Paddy Baker gets an ISE demo of an unusual projection-based system that looks to improve the experience of paper-based collaboration - plus a clever array-based microphone that can work with it.
At ISE 2017, Darren Zwack, VP marketing at Nureva, gave me a demo of the company’s Span visual collaboration system. This was launched last year in a 720p version, but this ISE saw the company bring out a 1080p version, the WM307i.
Span uses between one and four short-throw solid-state projectors, connected to a user-supplied PC, to make a wall interactive. The new WM307i model can produce an image 7ft (2.1m) wide, while the widescreen WM210i can fill a space just over 10ft (3.1m) wide. These can be arranged in a straight line or around one or more corners in a room. With Span, the wall becomes the collaboration surface.
Span is designed specifically to replicate the processes around paper-based collaboration – the world of brainstorming around flipcharts and sticky notes. By bringing up on-screen menus, users can pull in images and photos, sketch or annotate with a pen or a finger, and create and type text boxes (containing up to 2,000 characters, and can be resized and coloured) or sticky notes (10 different colours are available).
You don’t have to be standing at the wall to join the group – because the system is cloud-based, it also allows collaboration via devices. The ISE stand featured a bank of touchscreens, which represented either input from other people in the room, or from people working remotely. In the latter case, the new ‘quick-share’ feature comes into play: from any web-enabled device, remote participants visit a URL and enter an access code and can add comments via sticky note or pull in photographs from their device. All content is displayed live, so remote participants see exactly the same canvas, updated in real-time.
At the end of the session, the canvas can be exported and saved as a PDF or Excel file.
A mobile version, the MC306i, was also launched at ISE 2017. This consists of a Span system housed in a wheeled cart. This is set up so that when it is pushed against a wall, the on-board projector produces a focused image 1.88m (6ft 2in) wide. Two or three carts can be combined to provide a seamless surface of twice or three times the width.
Be heard from anywhere
Also making its European debut at ISE was Nureva’s HDL300 audio system (pictured right). Although separate from Span it could well prove a useful companion to it. The HDL300 is an array microphone that mounts on a wall and provides even coverage of a room up to 20ft (6m) square. Units can be combined to cover larger spaces.
The array uses a patent-pending technology called Microphone Mist to flood the space with over 8,192 virtual microphones. So regardless of where you’re standing, or which direction you’re facing, it will pick up your voice. On the stand, I donned a pair of headphones and listened to a demo from a remote location equipped with an HDL3000. Here a woman walked around the space, raised and lowered her voice and turned around, and was clearly audible the whole time.
As Zwack pointed out, not having to worry about whether you’re close enough to a microphone to be heard makes for a much more natural collaboration experience.
The different Span systems are shipping now, while the HDL300 ships in April.