Barco Technology Showcase Promises Big Things

Barco ran its annual Technology Showcase in Westminster this year – the heart of London. To give you a feel for the location, Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament were visible from the window!

The Technology Showcase is where Barco shows off its newest products; both those that have been launched and those that will arrive in the coming months. An under-embargo item was present as well, but of course we can’t talk about it yet!

Earlier this year (Display Monitor Vol 21 No 25), Barco’s F50 projector was made available with new resolution options (1920 x 1200 and 1920 x 1080). The unit will have another new option in 2015, when a short-throw lens is launched in January. Working with both new resolutions, the lens will provide a 0.3:1 or 0.28:1 throw ratio (1920 x 1200 and 1920 x 1080, respectively). Performance at the edges of the screen was a key focus when the product was being developed, with the result that there is none of the image distortion that can be apparent on similar units. We were told that the lens will be competitively-priced.

The F50’s lens was the only new projector product, but there was an interesting LED tile on display called the X2. The 400mm x 400mm tile is part of the LiveDots range, and has a 2.77mm pixel pitch. Processing and uniformity are key here – we had a good discussion with Barco’s Simon Turtle on the pitfalls of using low-quality LEDs that degrade at different rates and do not colour match. For a high-profile example, just look at the Las Vegas Strip!

Barco’s X2 tile will match its brightness to that of the lowest tile in a display wall, avoiding ‘hot spots’. Brightness can reach a maximum of 2,000 cd/m², but this can be lowered if necessary. Luke Marler-Hausen, who was presenting the X2 to us, was keen to emphasise that dimming the display will not crush the dynamic range, so detail is preserved – even if dimming reaches 1%.

Common cathode technology is used in the construction of the X2 tile, which means that it is cool to the touch and takes lower power. Much of the processing is done by Barco’s Infinipix NP100, which is 1/8 the size and 1/10 the price ($5,000) of the preceding processor. Part of the reason for this is that the NP100 does not possess modular inputs, as most 346 simply use HDMI these days.

Due to be shipped in January, the X2 will be joined by a 1.6mm product that will be launched at ISE in February. We were particularly interested to hear that a 4mm LED product is also under development for Q1 or Q2 – part of Barco’s T-Series, which are outdoor displays! As far as we know, this will be the highest-resolution outdoor LED tile in the world.

Next, we were treated to a demonstration of the Coronis Uniti medical display (Display Monitor Vol 21 No 42), which is a high brightness (1,000 cd/m²), high resolution (12MP) colour screen with a long backlight lifetime and high uniformity. It has a 3:2 aspect ratio and is 33″ in size; these specifications were arrived at based on research showing that they are optimal for shape recognition, which is important for mammography.

Barco was also showing a new IP-based video distribution solution called Nexxis. The system is intended to replace the matrix switches in use in operating rooms, as these are non-scalable; adding a ninth display to an 8×8 switch requires buying a whole new 16×16 unit, while with an IP system it is much simpler.

Encoders and decoders for the Nexxis system can use various analogue and digital inputs, including DisplayPort; DVI-D; VGA; CVBS; and S-Video. Encrypted, uncompressed video is streamed, which requires the use of a fibre connection (a rugged cable with a locking connector) and an off-the-shelf 10Gbps IP switch. Each stream is up to 3.6Gbps and each encoder/decoder device can handle up to two streams.

Barco was also showing its Present-C and various venue projectors and the OBLX videowall stand.

Display Daily Comments

Siliconcore is the developer of common cathode LED technology, which is said to be well-suited for small pixel pitches, does not produce high heat and is power efficient. Hm…sounds familiar. While we had not had confirmation from Barco at the time of going to press, we suspect that the technology is being licensed. (TA)