The evolution of office projectors

My first job out of college was selling large screen data video projection systems. At the time that I took the job in 1991, I really didn't know what that was. Technology was foreign to me, and the job was no different. I quickly learned that the products I was selling were for training rooms and conference rooms to project large images onto a screen. I know that sounds very elementary today, however, the concept was new back then. These projectors cost about $25,000, and were basically only good for displaying an image onto a screen that came from a video or computer source. They were primarily purchased by automotive companies because at the time, they were the only businesses that could afford them.

Fast forward to today, and the idea of sharing information remains the same. But the technology used to provide the same results is significantly less expensive and more user-friendly and readily available.

Here is a quick overview of some of the basic components of a large screen display system that can be used for visually sharing information in conference rooms, training rooms, or informal spaces:

Display unit:

  • Flat screen monitors
  • Projectors

Source (input):

  • Video – DVD, streaming devices
  • Computers – Windows-based, Apple-based
  • Tablets – Apple iOS, Android, Windows
  • Video conferencing

Wireless sharing module: Allows users to send images from their computer to the display unit wirelessly

Think of these systems like the ones you use in your own home. You have a TV (display unit), that you hook up to satellite or cable (source). And maybe if you are advanced, you sit on your couch with your laptop and wirelessly send the content of your laptop to your TV.

In 1991, a $25,000 projector provided image quality comparable to seeing without your glasses on. Today, display units with crystal clear images are very inexpensive and can be picked up at your local electronics store or online retailer.

Sources needed to send information to the display unit are also readily available. In conference rooms, the source tends to be permanently integrated into the presentation system. Some less formal collaboration spaces allow users to “hook up” to the display unit with their personal device (laptop, tablet, or phone). The user simple plugs their device into a cable (usually HDMI) that runs into the display unit, or they can send images to the display unit wirelessly.

There are a whole slew of other devices that can be incorporated into these systems to create a sophisticated, integrated presentation solution, such as video conferencing cameras, microphones, switching devices, line-doublers, signal amplifiers, control head units, lighting control, smartboards – the list goes on. And the cost of all these items can easily add up to $25,000.

If that sounds intimidating, don’t worry. Today’s technology allows companies to easily provide employees the simple ability to exchange information in large screen formats. You can do it with some basic knowledge, and it doesn’t have to be costly like the projectors I used to sell!


Header image via

ProductsJoel Miller