Extron Institute School of Engineered System Technologies: Day 2

Day two at the Extron Institute in Raleigh brought more overwhelming but highly beneficial information. Today's topics included multi-image processing, AV Resource management, and commissioning hybrid video systems. The day finished with a feedback session that allowed the class participants the time to share concerns and wishes directly with Extron senior engineers and product managers. This gave the everyone an invitation to speak directly to the manufacturer's representatives providing us a prime opportunity to tell them what we saw in their products: likes, dislikes, and desirable features.

Multi-image processing explored the depths of switcher/scalers: the difficulties they help overcome and the challenges presented by mixed resolutions and aspect ratios. According to a chart in the presentation material, there are currently 22 accepted resolutions spreading over 5 different aspect ratios. These variants can cause some difficulty when dealing with a few inputs to only a few outputs. When dealing with video wall or high-volume output situations, the complexity level will rise exponentially. Extron also showed off their new annotation graphics processor, which allows real time on-screen drawing and typing. This can be used with a third party touch screen interface or a more traditional mouse/keyboard combo.

We also got a chance to play with one of Extron's newest control products, the TouchLink line of touch screen configurable controllers. These seven-inch displays come in either a tabletop or wall mount configuration. They're easily customized with their proprietary GUI Configurator software, allowing system designers to tailor their interface design to the client's needs and requirements.

The commissioning discussion covered optimizing mixed analog and digital video systems using test patterns and representative images. Choosing notoriously troublesome images to help find flaws in image setup. This instruction was followed by some examples where we examined the weaknesses of some given systems.

We ended the day with a great steak dinner at Fleming's. I look forward to seeing further innovations, such as increased distance over twisted pair transmitters, from Extron in the coming years as digital systems (hopefully) become more standardized.
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