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What is 4:4:4 color and why should I care?

Written on March 15, 2017 at 5:45 am, by

 

In the AV industry we pride ourselves on providing the best-quality audio and visual communication to our clients.  One way in which we can do that is to offer video solutions in 4:4:4 color.

 

 

When digital video was first introduced, video files sizes were large in relation to storage and transmission capabilities.  One of the ways to address these larger file sizes was to introduce “chroma sub sampling.”  In digital video there are two main components; Luminance and Chrominance.  Luminance (or contrast) is the difference between the lightest and darkest parts of an image.  Chrominance is the color saturation of an image.  The human eye is very sensitive to small changes in contrast (Luminance) and is less sensitive to changes in color saturation (Chrominance).

 

 

To make digital video files more manageable, compression was introduced.  A true-color video signal (4:4:4) includes all of the red, green, and blue color information of each pixel.  In a 24-bit system, there are 8 pixels for each color and thus 24 bits in true color.  Chroma subsampling reduces file size by removing color.  In the AV world, the most common color space is 4:2:0, which is DVD quality. However, with 4:2:0 quality, the viewer is only seeing 50% of the available color.  To make up for that loss of color, the pixels that were removed are recreated by borrowing or “interpolating” from the adjacent pixels.  In some instances 4:2:0 quality is perfectly acceptable.  In other instances however the chroma sub sampling provides the viewer an experience that is less than optimal.

 

 

I can think of at least three instances in which 4:4:4 color is required:

 

  1. Telemedicine:  Surgical procedures streamed over a network require extremely accurate color information on the receiving end.
  2. Spreadsheets: Small text on a spreadsheet in color is virtually unreadable at anything other than 4:4:4 quality.
  3. Corporate Branding: Accurate color representation in a company logo.  Think of how some iconic brands might appear if the colors were not accurate represented.

 

 

If two video streams with identical content are placed next to each other, one at 720P 4:4:4 color and the other at 1080P 4:2:0, chances are extremely high that the average viewer will choose the lower resolution image with the true color as the more impactful.  Color trumps resolution pretty much every time.  So the next time you are specifying a streaming solution make sure to factor in which color space is most appropriate for the application.

 

Learn More about our VIEW® Pro streaming product lines and see the difference.

 

 

 

Happiness at the Office- PART III

Written on February 22, 2017 at 12:21 pm, by

 

Today we’re going to wrap up our series on “Happiness in the Office”. In Part I and Part II, we looked at the overall concept of happiness at the office, and 12 ways to exploit your own happiness.

 

Below is a bit more information on the ClearOne Spain office and their “Thanks Portal,” which is a concrete way they are encouraging office happiness:

 

The “Thanks Portal,” initiative at the ClearOne Spain office, combines the overall happiness strategy, gamification, and social relationships to cultivate a positive mindset among employees in a simple way, without changing daily work routines and without losing time.

 

The basic premise of the Thanks Portal is to express gratitude and focus on positive experiences and random acts of kindness. These simple acts all change peoples’ outlooks, the very way in which your brain views “work,” to create and sustain a positive and engaged workforce.

 

The portal allows fellow employees to post “stars/positive points” about encounters with other employees; the intrinsic reward being simply to receive more and more of these positive comments. The social relationship between employees is well-documented as the greatest predictor of happiness during periods of high stress, and a positive social relationship creates positive habits.  It can have favorable outcomes both on employees (e.g., job satisfaction, increased well-being) and the organization (e.g., commitment, collaboration and productivity).

 

We know we’ll see nothing but increased creativity and efficiency from the Spain office, as they continue this unique and fun way to add happiness to the office!

 

Let us know what you’ve done in your workplace, or what you’ve seen in other areas that help everyone to be more positive and more fulfilled.

 

Here’s to your Happy Office!

 

 

 

 

Visit Us and Take a Look at What We’re Showing at ISE 2017

Written on February 8, 2017 at 4:48 pm, by

 

What to See at ISE 2017 – Booth 3-C98!

 

 

We continue to meet with Value-added Resellers and end-users on the ISE show floor; finding new ways to implement solutions and support end-users with the technologies and applications that really help them to succeed. A busy show means many notes to bring back to the people behind ClearOne- real feedback from  AV practitioners – creating solutions that keep people connected. We value this time and this input to continue pushing ahead for innovation and real problem-solving with integrated solutions that make organizations and voice and visual communications that simply work.

 

See the videos of ClearOne’s newest products- on display now at ISE.

 

 

Stop by our booth 3-C98 and let us show you all the latest updates and product developments!

 

We look forward to seeing you!

 

 

 

 

A better Video Conference User-Experience with Spontania’s Simultaneous Four-Camera Support

Written on February 1, 2017 at 7:30 am, by

 

With video conferencing becoming a necessity for most corporate, SMB, education and other organizations, how do the various Video Conferencing solutions really differentiate themselves from one another?

 

They all make the promise of being simple and intuitive; allowing you to save money and time by avoiding hundreds of miles of travel. They offer popular features like content sharing, recording, and even whiteboarding.  But despite the promises, the reality was, for many remote participants, these solutions just weren’t maximizing on the video conferencing experience. Many participants found that by being remote, it was easier for them to become distracted and lose focus. Some users were so busy, they often found themselves multi-tasking and weren’t even focused on the meeting. And for others, doing a remote video call was just plain boring.

 

 

So how can you eliminate that feeling? What if you were able to provide your remote users a feeling of being on-premises, of actually being there in that conference room or classroom with everyone else,so that they could see everything and everyone, and truly feel like part of the meeting?

 

How do you create that feeling for remote users, all hundreds of miles away?

 

 

We do this with Spontania’s ability to capture 4 simultaneous camera views. Far-end participants now see everything that’s going on, giving them the feeling of actually being there in the classroom or conference room.

 

Here’s a training scenario for using 4 cameras:

 

One camera is pointed toward the front of the room, to see the instructor’s every move.

 

A 2nd camera is pointed at the attendees, so if a question is asked, the remote participant can see who’s asking it instead of just hearing it.

 

A 3rd camera can be pointed at a whiteboard for instructors who prefer to make quick notes by hand, an ASL interpreter, or any other angle that adds to the overall experience.  The participant now can see what’s written in real time and take notes accordingly.

 

The 4th camera can be a document camera. So, if the instructor needs to show an object to the class, the far-end participants won’t struggle with just having a minimal view. The instructor simply positions the object under the doc cam and the remote participants see it up-close; as if they were there in the room.

 

spontania-4-camera-use-case-diagram-v2

Click to Enlarge

 

 

This is just one use-case example ; you can use 4 cameras to provide a multi-view product demo or even set them up for a full 360 degree views.

 

The possibilities are endless.

 

Whether you’re a business, a university, a law firm, or just have a huge conference room, the 4-camera support included with the Spontania Video Collaboration platform is an instant professional experience for your participants, clients, students, colleagues, and end-users.

 

Video conferencing software and hardware is an investment, so why not take advantage and get the best value with that investment?

 

Your far-end participants will thank you.

 

If you’re interested in learning more about Spontania as a video collaboration solution, contact us today and let’s discuss how we can help you and your organization be the best video collaborators on the planet.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Silicon Review Article- Providing the most reliable voice and visual communication solutions to the world: ClearOne

Written on January 18, 2017 at 10:51 am, by

 

ClearOne was honored to be part of Silicon Review’s 2016  “50 Best Work Places of the Year” edition.  The interview with President and CEO, Zee Hakimoglu, provided more insight into ClearOne and the way in which they continue to disrupt a market full of much larger competitors by focusing on innovation.

 

Read the full article here.

 

 

 

Happiness at the Office- PART II

Written on January 11, 2017 at 10:10 am, by

 

In PART I, we  looked at the overall state of happiness in the workplace. Now, we look at the ways in which to exploit your capacity for happiness…

 

———————————————————————————————

 

Sonja Lyubomirsky, Professor of Psychology at the University of California, Riverside, (The How of Happiness) indicates that 50% of individual differences in happiness are governed by genes, 10 percent by life circumstances. This leaves a startling, and startlingly underdeveloped, 40% of our capacity for happiness within our power to change.

 

 

She explores 12 ways to exploit that 40 percent:

 

  1. Counting your blessings: Expressing gratitude for what you have (either privately – through contemplation or journaling – or to a close other) or conveying your appreciation to one or more individuals whom you’ve never properly thanked.
  2. Cultivating optimism: Keeping a journal in which you imagine and write about the best possible future for yourself, or practicing to look at the bright side of every situation.
  3. Avoiding overthinking and social comparison: Using strategies (such as distraction) to cut down on how often you dwell on your problems and compare yourself to others.
  4. Practicing acts of kindness: Doing good things for others, whether friends or strangers, either directly or anonymously, either spontaneously or planned.
  5. Nurturing relationships: Picking a relationship in need of strengthening, and investing time and energy in healing, cultivating, affirming, and enjoying it.
  6. Doing more activities that truly engage you: Increasing the number of experiences at home and work in which you “lose” yourself, which are challenging and absorbing.
  7. Replaying and savoring life’s joys: Paying close attention, taking delight, and going over life’s momentary pleasures and wonders – through thinking, writing, drawing, or sharing with another.
  8. Committing to your goals: Picking one, two, or three significant goals that are meaningful to you and devoting time and effort to pursuing them.
  9. Developing strategies for coping: Practicing ways to endure or surmount a recent stress, hardship, or trauma.
  10. Learning to forgive: Keeping a journal or writing a letter in which you work on letting go of anger and resentment towards one or more individuals who have hurt or wronged you.
  11. Practicing religion and spirituality: Becoming more involved in your church, temple, or mosque, or reading and pondering spiritually-themed books.
  12. Taking care of your body: Engaging in physical activity, meditating, and smiling and laughing.

 

 

Based on this strategy list, the ClearOne Spain office has implemented a happiness strategy, what we call the “Thanks Portal.”

 

 

Stay tuned for more exploration on the ongoing uses of the “Thanks Portal” and the value of employee recognition.

 

 

 

The Case for Audio Making or Breaking Video Communications

Written on January 3, 2017 at 3:06 pm, by

 

It’s easy to see video conferencing and collaboration as the “next step” in communications, something beyond the world of audio conferencing. However, the truth is, a video conference is only as good as its audio. The occasional dropped frame or even severe video issues can still be forgiven in a conference without interrupting the flow.

 

However, if audio becomes choppy, it quickly becomes fatiguing to listen or to repeat statements or questions… and worse, if audio is missing, there simply is no conference to be had.

 

Tune in an find out why great video collaboration can only be built on a solid foundation of superior audio. Ron Lynch, ClearOne’s Supervisor Technical Trainer, provides an overview of why strong audio is an absolute necessity in video conferencing and collaboration, in conjunction with Commercial Integrator:

 

 

See the original post from Commercial Integrator here:

The Case for Audio Making or Breaking Video Communications

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Happiness at the office – PART I

Written on December 16, 2016 at 11:58 am, by

 

Here at ClearOne, we strive for an environment that supports happy employees in a team atmosphere…the way we come together to produce exceptional products. Our Spain office has taken some great steps implementing fun concepts to further this goal that we’d like to share with you in this multi-part series.

 

The “happiness at work” concept is not new. If someone searches Google for “happiness at work,” there are at least one-hundred thousand references. So, this topic has been analyzed in detail, the main hurdle is actually applying it. The main problem is the association between happiness and the meaning of work.

 

Many people change from one job to another, looking for happiness as the “right” work and the “right” company. But it is an incorrect assumption to assume 100% of the motivation should be the company’s responsibility. It’s also incorrect to assume that a corporation can set their employee roles exactly as projects and tasks are fluid and change based on needs.

 
In general, with the current economic situation, where human forces and constant movements are not required, corporations need innovation and creativity. This is achieved with motivated and optimistic employees.

 
Luis Rojas Marcos, a professor of Psychiatry, said that one major factor of happiness is the work itself. Some people consider that work can identify them as an individual socially. It does not matter if an employee is a director or a cleaning person. If one agrees with what he/she does, devotes effort, values what the job means, and has money to do whatever he/she wants without sacrificing, happiness is achieved. A happy worker is profitable both intrinsically, and for the company.

 

Sonja Lyubomirsky, Professor of Psychology at the University of California, Riverside, (The How of Happiness ) indicates that 50% of individual differences in happiness are governed by genes and 10 percent by life circumstances. This leaves a startling, and underdeveloped 40% of our capacity for happiness within our power to change.

 

TUNE IN FOR PART II, in which we’ll talk about the 12 ways to exploit your 40% capacity for happiness!

 

 

 

Can A Conference Room Be Intelligent?

Written on December 6, 2016 at 6:25 am, by

 

Can a conference room truly be “intelligent,” to accommodate your connection, communication, and collaboration needs? Does such a conference room actually exist?
A conference room has to accommodate people at different levels, different skill sets, with different types of connection and communication needs – it could be a local connection point to locally present from your own device, or to bridge someone at a remote location for audio/video conferencing. The life of a conference room is always busy…it must be set up efficiently to accommodate a variety of user needs. This new conference room model has become known in the industry as the “all-in-one conference room”.

 

As an AV Integrator, what does it take to cover all these possibly functions of the all-in-one conference room? You may want to ask yourself the following questions:

 

In-Room Local Meetings
One of the major applications of these all-in-one conference rooms is local, in-room presentations and sharing. Wired connections are a thing of the past, legacy systems which also have the challenges of different formats, types of connectors, etc. Wireless collaboration technology has taken over the way participants share and collaborate information.

 

• Does your conference room support cross-platform Windows, Mac, iOS, Android devices for presentation?
• Can multiple users share and collaborate information simultaneously? 4-6 simultaneous participant connectivity is common.
• Do you need white boarding / annotation functions?
• Is your conference room content secured? Can it generate a dynamic PIN for your session?
• Can your conference room capture the content from this meeting? Does this capture include audio, video camera and data for future use?
• Can your room stream this content live and/or on-demand?

 

 

Audio Conferencing
Audio calls are still a favored method of communication, to join a webinar or to connect with someone who does not have a video-enabled device.

 

• Do you have a professional audio system to handle modern room acoustic challenges?
• Is it designed to cover participants who stand/sit away from the conference room table?
• Does it support PSTN and/or VOIP Connectivity?

 

 

Web Conference
Can this all-in-one conference room host a web conference? Times have changed. Web conferencing is now much more productive with video and media collaboration, rather than simply being an audio call. The true advantage of web conferencing is its ability to accommodate a large number of participants.

 

• Does your room support simple plug-and-play connectivity from your laptop to host a conference?
• Does your cloud application support cross-platform BYOD?
• Do you have a professional camera and professional audio support to deliver your message loud and clear?

 

 

Video Conferencing
Video conferencing adoption has grown immensely in recent years and it will continue to do so. All of us are aware of the benefits of video conferencing.
• Your room must be capable of interoperating with other manufacturer’s solutions.
• H.323/SIP and H.460 support is required to ensure a smooth connectivity to legacy systems.
• Modern-age conference rooms require recording and archiving of conferences for future use.
• Streaming of conferences is often required for overflow rooms.
• Conference rooms must be equipped with multi-party capability to connect multiple locations at the same time.

 

 

ClearOne COLLABORATE® Pro 900 offers a complete media collaboration solution to meet today’s diverse organizational demands for conferencing, collaboration, and communication.

 

Its versatile design makes it ideal for multiple applications including videoconferencing, professional audio conferencing, wireless presentations and collaborations, training, corporate announcements, etc.

 

Key Highlights
• Brings traditional SIP/H.323 videoconferencing and cloud video collaboration into a single appliance for multi-site collaboration with up to 25 sites.
• Award-winning Beamforming Microphone Array and market-leading CONVERGE® Pro DSP mixer for best-in-class professional audio.
• Perfect for both single-site and multi-site interactive collaboration.
• Multi-purpose solution for multiple applications – videoconferencing, professional audio conferencing, wireless presentation and collaboration, capture and recording station, streaming and distribution.
• Multi-source collaboration with simultaneous capture of up to 4 video input sources.
• Single point of support and maintenance for your complete collaboration and conferencing needs.

 

Interested in learning more about the COLLABORATE® Pro 900 conference room solution, contact us today and let’s chat.

 

 

 

 

 

Is the 600 MHz Sky Falling for Wireless Microphones?

Written on November 18, 2016 at 3:16 pm, by

 

The answer is: very probably.  In 2016 the FCC intended to sell off 128 MHz of spectrum from 700 MHz all the way down to 572 MHz.  And they started the initial auction of licenses in that spectrum in March 2016.

 

However the sky is falling very slowly at this point; due to disagreement between the sellers and buyers as to how much the 600 MHz licenses are worth.  The sellers are broadcasters who use the spectrum for Digital Television Stations.  The buyers are companies such as mobile carriers who want to add more subscribers and new services on this prime piece of RF Real estate.

 

The outcome of the FCC auction the first half of 2016 was a temporary impasse.  The license holders wanted $86B for their spectrum; but the buyers only offered $22B. No deal that time.

 

So, a second auction started on September 13, 2016 and the FCC has reduced its goal to only sell 114 MHz of spectrum.

 

And if the round-two auction is not successful, the FCC will try another round with a goal of clearing 108 MHz.

 

But until the sellers and buyers agree on the price, the changes to the 600 MHz band won’t begin.  And when the changes start, it will take 42 to 47 months to complete.  Of course, some channels in some markets will be changed earlier than others.

 

So if a wireless microphone user purchased a 600 MHz system today they could possibly have over 4 years to use it before the planned changes would affect them.  And that could be the right time for that user to upgrade to whatever the latest technology had to offer.

 

ClearOne and other wireless microphone manufacturers are working on new products that leverage new frequency bands such as 2.5, 5, and 6 GHz.  Plus we are making systems that can tune over wider ranges and use smaller amounts of RF spectrum per wireless microphone channel.  These new products will make the current 600 MHz and future FCC rulings less impactful to wireless mic users.

 

So yes, eventually most wireless microphone uses of the 600 MHz band will go away.  But there is still time for the industry transition effectively.

 

Let us know what you think about this situation in the comments below.