Widgets Magazine

USB In AV: A Cautionary Tale

Desktop video and web conference applications have gained a foothold for most end users. There is certainly no question that there are solutions in the audio visual world where adapting to a customer,Aeos software application is feasible, but is such adaptation the best fit for anything larger than a huddle room with a few seats? Here are some considerations to share with the customer before providing a quality Universal Serial Bus (USB) solution:

  1. Software Adjustments
    All companies struggle with the adoption of new technology. One possible reason for this struggle is that software adjustments are necessary to optimize USB hardware usage. Whether it,Aeos web conferencing solution A or collaboration solution B, customers should have a defined preferred solution and stick to it as much as possible. Time should also be invested to educate users on how to adjust the audio and video settings within that software. These setting changes can be within the software solution, the operating system of the client computer, or both. In order for adoption to be successful, end-users need to know how to properly configure their software. It may also be helpful to develop a simple guide for end-users to reliably refer to in order to make appropriate adjustments.
  2. Aggressive-*Drivers
    The AV industry is used to mixing and matching solutions while working with control systems to bridge the gaps. Unfortunately, that is not how the USB world currently works. Many AV experts would argue that there is no perfect provider of audio and video over USB, which leads us to attempting to do what we do best: mixing brands and solutions to provide the best quality audio and video possible. You don,Aeot like the audio quality of the camera solution, so you provide USB audio connectivity through your audio DSP system. You,Aeore not thrilled with the video quality of the all-in-one solution, so you specify a different USB camera. These solutions may lead to driver conflicts within the computer,Aeos operating system. The software drivers don,Aeot necessarily conflict with one another by design, but if you are connecting the USB signals to the PC through a USB hub or bridge the operating system takes over and wants to install all drivers simultaneously, which can result in errors. Ideally, in order to support this type of solution, you should work with the customer,Aeos desktop support team to manage the installation of drivers through policy or push-down from their server prior to going live with the systems.
  1. Simple Isn,Aeot Always Simple
    One of the main roles of a consultant or systems integrator is the ability to keep the user interface simple and user-friendly. We live in a world where people expect to operate their boardroom as easily as they operate the video calling feature of their phone or tablet. USB solutions, as they operate today, don,Aeot necessarily fall into that same ease-of-use category. For example, if you connect your client,Aeos computer to the system, does the operating system and web conferencing software automatically detect the new hardware and default to using it for both audio and video? To be successful, there must be research on the client,Aeos operating system settings, software management policies, and conferencing solution. In addition, there needs to be access to the conferencing solution and time to practice making the changes in order to intelligently present the training and reference materials. As is always the recommended rule, make sure you understand the full scope of what the cost effect will be before you commit to a price for providing this level of consultation.
  2. USB,Aeos Designed Intent
    The USB protocol was developed in 1994 with the expressed purpose of being able to connect a computer to a wide variety of peripheral devices (printers, scanners, digital cameras, storage devices, music players, etc.) over a standardized, consistent connection for non-instant transference of data to and from the device and computer. It was originally designed to have computers communicate with . Over time the protocol was developed and expanded to be faster, more efficient, and to support a wider variety of applications such as charging devices, live video, live audio, interactivity, and wireless communication (i.e., keyboard & mouse). But the technology works in a way that limits the distance with which we can send those signals without degradation. There are a number of solutions on the marketplace that allow for the extension of USB signals, but not all signals are the same. Just because an extender works for an interactive display surface does not qualify it to be able to transfer live video from a 1080p camera to the desktop. Be cautious and involve the manufacturer in your evaluation of those solutions. Keep in mind that at some point you could either run out of cable length or exceed bandwidth.
  3. Commodity Over Quality
    The entire discussion boils down to the question – what is the customer,Aeos and provider,Aeos appetite for commoditization versus a quality user experience? As an advisor to your customer, make sure you use your role to properly educate them on all of the pros and cons of the solutions in the marketplace. Perhaps their budget cannot support their goals for the space. Then again, perhaps they are a technology company with very astute end-users who aren,Aeot afraid of some extra steps to maximize their budget and user experience. If that,Aeos the case, ensuring that you help them deploy it appropriately, and with the right documentation, could mean many years of return sales.

With the InfoComm 2015 show kicking off next week, these concerns and cautions should be on every attendee,Aeos mind as many of the latest USB offerings hit the market. The solution does not always fit the application. In those cases it is on the provider to educate the customer about the pros and cons of a USB solution to guarantee that the right expectations are set from the beginning of the project and surprises don,Aeot arise at the end. The goal is to make sure that you, as the provider, don,Aeot waste your valuable time doing research and development on the customer,Aeos dime.

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