Video Outlook

For those of you already thinking that this article will be a wild flight of fancy—a wish list for 2012— well, think again. This article contains information that will truly affect your business life in commercial AV in the coming year.

The most recent news release is that Sony, Toshiba, and Hitachi have created a joint venture. They have officially joined forces in a government-backed joint venture that’s been in the works for a few months. The three manufacturers will now form an entity known as Japan Display Inc., slated to launch during the spring of 2012. The stakeholders are hoping that this announcement will help revive their sagging display sales, with some extra help from Panasonic, which also announced that it’s selling one of its biggest domestic factories to the new JDI, for an unnamed sum. Remember that Panasonic now owns Sanyo—while we have yet to feel the impact of that deal, we sure will in 2012. As a point of reference on the backstory, just reflect on the lost market share by the Japanese manufacturers to both Korean and Chinese firms over the last few years. Also note the significant price drop on large LCD flat panels by Sharp to try to counter the same situation. Stay tuned, because we are not done yet!

Not only will we see major corporate moves, we will see a growth in several areas of commercial AV led by conferencing and collaboration. Our “need to be connected” is going to port over to videoconferencing systems with new and more affordable systems that work on less bandwidth from companies like LG, Sony, and some lesserknown brands.

The coming year will be the year of interactivity— whiteboard products based on flat panel displays will allow us to show our videos, PowerPoints, and spread sheets, and annotate the images in real time while saving them to electronic files for access later on. The price for a 65-inch to 70-inch flat panel with touchscreen capability will be under $7,000! For those who do not have the bigger bucks to spend, we will see more new short-throw projectors coming onto the scene. These will have the option of whiteboard software, the ability to keep the presenters out of the light path, and will be available for incredibly low prices.

Video walls will take on a life of their own due to the new thin bezel designs and the much more affordable processors needed to run them. In fact, most of the big manufacturers have their own built in processors included in the price of the displays. Recent estimates tell us that we will have a four-fold increase in video wall sales over the next four years. To go along with the “thin is in” trend in LCD flat panels, LED backlighting will take over from the “antiquated” CCFL illuminated panels and the price differential between old and new will ultimately go away.

A more traditional way to get a really big picture on screen is to use a large venue projector. On this front, there has been much progress from companies like Christie Digital, Digital Projection, and Barco. In 2012 you will see that the devil is truly in the details in this arena. The good folks at Digital Projection are dedicating themselves to breaking the mold of conventional wisdom and are now offering a full three years parts and labor warranty on their entire product lineup. In addition, you will see more work in the area of energy savings, lower cost three chip DLP products, and of course, 3D. In the Barco camp they are specializing in segments of the market rather than being all things to all people. In the cinema realm, along with Dolby, they will execute a series of demonstrations to show content in a variety of frame rates and resolutions, including: 1.) 2D 2K high frame rate at 48 frames per second (fps); 2.) 2D 4K at 24 fps; and 3.) 2K high frame rate at 48 and 60 fps per eye for 3D. Turning their attention to medical applications, they are doing some groundbreaking work on full bandwidth signals over IP. This integrated digital approach eliminates the need for extensive cabling and complicated configurations. The bottom line is that large venue projection is alive and well, and residing in brands you know and love.

No story would be complete without a look at 3D. Sony, Panasonic, X6D, and Samsung are forming what they call a super group to address at least one of the hurdles of more pervasive 3D adoption. The “Full HD 3D Glasses Initiative” is a project to create a unified standard that will let you use the same pair of spectacles on any display or at any theater that uses the Xpand 3D standard. The joint testing center will open later this month.

In addition to traditional 3D with glasses, we will see several flat panel display manufacturers come out with new versions of auto stereoscopic 3D that does not require glasses. The problem with most current attempts is the need to stand in a tiny sweet spot to get the full 3D effect. The good news is that I have seen new models that eliminate this problem and we can look to expanded commercial applications in 2012.

There you have it, short and sweet. Conferencing and collaboration, interactivity, white boards, and 3D developments will abound, and companies will continue to try to address the ever-changing market—all part of making 2012 an exciting year to come.