It was a year ago that WyreStorm, during InfoComm 2016, referred to AV-over-IP as “the future of distribution technology.” At InfoComm 2017 it appears that the future has arrived and Wyrestorm is among the manufacturers leading the way.
As James Meredith, Wyrestorm’s global product manager, points out, the company’s NetworkHD line has been offering AV-over-IP solutions for four years. It has a frame of reference, therefore, when it comes to the industry’s different level of understand and embrace of the distribution solution.
“I used to spend my time talking about the difference between latency and switching speed and these days everyone is aware of what those things are.”
Instead, at InfoComm 2017, Wyrestorm is able to elevate the AV-over-IP conversation and highlight what differentiates its brand.
Leading up to Infocomm 2017, Meredith took time to chat with CI about how market acceptance of AV-over-IP has changed and what Wyrestorm has in store for Infocomm 2017.
A year is a long time in Pro AV. What developments in the industry have caught your eye over the past 12 months and where do you see it heading into 2018?
There’s been quite a lot of churn in the industry over the last 12 months. I’ve been in the industry for 15 years. You can go to shows some years and you feel like not a lot has changed. Then other years you can go and it feels like three years have come in a single year. I feel that we’re going through one of those transitions right now, particularly when it comes to AV over IP.
Wyrestorm has been doing AV over IP with our NetworkHD range for the last four years now. Initially we had trouble communicating the benefits of our technology because the terminology wasn’t well understood. As an example, I used to spend my time talking about the difference between latency and switching speed and these days everyone is aware of what those things are. Everyone is aware of the pitfalls of AV over IP and the huge benefits of AV over IP. So the conversation with everybody has gotten easier and now it’s more a point of differentiating everything and how we make ourselves stand out as a brand and that’s something that we’ve spent the last 12 months focusing on.
Also in the industry we’ve had this transition to 4K which is now complete. 4K is now real, it’s now here with us. We had many years of talking about the dawning of HDMI [2.0] and that’s now with us. It’s not just with us, we’re now starting to move into the second generation of products within those switches where you begin to realize all of the features and begin to make sure that not just is the feature set complete but also you can work on the user experience and make sure that that’s a compete process so you can make sure it’s easy to use for the integrator as well as providing all the great features and picture quality.
AV over IP has really taken off over the past year and your NetworkHD AV over IP line has grown considerably since this time last year. Tell me what’s new and how WyreStorm’s AV over IP solutions differ from the competition?
You’re absolutely right. It isn’t just the ease of talking to people about technology; it’s the acceptance that has changed massively as well. I think early on we hit a lot of barriers particularly with end users but also consultants and some integrators. And I’ve always found integrators to be phenomenally progressive. But still the larger the integrator is, the bigger the boat is and the longer it takes to turn.
We’ve had an awful lot of discussions with people who are excited about the technology and the possibilities but they didn’t want to be the trailblazers. They want to use cutting edge technology, not bleeding edge.
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And I think now with three years behind us we’ve proven as an organization that we have the internal training and we have the documentation, the ease of use and the ability for people to actually get the system operational and call our support team if they have a problem and get a direct answer. We focused really hard on making sure all those things come true.
And also we have the case studies behind this now; we have an education case study, a hospitality case study, a retail case study that we can take our customers to and show them on our Youtube channel exactly what other customers have done and give them the confidence that our platform works and that AV over IP is not this sort of future technology that is coming tomorrow; it’s something that’s very much here today. And it’s working and providing amazing experiences for the people that use it.
WyreStorm is at InfoComm this year – what can we expect to see on the WyreStorm booth 3275 and what does that say about WyreStorm as a manufacturer?
InfoComm is such a great show, such a great event and a very big event. There are a lot of people there. So we’ve really spent 12 months focusing on what separates WyreStorm from the rest of the pack and puts us ahead and that really is a focus on using the right technology for the right application. We changed our [tagline] this year to, “Because the Technology Matters,” because we truly believe integration is critical. As a brand we’re really one of the very, very few technology manufacturers with a multi-technology approach to AV distribution. We’re experts in HDMI (distribution) and HDMI is great because it supports 4:4:4 60Hz with the (full) HDMI 2.0 feature set but it’s limited by distance.
I’ve always found integrators to be phenomenally progressive. But still the larger the integrator is, the bigger the boat is and the longer it takes to turn. We’ve had an awful lot of discussions with people who are excited about the technology and the possibilities but they didn’t want to be the trailblazers. They want to use cutting edge technology, not bleeding edge. James Meredith, Wyrestorm
We were one of the founding members of the HDBaseT Alliance and we’ve created amazing, reliable HDBaseT products over the years that installers trust. But it’s limited in its scalability and also in the distance that you can transmit video.
And we have our NetworkHD line which up until now has been reliant on a single transmission technology. But we realize that that single approach within AV over IP doesn’t fit with the rest of our brands. So this year at Infocomm we’ll be launching a multi-technology approach to AV over IP distribution. So we don’t just have our H.264 platform which is our 100- and 200-Series – and that’s great for low bandwidth transmissions to many, many displays for very large installs. But the more you compress data the more time it takes and therefore the latency is quite high. So that’s why we’re launching now our 400 Series based on jpeg 2000 which takes the latency down to 16 milliseconds, less than a single frame. That supports 4K with all the latest HDMI 2.0 technologies at a single gigabit transmission.
Then also we’ll be announcing our new 600 Series, which is uncompressed, runs over a 10-gig network but supports the full HDMI 2.0 feature set for perfect picture representation.
WyreStorm recently announced some new NetworkHD integration partners. Who are they and what’s significant about it?
We’ve always prided ourselves on the fact that NetworkHD is a standards based solution. We chose H.264 as our primary distribution platform because of its flexibility. Because of the fact that we’re encoding using standards technologies we can integrate with smart devices, laptops and computers, and we’ll have a new device that we’re launching at the show that will expand on that functionality. That means almost anybody can be an integration partner with Wyrestorm.
One of the first that we’ll be announcing at the show taking advantage of that standards-based decoding is QSC which plans on launching a software feature within its Q-SYS platform to enable the integrator to easily select a Wyrestorm device and use that as an audio source and distribute that.
That’s just the first of hopefully many manufacturers that are going to be implementing what is phenomenally simply standards-based decoding from our NetworkHD system.