Skip to content

Whitlock Convergence 2014

By: Todd Stabley

I got the chance to attend the Whitlock Convergence, probably the best annual A/V tradeshow in the area, on September 23rd. As usual, it was a useful event with many major players in the classroom technology space represented and showing off their newest products. Many area educational and classroom technology specialists were in attendance, and it was a good opportunity to connect with them and catch up.

Screen Shot 2014-09-23 at 5.22.27 PM

Keynote and General Themes

  • One of the themes of the conference was the Internet of Things, or as Cisco calls it, the Internet of Everything. Cisco has a counter that approximates the number of new devices coming online every second based on their projection that there will be 50 billion devices by 2020:
  • There was some debate among the panel about how quickly IOE will be a reality. One panelist noted how nothing except Lync works with Skype, and said he thought we were 10 years out from the vision of interoperability being described.  In many cases because of competition vendors don’t have incentive to create the kind of interoperability needed to support a grand IOE vision.
  • Miracast–a peer to peer wireless screencast standard leveraging an 802.11 radio link. Has solid roots in smartphones, tablets and portable devices, but also starting to show up in flat panel displays and projectors. Connecting mobile devices wirelessly to classroom systems is an on-going problem many of us are trying to solve here at Duke and in education more broadly.
  • MHL (Mobile High-Definition Link)–another technology focused on mobile devices, projected to become a standard for connecting mobile devices to fixed A/V systems. This technology adapts a Micro-USB connection on a mobile device to an HDMI jack, allowing you to connect the dongle to a display via an HDMI cable, displaying up to 1080p video. The The MHL 3.0 standard supports up to 4K (Ultra HD) high-definition (HD) video and 7.1 surround-sound audio, while simultaneously charging the connected device.
  • HDBaseT–this technology allows conversion of A/V sources via wallplate switchers in classrooms, converging uncompressed full HD digital video, audio, 100BaseT Ethernet, Power over HDBaseT (POH) and various control signals all through a single 100m/328ft CAT5e/6 cable. This could allow for a great deal of flexibility in classrooms for supporting the range of devices users might want to use.

Floor Show

As usual, there was an impressive array of vendors and new products on the floor for a local trade show. Among some of the highlights I noted:

  • DNP Optical Project Screens

These screens are designed to eliminate the washed out look many screens have when reflecting content from projectors because of ambient light. Multiple micro-layers filter ambient light, reflecting back a much richer, more contrasty image. It is claimed that it’s not necessary to lower lights or draw blinds in many cases when using these screens, and the results I saw on display at the show were impressive. There are options for standard sizes as well as virtually unlimited custom sizes.

  • 3d Document Cameras

WolfVision didn’t have one of these on display at their booth but noted this is a new direction for their product line. As 3D Displays become more ubiquitous in classrooms, there may be applications for this at Duke in cases where objects are being shown and discussed during class. These camera systems, along with 2d ones in Wolfvision’s line, also have new capability for instructors to annotate and control the display coming from doc cams via Android tablets and iOS devices.

  • Classroom Microphones

I didn’t get the model since the company didn’t have documentation on hand, but Shure has a new wireless lav microphone that a presenter can unplug and hand to another speaker who then uses the mic as a hand-held. When plugged back in, it converts to a lav. Shure also had some very interesting control software for room microphones allowing admins to set policies for powering mics on and off and for remotely powering them on/off as needed. Some of our campus A/V experts were eyeing these new products with interest.

Categories: DDMC Info

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *