`MULTIMEDIA'' is a buzzword these days, referring to technologies that are making it easier for business people to integrate the use of video, audio, text, and other information in their work. While the goal is to enhance workplace productivity, high-tech companies are struggling to make the reality live up to the promise. Today Proxima Corporation of San Diego introduced a product that it hopes will improve the quality of training sessions, sales presentations, and work meetings. The companies new projection panel uses liquid crystal display (LCD) technology to allow computer and video information to be shown to an audience through an overhead projector.
LCD panels already in use employ ``passive'' LCD technology unable to handle full-motion video images. The Proxima product, called Ovation, is an ``active matrix'' LCD system. When snapped on to a standard overhead projector, it can take color images from a computer or videocassette recorder and show them on a screen as a film or slide projector would do.
LCD panels, which are also used in aircraft instruments and some computers, typically have about 300,000 individual pixel cells. These are built like sandwiches, utilizing two plates of glass with electrodes and liquid crystal fluid between the two plates. The liquid crystal molecules twist under the influence of the electric field, and thus act as shutters to block or pass light.
The ``active matrix'' technology allows faster control, so that each pixel cell can be turned on or off in 50 milliseconds, compared with 200 to 300 milliseconds for the ``passive'' technology. This makes the display of video possible. The panel will be priced below $9,000.
David Marshak, a consultant with Patricia Seybold's Office Computing Group in Boston, says he is impressed by Ovation's ability to display of motion and high-quality graphics, and that it could prove useful not only for presentations but in small work groups in offices. He says finding buyers for the new panel will depend on bringing the price down and making potential customers aware of the product's capabilities.