Want to simplify projector use and save energy and bulbs? Dominic Norrish thinks Viseco may be the answer
Viseco gesture control for projectorsViseco can fit into dado railSchool leaders managing an ever-growing estate of classroom data projectors have two main concerns: reducing energy and bulb costs; keeping track of remote controls.

A new solution attracting attention is the new Viseco management system, compatible with all projectors, which allows teachers to use gesture-control to dispense with remotes and control them by gesture, and to shut them down automatically to save power and bulbs.

Projector issues are particularly acute in schools where teachers regularly move between rooms and no one teacher has ownership of a projector. This leads to them being left on unnecessarily, causing higher energy bills and more frequent bulb replacement. Management software can help, but only where schools use the same projectors from one manufacturer, and where there’s a handily-placed high-level network port in each room. This is far from the norm.

The  Viseco does two things very well: as a gesture-controlled system it’s a good replacement for remote controls; it shuts down the projector automatically after a user-defined period of inactivity, preventing it being left on accidentally.

The system takes the form of a two small boxes; the main unit designed for installation either in a dado rail or just attached to a wall, and the head unit containing the infrared emitter which sits somewhere high up, with a line of sight to the projector. It works by communicating with the room’s projector via infrared, just like a standard remote. The unit is finished to a high quality and robustly constructed, with LED lights to confirm commands.

The Viseco unit can be 'taught' up to seven simple gesture commands

The most revelatory feature of Viseco is the way it simplifies things for users through its touchless interface. Using a simple, one-time installation process, the school ‘teaches’ the unit up to seven projector commands, the most obvious being ‘turn on’ and ‘turn off’. Others that spring to mind are ‘remove the annoying Clean Filter message from the screen’ ,‘Cycle through inputs’ and ‘Blank Screen’.
It doesn’t just work with projectors either.

Any infrared-controlled device in sight of its receiver can be set up to respond to the same instructions, for example air-conditioning units or plasma screens. Once the commands are set, a remote is no longer needed and can be stored. Teachers now just hold their hand in front of the Viseco box to turn the projector on or off (you don’t even need to touch it) and wave their hand one, two or three times to perform whatever commands have been mapped to those actions. The Viseco website has a handy template for filling in with the relevant commands, and these can be printed or  laminated for display next to each box.

For me, this is an invaluable function. A school equipped with Viseco boxes will have massively simplified things for the itinerant teacher or deputy head faced with a last-minute assembly in the hall. The projector will always be controllable and will always behave in the same, set manner, regardless of differences between models or where the remote was last seen prior to that Year 9 cover lesson…

Eco-friendly and saves money

The eco-friendly aspect of the Viseco box is that it will intelligently save the school money over time, possibly more than paying for itself. The device will shut the projector down after a set time of inactivity. The fact that the school can configure this delay period (around one hour seems sensible to me) means that it won’t shut the projector off – like the lights in some new academies – just because the class is motionless, but only when it’s been accidentally left on.

The upshot of this is that no projector will ever stay on overnight and no harassed technician (or worse, plug-pulling site agent) will have to check every room at 3:20pm again. The energy saved here is likely to be substantial over time, but the more tangible cost benefit will be in the extended bulb life schools achieve. Replacement cost and lamp life vary by projector type but 2,000 hours is standard and a new bulb costs up to £300. Removing wasted hours where the projector is needlessly burning during lunchtime or lesson time when the room is empty or after hours will get much more quality use for those 2,000 hours.

Plus points:

  • An option for Power over Ethernet is on the manufacturer’s roadmap, meaning that schools won’t even need a power socket next to the installation, just a network point.
  • Also on the roadmap is integration with smart cards, which will allow schools to restrict its use to staff. This feature could also be used to track the rationing of projector hours for individuals or departments, encouraging staff to take responsibility for projector use.
  • Relatively simple for schools to self-install, making it a very cost-effective solution at £120 + VAT per unit. Lost remotes can cost similar to replace.

Things to consider:

  • Using the Viseco system makes most sense when one is installed in every room – a not insubstantial (though one-off) cost.
  • Needs a network point or a plug (depending on the version you go for) in the near vicinity of the projector. The unit comes with an infrared emitter attached to a lengthy cable, so anywhere within 4 metres would do.

Ratings (out of 5)
Fitness for purpose 5
Ease of use             5
Features                  5
Quality                     4
Value for money      4

Wireless gesture-control system for data projectors and any other infrared devices, from £120 ex VAT

Dom NorrishDominic Norrish is an ICT consultant for Novatia plc and works nationally with existing and new-build schools.