Two decades ago, control was still a button thing, and backlit buttons were super cool. Some things have survived since then, like RS-232 and the human fascination with blinking lights, but today you really can't dazzle anyone with these features alone. Now it's all about the back end, and how easy and efficient it is to design and implement an interface.
A little company called Extron made its foray into control way back in those push-button days of 1994 with the System 8 Plus, and since then, its product releases have tracked along with industry demand for new bells and whistles.
In the past few weeks, in accordance with Extron's tendency to debut a plethora of products at once, the manufacturer has released a series of updates that are all variations on the theme of making complex systems simple. New Pro Series products include a swath of TouchLink Pro touchpanels, IP Link Pro control processors, the fancy new Global Configurator Professional, LinkLicense, and a smattering of Pro Series accessories.
News flash: Global Configurator Professional (aka GCPro) is now amped up with conditional logic. Now Extron customers can use if/then or if/or logic, a feature added by popular demand. That said, the release of GCPro necessitated Extron's update of a herd of products so they were faster, higher-performance, and more secure. The first batch included some 40 "Pro" level products, with new touchpanels among them.
This just in: Extron now supports the use of third-party touchscreens as control interfaces. With the TLI Pro 101 TouchLink Interface, the manufacturer has gone BYOD. Not only that, but they've gone BYOD without requiring a trip to the iTunes store to purchase an app. Instead, the dealer is the middleman, procuring and selling Extron LinkLicenses, which each enable the addition of up to eight devices into the system. This way, "the reseller is in complete control of the customer's BYOD experience," emphasized Joe da Silva, director of product marketing at Extron.
In conjunction with all this news, Extron has also launched its Extron Qualified Independent Programmers (EQIP) certification. Go to one of Extron's multitude of regional offices around the world and take a hands-on course in GCPro, and you can add Extron to your list of control options. Now that Extron has moved beyond configuration, independent control systems programmers have a new option.
Annnnnnd, last but not least, Extron is making 4K easier to manage with its DTP Crosspoint 84 presentation switcher. Crazy thing here is that you can expand I/Os by linking a processor to the big box. This new "controller grouping" option enables all the pieces of hardware to operate seamlessly as one big processor. Not to be outdone on the training side, Extron is also offering a program dedicated to 4K.
Looking ahead, da Silva indicated that more bells and whistles are imminent: "We have some big plans for control, and we're going to be making some announcements later on this year."
Kirsten Nelson is a freelance content producer who translates the expertise and passion of technologists into the vernacular of an audience curious about their creations. Nelson has written about audio and video technology in all its permutations for almost 20 years; she was the editor of SCN for 17 years.
Her experience in the commercial AV and acoustics design and integration market has also led her to develop presentation programs and events for AVIXA and SCN, deliver keynote speeches, and moderate and participate in panel discussions. In addition to technology, she also writes about motorcycles—she is a MotoGP super fan.