Digital Signage Expo 2014 kicks off this week in Las Vegas. Samuel Recine, Matrox Graphic Director of Sales – Americas & Asia Pacific, gave CI a glimpse into their booth, new solutions, and industry trends impacting the market.
Q. At DSE 2014, Matrox is showing its Matrox Maevex 5100 Series video over IP solution. How do you see these solutions helping integrators who are helping customers create versatile digital signage video distribution solutions?
A. Right now, the typical digital signage model and licensing structure is to have player PCs close to the displays or embedded inside the displays. Maevex 5100 Series is audio and video, capture/encoding/streaming/recording/display over IP, using H.264 encoding at up to full HD 60Hz and supporting adjustable bit rates.
There are two main ways that this helps integrators create versatile video distribution solutions. First, the player PCs can be moved from being next to the displays to being racked in temperature-, humidity-, access-, and so forth- controlled environments and then streamed over IP for the last “local” segment. Advantages of are ease of access to player PCs for maintenance, ability to upgrade the player PCs without sending crews to each node, and flexibility to switch display nodes to redundant or back-up system more easily if a player PC fails.
Second, Maevex 5100 series puts out an H.264 stream that can be decoded in software. What this means is that existing infrastructure can be used. You can convert a current player PC into a stream decoder node and upgrade the player PC to a much beefier machine which you can rack in a secure and optimal running environment. Alternatively, you can use a hybrid model where some content is generated locally on the player PC and some content is streaming to a region of interest on the display being powered by a player PC. In both cases, the only real requirement is compliant software that can find and decode our stream.
Q. You’re also showing a series of video wall controller boards. How have the ways in which video walls are being displayed and used changed, and how do Matrox Mura MPX Series video wall controller boards reflect that evolution?
A. Video walls are arrays of displays. The most immediate benefit of video wall controller boards is the ability to capture and scale content from current digital signage eco-systems. So, video wall controller boards give integrators flexibility to balance between “performance” (how fluidly something renders) and “size” (how attention-grabbing your array can be because of sheer size). Rendering too much content from one player PC can lead to stuttering and performance degradation on video walls. Introducing a video wall controller behind the player PC to handle scaling lets you render at a slightly lower resolution but still power a large array of monitors for the wow effect.
Once a video wall controller is introduced in between a player PC and a video wall, you don’t only get scaling. You can now switch between different player PCs; you can hybridize by having some windows showing content coming from player PCs and other windows showing content coming from live sources like cable or satellite boxes; you can program layouts where sometimes a player PC content is spanned across all the monitors of the video wall and at other times there is content from multiple different player PCs or other sources playing on the video wall in different regions.
In terms of how video walls have “changed,” the most immediate answers are “resolution” and “interactivity.” Video wall controllers have been handling large resolutions for a long time. So, diving right into the middle of player PCs and display arrays is very synergistic to support the aforementioned capabilities.
The “interactivity” part is touch. The mobile computing device market has made it for people familiar with engaging the content they are looking at rather than just viewing it. Products like Matrox Mura video wall capture and display cards have many control options including a Network API, which provides an easy-to-use scripting language to control how different sources are displayed. What this means is people can go up to video wall and “select” a source. The content from the player PC, live streaming source, or live baseband source (like television) can be called up into a window or full screen.
We’re also adding value to the content with nifty effects. At DSE, we’re demonstrating some of the effects that are possible with Mura. You can fade, scale, and rotate content to create interesting entrances and exits. You can also add a semi-transparent logo or video on top of a live video feed or play a video through a logo. The upgraded API also includes a high-performance HTML5 renderer to simplify integration of social media, weather information, animations, and other online data feeds into digital signage. Integrators can use the Network API to develop custom software to control Mura-based video wall from an iPad or Android device, or integrate wall control with existing AMX and Crestron devices, addressing the flexibility their customers require today.