Large meetings usually attract people from many organisations. Speakers typically bring their own laptops or other devices to project graphics for the audience. Yet, visiting speakers rarely know in advance what computer hardware will be in the meeting room. Even in the ideal case, connecting devices to the projector still requires various adaptors and cables. Speakers often waste meeting time trying to sort out hardware connection issues. According to the EU-funded UnboxingPixels project, meeting rooms need a single software solution for all. The project’s system, called Pxio, short for pixel input/output, allows everyone in a meeting room to simultaneously and wirelessly cast both visual and audio content from any device to any shared display. The content could be displayed on a large meeting room screen or on display walls as seen at fairs and trade shows. Although fairs and showrooms already feature large display walls consisting of many separate monitors, setting up such displays is difficult. It also requires expensive specialised media servers. Furthermore, the number of displays such systems can access is limited by design. In contrast, Pxio is infinitely scalable, and it uses standard hardware.
No more cables
“Necessary data is no longer sent via cables,” says Alexander Löffler, project coordinator, “but transmitted inside the Pxio software infrastructure via the already existing company network.” Being software-based, Pxio is hardware-independent and works with any operating system. Pxio works by enabling generic pixel transport over a company IP network. Being integrated with networking, the software handles user authentication and automation features. Terminals use a software client that logs on to a server on the company’s intranet for digital rights and licence management. Yet, the software sends pixel data directly between sources and displays. Proprietary algorithms for intelligent pixel distribution and synchronisation manage the casting process. Pxio provides companies with one universal solution for the whole network, where displays can be accessed via drag-and-drop functions within the app. Pxio is also low-cost, and it’s scalable depending on business size.
The project developed a functional prototype version that has been installed at several customer sites. Engineers are currently finalising the product for full-scale release. This involves tweaking internal metrics and technical features related to performance, plus improving user interfaces. The team applied for phase 2 EU funding in March 2020. If granted, this will accelerate the product’s introduction to the European market. Researchers also conducted a marketing and feasibility study for the product in Europe beyond its home German market. “Our study showed that there is an enormous potential for Pxio,” adds Löffler. “Basically, Pxio could be used anywhere visual content is presented.” Venues could range from small meeting rooms to large exhibition centres. Project partners see the product eventually being integrated with other software-controlled conference room infrastructure such as lights. Fiddling around with screencasting equipment may finally become a thing of the past.
UnboxingPixels, Pxio, software, hardware, network, data, screencasting, display walls