Corporate TechDecisions had the opportunity to attend Oblong Industries’ Holiday Open House in Boston, MA on December fourth for a tour of the new features in the latest release of Mezzanine, their featured commercial product. With food, drinks, and warm holiday music playing throughout the space, the event was a laid back and open forum to learn about Mezzanine’s features. The open house welcomed integrators, resellers, and end users from a number of industries to demo the Mezzanine and see it with their own eyes.
Philip Greenwald, CEO of Avidest, was one of the guests that experience Mezzanine for the first time at the open house. “It’s awesome,” says Philip. “I expected a basic videoconferencing solution. I came and was really blown away. It’s not something you can get a full sense of until you see it in person. There are so many applications for it.”
Oblong Industries began when John Underkoffler, Chief Scientist of the company, designed the computer interfaces in the film Minority Report. The idea was a computer system that would be controlled by gestures and/or objects in the real world. The company has expanded on those ideas to create Mezzanine. Mezzanine is an interactive collaboration and presentation solution that allows for employees in different points to work on the same information. A remote, called a ‘wand,’ controls what is onscreen; pulling, opening, closing, and resizing. That same information is mirrored in linked conference rooms in real time, with employees able to manipulate data from any location.
Mezzanine can fit into a variety of environments, but its essence is tied into collaboration. Consider that a sales team is in one location, research and development is in another, and engineering is in a third. Each group can work within their Mezzanine or work together through the combined Mezzanines. The sales team can pull up a spreadsheet, the engineers can blow it up and circle specific figures, and research and development can run a presentation showing how far their work has come. This all happens at the same time, mirrored on every screen. It’s great for corporate environments where companies have multiple locations and multiple groups.
Each Mezzanine appliance, which carries the software within, allows for five feeds to run into the hardware. Those feeds can be videoconferencing cameras, live television feeds, cables plugged into laptops, surveillance, airplay, and so on. The appliance can then send the information to six displays per appliance. Each Mezzanine unit, whether they are tied together or working remotely, can display up to 11 simultaneous feeds. A Mezzanine kit can be tailored to suit your needs, whether that be streaming laptop, tablet, or smartphone screens, engaging in videoconferencing, presenting information, watching videos, or any combination of the above.
Sheryl Trussel of AVI-SPL, a reseller of Mezzanine, also attended the event. “This is my fourth time seeing it, and it has definitely improved over the last release. Even before this release, we’ve brought in customers and everyone has been impressed. All the feedback has been positive.”
The Mezzanine wasn’t the only technology being demoed at the open house. Oblong, at its core, is a software company. The Mezzanine runs on a base software that uses g-speak, Oblong’s core technology platform, to control data within a ‘spatial operating environment’ of three dimensions. This is what allows data to be moved between screens on separate walls and even tables. The g-speak platform enables the development of multi-user, multi-screen, multi-device, spatial, networked applications.
At the open house the company showed off just such an application. The company exhibited a basic version of a well digging application for an oil company. The application allows the oil company to work within three-dimensional maps of the land to figure out where to drill, and where it might be unsafe. The application is maneuvered using specially designed gloves, which act in the same capacity as a mouse cursor on a laptop or your finger on a touch screen device. However, Oblong’s gesture-based platform allows for a much higher range of actions and manipulations than cursors or touch screens are capable of. Users can manipulate data separately with each hand, and perform functions like adding, erasing, pulling up menus, zooming, and more simply through gestures.
“We’re showing it to people,” says John Mitton, CTO at Red-Thread. “It’s about changing the way people think of presentations, and the way they think of data.”
If you would like to view the Mezzanine for yourself, they will be holding the last of their Holiday Open Houses in Washington, DC on December 11th, and the company plans to hold a similar event in Chicago on January 28th. Oblong also offers demos at a number of their offices around the country. Visit their website to schedule a demo.
Video: Watch a video of Oblong demoing an application that runs on their g-speak platform, utilizing hand gestures to control the data on-screen. 3rd parties can license the software to create their own applications.
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