posted on Thursday, 16th February 2017 by Geny Caloisi
This year’s ISE was Sharp’s first major European appearance since it was bought by Taiwanese multinational electronics manufacturing company Foxconn, on a $3.8bl takeover deal. And the prospects for the company’s future are looking better than ever, according to EU marketing director Michael Bailly, “This is ‘Sharp on steroids. The money injection the company received from Foxconn has enabled us to expand our product line-up, positioning ourselves at a vantage point,” he said.
Sharp introduced six new product categories, the launch of a new digital signage solution platform, the Sharp Open Architecture Platform, and an OPS (Open Pluggable Specification) format designed with Intel.
Hardware highlights included a 70-inch video wall display, the largest commercially available, the company’s first interactive display for huddle spaces and an interactive display range with direct bonding technology. Also on stand, Sharp was showing an R&D sample of a semi-transparent Field Sequential Display (FSD) prototype.
Sid Stanley, General Manager, Visual Solutions said: “To be considered a significant vendor, we know that we need to earn market share with a broad and comprehensive product range. This is why we are investing in some mainstream areas like signage, but also in innovative and new solutions like large form factor video walls and huddle displays. Thanks to the partnership with Foxconn, we are now better positioned to do this and to offer a different choice to the market, giving resellers and integrators another vendor partnership option.”
Half of Sharp’s stand was dedicated to interactive products for the boardroom and classroom, including new 70- and 80-inch BIG PAD displays (PN-70SC5 and PN-80SC5), which include ‘bonding’ for a better viewing and touch experience. Enhanced features will give users better control of their presentations and more options for collaboration and interactivity.
Sharp also launches its first 40-inch BIG PAD interactive display for small, huddle meetings and interactive signage applications. The PN-40TC1 40-inch touchscreen display features P-CAP capacitive touch, and offers many benefits of Sharp’s larger BIG PADs at a smaller size, making it easier for small groups to share ideas and work together.
All of Sharp’s BIG PAD displays promise Sharp’s ‘Pen-on-Paper’ user experience, which means that writing on a display feels as normal and natural as writing on paper. This is delivered through a combination of hardware features and software packages that ensure technology is not a barrier, but an enabler, to productive meetings and collaboration.
On the digital signage arena, Sharp has a new hardware, software and partnerships with third party software providers. In terms of monitor hardware, Sharp’s next generation of its PN-R and PN-U range of high-brightness displays, the PN-Y range of ‘plug and play’ displays come with an embedded USB media player and PN-Q, a new range of affordable large-size displays. Ideal for meeting rooms and other commercial signage applications, the PN-Q series is available from 60- to 90-inches.
In terms of software Sharp offers its own free of charge signage software, Sharp Digital Signage Software as default on its new System on Chip (SoC) displays and has also opened its SoC platform for Android to software vendors. The company has partnered with software specialists CityMeo, Grassfish, Videro, and easyscreen.
Sharp’s three new display ranges offer flexible connectivity options. These include embedded SoC (capable of handling 4K content) with Sharp’s Digital Signage Software or an integrated USB Media Player with Sharp’s new Content Distributor software, or a Mini OPS (Open Pluggable Specification) expansion slot to flexibly expand the range of user applications.
Developed with Intel, Mini OPS is a modern, smaller format of OPS. Three types of Mini OPS modules were introduced at ISE (PC, Wireless, and HDBaseT) to give users more display and interactivity options. The compact Mini OPS modules are easy to install, use and maintain, and the future-proof high-speed connectors support the transmission of 4K content.
Finally, Sharp showcased its semi-transparent 17-inch Field Sequential Display panel. This is a prototype device being developed in Japan that has the potential to be used in a wide range of applications, from digital signage to entertainment devices. This highly power-efficient technology is different to other displays available today as it uses a high frequency sequential RGBW colouring system.
Not to be left behind after so many robots were introduced at CES, Sharp also had its own RoBoHon, a tiny cute robot with a touch screen on the back that was able to respond to voice commands and even dance!
Geny Caloisi is an accomplished technology journalist who has worked in a variety of AV industry publications.
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