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E-MAIL INTERVIEW – Serge Bohdjalian & Ken Sinclair
Serge Bohdjalian, Senior Marketing Representative, Matrox Graphics Inc.
Graphics hardware for mission-critical areas like central monitoring and building automation
Various studies report productivity gains of 10 to 50% from using multiple displays. Productivity is improved by reducing the amount of time spent moving information that doesn't otherwise fit on screen.
Sinclair: What does Matrox do?
Bohdjalian: Matrox Graphics is the leading manufacturer of graphics hardware for professionals. In particular, Matrox has high-quality, multi-display graphics hardware for mission-critical areas like central monitoring and building automation.
Sinclair: How can graphics hardware help building automation?
Bohdjalian: There are two main applications. First, graphics hardware is used in central monitoring. With the growing use of digital cameras and remote sensors, there's a need to present large amounts information on computer screens. Matrox makes graphics hardware to use two or more computer monitors at a time. Various studies report productivity gains of 10 to 50% from using multiple displays. Productivity is improved by reducing the amount of time spent moving information that doesn't otherwise fit on screen. Errors are reduced by making it more likely that important information is on screen.
Second, graphics hardware is used for digital signage. As the cost of digital technology comes down, it becomes more practical to replace static signs with flat panel displays. When the cost of updating signs frequently is fully considered, it's already more cost effective to use digital signage in many situations.
Sinclair: What's the latest graphics technology for building automation?
Bohdjalian: Matrox recently announced Extio F1400, the world's first remote graphics unit (RGU). This technology provides a new physical layout for computer systems. The user interface of the computer – the keyboard, mouse, monitors, audio peripherals, and graphics hardware – are separated from the rest of the computer by up to 250 meters (820 feet) of fiber-optic cable. Designed for mission-critical environments, Extio F1400 has support for up to 4 monitors at a time and passive (fanless) cooling.
With this product, the critical parts of the computer – like the disks, memory, and processors – can be kept away from the user interface and in a separate, safe, secure room. This also saves space at the user station, removes a potentially noisy computer and, most importantly, allows system administrators to access and maintain the system at a separate location.
Sinclair: Why use fiber-optic cabling instead of less expensive electrical cabling?
Bohdjalian: Fiber-optic cabling has several advantages over electrical cabling:
Because of its low-signal-loss and high-bandwidth properties, fiber-optic cabling is capable of longer distances and higher bandwidths.
Fiber-optic cabling is immune to problems with EMI (Electro-Magnetic Interference) which can wreak havoc on signal integrity, especially over long distances.
For dangerous environments, optical signals can't trigger an explosion through a spark.
Because fiber-optic cables are non-conductive, they don't need electrical isolation, for instance between buildings where copper cables would require cross bonding to eliminate differences in earth potentials.
Providing more security, it's more difficult to tap into a fiber-optic cable to read the data signals.
Fiber-optic cables are typically thinner and weigh less, and this can make them easier to place.
Sinclair: What does RGU technology do for central monitoring and digital signage?
Bohdjalian: With RGU technology, it's now easier to place monitoring stations. They no longer need to be placed in server rooms and access to sensitive computer systems is easier to restrict. Monitoring stations can now have only the computer parts intended to be there – the user interfaces. Since keyboards, mice, and monitors can also be simultaneously connected on the server side, this solution effectively separates the use and administration of a system. Such a separation has ergonomic and workflow advantages.
With digital signage, it's even more important not to have a large bulky system where the display is located and to be able to maintain the display content at a separate location. There are other extension technologies, but Extio is a much better integrated solution and offers much higher, more reliable image quality.
Sinclair: What's in the future of graphics technology for building automation?
Bohdjalian: Expect to see support for higher resolutions and for more digital cameras at a time. Higher resolutions offer some of the same advantages as multiple displays. It's all about seeing more and thus doing more. The resolutions of displays will be higher and so will the resolutions of cameras. Currently, the resolution of digital video cameras is much lower than what's possible. Through improving camera, display, sensor, and connection technology, we can expect buildings of the future to be much more digitally integrated.
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