Joining Forces: What to Make of InfoComm15’s Blockbuster Alliances

Joining Forces: What to Make of InfoComm15’s Blockbuster Alliances
  • You’ve seen the headlines by now: AMX by Harman Buys SVSi. Intel Unites with Biamp. Crestron Pairs With Microsoft. But what do these developments mean for the pro AV industry?
  • AMX Buys SVSi
  • This week, AMX by Harman, maker of control systems, touch panels, asset management systems, and collaboration solutions, has acquired SVSi, a fast-growing, mid-sized provider of networked AV and 4K over IP.

Kevin Deasy, VP of marketing, SVSi, told AV Technology that the acquisition process began long before InfoComm 2015, and excitement—as well as expectations—couldn’t be higher. "From our initial discussions with AMX, it was obvious that our company cultures were a perfect match,” Deasy noted.Matt D. Scott explained the synergy between AMX and SVSi this way: "SVSI has taken the approach to allow their products to sit natively on the network and work with existing network infrastructure (using the de facto standard Layer 3 switches found in most corporate environments) to provide full-resolution HD switching over the network."

What’s the takeaway? The SVSi brand will remain intact, its staff based in the Huntsville, Alabama headquarters. SVSi will join Harman Professional's Video and Control Strategic Business Unit led by Rashid Skaf and marketed under the AMX by Harman brand.

Presaging increased emphasis on IP-based solutions, Blake Augsburger, president, Harman Professional Division, stated in a release: “For more than six years, we have been steadily introducing new products to serve growing customer demand for IP-based products." Is AV over IP the future? It certainly looks that way. For more info, watch the SVSi video.

It’s official: Biamp Systems is teaming up with Intel to bring its TesiraFORTE digital audio processing magic into the heart of a wireless collaboration solution—the Intel Unite. This alliance addresses an often-overlooked impediment to UCC—good, reliable audio. Connected via USB port, TesiraFORTE within Intel Unite will add fast, high-quality sound to any UCC environment, according to Graeme Harrison, executive vice president of marketing for Biamp Systems. The goal of the partnership? To help meetings start on time and enhance team productivity. If meeting participants can't hear, they can't engage effectively. Anyone who has ever had to strain their ears to hear remote colleagues on a washed out speakerphone understands.

Biamp's TesiraFORTE digital audio processing power within the Intel Unite solution will offer business-grade collaboration.

Biamp is also developing myriad connectivity options for the Unite ecosystem, including Biamp-specific plug-ins and Ethernet AVB/TSN connections. Biamp currently offers eight TesiraFORTE models (half are AVB-enabled models, the other half are non-AVB) with fixed I/O configurations, designed to enhance collaboration, VoIP, conferencing, and real-time content sharing.

The view from inside: “Biamp’s passion is to deliver the best possible audio experience, which is critical to productive collaborative spaces,” said Harrison. “Working together with a company like Intel to offer a solution that easily connects many devices—starting meetings quickly, eliminating technology delays, and delivering a great audio experience—is how unified communications and collaboration is meant to be. We look forward to further developing the integration between our products and Intel Unite software.”

The alliance between Biamp and Intel around the Unite solution, which debuted at Computex this month, adds further credence to the AV/IT converged reality on display at InfoComm15. The Intel Unite will compete with other “huddle room”-style collaboration kits, such as Crestron AirMedia, AMX Enzo, Kramer’s Via and Via Collage, Barco ClickShare, etc, to offer users wireless BYOD-style collaboration options.

The Intel Unite is outfitted with an Intel Core vPro processor-powered mini PC, which resides in the conference room, and an Intel Unite app, which runs on mobile peripherals. Meeting participants can present, interact, and share wirelessly, using new or existing BYOD end-points; both on- and off-site attendees can view and contribute actively in real time. Harrison said that Intel Unite includes admin capabilities, such as SSO (single sign on), unique PIN design, and the hardware-enhanced security of an Intel Core vPro processor, increase security within the collaboration session itself, and help classify it as a bona fide business-grade option.

Microsoft’s Surface Hub—a fully loaded, 4K-ready, touch-enabled PC equipped with NFC, network capabilities, mics, and more—will be controlled natively by Crestron.

Crestron's DigitalMedia Presentation System (DMPS), TSW touchscreens, TSS scheduling panels, and a set of USB extenders will enable collaboration with Surface Hub from "any device" in the room or enterprise. Crestron says that touch-functionality will pass from the Surface Hub to any of the connected devices, and Windows 10 apps (e.g., Skype for business) can launch on any of the devices, at the display or at the table. Environmental settings, including motorized shades, lighting, and temperature, can be adjusted directly on the Surface Hub using Crestron’s app.

Crestron has a plethora of collaboration solutions already available and widely adopted, so what do they get out of this Microsoft marriage? Baking Crestron’s native compatibility right into the Surface Hub is a smart strategy for enhanced interoperability and scaling 4K. Microsoft also offers a broad market reach.

“We have our application that runs on the system, and our different solutions have all been tailored so that we can pair natively with it,” Joe Sarrasin, Crestron’s product manager for UCC solutions, explained. “Our TSW series touchpanels can control different aspects of the room from the table; you can marry it with our scheduling panels, and you can use our DMPS and USB extenders to route video and touch and scale 4K and 1080p, and all the things that you would expect to do with our DM products, but you can do them within the Surface Hub environment now.”

In July, the Surface Hub will be available in two configurations: 55-inch for $6,999 and 84-inch for $19,999.

Margot Douaihy, Ph.D.

Margot Douaihy, Ph.D., is a lecturer at Franklin Pierce University.