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Harman Exec Outlines Multi-Room, Video Plans

5/03/2010 03:30:19 PM Eastern

New York - Harman
is looking to acquire video-industry suppliers and migrate Ethernet audio/video
bridging (AVB) networking technology from its pro sound division to its Harman
Performance AV (HPAV) consumer group, executive Blake Augsburger told TWICE.

Augsburger is worldwide  president/CEO of Harman's professional
division, which includes HPAV, the high-end supplier of Mark Levinson, Revel,
JBL Synthesis and Lexicon consumer audio equipment. Augsburger is also Harman's
North America country manager.

Harman's pro
division, he said, is "looking at the right opportunities" to acquire a video
company in any of four key video segments: control, servers, signal
conditioners or displays.

Although the
division would most likely buy a pro video company, many of which also offer
consumer gear, the acquired company's technology would likely migrate to HPAV
and to Harman Consumer, which markets the JBL, Infinity, Harman Kardon and AKG
consumer brands, he said.

Harman is looking
for a company that manufactures, not just markets, video products, he stressed.
"Video is a logical adjunct market for us," he added.

In migrating the industry-standardized
Ethernet AVB technology from the pro division to HPAV, the high-performance
group will bolster its position in the multi-room-A/V market following its recent
sale
of the Audioaccess brand to Amplifier Technologies (ATI).

The Audioaccess
platform, Augsburger said, had technology limitations that IEEE 802.1 Ethernet
AVB will overcome when it appears in HPAV products in calendar 2011.

The Audioaccess
multi-room audio architecture consisted of a multi-room hub that distributed
control and audio signals to amplified in-wall controllers via CAT-5. Power was
delivered from the hub to each in-wall controller via a separate two-conductor
cable.

With Ethernet AVB,
a standard promoted by the AVnu Alliance, Harman
pro and consumer products will take advantage of AVB's Ethernet-network
architecture to distribute audio, control signals and power over one RJ-45
cable while eliminating wiring home runs. The cable would deliver enough power to
operate local 50-80-watt amplifiers, Augsburger said. The AVB network can be
shared with a home computer network, he added.

Ethernet AVB also
has the bandwidth to distribute uncompressed 1080p HD video around the house, and
in single-zone applications, the technology would eliminate cable clutter by transporting
audio, video and control signals over one RJ-45 cable, he noted.

Ethernet AVB already
appears in select Harman pro products and will appear in most new Harman pro products
by June, enabling dealers to create a complete Ethernet AVB system for pro
sound applications, Augsburger said. The technology will appear in HPAV
products next year for the residential market, although dealers might get a first
glimpse at the products during September's CEDIA Expo, he said.

Harman's first
residential Ethernet AVB products will be multi-zone A/V processors and amps,
Augsburger said. A spokesman said the first products would likely be designed
to connect to Ethernet-AVB home-control systems from other companies to
distribute only audio and control signals.

For Harman, it
would be "cost-prohibitive" to bring Ethernet AVB to the pro industry alone,
Augsburger said of HPAV's plans. Harman also plans to migrate the technology to
its car OEM business, where the technology will remove 200 pounds of copper
from vehicles, he added.

HPAV's current
multi-room A/V presence consists mainly of Revel and JBL in-wall speakers and
two-zone Lexicon and Levinson preamp processors.

Under Harman,
Audioaccess marketed multi-room-audio and multi-room-A/V systems, in-wall
keypads and touchscreen controllers, and in-wall, in-ceiling and outdoor
speakers.

The AVnu Alliance promotes
the adoption of the IEEE 802.1 AVB standards over various physical layers for
use in the automotive, consumer electronics and professional A/V markets. It
has created compliance test procedures and processes that ensure AVB
interoperability of networked A/V devices.

Members include
Broadcom, Cisco, Harman, Intel, Samsung, Xilinx, Analog Devices, Applied Micro,
Avid, Barco, Lab X Technologies, Marvell, Meyer Sound, Peligacore and Shure,
which announced its membership earlier today.