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AV Interview: Paul Harris, Aurora Multimedia Corp

For 25-plus years Paul Harris has been leading this innovative AV manufacturer, designing and building product in the US.

By

8 April 2024

Interview:/ Christopher Holder

Paul Harris established Aurora Multimedia Corp. back in 1998. Aurora’s factory in New Jersey builds Paul’s ideas, and he has a bunch. Aurora has a good number of ‘firsts’, and continues to be an innovative force in the commercial AV sector.

Paul himself is a disruptor as much as he is an innovator. He talks like a man whose cerebral cortex is crunching data at least twice the speed of most of us and is obsessed with making Aurora product better than anything else on the market. The flipside is he can’t understand why anyone would put up with substandard, me-too, generic hardware. He’s not afraid to voice his disdain and not afraid to put his money (and product) where his mouth is.

Paul Harris: A lot of manufacturing companies like to talk crap and yet they don’t even engineer their own products. They make it look like it’s theirs, but in actuality, they’re just slapping their name on other companies’ product from China or Taiwan. They come into the market with no innovation and copy others. Aurora is a true manufacturer that engineers and manufactures the majority of our products in our New Jersey location. We pride ourselves in making unique products that set us apart from others and create new typologies which change the industry for the better.

AV: I notice on the Aurora website that you invite head-to-head comparisons and provide comparison charts. Most companies don’t want to attract that kind of heat.

Paul Harris: Everyone wants to talk about how great they are, but no one wants to prove it.

I’ve developed spreadsheets that has our products in it and a comparison chart. Aurora is not just willing to talk; we are willing to prove it. Sure, that’s a big statement. When’s the last time you ever saw a company willing to do that? We are. It is not always about winning but seeing where you place. This is how innovation happens and products become better.

For example, with our AVoIP product. We’ll break it right down: the scaling, the latency, the compression type, power consumption, even our testing and debugging get scrutinised.

If you put our product side by side with the original, it will be extremely difficult to tell which one is which due to our image quality and low latency.

Features can make a big difference like full 720p30 MJPEG video as a secondary preview, PiP, quad, roaming mouse, hot keys, videowall, image rotation, EPG, and more.

Then there are the details that make installers’ lives easier. We have a front OLED so they can display the IP address, the serial number, the Mac address. That’s a big timesaver for people in the field. We don’t have different SKUs for transmitters and receivers, just a transceiver model. Same applies for USB and Dante models. Fewer models with more features make inventory easier as well as serviceability.

AV: What do Aurora aficionados love most about what you’re doing?

Paul Harris: They love our innovation. We were the first to market with an AVoIP transceiver and it’s made our customers’ lives much easier. They like the fact that it is a single box and it’s easier to carry spares when it’s one box. We are the only ones doing wallplate transceivers. So, for example, in a conference room, you might have a transceiver in the front of the room and one in the back of the room. I can assign the one at the front of the room to be a decoder. I can roll in an AV cart and use the wallplate to give me dual monitors. Or I could set the wallplate in the back of the room to be a decoder and the one in the front of the room to be an encoder. Now, I got a confidence monitor in the back of the room, and I can feed my laptop into the front one. It gives flexibility and usability.

AV: What in the Aurora product pipeline is exciting you the most?

Paul Harris: We have a game-changing conference room product coming through that’ll shape our company’s future for years. It is called ‘ReAX Room’. This patented technology allows our small RXT-4D interface to be an all-in-one angular beamforming Dante/AES67 microphone with speaker. The concept is to have each seated person to have their own four-inch control panel that together create a microphone and speaker array at the table. It will allow for seat naming, voting, raising hands, laptop input, audio return of language translation and hearing assist, and Bluetooth headsets. Together with the new BX-25D bass expander, VPX-UC1 Ultra AVoIP with Android for unified communications, and our VPX wall plates, it creates a full end-to-end room solution all powered by PoE. Everyone in the meeting will have a clear voice and will be able to hear the far end comfortably, unlike sound bars that need to project audio and pick up audio from the front of the room.

AV: Where does your drive for innovation come from?

Paul Harris: My ideas are based on solving problems. I don’t do niche-y things. I do things that solve problems. So if you think about an AVoIP wallplate transceiver, you may say it’s niche-y because we’re the only ones doing it. I would respond by pointing out that our product does what our competitors’ do but with a difference. We’re always trying to identify and address a problem that our customers may not even realise they have. That’s not niche, that’s mainstream – mainstream but better.

AP Technologies has been appointed exclusive distributor of Aurora product in Australia.

AP Technologies: (02) 9452 6001 or aptech.com.au

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A lot of companies talk crap. They don’t even make their own products

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