While there are higher education facilities that are leveraging video walls and touch displays within the classroom, which replace interactive whiteboard and projector systems, there are still plenty of schools that are dealing with limited resources and budget cuts, for whom upgrading to the latest interactive projectors is an exciting proposition. Classroom projectors are typically short-throw or ultra-short-throw, and they are typically mounted within inches of a ceiling or on a wall above a screen or whiteboard, so there are no shadows cast by instructors or students standing close by.
The latest projectors offer greater collaboration between instructors and classes, allowing for schools to implement BYOD (bring your own device) wireless connectivity programs. Nearly 20 laptops, smartphones and tablets, both Android- and iOS-compatible, can now connect wirelessly to a projector at the same time, and the instructor can select the content they want to display based on thumbnail images that are created. Other advantages of the newest projectors include:
- Software that can allow users to save notes used in presentation, import files for display, and interact with content on the screen using a finger or stylus (“IR pen”).
- They can be installed on a tabletop to create an interactive table display.
- 4K video support with CATx/HDBaseT, which allows video to be sent up to 100 meters.
- Inputs may include dual-HDMI, DVI, VGA, S-Video, Composite, Component, RGB, RJ-45, and USB for projecting images directly from a USB drive or other USB-pluggable media.
- Remote controlled focus, zoom and lens shift. Control signals are typically Ethernet/IP or RS-232.
- Real-time status monitoring on an LED screen located on the unit.
- Lamp-free (“lampless”) options, which extends the life of the projector, eliminates need to dispose of mercury lamps, and allows the unit to switch from full brightness to standby mode without any cool down time.
- Ultra-long-life filters that can last up to 20,000 hours without cleaning.
- Picture-by-Picture and Picture-in-Picture modes.
- Very light – a five-pound projector can easily slide into a briefcase for portable needs.
- Some offer up to 8,000 lumens for large auditoriums with long throw-distances and large screens.
As example of projectors in use today,
The University of Massachusetts Medical School installed a Lecture Management System (LMS) in numerous rooms to record and archive instructors’ presentations. Each room also had installed a Digital Projection projector shooting onto a large projection screen for the audience and another projector was installed shooting the opposite direction, for the presenter to see what the audience is seeing. The lecture hall includes a control booth with three Digital Projection projectors, a Yamaha live mixing console, and a Panasonic production switcher.
Boston College installed more than 70 Christie projectors to deliver course material, lectures, and presentations in seminar rooms and theater-style auditoriums, including outfitting the new is 200,000 square foot Arts and Sciences building, a gothic-style facility with 54 classrooms.
Glenwood Elementary School in California installed Hitachi projectors, which are installed on the wall near the ceiling, above the interactive whiteboards, using short-throw technology.
Trinity University’s Innovation Center in San Antonio, has three student areas: the Teaching Area with 60-inch 4K monitors for the engineering science department; the Design Studio student lab with whiteboards, displays and other a/v equipment; and the Innovation Lounge, a multi-purpose, informal gathering space with a large screen and projector that can display outputs from both the other areas for student presentations.
In order to send a signal, typically HDMI, from a laptop to a projector screen, where the laptop resides would depend on how it would be best connected. If the laptop is right next to the projector, you can simply connect it direct using HDMI copper cabling. If the laptop is across the room, you will need a CATx/HDBaseT cable that can transmit the signal up to 100 meters and a transmitter/receiver link such as the Optiva OTC-HDMI2A-USB-ETH. If the laptop is a very long distance away, you can use fiber cabling for the best, no-latency quality signal transmission. For fiber, you have several options for a transmitter/receiver link.
VX Pros are micro-modules (1.58” wide x 2.21” high) that plug directly into any computer, DVD/Blu-ray player or HDMI video camera, using LC-connectors for a secure cable connection. They convert a 1080P signal onto singlemode fiber for transmission up to 10 km (6 miles), and then convert the signal back at the projector. However, if you are already using the Optiva rack-based system in your control room, you may want to have the same functionality in a transmitter card instead, which is the OTX Series. VX Pro modules and OTX cards are interchangeable.
- VX-1DVI-SD and OTX-1DVI-SD: DVI with stereo analog audio, RS-232 over fiber up to 1080P
- VX-1HDMI-IR and OTX-1HDMI-IR: HDMI 1.4b with HDCP, embedded digital audio, RS-232, IR control over fiber up to 1080P
Another Optiva link option for fiber is OTP-1HDMI2A-USB-ETH. With these or with the similar CATx pair mentioned earlier, OTC-HDMI2A-USB-ETH, you can send HDMI 1.4b with digital audio, stereo analog audio, such as from an analog microphone, and USB KVM (keyboard/video/mouse) so you can control the laptop from the front of the classroom as if you were standing right next to it. Both also connect with the school’s Ethernet network, so that you can pull information off the network into the classroom or can send information through the network to long distance learners. On the receiving end, the HDMI video and digital audio can be sent to your projector, while any separate analog audio can be sent to analog speakers.
Your other option is to use a dedicated Ethernet/IP network, which requires an encoder on the front end and one in the classroom to receive the signal and convert it back for the projector. Opticomm-EMCORE has several encoder/decoder options depending on the data rate of the network and type of signal.
- NV Series works for DVI (or HDMI with an adapter – no HDCP) or there is 3G HD-SDI model, but they require a 1GB variable data rate for their lossless transmission.
- Eclipse HD (EV) Series is available for HDMI with HDCP, and requires a 150 Mbps fixed data rate for visually lossless compression.
- HD4 Series, also for HDMI with HDMP (or VGA), and is for networks providing 256 Kbps to 30 Mbps variable data rates.
Projectors have evolved and are holding their own in the competition against interactive whiteboards, touch displays and video walls in classrooms today. Contact Opticomm-EMCORE for a free system design consultation for connectivity for your projector application.