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Installation is pleased to reveal that Barco will be the aftershow party host at the inaugural InstallAwards. With arrangements for the post-show celebrations now in place, 12 June is shaping up to be a night to remember at the Wembley Hilton in London. The event will begin with a drinks reception,

available. It was the late 1990s when they got going, and really got motoring in the 21st century. Similarly with source equipment: in 2000 we did one of our first high- definition installations in an exhibit environment, and we had the problem of compressing the high- definition video to MPEG-2 to run in our recently developed HD player. The actual file for a 10-minute piece of high definition was a stack of exabyte tapes that was a foot high, and it took more than 24 hours to do the MPEG encoding; whereas now a desktop computer will do it in real time. These are fantastic improvements. Undoubtedly the flatpanel

revolution is complete. It’s a tragedy for me that plasmas have gone, because they were beautiful, but of course LCD has triumphed. And the fact that you can get them so big and so cheap is amazing. Now the idea that you bung up a videowall with 24 LCDs, you take that for granted.

In the corporate market

the revolution is much more that people are actually using AV, whereas 15 years ago often you had systems put in as a status symbol that didn’t do very much. That revolution has all happened because of the PC and particularly because of things like the iPad. The acceptance of AV as we know it in presentation and videoconferencing terms has come about because of the consumer acceptance of similarly sophisticated gadgets. It was never going to come until it was part of everybody’s life.

Looking at display technologies, are there particular technologies or application areas that you think will be the next big thing? There is a lot of evolution going on here. High- resolution LED, which three years ago was a bit clunky and horrendously

followed by a three-course meal. Projects, technologies and teams will then be commended in a three- pronged award presentation, and there will also be two additional awards for achievement and excellence in the AV installation industry. Barco’s growing list of acquisitions in key verticals is

expensive, is now a viable display system for all sorts of applications. It will replace projection in some applications because it doesn’t need any projection space and it’s pretty well immune to ambient light. Some of the 2mm pitch stuff is getting close to a price where it will become a commodity. If somebody wants a lobby with a 25ft-wide picture which works under all conditions and adapts its brightness to the ambient and is viewed from a minimum of six feet – that sort of technology is going to be totally viable for that application where previously you might have put a videowall or used projection. And then everything is

going 4K. Some of that is totally unnecessary but because it’s available, people will use it. But when you want huge images that people want to view closely, it will be important. I remain excited by what’s

going on and follow it with great interest. Where we are ourselves at the heavy end of the projection market there are some very exciting things happening. Obviously the key things are things like hybrid illumination in projectors. There’s a degree of hype there: there are some offerings on the market where you’d be better off using a lamp. On the other hand, there are going to be completely new applications opened up by the fact that you can get more reliable and stable light source which will last longer and have much better running economics. But technology is something that will continue to be fun, and there will continue to be lots of new ones. I’ve tracked this for a long time – it’s amazing in the few years how many embryonic technologies that were sure to make it, never did, particularly in the flatpanel market: the number of casualties there has been incredible.

propelling the company year- on-year: Barco has bought 12 companies since 1999. The most recent purchase, of enterprise communications company X2O Media, is a further demonstration of the company’s strategy to move beyond display and projection technology.

How good do you think this industry is in communicating its knowledge within itself and to the next generation? Is it getting better or worse? I think probably in magnitude terms it’s getting better, but in percentage terms it’s not – because the market is getting bigger. The problem is and always has been that acquiring knowledge is a voluntary activity: people who want to learn, make the effort to learn. There are also a number of things that you cannot learn unless you’re put in the position of getting the experience to do it. You can’t learn some things from textbooks or PowerPoint presentations – you have to get down and dirty with whatever it is. There are plenty of opportunities to learn and I believe that things like the InfoComm CTS programme are very valuable in actually forcing some level of common knowledge, if you like. I think InfoComm is the only organisation that has the critical mass to make that actually work. Nobody is ever going to

say enough is being done, but equally you can’t force customers to come to you or go to a training session, there has to be the need. And it’s always when the need happens that people suddenly want to know.

I wonder if in another life you might have become a technology journalist, given your interests in technology and in writing. In principle you’re probably right. I’ve always enjoyed trying to keep some kind of record of what we’ve done. We’ve produced [‘occasional publication’] Electrosonic W

orld since 1980 and I couldn’t have written the book recently without it, because the back issues have been the most valuable record in terms of showing what we’ve done. I take great pleasure in doing that. 

May 2014 11

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