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BNIC Review - Brandon Saunders & the OU esports Arena

BNIC Review - Brandon Saunders & the OU esports Arena
Brandon Saunders and Doug Bowie illustrate the physical set up of the OU esports arena.

Almost every other Thursday, Bobcat Network Innovation Center (BNIC) hosts short seminars about a variety of topics that delve into different aspects of emerging technologies. BNIC is organized by ECT Network Administrator Doug Bowie and has brought in ECT faculty and alumni to talk with students as well as a lot of the time offer hands on experience opportunities. So far there have been three BNIC sessions, taking place in the Schoonover basement labs in room 004 at 5PM.

Past Sessions

While munching on ECT themed cookies during the first BNIC session of the semester, students talked with Alumni Ike Riesbeck, a graduate from the master’s in Information & Telecommunication Systems Program and currently a Technical Solutions Specialist as Cisco, about life in the workforce and advice ranging from classes to take to tips on applying and interviewing for jobs.

BNIC’s second session was hosted by IT Auditor and ECT professor Bruce Tong. Bringing a variety of hands-on tools with him, he discussed penetration testing in both a physical sense and briefly in terms of network security. Students were shown how to use a variety of tools that could be used to test the physical security of items such as door locks and pad locks, while also taught about a variety of ways that these weak security methods can be improved upon to make it harder for possible break-ins.

Streaming and the esports Arena with Brandon Saunders

This past Thursday, ECT professor Brandon Saunders hosted a BNIC session about streaming technologies.

Brandon started by noting that one of the most common streaming technologies that most of us at Ohio University use is Microsoft Teams, where we share our inputs (our cameras, our voices, or at times our computer screens) to others, resulting an output of a multimedia stream. Teams makes the in-between process of switching and mixing our audio, cameras, and screen sharing easy, and has been an important part of many classes when University activities went virtual.

While students, professors, and staff worked from home, Brandon had to figure out how to do many in-person events online, such as his classes at the University and his local church activities, but he also had to start designing the streaming infrastructure for OU’s upcoming esports arena. While Teams coupled with a couple monitors, cameras, and a nice mic worked for his classes, and a “magic box” that did the complicated switching and mixing for streaming activities at his local church was successful, the esports arena required a different solution.

At BNIC, Brandon showcased a variety of equipment that will be used in the esports arena for the sake of streaming esports tournaments. A stream deck, SDI cables, a switching matrix, and a couple of different types of cameras and video capture software were discussed, technology that was experimented with previously during the 2020 Business of Games Summit. The main discussion revolved around the idea of simplifying the switching and mixing process. While technology can be bought that can do switching and mixing for us, like how Teams does for our meetings and online classes or the “magic box” does for his church, they can be expensive, especially at the scale of an esports arena. Instead, having a variety of parts that can be easily configured and changed as our needs change without large costs, while also being a simple enough system that a non-technical esports commentator can understand and use effectively, was a large part of Brandon’s design and goal.

While Brandon has a design for the esports arena, he noted that “a good project is never done,” emphasizing that projects should be improved and optimized as technology and standards change. The esports arena is no exception.

Next time on BNIC

The next BNIC session will be on Thursday, October 14th in the Schoonover Labs at 5PM. The session will be also hosted by ECT professor Brandon Saunders and will be a hands-on learning event around soldering. Soldering rigs and learning kits will be there for students to use. Drop by, have a cookie, and learn something new!

The McClure School of Emerging Communication Technologies strives to offer the best academic programs in the IT (Information Technology), the game development and the Virtual Reality/Augmented Reality (VR/AR) industries. Our programs and certificates cover numerous aspects of the rapidly changing industries of information networking, cybersecurity, data privacy, game development, digital animation and the academic side of esports.