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One thing we love about what we do at Igloo Vision is getting to try out, play with, and ultimately implement the latest technologies for our clients.

With technology racing ahead, we’ve always got something new to try. And that’s a good thing for our clients - because we’re always able to specify the optimum solution for their needs and budgets. And working with the latest tech means we can futureproof installations so that clients can be assured their Igloo system will serve their needs for as long as possible.

One technology we’ve been making more-and-more use of is NDI - Network Device Interface. And we’ve been working with BirdDog to bring in its NDI-enabled cameras into recent installations.

A BirdDog camera in the Deakin Imaginarium.

But first, what’s so special about NDI?

You can get all the details from the horse’s mouth but, in essence, it’s a protocol developed by NewTek that makes it possible to share audiovisual data over a network, such as LAN, WAN, or the internet.

The really clever bit is that instead of needing a mass of cables, which can often be very specific cables that are hard to source, all the sharing can be done over an ethernet cable - one cable, easily sourced from standard office supply stores. So power, video, audio, control is all handled over the network and those feeds can be controlled from anywhere on the network.

BirdDog has taken this functionality and put it into a hardware chip. Initially, that chip was used on top of a traditional camera but now its range of hardware products all come with the chip inside - so encoding and decoding is handled inside the hardware, such as cameras.

The beauty of this technology for Igloo installations is the way it simplifies workflows and considerations. It saves the trouble of thinking about a long chain of devices - where they’re going, what and how they connect - you can have everything simply connected to a network and choose your input device from a dropdown list.

BirdDog and Igloo in action at Integrate 2019

We’d already used BirdDog’s pan-tilt-zoom (PTZ) cameras for remote support in installations and showcased it alongside our Igloo setup at Integrate 2019. For our immersive video conferencing offering, the BirdDog NDI range is a super useful tool and we’ve put it to good use in our installations for Deakin University, The University of Adelaide, the Catapult Room for CapitaLand, and more. We've also used it for remote support for events for the New South Wales Environment Protection Authority, and have more PTZ cameras on the way to upcoming installations.

Indeed, the Deakin Imaginarium is one situation that demonstrates the value of this tech for futureproofing. Because we chose to use NDI for the AV, it was a simple proposition to return and upgrade the installation with video conferencing hardware, rather than having to navigate a maze of existing cables.

An interface used to control a video conferencing setup at The Catapult Room.
The tablet/web interface that is used to control the BirdDog API and OBS software in the Catapult.

Plus, the BirdDog API has meant we’ve easily been able to build our own video conferencing interface. The Igloo software, the Open Broadcaster Software (OBS) and the BirdDog cameras are all controlled from this user-friendly interface. So a lecturer (or, in a corporate setting, an executive) can easily switch camera presets and access Igloo Capture layers, with minimal fuss.

A BirdDog camera in the Deakin Imaginarium.
A BirdDog PTZ camera in the Deakin Imaginarium.

Despite some initial wariness from clients unused to this type of AV-over-IP setup, we’ve been able to demonstrate how handling AV in this way is so much simpler and easier. With fewer cables and fewer connection points, there are fewer potential points of failure and it’s easier to switch out hardware - all round, it’s far easier for inhouse AV teams to manage.

So, when you come to Igloo for an immersive installation (whether it’s for education, enterprise, for an immersive workspace or an innovation suite) you can be assured we’ll be using technology that suits your needs - not just now, but for the future too.

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