Among the best known and longest established of Belgian manufacturers in the broadcast and AV markets, Barco has switched its focus over the years to maintain its competitive edge. Now predominately known for its digital projectors and LCD and rear-projection video walls, the company was previously a leader in CRT monitor screens, which were once a common site in TV studios.
Barco was founded in 1934 by Lucien De Puydt as the Belgian American Radio Corporation to build radios from imported US parts. It moved into TV studio monitors in 1968, supplying units to Belgian national broadcaster BRT. Further diversication followed and in 1981 the consumer electronics and high-tech electronics for visualisation and process control businesses were split into separate companies, Barco Electronic and Barco Industries respectively. These were remerged in 1989 as the Barco group set out to become an international operation, with acquisitions and further expansion following during the 90s and 2000s. During that time Barco built up its printed circuit and graphics businesses, the latter sold off in 2003, but it also maintained an interest in the entertainment sector.
After selling its consumer home cinema business, Barco concentrated on digital cinema, predominantly through the development of projectors. It further strengthened this division in 2013 with the acquisition of Norwegian developer projectiondesign. The previous year Barco expanded its technology and platforms by buying US company IP Video Systems.
Among Barco's wide and diverse product portfolio, key video aspects include the DP series of digital projectors, with models for 2k or 4k operation. Its line of LCD video walls is supported by network technology that allows centralised control and distribution of systems. A recent departure for Barco marks a semi-return to its sound roots through the licensing of an immersive cinema audio system from Belgian developer Auro Technologies. This spatial surround system, marketed as Auro 11.1 by Barco, gives a sensation of height as well as width and length and is seen as a rival to Dolby's Atmos system.
Back on the image side of its business Barco launched a new 35,000 lumens native 4k projector in 2014 but is now looking to other technologies for projection. In June of the same year Barco brought in Bill Beck, an expert on laser illumination, to further develop its laser projection business.