Web 2.0 the Opto Way

Opto 22 sent me this thought-provoking press release. Opto has twigged to the blending of entertainment and education that especially younger automation professionals appear to be expecting. Just a quick look on YouTube gets us this interesting set of benchmarks. Searching on "industrial automation" gets 389 videos. Searching on "sensors" gets 13,600!! videos. "Process control" gets you 1860 videos. And, of course, ControlGlobal.com's Process Automation Media Network has been producing multimedia education and editorial content since 2005. Many of these videos are produced by individuals sharing knowledge. Others are produced by forward thinking companies. Emerson, National Instruments, and Opto22 all have videos that inform and educate and are on YouTube. Many of these videos are class lectures. Some are company-produced attempts to preserve and disseminate the institutional knowledge that is leaving us as our Baby Boomer contingent retires. If you aren't doing things like this, as an end-user company or a vendor company, write me and tell me why not. If you ARE, write me and give me URLs, and tell me what your results and experiences are. We'll probably work on an article about this soon. Anyway, on to Opto's Press Release: Videos Prove Popular with Industrial Automation Market   Opto 22 Informs and Entertains as "OptoVideos" Proliferate on the World Wide Web   Temecula, CA - July 8, 2008 - Systems and design engineers, machine builders, and others in the industrial automation industry are finding great value in a series of online videos from Opto 22,  as a tool to help them understand, source, select, and apply control, monitoring and data acquisition technologies, products, and applications. Opto 22's "OptoVideos" have been downloaded by the tens of thousands since they debuted just three months ago, and are now currently featured on the websites of several industry-leading blogs and trade publications, including Control Engineering (www.controleng.com), Automation World (www.automationworld.com), Design World (www.designworldonline.com), www.ControlGlobal.com, and the online resource Automation.com (www.automation.com). "Over the past year, Opto 22 has made a corporate-wide commitment toward leveraging Web 2.0 technologies to engage, inform, and educate new and potential customers and other website visitors," says Benson Hougland, Opto 22 Vice President of Marketing.   OptoVideos premiered in mid-March and have quickly become some of the most watched industrial automation videos available on the Web. Many of the industry's most influential and heavily-trafficked websites have chosen to host videos of this type and have subsequently seen record download figures. Automation.com, for example, is an online web portal for industrial automation, process control, and instrumentation professionals. Site publisher Rick Zabel reports a "substantial increase in our website activity, in part due to an influx of videos, podcasts and other multimedia content." All of the OptoVideos (now close to 100 titles) are currently viewable via a Flash-based media player on the Opto 22 website. However, the company also provides the HTML code so others can easily link to or embed the player on their own websites. The videos can also be subscribed to and downloaded through Apple's free iTunes software, and can be viewed and shared with peers through YouTube (www.youtube.com) as well as several popular blogs. So how does Opto 22 produce all these videos? Hougland says the company has made a considerable investment in the high-definition production equipment, development tools, personnel, and facilities needed to create and deliver this dynamic video content.   Currently, the company is producing several types of OptoVideos. "PAC Your Things" video case studies feature an Opto 22 engineer visiting a customer site to conduct an interview, tour the facility, and see an industrial automation application in action. High-profile customers and applications from all over the U.S. have been featured, including Verizon Communications in New York City and the Carnegie Science Center in Pittsburgh, PA. Other customers featured in the "PAC Your Things" video series include Michigan's Department of Natural Resources and Lumenyte International. "OptoMinutes" are 60-second segments that educate the viewer on one particular aspect of industrial automation. These videos typically offer either general instruction or advice, such as tips for choosing the right temperature monitoring sensor, or they can be specific to the Opto 22 product line, such as providing an overview of the company's operator interface terminals. Similarly, Opto 22's "Product Overview" videos provide brief introductions to the hardware, software, and accessories comprising the company's flagship SNAP PAC System. Also available are a series of software screencasts, which are narrated video presentations the company uses to demonstrate in detail the features and functionality of its award-winning PAC Project automation software suite. "Lastly, we have a number of interactive Flash tutorials that website visitors can navigate through at their own pace," says Hougland. "Among other things, you can trace the history and evolution of the programmable automation controller (or PAC), see how our SNAP PAC System components fit together, find the correct I/O module for your application, discover different networking options, and much more." Content Locations OptoVideo Widescreen Player - includes "PAC Your Things" Case Studies, Product Overviews, and OptoMinutes: <http://www.opto22.com/video/players/ows_player.aspx> OptoVideo Screencast Player - includes software demonstration screencasts for Opto 22's PAC Project and associated software: <http://www.opto22.com/video/players/osc_player.aspx> Interactive Flash Tutorials - includes "What is a PAC?", SNAP I/O Selector Guide, Choosing Software, and Ethernet Networking: <http://www.opto22.com/site/le_interactive_flash.aspx>