Headquarters: Kortrijk, Belgium
ABOUT: Barco, a global technology company, designs and develops visualization products for a variety of selected professional markets. Barco has its own facilities for sales and marketing, customer support, research and development, and manufacturing in Europe, North America, and Asia Pacific. Barco is active in more than 90 countries with more than 3,500 employees worldwide. Barco posted sales of 1.041 billion euro in 2011.
The Barco ImagePRO-II Everybody knows that sequels never live up to the hype of the original. Sure, you’ll always find a fan-boy eager to argue that Empire is superior to the first Star Wars, or that Godfather II trumps the original Godfather. But those are rare exceptions, hardly the rule.
With the release of ImagePRO-II—Barco’s update on its much revered video conversion hardware—the tech giant is out to prove that the AV industry plays by a different set of rules.
The fact that Barco’s ImagePRO-II is being released nearly a decade after the original ImagePRO is a testament to the foresight that was built into the original. Referred to as the “Swiss army knife of video,” the ImagePRO became ubiquitous by bringing video conversion into the digital age.
The ImagePRO-II development team.
“The need for a versatile, robust video conversion box was developing in the early 2000s,” recalled Andreas Yerocostas, R&D director for the image processing group of the entertainment division of Barco. “The Sony DSC-1024 was the standard but could only handle analog. A high-quality video conversion device that could also handle the evolving digital standards, like DVI and SDI, was needed.”
That’s where Barco saw its opening with ImagePRO, and built in enough foresight—like high definition—to cover market needs for almost 10 years.
Started in Belgium in the 1930s, Barco was originally known as Belgian American Radio Corporation. “Barco changed over time to adapt with evolving technologies, from radios to displays to LE D and projection, to high definition cinema projection and lasers,” explained Yerocostas. “Along with the technological evolutions, the company, through inorganic expansion, developed into an international company with R&D design centers in Belgium, Europe, the U.S., India, and China, and manufacturing in the U.S., Belgium, and China, and a worldwide sales force.”
Andreas Yerocostas, R&D director for the image processing group of the
entertainment division of Barco, in front of a stack of ImagePROs.
In 2004 Barco acquired Folsom Research, a small, Sacramento, CA-based company instrumental in creating the first seamless video presentation switchers for events. The acquisition meant that Barco could take a giant leap toward providing total solutions beyond display-only functionalities, and within months the Image- PRO was shipping to customers.
The ImagePRO, or as it is often referred to, the i-PRO, is “the de-facto standard for video conversion,” proclaimed Yerocostas. “It’s a robust product that just works and gets the job done, no matter what you throw at it.” It primarily serves the rental and staging market, a market in which Barco has expanded its product portfolio to offer complete integrated solutions to its customers. These expansions include image processing, projection, LED, and lighting.
The ImagePRO-II maintains the original’s Swiss army knife capabilities, while adding more “blades” to the toolkit. “In addition to SDI, DVI, and analog,” explained Yerocostas, “it handles HDMI, Dual-DVI, DisplayPort, High Definition encrypted content (HDCP) from Blu-rays and other devices, dual outputs, 3D processing, built-in web interface, DisplaySense Technology, easy setup for LE D walls, and so much more.”
“At NAB 2012, we visited a customer while directing video presentations at a major trade show booth,” recalled Yerocostas. “We asked him if he had any of our gear. He said he had a couple of ImagePROs and one ImagePRO-II. We asked him what they were used for. He said ‘we ended up not using them. But we always bring them, just in case.’ And that is exactly the point. An ImagePRO is the show savior. ImagePROs are taken to a show to handle both known as well as unknown situations.”
Chuck Ansbacher is the managing editor of SCN.