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An open letter to the video equipment industry...

  Few video equipment manufacturers meet all of their product development goals. Often, there is the thought: "If we only had a few more months, we could have shown the X project at NAB."
Money doesn't design products, engineers do. Usually, money was available to pursue these projects, but there was no one to do the work. More importantly, there is rarely anyone to manage the project. Thus, when a prototype does make the show, often deliveries don't begin until the next NAB.
Many "hired guns" end up shooting you in the back. One answer to this situation is to hire a consulting engineer to design the product. In practice, this is usually done only by the naive or desperate. Most companies who have hired consultants can't trust them to be complete or reliable. The rest spend more time managing consultants than employees.

We believe the video industry now needs professional consultants. Regrettably, the era of grooming a vast staff of design specialists is over. The lifetimes of products, plans, firms, and employees have become too short to meet all of a company's engineering efforts from within. It is our goal to provide a reasonable means of augmenting an internal staff by offering the ability to independently develop a product.

Image Circuits' emphasis on professional, complete development of a product causes us to differ from the average consultant in several ways:

We are professionals. We act as professional consultants instead of contract employees. We act as a partner with the client, assisting him in making decisions instead of waiting for orders. We accept the responsibility for successfully completing a project by offering fixed-price or royalty development agreements. We endeavor to develop a long-term relationship with our clients by successfully completing projects; avoiding competitive conflicts; and operating in a confidential, professional manner.
We can deliver the whole project. We have the skills and facilities to transform a marketing concept into a reliable, documented design. We can also act as a manufacturer of low-volume products. Some clients don't need our manufacturing capability, but all get the benefit of our manufacturing experience.
We understand the video industry market. Image Circuits works in several segments of the video industry. We can apply our knowledge of one market to another. Often, this provides knowledge captive specialists don't have.
Our products work the first time. Our products are designed to work, not debugged to work. By concentrating on forcing quality into the product at the design phase, our debug time and the client's time to market is reduced. We believe in true worst-case analysis of our designs. Most importantly, we insist on specifying and reviewing the design before it is prototyped. It's easier, but also more expensive, to check a design by experiment than analysis.
We know everything about something. Contemporary video systems employ a wide range of technology. A typical project requires expertise in analog, digital, and software design as well as contributions from many secondary fields. Designing a product also requires consideration of market requirements, manufacturing costs, and testing strategies.

Many engineers, either through desire or the team nature of projects, build their skill and knowledge in a single functional specialty. We have a different vision. Our goal is maintaining concentrated expertise in the areas needed for video product design. We are experts in analog circuit design, but not in power electronics. We are skilled in video DSP, but ignore speech processing. Because we have been the sole designers of many products, we have learned a broad but thorough repertoire of design skills.

Will next NAB be different? Just who is Image Circuits? I've been using "we" in this pitch because Image Circuits is more than its principals. It is a concept of designing products and the facilities to carry it out. Primarily, Image Circuits is the work of myself and another experienced designer. I encourage you to read my resume which follows this letter.
Robert Bleidt Photo It's not too early to start thinking about next year's NAB. We may be able to provide that extra product you need.

Robert L. Bleidt




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