Digital signage on steroids: Video walls offer new collaboration scenarios

Having made a name for itself with its giant video walls, Prysm is looking to take its display technology into the collaboration space and is seeking IT resellers with collaboration expertise to help it grow beyond its a/v base.

San Jose, Calif.-based Prysm’s displays are based on its own proprietary laser phosphor display (LPD) technology said Dana Corey, Prysm’s vice-president of sales and operations. It’s an alternative to other display technologies, such as Plasma, LCD or LED. The company has applied for some 200 patents on the technology, and owns the related intellectual property.

LPD offers some key advantages over other display technologies, said Corey. It has “ridiculously low” power consumption, which also means it gives off less heat. It can be viewed from more angles, making it idea for large boardrooms and meeting places. And while LCD displays degrade at different speeds, leading to a lack of uniformity when used for a large tiled display, an LPD large video wall (also built with tiled displays) operates on a closed-loop servo, which constantly collaborates the displays for a uniform look.

“When you stand back and look it’s hard to tell the difference between the tiles,” said Corey.

Large commercial video walls were the first implementation of the technology for Prysm. For example, in Canada, with distribution partner APG Displays it built a massive video wall at GE’s Grid IQ Innovation Center in Markham, Ont. that measures 60 feet wide by seven feet tall. It’s now bringing the technology into the meeting room and collaboration space and, down the road, Corey said they’re eyeing the home.

To help with the move into the collaboration space, Prysm is working with Cisco Systems to integrate its Telepresence technology; companies can build a Prysm-based telepresence suite. It can also integrate with Microsoft’s Lync collaboration suite. It’s not just about video conferencing, said Corey. You’re getting the physical real estate to also show a slide or bring in a video. Given the scale of the solution, the focus is primarily on the enterprise space.

“You do typically find in at least every company there’s one large meeting room, and as companies get larger the opportunities for those medium and large meeting rooms become more prevalent,” said Corey. “It’s less than they’d spend for Telepresence today.”

All Prysm business goes through the channel, said Corey. In Canada, APG Displays is its exclusive distributor, working with dealers across the country and acting as Prysm’s representative in the market. Much of Prysm’s channel has been on the a/v side; with the move into the collaboration market Corey said they’re in recruitment mode, looking to add IT partners with collaboration expertise.

Prsym has a two-tier partner program – Select and Elite – with volume and training commitments to reach the Elite level, and available training and technology support.

“We offer very good margins,” said Corey. “Within the normal industry standards. Our partners are happy to work with us.”

APG Displays started working with Prysm about two-and-a-half years ago said David Weatherhead, president of the Mississauga, Ont.-based company. The original focus was on very large scale, immersive video wall displays, but Prysm has evolved over time to tackle the medium to large-sized meeting room space, and from working with just traditional a/v partners into the digital signage and collaboration space.

“It’s opening a huge opportunity for the IT VAR channel,” said Weatherhead, as unified communications comes together with video conferencing. “The whole market is transitioning. It creates a big opportunity for Prysm to capture some of that high end UC collaboration market.”

As the distributor, APG can be as involved as the reseller wants them to be, said Weatherhead. It’s a fairly complicated technology to build and install; building a display from tiles. If the partner wishes, APG can do the install under the partner’s name; the partner always owns the customer relationship.

“It all goes through a resell partner,” said Weatherhead.

APG is working to recruit new Prysm partners in Canada, and Weatherhead said IT resellers with expertise on enterprise collaboration systems with a video conferencing element, or even Microsoft Lync, could all be good fits. Any partners whose customers are struggling with sharing, collaboration and communicating better within the company.

“The Prysm solution is the Ferrari of the display business; it’s a high-end solution to that problem,” said Weatherhead.

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Jeff Jedras
Jeff Jedras
A veteran technology and business journalist, Jeff Jedras began his career in technology journalism in the late 1990s, covering the booming (and later busting) Ottawa technology sector for Silicon Valley North and the Ottawa Business Journal, as well as everything from municipal politics to real estate. He later covered the technology scene in Vancouver before joining IT World Canada in Toronto in 2005, covering enterprise IT for ComputerWorld Canada. He would go on to cover the channel as an assistant editor with CDN. His writing has appeared in the Vancouver Sun, the Ottawa Citizen and a wide range of industry trade publications.

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