I recently visited the Crystal City, Va., office of one of the technology companies we work with and learned what it takes to display many sources of brilliant video across a surface of any size without the unsightly black grids that once defined video walls. The technology, referred to as collaborative telepresence or CTP, was developed and battle-tested in the rough-and-tumble oil and gas industry. It is now finding its way into high-end collaboration environments in the government.
Instead of multiple monitors or projectors separated by a grid of dividing lines, like traditional video teleconferencing or command and control systems, Cyviz mounts high power projectors with pixel-perfect alignment so there are no “seams” in these stunning video walls.
The entire system is modular in design so that adding more projectors for taller or wider installations is truly plug-and-play. If higher resolution is needed, the projectors are simply packed more densely on the rack. Industry standard software, firmware, and video processing wizardry assure that there is no difference in color or brightness from one projector to another. For 3-D, double the number of projectors- it’s a good thing they are commercial-off-the-shelf items and very price-competitive!
How is government using this next generation of collaboration technology?
The technology seems to be creating the most value in those environments where decisions are made by geographically-dispersed teams who must consider multiple datasets, pictures, video, and human perspectives.
Currently, CTP is being used for executive collaboration within the Department of Veterans Affairs and for modeling and war game simulations at the Navy Warfare Development Command. Boeing and NASA employ it for astronaut training in Houston while Lockheed Martin utilizes it in several “data on the walls” classified environments for activities ranging from mapping to weapon system design. It’s also installed in the main auditorium at Army INSCOM.
These new video environments perform more like the way I always thought video teleconferencing rooms should but seldom did. Pulling together a multi-party call is now simple enough for an executive to do.
The flexibility of bringing in unlimited sources of video that can be dragged and dropped into any area of the screen at any time during a meeting greatly improves collaboration. And finally, everything can be reconfigured in a matter of seconds by the participants themselves (or by remote producers) which dramatically boosts the utilization of the facility.
To see this technology in operation first-hand, I recommend making arrangements to see it demonstrated in five different configurations at the Cyviz office in Crystal City. I found it enjoyably eye-opening.
Steve Charles is co-founder and executive vice president of immixGroup, Inc., which helps technology companies do business with the government. He is also a member of Breaking Gov’s Editorial Advisory Council.