Video walls are in demand. Once the exclusive domain of control rooms and museums, now customers across most markets want to leverage video walls for communication or branding. However, even though prices have fallen somewhat, most customers still think video walls are cost-prohibitive. That’s because they’re not aware of a disruptive innovation from Skreens that dramatically reduces the cost and complexity of video walls.
How Does Disruptive Innovation Occur?
The segment of our AV integration businesses regarding displays and their applications can vary widely in their applicability to our bottom lines. Applications such as video walls, digital signage, and collaboration are arguably three of the leading opportunities, each presenting technology providers with decisions to make:
- How does one decide which technology to choose?
- Is the solution truly innovative?
- Does it emanate from great learnings and sustainably profitable technology shifts?
- Is the value truly disruptive versus the status quo?
- Can you make a profitable business across the spectrum of display oriented applications?
Our mentors in innovation often point out disruption as the leading indicator of the revenue potential of emerging offers. Disruption can often present itself from different perspectives. The end user or lead user is often touted as the savant, but it is hard working start-ups that break through technical and commercialization barriers that do the heavy lifting.
How is one start-up with a classically disruptive invention living the dream in Massachusetts?
Skreens out of Norwood, Mass., is the brain child of a successful serial entrepreneur and inventor, who is joined by like-minded investors and supporting characters within the firm itself. Complex video encoding/decoding, routing and switching at the Galactic (global enterprise and service providers) level is where the expertise comes from that drives the disruption. How to scale the knowledge acquired, in the most scalable and complex video networks globally, into a new platform for innovation that is a delight to end users is the story.
End user segments such as designers, installers, and the actual product users are best considered at the outset of an invention. Platform thinking; technology packaging that is extensible for value added innovation is a good bet for the risky business of introducing disruption. The Skreens In-a-Box strategy leveraging their Interactive Multi-Layering (IML) technology is the platform proposition from Skreens.
Skreens In-A-Box Strategy in a Nutshell
Systems consolidation of the myriad of experience affecting technologies is at the heart of In-A-Box at Skreens. No longer are a separate card or a PC needed to access a browser or encode video, nor is an external video switcher needed for the likes of Chroma key and transparencies, nor is an external audio mixer required. All of these and many more requisite technologies have been intelligently integrated under a very slick and simple to use mobile or browser app.
What Is IML and How Is It Packaged?
IML is a patented invention that creates layers of content that can be manipulated to affect the viewing experience of Displays. The invention uniquely protects the concept of both linear broadcast (CATV, satellite, IP set top) and the web (HTML5) combined viewing experiences. These displays can be video walls, digital signs, conference rooms, network operation centers, production studios, sports bars, man caves, executive briefing centers, trade show demonstrations to name the very top of the iceberg.
How Does IML Compete?
Disruption is sometimes hard to compare to legacy solutions from a competitive perspective. For a good model let us simply compare and contrast video wall and digital sign solutions available in the market today.
Video Walls — Planar makes a fantastic video wall (Clarity Matrix) and provides a useful video processor (Clarity Visual Control Station (VCS)) to create more dynamic experiences of the video wall. In contrast, Skreens does not produce a video wall but does offer a very complementary Wall-In-A-Box solution to better enable video walls and digital signs. The functionality is different as the dynamic layering and juxtaposition of HTML5 and linear broadcast content; that is fully High Definition Content Protected (HDCP), and FPGA architecture and Linux versus DSPs and Windows 7 are several key differentiators for Skreens.
Skreens has a built in Google Chrome browser, thus saving on additional application cards for content. The cost comparison is a 10:1 ratio with Skreens having the absolute lead in affordability. Planar’s Clarity Video Wall is an is an awesome video wall; Skreens simply provides an argument that when combined with a Skreens unit, it or any 1080p or 4K display or laser projector, can compete and potentially save time on installations; providing more margin to resellers — margin that affords better service and experience resources back to the end user directly.
Digital Signage is a broad market with many vendors, most of which manufacturer content players. Content players are proprietary hybrid set top boxes capable of multiple inputs (DVI, VGA, Component, IP, ETC…) and the local caching of content derived from a central repository. Many solutions require annual service contracts for content management and or subscribed content.
These kinds of lock-in solutions are not in the best interest of the consumer. Yes, the linear revenue derived from reselling the content services is a nice to have — but is the risk of a happy customer who may be seeking simple, capital investments to solve real world signage issues worth it? Skreens has an open platform with published API, Linux Operating systems, and standard HDMI 1.4 support. Skreens does have a cloud service (part and parcel of the one-time hardware purchase) that affords the convenience of storing layouts in the cloud for re-distribution to another Skreens unit or as hot backup; smart, not costly.
Content can be managed in layers for both audio and video and content can be HTML5 or HDMI based. Many folks simply connect their set-top box(es) (Apple TV, Roku, CABLE, Satellite) source(s) and then map Web URLs/Widgets that they desire having placed in the layout. Layouts can then be managed in layers, with video transparency and audio mixing, unlike many standard digital signage players. The creation of a custom branded back ground is as simple as cut-n-paste.
AV-over-IP is gaining tremendous steam in the industry. Are you jumping on the bandwagon?
The Skreens unit is managed/set up via a web browser and then end users can control it via a browser, mobile or tablet app. The published API is seeing some early up take by the likes of established Crestron, URC, Savant, and AVEO developers. Skreens even has a Control4 driver.
The bottom line is that Skreens can help integrators and manufacturers sell more video walls, opening up market possibilities and creating more satisfied customers – all by reducing the complexity and price of video walls. Now that’s a disruptive innovation.