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Internal need spawns industry solution with Alford Control Toolkit

The need for a mobile application capable of controlling Barco brand controllers for audio and visual presentations has spawned a new product capable of running on iPads and iPhones and eliminating the need for additional staff during tradeshows and other events.

The Alford Control Toolkit fills the need for a simple, affordable and handheld way to control popular Barco audio-visual systems offered by Alford.

“We had a need for it internally. We have screen pros and FSNs, but our engineers were perplexed why there wasn’t an iPad application,” said Tate. “They said: ‘We need to make an app. We’re tired of doing it on a personal computer.’”

Before the new Alford Control Toolkit existed, the only software available for controlling audio-visual presentations with Barco equipment was with a Windows-based program that required a dedicated personal computer to use. And that meant lugging around a bulky computer system. But with the proliferation of iPads and iPhones, Alford officials commissioned a tech firm to use an existing app designed for an iPhone for similar purposes and create a new app capable of controlling Barco systems with an iPad or iPhone, and it is proving popular among tradeshow exhibitors.

“Everybody in the industry is out using it,” said Tate, adding thousands of copies of the app have been distributed among tradeshow industry firms.

Among reasons for its apparent popularity is fewer people are needed and it gives more time for preshow preparations.

“It’s a value-added item. You still have to set up an encore controller, but engineers are not getting in each other’s way. Now, one person can do a little more,” said Tate. “You can find new avenues on how to approach a show and rehearse a show with a client. This is something we haven’t been able to do before.”

Because the app is based on existing Barco control systems, training time is minimal for those already rehearsed in using Barco systems.

“It’s an intuitive product for those who know what they are doing,” said Tate. “It’s very easy to use if you are experienced with Barco products. There is less overtime and less setup. Anything you can do on a controller can be done with the app.”

And the app can be tailored for a specific show by customizing the setup for a special event or need while reducing the time it normally would take to set up a traditional control system.

“This works in tradeshow booths and corporate meetings,” said Tate. “You can preplan and save up to 999 presets. And you can move the buttons and enhance presets on the spot. You can work on the show on a plane, walk in and have all your presets.”

And when the show is underway, only one staff member is needed to run an entire presentation.

“You don’t have to spend thousands of dollars on gear or cash on a laptop that a tech carries around,” said Tate. “You are able to remotely control gear and not have someone stuck in a closet waiting for instructions.”

With the ability to reduce labor costs while increasing preparation time, the Alford Control Toolkit could be the solution for reducing the price of participation in the tradeshow circuit.

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