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ProAV Roundup: Signage and Projectors

Latest in the ProAV world By Denise Harrison
3M Enters Digital Signage Market Via Mercury Acquisition

This is not your fathers 3M any more. Back in the early 1990s 3M entered the projection market with a line-up mostly of OEMd projectors. In fact, they actually shipped the industrys first 1000-lumen semi-portable LCD projector. But, they never took off. In fact, they mostly headed out of the projection market until early 2000. Since then, they have carved out a niche that deserves a following. But, with this acquisition and a corporate history of always being profitable, they should become a market leader, finally.

3M announced the company will acquire Mercury Online Solutions, a Wash.-based digital signage company that markets large-scale networks and interactive kiosks. Mercury has roughly 30 employees and installed the first system in 1996. According to the Mercury website, the company has 4,000 active screens around the U.S. One of the companys major customers is AT&T and Mercury has at least 3,000 kiosks and signage displays in 900 AT&T Wireless retail stores (now Cingular), and Mercury helped AT&T bring its online store into these brick and mortar stores. The company also markets digital posters.

Mercury also provides system consulting and design, implementation, monitoring and remote diagnostics, technical support and service, and content hosting. 3M Says the acquisition lets them use the 3M global services platform

They expect to finalize the acquisition in August.

For more on Mercury, go to http://www.mercuryonline.com/mossite_high/

Digital Cinema Initiatives (DCI) Announces Final Overall System Requirements and Specifications for Digital Cinema in U.S.

Cinema operators are one step closer to incorporating digital cinema systems in theaters. The Digital Cinema Initiative, a consortium of representatives from major motion picture studios, completed the final overall system requirements and specifications to help theatrical projector and equipment manufacturers create uniform and compatible digital cinema equipment throughout the United States.

The agreement was three years in development and in the end, it was unanimous. The specification is also being translated for international markets.

Digital Cinema Initiatives, LLC was created in March 2002 and is a joint venture of Disney, Fox, Paramount, Sony Pictures Entertainment, Universal and Warner Bros. Studios. DCI's primary purpose is to establish and document voluntary specifications for an open architecture for digital cinema that ensures a uniform and high level of technical performance, reliability and quality control.

If youve seen the announcements from Christie and Barco lately, its clear that digital cinema is gaining a foothold around the world for pre-show content. Pre-show advertising is completely logical on a digital network cinema operators can program the ads according to demographics such as age group likely to attend a certain film, location, and time of day.

Digital cinema for film distribution and projection is another story. Getting companies that rely on film distribution for part of their income to agree on a digital standard had to be tricky, but it appears these major studios agree that its the future of film.

Some companies, such as Warner Bros., say theyll release films in both 33mm and DCI digital cinema. Warner Bros. plans to achieve that by the end of this year. Director Jim Cameron and producer Jon Landau are already talking about making 3D Stereo films.

For more on DCI, go to http://www.dcimovies.com/

For the full spec, go to http://www.dcimovies.com/DCI_Digital_Cinema_System_Spec_v1.pdf

Thomson to Acquire Retail Digital Signage Company

Thomson announced the acquisition of PRN Corporation, which adds a large base of retailers to Thomsons digital signage customer list.

PRN, a privately-held company based in San Francisco, has in-store signage networks in more than 6,000 locations and includes Wal-Mart, Sams Club, Costco, Albertsons, Best Buy and Circuit City among the companys clients. PRN was founded in 1992.

Watch this closely as Thomson is back! Their Grass Valley group has the hottest digital content server on the market (Turbo) and they are well positioned to become a market leader in the glue part of the ProAV market soon.

For more information, go to http://www.prn.com/about/Thomson-PRN.htm



Canon Introduces New LCD Projectors, XGA Visualizer

Canon has three new LCD projectors and a new Visualizer. The LV-7245, LV-7240 and LV-X5 models are specified at XGA resolution, 400:1 contrast ratio, and 2500, 2100, and 1500 ANSI lumens, respectively.

These projectors come with seven different color adjustments -- blackboard, light yellow, light green, light blue, sky blue, light rose, and pink allowing users to project on a variety of surfaces. They also boast low noise levels of 28 and 30dB max.

The new RE-455X Visualizer, which was designed as either a companion to the new projectors or as a stand-alone, has a document camera specified at XGA resolution and lets the user focus on 3D objects or documents by touching one button. It has a 12x power zoom lens and a foldable design in order to make it easier to carry (its 20.7 pounds).

The Canon LV-7245, LV-7240, and LV-X5 projectors have MSRPs of $2,499, $1,999 and $1,399 respectively and will be available in September. The Canon RE-455X Visualizer has an MSRP of $2,299 and will also be available in September.

For more details, go to http://www.usa.canon.com/templatedata/pressrelease/20050808_projectors.html


Crestron Introduces Zoned Lighting, Shade, Drape Control

Crestrons new iLux CLS-C6 controls six lighting zones and six groups of shades and accommodates up to 15 user-preset lighting scenes. iLux CLS-C6 integrated with the companys control systems, of course.

This new product is a wall-mount unit with built-in dimmer circuits. There are six front-panel three-position rocker buttons to control each zone, and they provide white-LED feedback. Corresponding seven-segment LED bargraphs offer easy visualization of lighting levels in each zone. There is also a front-panel ?Master button as well as large ?Off and ?On buttons. Fade time and ramp rate are also programmable. Other functions include scene recall, scene off and master dim control. Each scene can be assigned to individual buttons at setup.

The panel can hold up to 16 Crestron keypads and 16 shade controllers and the iLux can be daisychained with up to seven iLux units. There are also optional motion detectors.

For more information, go to http://www.crestron.com/products/show_products.asp?jump=1&type=commercial&model=CLS-C6

New Control Protocol From Calypso Uses Hyperlink Technology

The new c_Link from Calypso Control Systems, now an integral feature of the companys hardware controllers, uses standard hyperlink protocols for developing control buttons. Those buttons can be placed into any hyperlink-ready software, such as Microsoft Word, PowerPoint and web development tools, for example.

Calypsos networked controllers use an integrated event database, which can now be configured with c_Link without the need for programming languages. Up to 128 input events and 512 related output reactions can be controlled using the hyperlinked IP address and event number. This means control buttons can be imbedded into PowerPoint presentations or interactive whiteboards, for example.

For more on c_Link and Calypsos hardware controllers, go to http://www.calypsocontrol.com/


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