A Ramble In Search Of A Topic: Podcasts, NAB, Convergence of Broadcast & IP Comms

three-podcastsAt this very moment I face a bit of a problem. What to write about? I have a lengthy list of ideas, notes and incomplete drafts. Oddly enough, none have any appeal at this very moment. Yet here I sit, on board a Jet Blue flight from Houston to New York…which is typically prime time for wordsmithing without distraction.

When I travel I tend to listen to podcasts. Often I’ll catch up on VUC calls that I’ve missed. Today I have a couple of episodes of Escape Pod and CBC Radio’s Spark on my phone. All three are favorites and well worth your time to give them a listen.

Like it not, my work is somewhat seasonal. This time of year we are consumed by the reality of the National Association of Broadcasters Annual Convention & Exposition, aka NAB 2011. NAB opens a week from today. Much of the coming weekend I will spend helping to get our booth ready for the show.

It’s a very different experience to work a convention as an exhibitor than to attend as a conference-goer. This will be my 18th NAB (sigh) making it more an annual test of endurance than something I enjoy. Still, I do enjoy spending time with my English associates, which doesn’t happen very often these days.

Most of what happens at NAB is not likely of interest to those who follow this blog. Nonetheless I will try to seek out some ideas for VUC guests and topics of interest while I’m in Las Vegas. There is considerable use of the technologies of IP communications occurring in the broadcast space.

It seems you can’t turn on any of the major news networks without seeing someone using telepresence or desktop video calling as a means of bringing-home-the-pictures. Where once there was only the novelty of the videophone to explain lousy quality video live from the field now Skype delivers reasonable video quality from anywhere with decent broadband.

Cross that trend with the rollout of 3.5G & 4G wireless networks and you have an interesting phenomenon. This has the potential to extend the scope of viewer-contributed content into the realm of video live from breaking news events. I wonder is anyone has yet offered a hardware interface to incorporate FaceTime style video into a production video workflow?

I also wonder just how the various manufacturers will be incorporating tablets into their presentations. I expect to see iPads all over the show floor. I wonder what presence Android tablets will have?

We’ve seen a general uptick in business for the past six months. There was recently an article noting that broadcast groups have seen considerable growth in revenues recently. Broadcasters are starting to spend money on capital improvements. Smaller TV stations are finally converting to HD in a meaningful way. Many who have local newscasts are going HD for local production.

All of this is good for our business at Pixel Power. I’m hopeful that if we see the industry growing healthier it will allow me to push forward with our evolving use of online streaming video / telepresence / video conferencing to perform remote demonstrations. That also dovetails into long-stalled plans to deploy video conferencing capability between our UK and US locations.

I’m sure that I’ll come away from NAB exhausted, but with some new ideas both for this blog and the VUC. If by chance you’re attending NAB feel free to come by the Pixel Power booth and say hello.