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Trilogy’s next step in intercom evolution

Kevin Hilton 5 August 2010

UK manufacturer Trilogy Broadcast is aiming to push audio over IP further than ever by launching a second generation IP-based intercom system at this year’s IBC, writes Kevin Hilton. Gemini is the next move on from the Mercury range, which became the first IP-based intercom in 2001. Most intercom manufacturers now offer some form of VoIP (voice over IP) capability but only after end users became more confident about using the technology. When the concept was first proposed the general view was that IP was neither robust nor reliable enough for important communications. Barry Spencer, general manager of broadcast at Trilogy, says the main objection to intercom over IP was the amount of delay that could be introduced into the signal. Now this problem has been largely overcome developers have been looking at what more the format can do for broadcast communications. Gemini offers what is claimed to be the first touch-screen front panel for intercom, showing status and configuration settings. Other features include support for up to 32 "traditional" and IP-connected intercom units, telephones and other equipment, such as phones and radio using the Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) standard; and bandwidth management that allows the system to adapt to changing network conditions. Like Mercury before it, Gemini is a distributed peer-to-peer system, which gives flexibility in where matrices can be located. Trilogy’s chief technology officer, Tim Hardisty says earlier IP-based intercoms "paid the price" for being distributed systems by having lower quality audio. "IP technology has improved over the years," he comments, "and networks have become more reliable, with higher bandwidths. So we can have good quality sound at lower cost." Spencer adds that while Gemini is based on the experience of developing Mercury, it is a new system. Early IP-intercoms were criticised for not being "mission critical", in other words they were not considered suitable for carrying communications on live TV productions. Spencer points to Trilogy’s work in the defence sector as proof that this situation has changed. Trilogy is aiming Gemini at the large-scale outside broadcast and multiple studio markets. Barry Spencer says demonstrations have been given to major broadcasters but the details are still confidential. After its launch at IBC the product is due to be ready for delivery by the end of November. 

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