Large-screen video projection shows data input from mainframe computers.
The revolution in office automation has affected many phases of American business, but perhaps nowhere is it more evident than in the conference room. There, the linkup of computers with audio-visual projection equipment has produced an environment that, in marked contrast to meetings of only a few years ago, is virtually free of the clutter of paper documents once deemed essential to the exchange of information.
The new, virtually paper-free conference setting is exemplified in the home office of one of the major divisions of the General Electric Company in surburban Cleveland. A conference room accommodating 25 persons has been fitted out with state-of-the-art electronic equipment: a computer whose data is fed through an Inflight Services' Barco Data 32 video projector capable of displaying charts, graphs and tables on a large wall screen. The system also allows input from video tapes, laser disks, satellite transmissions and live camera.
Video Projector in Ceiling
The video projector, a compact, three-tube, three-lens unit, is mounted unobtrusively in the ceiling above a long conference table. The projector is connected to an IBM Personal Computer terminal that can be moved about the room.
The video projector is the latest version of the unit used by airlines around the world to show feature films, flight-safety information and travelogues on large screens in wide-body jetliners. The projector was developed by Inflight in collaboration with its European partner, Barco Electronics NV of Belgium, to make available high-clarity display of visual material on a large screen for use by business concerns, educational and medical institutions, and government agencies.
Projector Accepts Computer Input
An essential difference from the airborne projector is the 32's ability to accept computer input, making available any information contained in an organization's data base.
General Electric's video-projection system has been installed since mid-1984 at the home offices of its Lamp Components Division in Richmond Heights, just east of Cleveland. The division, with plants in several locations, manufactures in excess of 15,000 separate parts, including glass envelopes, filaments and metal bases used in the making of lamps by its parent firm and other producers.
In the division's conference room one recent morning, Joseph Kosir, manager of information systems for the Glass and Metallurgical Products Department, described the range of functions served by the computerized projection setup:
"We have 11 plants in the eastern United States, and when we have new products or methods to introduce, we bring in the materials managers from each of the plants,' Kosir said. "Instead of having to look at slides or split-screen displays, we give them a complete video presentation using computerized data.'
PC Can Link to Mainframes
The conference room is also used by division executives when reviewing sales forecasts, giving them access to any information in the mainframe computer situated at Nela Park, headquarters for GE's Lighting Business Group. The conference room's PC terminal can be linked to any of three mainframe computers-- IBM, Honeywell and Digital Equipment --at Nela Park.
General Electrics' human-relations people also use the conference room to review training materials on the 8 by 10-foot screen. Seminars in quality control, training sessions for engineers and demonstrations of computer software by vendors are conducted in the conference room.
At a typical conference, participants study the large-screen images of graphs and charts at the end of the room. At a similar meeting 20 months ago, paper documents would have been spread on the conference table, but now there is a notable absence of clutter as computer data is quickly flashed onto the large screen.
Kosir and his colleagues selected the Barco Data 32 on a recommendation from IBM, whose computers General Electric presently uses.
"When you're going into a new kind of equipment,' Kosir said, referring to the projection system, "it makes sense to ask those who've had experience with it. In this case, IBM had done the research and we were able to benefit from it.'
System Can Adapt to Other Inputs
Cash Hoyt, president of Datavid Corporation and a local distributor for Inflight, pointed out that a valuable feature of the video system is its adaptability, because the projector interfaces with many other sources of input besides the computer.
"Another feature of the projector is that it's easy to operate and to maintain, and is easily accessible for adjustment and service,' added Hoyt.
Photo: The large screen shows the same data and graphics as the PC.
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|Date:||Apr 1, 1986|
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