and video directly to the PC so it would empower applications to truly have a very high-quality experience. That's really what the EasyUSB tools are designed for—these are the first tools that really are designed for the professional AV community. These are not PC peripheral toys.”
True to what Sheeley said, the new line employs the same sensors, lenses, and DSP technology used in Vaddio’s ClearView HD robotic cameras. Additionally, EasyUSB audio gear is all about full bandwidth and brings with it the echo cancellation and other necessary essentials.
Vaddio is also venturing into control with this launch, debuting the Webbi web-based server appliance, which allows for browser-based operation of Vaddio audio and video components. The goal was to produce an alternative to the dual system approach where a PC might be running videoconferencing software while AV components are controlled via a third-party solution, Sheeley explained. “We wanted to create a control system where users could take their mouse or keyboard and control the audio and video.”
Noting that the advent of PowerPoint drove the adoption of projectors in meeting rooms, Sheeley made an analogy to how videoconferencing applications will push demand for high-quality AV computer peripherals to be installed by integrators. “We need to make sure that we provide the tools which allow these PCs to be able to behave like AV systems, but as an industry we can still do the integration, installation, design, consulting—all the same things we did before,” Sheeley emphasized. “It's just that now instead of connecting through a big patchbay via audio/video switchers, mixers, and routers, we're connecting into the computer, which is this then going into the IP world.”
Now with the ability to build “an enterprise-quality videoconferencing system with affordable soft codecs like Microsoft Lync, Skype or Google Talk,” Sheeley concluded, AV integrators might find profit in the much-hyped arrival of convergence.
Watch Vaddio’s EasyUSB Feats of Amazement videos here