The pandemic certainly exacerbated growth in both the multiroom AV and home office markets, and WyreStorm is one company well positioned to offer solutions for integrators.
James Meredith, networkHD and control product manager at WyreStorm, says the markets are changing rapidly and integrators need to stay abreast of the latest developments. Meredith spoke with CE Pro’s sister publication Commercial Integrator editorial director Jonathan Blackwood and answered three big questions about the market.
CE Pro: What is happening with HDMI 2.1?
James Meredith: We’re still right at the beginning of the HDMI 2.1 journey. WyreStorm knows that our customers are going to need means to distribute that signal more than the 3 to 5 meters that you could possibly get over a copper cables. So we had ready for the launch of the new Playstation and XBox our active optical cables for HDMI 2.1 and that enable people to send up to 15 meters. With the HDMI 2.1 signal, you’re dealing with a huge amount of data. It’s up to 48 gigabits per second of data that we’re sending down those cables. We’re looking into more technologies and we’re waiting for the silicon to come out so that we can support it over Category cable.
We’ve got really big plans for elements of HDMI 2.1 within other products as well, perhaps not every single feature of HDMI 2.1 yet, but as those technologies become available we will always be right at the forefront.
CE Pro: In the same vein, everyone’s been talking about ARC. What is WyreStorm doing with ARC and eARC?
Meredith: We’ve supported ARC on a matrix for a long time. This year more than ever is the importance of eARC, the enhanced Audio Return Channel. A lot of our matrix products are HDbaseT extenders. Our active fiber cables that I just mentioned have supported ARC for a long time and we’ve seen a lot of people using those.
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This year, more than ever, almost every screen has got smart features where people are watching content streamed with Dolby Atmos sound, and they want to be able to get that back so their AV receivers in the cupboard. We’ve got the ability to do that on our new HDMI 2.1 fiber cables, but the product I’m really excited about and that we’ve had in development for quite a long time now is the eARC extender set.
This is going to be a 100-meter over Category cable extender set, which is going to give people the ability to finally get completely uncompressed audio content back to the AV receiver over Category cable. I think it’s going to be one of one of the very first products on the market to do that. We’ve been able to do that by utilizing some of the technology that we developed along with the SDVOE in our AV-over-IP products. So it’s going to be a really great hybrid of the technologies that comes at a price point well below what people have traditionally thought of for SDVOE products.
CE Pro: The last thing I wanted to ask you about was home offices. They’ve really evolved in the past year and likely will continue evolve as a lot of offices move to hybrid models. Where does WyreStorm fit into the Home Office?
Meredith: This time last year we were just starting to have integrators begin talking to us about AV systems for home offices. Previously, we had one or two inquiries per year, but it certainly wasn’t a common experience to have integrators saying I’m doing a Home Office project and I need to have multiple displays in the office or I need to have a high-quality, unified communications system for the Home Office.
WyreStorm launched a range of switches and a year ago for people who need to get multiple sources to multiple displays in the Home Office. We also have our unified communications and video conferencing kit product which includes a very high quality camera and microphone system.
But we see more potential for home office growth, so we’re going to launch a range of products called WyreStorm Office that will include unified communication products — everything from camera and microphone systems to individual Bluetooth microphone solutions that will be very high-quality. They will be rechargeable so they’re portable as well, so people could take them out and about or just use them at home. We also will launch a range of WyreStorm webcams.
We are expanding our portfolio using the technologies we’ve developed for commercial spaces and bringing them to the Home Office. I think it’s a huge growth opportunity for our AV integrators. It’s amazing that from what has been a very difficult experience for many people during the pandemic, these opportunities appear for AV integrators.