Open Architecture

As AV continues its march into the mainstream world, facilities are finding more reasons to hang projectors, mount flat-panel displays, and string cable. As the "face" of the system to users and as the point of integration among the various components, the control system is pushed front and center to deliver on these expectations. The challenge to the system integrator is to deliver high-end functionality and flexibility while staying within budget and time constraints imposed by mainstream buyers.

System integrators and their customers have traditionally had to choose between inflexible, inexpensive control on the one hand, or flexible, complex, and more expensive control solutions on the other. As a practical matter, this distinction is really a decision on whether or not the project's budget can accommodate the cost of a control system programmer or if the solution could be assembled by a knowledgeable AV technician. More recently, manufacturers of control systems have begun to deliver solution options that populate the middle ground. That is, solutions combining simplicity and low cost with functionality approaching the capabilities of high-end systems. An open-architecture approach to control is key element to making this happen.
For example, when global marketing agency Momentum Worldwide recently specified AV device control for its new St. Louis offices, requirements came from its internal IT staff, not from an AV department. Design objectives for the new system included no proprietary programming, centralized control of all devices by IT staff, and fast and easy control system modifications as devices are added or changed. The project scope included five conference rooms, 12 narrowcast displays scattered throughout the building, three projectors used to create various visual themes, and a remarkable six-foot video sphere in the main entrance.

Cignal Systems, a St. Louis-based design/build AV integration company, responded with products from Calypso Control Systems. Calypso's ION Series of low cost IP-based device controllers are built upon an open architecture that eliminates control logic code writing. Instead of having programmers embed control logic into custom software, control protocols are placed into an event database that resides on the controller itself. Once the database is configured, any sequence of control events can be launched via any device capable of sending a valid "trigger" to the controller, be it serial, IR, network, relay, or timer-based.

With Calypso as the foundation, Cignal Systems created a robust and flexible open-architecture solution for their client that addressed all requirements. Because control logic resides on the controller, the Flash interface developed by Cignal Systems is easily modified to accommodate changes and is capable of calling control events and monitoring devices from anywhere on the network.