Why we need a Software Presentation Switcher

Auto Presentation Switcher (APS) automates the task of switching presentations. When my brother first saw the introduction-video he was not so impressed: He thought it is easy to switch presentations on a computer, he could do it in less than a minute. Why not do it manually?
Of course, he is right, when I’m sitting in my home and looking over presentations, the seconds I save with the shortcuts using APS are not that important. But what my brother failed to understand, is that there are situations where switching presentations manually is simply not good enough.
Consider the workflow of an AV-technician in a standard corporate event where several speakers go on the stage or studio with their own presentation. The job could then be to control the microphones and make sure that the correct presentation is displayed. While the speaker is holding a presentation the job is not too hard (given that everything is set up properly and nothing unexpected happens.) The main challenge arises in the transitions between the speakers, when suddenly a lot of things are happening at the same time. In the graph below I have tried to give an example of how the workflow can look at a typical conference.

The right of the graph shows the transition between speakers. Here the AV-technician can be very busy, especially when switching presentations manually as in the example above. The dark-green color represents the time and effort needed to switch presentations. It should be obvious to everyone including my brother that this curve should be flattened to lower the workload and reduce the risk of something going wrong. By simplifying the task of switching presentations on the projector, you no longer need to search for the next file in folder while making sure that the host is heard properly as he introduces the next speaker.

Other ways of switching presentations

We are not the first company to create solutions that simplify presentation-switching. “Presentation Switcher” is already an established term for hardware-boxes that can switch between computers with loaded presentations.

On the software-side a common solution has been to merge different presentations in to one larger file. For example, if you only have Powerpoints you can use the Reuse Slide method. SlideDog has taken this approach further by making it possible to merge files of different types that can be combined in a larger presentation.

What new does APS bring to the table?

Although APS has similarities to the software-methods mentioned above,  there is one important difference: APS is the first software-based presentation-switcher that works directly with the original source-formatting of the presentation-files. When you edit and present Keynote and Powerpoint-files on the presentation-computer, you are always working in Powerpoint or Keynote. No extra loading, rendering or conversion is needed before the presentation is dispayed when using APS. This approach gives you a lot of flexibility:

  • When not using the shortcuts you can work exactly the way you are used to. APS runs in the background of your computer and is only activated if shortcuts are pushed.
  • Its easier to make fast changes to the presentations right until the start. This is because smaller files makes them more flexible and faster to work with compared to rendering them all together in a larger file.
  • Easier troubleshooting in case of technical problems. APS is only responsible for the switching. If you get a technical issue when not using APS shortcuts, its highly unlikely that APS will be the cause. The general performance of your computer running presentations will not be affected by running APS.
  • Easy and intuitive show-preparation that can be done on computers where APS is not installed. You just need to sort the presentations numerically in a folder that can be transferred to the presentation-computer.
  • Mac and PC compatibility. The same folder can be used on both platforms.