That’s part of our portfolio approach: not to force people into one solution or another but rather helping them get where they want to go with the pieces that fit their needs. For instance, the growing complexity of applications means we can also offer IP as another route. That’s an area Clear-Com was early into and now has a lot of experience in, in part with our acquisition of Trilogy. We see IP as an area of strength for us. We have a range of tools, and it often makes sense to have IP as part of the solution. And, in the last two years, we’ve done a tremendous job of taking the IP platform and democratizing it, taking it to all parts of the marketplace, not just the high end.
What are the biggest challenges in sports broadcasting today that intercom technology is helping address, and what are the biggest challenges faced by intercoms now in that space?
The biggest challenge is letting people move around: freedom of movement to let them do their jobs. We’ve made major headway in both wireless and mobile applications inside the product family. Intercom is addressing what I think is probably the most critical point in sports, and that’s the ability to decentralize that activity, so a TV truck is not the end-all, be-all of how an event gets covered.
The biggest challenges for intercoms in the sports-broadcast space is that people don’t necessarily design their intercom systems like they would design other critical systems of a broadcasting activity. When they think about covering an event, obviously, they have the video and the audio nailed down and what their uplink path is, and so on. But some pieces of that level of intention are missing when you think about intercom. That needs to change.
50 years is a long time for mortals but an eon for technology. What’s the next big step in intercom tech space?
The next step is a way for people to talk to each other that is less structured and more decentralized. So you might be the third-hand [broadcast] recipient [internationally] of an NBA game, but you’re struggling with some aspect of it, and you need to communicate with people upstream to address your issue — that’s the big challenge for intercoms. Intercoms need to be thought of as a real here-and-now thing, with metadata available and cross-platform compatibility among manufacturers to allow real-time communications. Intercom needs to become more like the internet. That’s where it needs to go.
Any predictions for the Super Bowl?
It’s going to be an exceptional event, and we’re pleased that they’ll be running our FreeSpeak II system inside the venue in Minneapolis.