Taking Control Of Control

Hudson, WI - As an increasing number of facilities become "multimedia-enabled," the need for control systems multiplies. The challenge is that even moderate control systems can require costly programming.

"Much of the growth in the pro AV industry is being driven by falling prices for projectors, digital whiteboards and other presentation and collaborative AV gear. We are seeing strong growth in the industry around what we refer to as 'small-room' projects," observed David Parish, president and CEO of Calypso Control Systems in Hudson, WI. "Companies are taking rooms that used to have only a whiteboard, and are now installing projectors, speakers, DVD players and other equipment. These are relatively small-budget projects, often in the $10K to $15K budget range, yet all of these installations-whether they are boardrooms, classrooms or training facilities-require control systems."

Enter Calypso Control Systems, which is focused on developing control solutions that are easy to program...and, therefore, less expensive to install. "Calypso has developed a new class of control systems that are closely aligned with where the market is growing most rapidly."

Calypso's Pro I/O aims to achieve this by simplifying the implementation process. "The cost of control hardware is certainly one issue to look at when putting a control system in place. But it is just as important to consider the overall cost of implementation: additional costs for configuration, set-up and programming are usually the larger part of the overall project," added Rick Mathewson, VP of product Marketing for Calypso. "The second part of that comment is where we are positioning the Pro I/O."

The trick, according to Calypso's product development team, is to provide controllers that don't require programming language skills. "A lot of the complexity comes from the fact that they require that you combine 'control logic,' with user interface logic," Parish explained. "You need to develop a program that defines the graphical user interface, and then you need to embed control logic directly within that program. This turns into a fairly complex, time-consuming and high-priced task."

Constructed around what Calypso refers to as an "event database," the Pro I/O separates control logic from interface logic. "The event database that resides on the Pro I/O is easily configured by any competent pro AV systems integrator using a built-in web tool. The task involves simply defining incoming events-such as an IR signal, a contact closure, or a hyperlink trigger," Mathewson illustrated, "to trigger corresponding outgoing events."

As a result, end-users have more ownership over their systems once they have been programmed. "With the current systems that rely upon specialized programmers, when that installation is complete, that programmer leaves and goes back to his company," added Rick Mathewson. "The customer is left with a system that is pretty much proprietary to the programmer who developed it. If they need to make a change, they are joined at the hip to that programmer, or they must find another programmer who understands how this program was written." With the Pro I/O, end-users are able to make their own adjustments.

The Pro I/O features Calypso's patent-pending c_Link technology, which enables users to trigger control events via hyperlinks. "With c_Link, a user can easily define control buttons directly within programs like PowerPoint. The only information they need is the network address of the controller and the number of the events that they want to trigger," Parish explained.

Carolyn Heinze has covered everything from AV/IT and business to cowboys and cowgirls ... and the horses they love. She was the Paris contributing editor for the pan-European site Running in Heels, providing news and views on fashion, culture, and the arts for her column, “France in Your Pants.” She has also contributed critiques of foreign cinema and French politics for the politico-literary site, The New Vulgate.