Tell me a bit about your background in the AV industry.
I began my career at the research labs of Kodak, working in a small, and at the time radical, digital imaging department. That gave me a great appreciation of what high-quality imaging really means, and inadvertently taught me to be continually aware of the impact new technologies can have on businesses and markets!
I have since worked in areas such as virtual reality and some of the earliest desktop video, with some fun interludes that took me back to my physics roots, such as assisting in the development of holographic displays and LED illumination modules for projectors. I joined Datapath in 2003 as a hardware engineer and have been involved in helping to define their product strategy for some time.
What are the biggest changes you’ve seen during your time in the industry?
My first high-definition monitor required four people to lift it, yet had a screen about the size of the LCD panel on most people’s desk today: so definitely it is the continuing advancement in screen technology and the video resolutions supported.
All those gorgeous pixels demand innovative hardware and software for their generation and processing and, along with matching advances in digital audio, have transformed markets such as signage and entertainment.
In the case of Datapath this has fuelled the move from one screen, to many screens, to full video walls.
Do you expect demand for ever-greater resolution images to continue, and is 8K part of your roadmap?
This makes the point about display technology again. Yes, 8K will make its way into high-end applications, and will likely trigger completely new use cases. It would be short-sighted to consider 8K as simply 4K with four times the pixels!
I also believe that 8K will definitively seal the debate about video distribution. My bet is on high bandwidth IP-based networking and we are ensuring that our own video-over-IP solutions are well prepared.
Of course, very high resolutions are not new to Datapath; for example, our latest video wall products are able to support six times the resolution of an 8K signal. That’s almost a 200 million-pixel Windows 10 desktop!
Reducing environmental impact is a major consideration for many end users these days. How is this impacting product development at Datapath?
Great question. As a manufacturer, we aim to build the most effective and efficient products, which includes minimum power consumption for our hardware. As an example, our next generation graphics solution will halve the power requirement while providing considerably higher performance. For a 24/7 application, that can mean a big difference. It also has the advantage of minimising the cooling requirements and hence the operational noise.
More needs to be done, however, and as an industry we must all play a part. Even small initiatives such as Datapath holding more stock in more locations can make a big impact on the CO2 footprint of our global export market, by allowing us more scope to use sea shipments rather than air-freight to replenish stocks.
Outside of work how do you like to spend your time?
My enduring love of a good image does not stop at the office door. I am an enthusiastic art lover and tend to gravitate to galleries wherever I find myself. I am also an amateur artist myself and have recently decided that if creating that art on an iPad is good enough for David Hockney, it is good enough for me! It is remarkably liberating to know you can undo that particularly over-exuberant watercolour daub with a flick of the finger, and it also means I can take my ‘art supplies’ with me wherever I go. I have several sketches of the lights of the RAI on rain-soaked streets during ISE, or the palm trees at InfoComm to prove it!
Finally, tell us something about yourself that may surprise people…
I have always been engaged in the practical side of product development, so it always surprises me that I have 13 patents to my name! I have been fortunate to have been involved in some really interesting developments over the years, from image processing to holography and VR head tracking, and I never cease to be amazed by the inventiveness you can achieve with a dedicated team of engineers.