Good Software Can Extend Automation in Any Environment

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By: Steve Vonder Haar

Sometimes, even technology industry buzz can feel like warmed-over leftovers.

At least that’s the way I feel when I begin hearing people gush about: “The Internet of Things” – seemingly the trend du jour following Google’s move earlier this year to buy technology provider Nest in a deal valued at $3.2 billion.

Since then, it seems like people have 3.2 billion reasons to fuss over the implications of an emerging set of technology applications that make it possible to remotely control or monitor devices. Google’s Nest, for instance, enables a world of connected thermostats that makes it easier for individuals to save energy while maximizing comfort.

Undoubtedly, this concept pushes the technology industry envelope and possibly foretells of even more network-driven digital device integration. Even so, forgive video pros in the enterprise if they feel a sense of déjà vu when they hear about technology that automates the process of controlling a surrounding environment.

Simply put, the idea behind the “Internet of Things” is a re-hash of capabilities that we’ve seen from video capture appliances for years.

Think of it as akin to finding leftover pizza in the fridge. It’s never a bad thing to find a slice in there. No good reason to throw it in the trash. But that piece of pepperoni pie is not going to make you totally change your dinner plans.

So, color me unimpressed with the “Internet of Things” after years of watching the deployment of video capture systems that package content for online distribution by ingesting video, PowerPoint slides and a range of other presentation inputs. As these appliances assemble these inputs, they also have the computing horsepower and software programming to manage the operation of surrounding equipment used during the presentation process.

If properly programmed, for instance, these appliances can automatically switch between multiple pan-tilt-zoom camera video sources and select the best video view to record based on the different source point for speaker’s voices and other sounds during a meeting.

Using programmable presets, the systems can also start capturing videos from these devices at pre-defined times and pour that content into pre-selected presentation templates. Automated sound mixers can even be used to balance audio levels to create a smoother sound from a range of microphones and audio input devices.

In short, it’s all about using digital systems to control connected devices remotely. That’s the message driving “The Internet of Things.” And that historically has been one of the selling features of video capture appliances: Good software design automates the management of real-world devices used to capture video in presentation settings.

As software continues to evolve, we can all expect video capture appliances to expand the reach of their automated features. It’s reasonable to expect systems, for instance, will automatically convert video content into a broader array of technology formats suitable for distribution to a range of mobile devices. Down the line, I would not be surprised to see systems that do even more than today’s available solutions in adjusting in-room lighting on the fly to optimize the quality of the video being recorded.

At this point, it’s still difficult to predict what innovation will ultimately result from the “Internet of Things.” The only thing I can guarantee is no matter what feature emerges from this emerging technology segment, it will still smell – to me, at least – a lot like Tuesday’s meatloaf.

Steve Vonder Haar is a Senior Analyst with Wainhouse Research and can be reached at


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