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Multimedia streaming and control and digital signage

HDCP isn’t just another useless acronym

Written on October 11, 2016 at 6:15 am, by

Have you ever heard of HDCP?  Ever wondered what it really means or why it exits?

 

HDCP is an acronym for High-bandwidth Digital Content Protection.  It is a form of digital copy protection that was developed by Intel with the intention of preventing the copying of digital audio and video content as it travels across connections. Being that HDCP is a digital technology, HDMI and DVI cables are used.

 

HCDP becomes relevant when it comes to moving audio and video signals over a network…..AV over IP Video Distribution.   If a signal is protected by HDCP, once that signal is put into a video distribution system, it will pass if the device the signal is flowing into is HDCP compliant.   There are two general standards in the HDCP world….1.4 and 2.XX.  Without getting into the details on either, suffice it to say that in a professional AV Distribution System, the equipment you use should be compliant with both in order to provide both a legal solution and one that is flexible for your clients needs.

 

In our industry one of the main challenges that integrators face is with Apple.  Using an Apple device as a source into an Encoder can create an issue even if the content being played is not HDCP protected.  AV Integrators have told me that their customers often call and say that their Apple Device is not passing audio and video even when the content being played is not HDCP encrypted.  By default Apple has HDCP Content protection enabled on their devices.  Apple has presumably taken this route so they will not be liable for the actions of an end user.

 

To get around this, some encoding and decoding devices have a switch that enables them to turn HDCP off.  In theory this appears to be a viable solution.  The reality however is that the HDCP licensing agreement that all manufactures who wish to be in compliance sign, does not allow for this work around.

 

With ClearOne’s View Pro System we fully support the HDCP standards of 1.4 and 2.XX.  Our View Pro AV over IP Streaming Solution will never block protected or unprotected content. There is never a need to turn HDCP off.  ClearOne has taken the position to comply with HDCP Licensing to the letter of the law.

 

For more information on HDCP, visit the link below.

 

http://www.digital-cp.com.

 

As a leader in the AV community, we must provide equipment to our partners that protect their interests and their customers.

 

 

Why Limit Yourself When It Comes To Signal Distribution?

Written on September 27, 2016 at 2:33 pm, by

 

Why AV over IP?

 

Back when I first started my career in AV, signal distribution was much simpler. As we progressed in this exciting industry; along came the need of distributing signals further with much larger matrices. We then began to see the influx of UTP and Category cabling.

 

The AV industry thought these concepts and said, “Hey we can utilize this!” But this presented the problem of the number of pairs. Category cabling only has four pairs, which means distributing audio, video, and control at the same time becomes a challenge… four pairs just aren’t enough. In order to make things work, we needed to packetize. We needed to become digital – which, as you know is exactly what happened; and, to this day, works extremely well.

 

It begs the questions why haven’t we completely adopted this as an AV industry standard?

 

 

Here are a few points to think about when signal distribution is on your plate.

 

  • Will my design need to expand in the future?
  • Do I already have category cable in place?
  • Will I need to control the device at the destination of the signal or the source for that matter?
  • Do I have the need for a processing of my signal such as video wall modes?

 

All network media solutions are not the same.  ClearOne’s VIEW® Pro allows you to design signal distribution systems that are completely future-proof and fully expandable. VIEW Pro gives you the ability to take any audio, video, or control signals and stream them to virtually any location. This is what you would expect; and what most manufactures offer. However, ClearOne solutions also have processing built right in that allows you to adjust virtually every single part of your signal. In addition, we also have other integrated options such as video-wall processing and composition modes.

 

 

VIEW Pro 2×3 Video Wall Composition (6 displays)

VIEW Pro 2×3 Video Wall Composition (6 displays)

 

 

Regardless of what your distribution needs may be, please take a moment and review ClearOne’s innovative Network Media Steaming offerings. You may just find yourself also asking why this isn’t the AV Industry standard!

 

 

We’re here to help. We’d love to hear from you and discuss your AV distribution needs.

 

 

Contact Us today and let’s chat!

 

 

 

IT/AV – AVoverIP Connected Devices and Privacy Concerns – Our Viewpoint

Written on September 16, 2016 at 2:33 pm, by

 

IT/AV’s latest issue (September 2016) has a great article written by Shonan Noronha, EdD and  titled, “Viewpoint: Security and Privacy Concerns. How do you ensure data security and user privacy?

 

The increased use of collaborative applications, mobile devices and IP-connected AV devices such as streaming appliances, along with the explosive growth of social media integration into applications such as digital signage has brought security and privacy concerns to the forefront…
Michael Braithwaite

ClearOne’s Senior Vice President, Michael Braithwaite, CTS shared his viewpoint on the topic and had this to say:

 

“…ClearOne is serious about state-of-the-art security and individual privacy for our largest, most demanding national security customers, as well as our smallest private enterprise users…”

 

 

READ HIS FULL RESPONSE HERE  and the rest of the article for more detailed insight into this topic.

 

Let us know your thoughts on today’s network security as it pertains to streaming media.

 

 

 

What do you mean “Video DSP?”

Written on August 9, 2016 at 11:46 am, by

Many of you reading this ClearOne blog today may have worked on conferencing rooms with our award-winning Pro Audio solutions over the past 35 years.  So it may be safe to say that you would never design a commercial conferencing room without an Audio DSP right?  Why is that?  Couldn’t you just connect a series of microphones to a pre amplifier or cross bar switcher, connect your speakers to an amplifier, and then just switch to your desired source and sum all the microphones into your codec?

 

Oh my, no way could you do that!  At a minimum, you’d need acoustic echo cancellation, you would want first-microphone priority, perhaps some filtering, some noise reduction, some equalization, and so on.

 

However, the most important reason for using an audio DSP such as our CONVERGE® Pro line is for what you don’t know: such as an air handler (not part of the original design) that is now right next to your microphone array; or a large projector that, when hot, turns on some loud fans three feet from one of your microphones.

 

Most AV professionals would not design a conference room without an audio DSP, however these same professionals deploy AVoIP every day without any “Video DSP” and this is a shame.  To be honest most AV designers would not know what a video DSP even is; the explanation being the goal of this post.

 

Video DSP is the ability to modify, change, and mix the video imaging in many ways:

  • Modifing the color space of an image
  • Chroma subsampling or compressing to save bandwidth
  • Scaling the image from one resolution to another, removing lines or pixels from the image
  • Changing the orientation of the image, frame rate
  • Mixing multiple images together or layering the video
  • and many more

 

You may know that ClearOne has a line of AVoIP products called VIEW® Pro and all of these devices contain video DSP that allow you to manipulate the video depending on the end-user requirements. Some of these video DSP features require an option license to be applied to the device; but many others are available with the free software from our website. One valuable example is the multi-image feature, in which you can blend any number of video sources together into a single video output even if all of these are different source types, video types, resolutions, or frame rates.

 

Competing brands of AVoIP do not have video DSP in the devices (encoders and decoders) and instead require you to purchase another black box that connects to the network and take up rack space, switch ports and power for multi-imaging.

 

Video DSP can also help you to build video walls, and remove scrolling text from sources, or remove channel logo’s from the image just by creating video layouts with our free VIEW® Pro PANORAMA™ software.

 

If your project has requirements for multi-imaging, or video walls, then the built in video DSP features from the ClearOne VIEW Pro system will save you money on the system and provide more capabilities that any other AVoIP or matrix type system on the market today.

 

Please contact your local ClearOne sales or send us an email to VIEWPRO@CLEARONE.COM and we will be happy to help assist you with any designs or to provide any demo equipment to test your video DSP needs.

 

 

 

 

 

 

When ‘Standard’ is the only option

Written on July 25, 2016 at 3:03 pm, by

 

A lot can be said for standards. For instance, could you imagine how difficult it would be if the gas pedal wasn’t always on the right? Look at the recent troubles several car manufacturers have had, including lost lives over messing around with how an automatic transmission’s shift level works.

 

Standards work in all parts of life. So, as AV professionals, why have we had a variety of non-standard ways of delivering content?

 

The excitement of AV over IP products implies that maybe we will start using standards to replace balun and HDBaseT products for a more standards-based approach. But the more IP products that come to market, the more proprietary streaming products that emerge. The trouble with a proprietary stream is it locks the end user into a single solution, with limited expansion capabilities.

 

With a true standards-based solution, you can build an eco-system of devices, but are not tied to a single manufacturer, you can mix and match based on budget, features and the architecture of the system. ClearOne’s VIEW® Pro streaming solution leverages the power of H.264 streaming, thereby using visually Loss-Less streaming algorithms, to allow crystal-clear, ultra-high-quality audio and video at very low latency, all at a very low overall bandwidth (typically 8MBb/s). Additionally, based on what the clients’ needs are, we can control and manipulate streams that we don’t even encode, such as those natively streamed from an IP security or PTZ camera, or a conferencing codec with H.264 capabilities or from a computer on the network. Similarly, if perfect frame synchronization is not required, or the need for video windowing, or other advanced features is not required at some displays, there are many, easy, low-cost ways to decode the stream, such as Apple® TV or other H.264 stream viewers, or simply watch the stream on a PC, MAC, IOS or Android device.

 

By leveraging the power of Standards, we open the client to an eco-system of devices that will be a viable signal distribution infrastructure that will stand the test of time. To take this one step farther, ClearOne’s VIEW® Pro solution leverages H.264 streams, yet provides ULTRA low latency, low bandwidth and the best possible image quality, yet provides advanced capabilities like Video Wall processing, windowing processing and other neat features like USB HID and native RTSP and UDP streaming.

 

If you haven’t tried VIEW® Pro yet, why not? I’m sure it will exceed you current standard.

 

ClearOne is a rAVe 2016 WINNER!

Written on June 22, 2016 at 10:39 am, by

 

rave Award

You voted and they listened….or at least tallied the votes. Either way, ClearOne is a 2016 Readers’ Choice Awards Winner!

 

Favorite Manufacturer-Based Training Program

ClearOne University

 

 

Thank you to all the people who voted for us and a gargantuan, humongously colossal thank you to the valuable and wise ClearOne University trainers and staff.

 

 

 

 

<takes bow>

</takes bow>

 

An Industry Outlook on The Future of AV Infrastructure

Written on June 16, 2016 at 12:33 pm, by

 

ClearOne CEO and Chairman, Zee Hakimoglu was recently discussing the direction of the AV industry with some colleagues and was asked an intriguing question that we felt should be shared with the AV community. Hopefully this sparks some positive dialogue between your own colleagues and is a catalyst for new ideas and innovative thinking that will lead to new opportunities.

 

What do you see as the biggest trends or challenges in the coming years for AV infrastructure?

 

“I think the greatest challenge is not the technology itself but the psychology of overcoming that AV and IT are really, Really, REALLY converging and going to continue to converge.  The AV practitioner may no longer find himself or herself in a safe zone of pure AV without IT.  Nor will the IT practitioner find himself or herself in a safe zone of pure IT without AV.  The trend for even islands (rooms) of Audio or just Video are disappearing.  Audio and Video systems are in themselves converging even tighter than ever thru cloud and other macro IT related systems.”
Zee Hakimoglu, President & CEO, ClearOne

 

The AV/IT practitioner now has more and more to choose from but most of it will be strung through standard Ethernet networks.  Lots of fun and business growth ahead for those who are willing to learn and have the courage to take the leap!

 

Open Your World to New Solutions – Video

Written on June 14, 2016 at 5:47 pm, by

 

View our InfoComm video again, and Open Your World to New Solutions. ClearOne provides the full range of conferencing, collaboration, and network streaming & signage solutions for voice and visual communications.

 

It takes a mix of personalities to make a neighborhood, a city, a nation, a world…. And it takes this same mix of products to make your offering complete. Make your offering as rich and diverse as your environment. ClearOne is adding the vibrancy to this AV ecosystem, and we’re here to support your efforts as you expand your offerings and your sales.

 

Open Your World to New Solutions… (we’re here.)

 

 

VIEW® Pro Streaming and It’s Incredibly Versatile RS-232 Control Abilities

Written on May 23, 2016 at 11:04 am, by

 

VIEW® Pro streaming encoders & decoders lead the industry in sending high quality h.264 video and audio over an existing IP network; but you probably already knew that. What you may not have known are the brilliant and flexible control capabilities of this technology.

 

In this post, we’re going to take a look at controlling devices via RS-232 and how you can use this power to take over the world, well, maybe just a client’s displays and audio outputs.

 

As an integrator, you’ve labored for several weeks (and weekends), up and down three flights of stairs, installing a multitude of displays for a client. You’re now hoping to solve the problem of powering on/off monitors, and to make it easy for the end user to select which source to show on any of the multitude of new displays. VIEW® Pro is the answer; allowing you to create an ASCII command list in the Dealer Setup software and then selecting that list using the Serial to Command selection on the Sources tab of any encoder being used  in your streaming project.

 

Dealer Set Up Serial to Command

 

The true efficiency of this “mesh network” setup is that you need only have the command list on one device, then using the magic of AV over IP, you can send those serial commands to any decoder on your network to perform the functions you’ve programmed. These commands can include the Active On/Off of the decoders themselves as well as Monitor Power On/Off which would of course require a serial cable from the decoder to the display. The D210 decoder is designed to mount directly behind a display with its small design, making this feature perfect for that model.

 

Additionally, commands such as Source Select can be used to change which sources are being played on any decoder on your network. Using a 3rd-party controller, such as a Crestron device, connected to the serial port of any available encoder or decoder, a savvy integrator could then program a stylish interface for powering displays on and off as well as providing the client an easy-to-use GUI for changing what video and audio is being played throughout the organization.

 

To expand on this ability, integrators can use VIEW® Pro’s new 2 way rs-232 pass through allowing use with ANY of the popular control system such as Utelogy, AMX, and the aforementioned Crestron to “pass-through” any driver over IP and extend the power and reach of the control system.

 

This control feature is included with all of our VIEW® Pro streaming product lines, with no additional upgrade or licensing. Competitors don’t offer this method of control with their streaming devices. Think about the possibilities you can provide for your clients. Not only are you giving them the industry leading 4:4:4 color space of vibrant, crystal-clear video with the lowest latency times;  you’re offering built-in control that allows you to provide a professional AV over IP solution with fewer devices and affordable upgrade licensing across their existing networks.

 

Look into ClearOne’s VIEW® Pro streaming encoders & decoders for your next project and see why we are taking the industry by storm with our network media streaming solutions. You know us for audio, and now you know why “we do video.

 

 

 

Back to the Basics – A Quick Glance Into Digital Signage

Written on April 21, 2016 at 3:07 pm, by

back-to-the-basics-header-digitalsignage

 

One of the many challenges that an organization faces, is how to effectively communicate information to their customers, visitors, staff, and/or students. Additionally, that information needs to be current, consistent, and tailored for that organization’s targeted audience.

 

This is basically what digital signage does, it solves to communication dilemma by delivering highly engaging visuals and audio to a device that’s hooked up to a display for people to see. Humans are inherently attracted to images and sound; what better way to hold somebody’s attention than with millions of colors dancing across bright screens which can be accompanied by a rhythmic melody? This momentary hypnotic state has a purpose. It’s meant to form a relationship, connect with the person, persuade them, and to transfer information that will be remembered.

 

The essential elements that make up a digital signage network are:

 

  • A software platform for content creation, scheduling, monitoring, and managing of the devices
  • The media player or application for playing back the content
  • The monitor(s) that the content will show on (some media players are built into the display)
  • The network hardware used for communication between software and media player

 

As with the integration of any new technology into a space, there are bound to be some challenges that an organization will face―and digital signage is no different. These challenges range from initial cost of the software & hardware, installation, network configuration & monitoring, software training, content strategy, and devising business goals with digital signage.

 

To ensure a successful digital signage launch and overcome some of these challenges, there are some proven steps to take before any roll out:

  1. Be prepared and understand your business objectives with digital signage.
  2. Have a pre-deployment plan in place and follow it.
  3. Learn as much as possible about the system you want to implement.
  4. Test, test, test.
  5. Know your audience and formulate the content accordingly.
  6. Choose the right location for the screens for optimal traffic and views.

 

With so many applications and uses for digital signage, integrating this modern medium into an organization is a must. The benefits of enhanced communication, engagement of customers, staff, and students, and the ability to control the voice and brand of a company are fundamental and crucial for a business’s success in today’s modern landscape.

 

The complexities and nuances of digital signage have many layers and variables that are just too vast to cover here, so I’ll be writing more about those topics in the future.  I hope this “Back to the Basics” post provides some valuable information and food for thought before you embark on your digital signage journey.

 

I encourage you to take a look at our WebSuite Digital Signage solution and see if it’s the right fit for you and your organization. It’s competitive in price, easy to install, easily expandable & flexible, and simple to use. Our motto has always been, “Digital Signage Made Simple!“, because, with ClearOne’s MagicBox, it truly is.

 

Leave a comment below or contact us if you have any questions on how we can help you and your business with your communication needs.