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AV Technology Europe

January / February 2020



FUTURE GAZING We take a glimpse into the AV industry of the future and discover the technologies we'll be using by the end of the next decade and those that are likely to fade away

January / February 2020


www.avtechnologyeurope.com FOLLOW US ON TWITTER @AVTechEurope

CONTENT Group Editor: Jo Ruddock jo.ruddock@futurenet.com +44 (0)20 7042 4073 Brand Editor: Duncan Proctor duncan.proctor@futurenet.com Contributors: Ian McMurray, David Davies, Rob Lane Graphic Designer: Sam Richwood sam.richwood@futurenet.com Production Manager/Executive Matthew Eglinton matthew.eglinton@futurenet.com Group Content Director, B2B James McKeown james.mckeown@futurenet.com Managing Design Director, B2B Nicole Cobban nicole.cobban@futurenet.com

ADVERTISING SALES Account director: Duncan Wilde duncan.wilde@futurenet.com B2B account manager: Nathalie Adams nathalie.adams@futurenet.com

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MANAGEMENT Chief Revenue Officer Luke Edson Chief Marketing Officer Wendy Lissau Head of Production US & UK Mark Constance AVTE is printed by Buxton Press Print ISSN: 2050-6104 Online ISSN: 2052-2401 Copyright 2020 Future PLC, 1-10 Praed Mews, Paddington, London W2 1QY

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All contents © 2020 Future Publishing Limited or published under licence. All rights reserved. No part of this magazine may be used, stored, transmitted or reproduced in any way without the prior written permission of the publisher. Future Publishing Limited (company number 2008885) is registered in England and Wales. Registered office: Quay House, The Ambury, Bath BA1 1UA. All information contained in this publication is for information only and is, as far as we are aware, correct at the time of going to press. Future cannot accept any responsibility for errors or inaccuracies in such information. You are advised to contact manufacturers and retailers directly with regard to the price of products/services referred to in this publication. Apps and websites mentioned in this publication are not under our control. We are not responsible for their contents or any other changes or updates to them. This magazine is fully independent and not affiliated in any way with the companies mentioned herein. If you submit material to us, you warrant that you own the material and/or have the necessary rights/permissions to supply the material and you automatically grant Future and its licensees a licence to publish your submission in whole or in part in any/all issues and/or editions of publications, in any format published worldwide and on associated websites, social media channels and associated products. Any material you submit is sent at your own risk and, although every care is taken, neither Future nor its employees, agents, subcontractors or licensees shall be liable for loss or damage. We assume all unsolicited material is for publication unless otherwise stated, and reserve the right to edit, amend, adapt all submissions.

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Chief executive Zillah Byng-Thorne Non-executive chairman Richard Huntingford Chief financial officer Penny Ladkin-Brand


January / February 2020

Jo Ruddock, Group Editor

A DECADE OF CHANGE As we move into a new year, it’s often a time to look back over the previous 12 months, to consider the highs and lows and the changes that have taken place. This is amplified at the start of 2020 as the new decade encourages us to consider how much has changed in the previous 10 years. There’s no denying the 2010s were a decade of disruption. In technology terms, Uber, Alexa, Netflix and Instagram all had a huge impact on consumers’ lives, while Amazon and Google are edging their way into more and more aspects of daily life. In terms of business, working practices have shifted massively, with the huge growth of the gig economy, ‘slashies’ and remote workers, all achieved through technology – fast internet, apps, cloud computing, etc. The past decade has also seen major changes in the AV industry. Handily, as well as being the start of a new decade, 2020 also marks my 10-year anniversary in the AV industry, so I’ve seen first-hand just how much change has occurred. When I first started writing about the industry for Installation magazine, it was common to see picture after picture of big boxes, each of which met an individual need or solved a specific problem. An integrators’

value was in understanding the complexity of these boxes and how to install them so they did what they needed to. Fast-forward 10 years and intelligent, often software-based solutions that work together to create whole ecosystems are the norm. The focus is on creating experiences and black boxes are a much rarer sight on the tradeshow floor. Many integrators now understand the value of service and support as the IT-ification of AV has progressed, and the focus is on ensuring a simple, consistent and reliable user experience. There are undoubtedly more changes ahead in the coming decade as XR, machine learning, IoT and 5G all impact the world of AV. We take an in-depth look at where the industry could be heading in our feature on page 20. And it’s not just the industry itself that will be changing in the next few years, AV Technology Europe is also having something of a makeover. Keep an eye out in the coming weeks for our extending digital offering and announcements about our new suite of events and activities. The new decade looks set to be as exciting and changeable as the last one and I look forward to exploring the new technologies and trends as they emerge.

Tel +44 (0)1225 442 244


January / February


Cover Photo Courtesy of Getty Images



SPECIAL FEATURE: AV 2030 With a new decade now upon us, we take a look at the trends likely to make an impact, the technologies that will be climbing up your wishlist within the next few years and those that are more likely to decline in importance


CASE STUDY Electronic Theatre makes screen time social


MEET YOUR INTEGRATOR Vanti’s Ria Blagburn talks sustainability and diversity


THE BIG INTERVIEW Ali Hossaini and Professor Graeme Earl from King’s College London discuss NGX, a joint initiative with the National Gallery to explore the gallery of the future


SHOW PREVIEW: ISE What’s new and what not to miss at the show’s final outing in Amsterdam

Regulars January / February 2020


FEATURE: EDUCATION Education 4.0 – a revolutionary concept or just another buzzphrase? We explore what the concept involves and what it means for students and educators


CASE STUDY Inside the University of Bath’s unique simulation facility

06 Industry Insights 38 Tech Guide


CASE STUDY Embracing digital learning at Universidad San Ignacio de Loyola


MEET YOUR AV TEAM Following the success of England in the Cricket World Cup in 2019, we speak to the team at Aztec, who provide AV suppport to all 15 of the events spaces at Lord’s/MCC

44 Battle of the Brands 54 Getting to Know You 5


The future of voice and Industry 4.0 People will come to expect voice control in professional environments, and it could even be a life saver, according to XMOS’ Aneet Chopra


seconds. Similar applications will be used to control robots as they proliferate in the industrial space, whether conducting fixed tasks or operating on command.

HANDS-FREE INDUSTRY Safety will be the main benefit of voice control in Industry 4.0. Turning off the TV is never an emergency, but the ability to stop a machine when the big red button is out of reach could save lives. Voice will be combined with proximity sensors to act as a two-factor safety authentication, pausing machines should an employee go somewhere they shouldn’t. Similar logic applies to general machine control. Lighting, security systems, surveillance cameras can all be voice-enabled, saving employees hassle and time. Security systems operated in this way take less time to power on, closing potential security loops. Voice biometrics will be used to control access to certain sensitive data and areas of a workplace. Looking forward, voice will also be used to streamline data analysis. Data scientists will use voice to search huge data stacks and have the relevant figures on their desktop in

GIVING MACHINES A VOICE While voice can change the way we interact with machinery in the industrial space, we can’t just plug an Amazon Echo into professional equipment and expect it to work. To extract voice commands from the captured audio stream with absolute reliability in this environment will require different types of signal processing, optimised for the different environments. But for voice to become a key feature of industrial landscapes, there will also have to be a switch to more distributed networks, away from centralised systems. The ability to control devices using voice has coincided with the development of deep learning and AI made possible by the huge processing power available in the cloud. While there are compelling arguments to integrate existing Industry 4.0 networks with AI and voice, all based around cloud services, it doesn’t necessarily deliver an optimal solution. Many industrial processes are time-critical so any delay in response time is problematic. The number of devices connected to cloud services using AI processing and voice is forecast to increase exponentially to billions by 2025 which will put a huge burden on network performance. In addition, the more reliance companies put on cloud services, the more opportunity there is for security breaches. The solution to this problem can be found in the development of the Artificial Intelligence of Things (AIoT), another consumer trend to running AI on devices at

ver the past decade industrial machines have learnt to ‘talk’ to each other, collecting and sharing data. This trend towards automation and data exchange, often referred to as Industry 4.0, has led to the visualisation of the production line and decision-making that has enabled faster, more efficient systems with new highs in productivity and safety. More recently, voice control has risen to prominence as a means of interacting with home technology. As people become accustomed to the benefits of hands-free control, organisations are asking if it’s possible to integrate the two together and bring voice interfaces into industrial equipment.


the edge of a network. A new generation of embedded devices will be able to collect data and make decisions themselves, as well as connecting to a network or cloud service. Not only will performance improve, particularly in critical real-time scenarios, but security will also improve as data is held locally. These devices will also be able to store a small set of device-specific commands and respond to voice instructions without a network connection. We’re closer than ever to being able to run intelligent embedded processes on devices at the edge of a network. Industrial machinery will be controlled by voice, touch and gesture, as well as other connected machines. The outcome will be improved safety, security, communications and control, alongside greater efficiency and productivity within the industrial landscape.

Aneet Chopra is VP business development at XMOS www.xmos.com



How to take charge of your meeting spaces Cinos’ Steve Franklin highlights four key steps to ensuring your meeting rooms enable conversations, collaboration and decision making


eeting rooms are where ideas are sparked, decisions are made and business is won, so it’s important that users can come together and collaborate. Without easy-to-use and interactive AV technologies, meetings can become repetitive and uninspiring for attendees. Whatever the size of your room or budget, it’s important to keep the following elements in mind to create spaces that drive real value from start to finish. CONSISTENCY AND FAMILIARITY OF SOLUTIONS When implementing new meeting room technology, organisations should look for solutions that are easy to use and offer a consistent user experience. It’s important that the transition is seamless, allowing employees to focus on the tasks at hand rather than get distracted by technology challenges. With more companies using Microsoft Teams, Skype for Business and/or Cisco Webex Teams, the need for consistency across the entire organisation has never been greater. Organisations should look towards scalable solutions that can grow with their business needs and offer employees the familiarity they have come to expect. CONSIDER THE SPACE YOU HAVE TO WORK WITH Meeting rooms are important workspaces, so the room’s acoustics need to be considered. Echoing and poor sound quality will leave users with frustrating experiences and unproductive meetings. Whether it’s installing acoustic panels or adaptive technologies, a productive space needs to deliver an audio experience that matches the visual.


The size of a meeting space is also a major factor. Larger spaces tend to be more presenter based meaning the audience’s attention is being drawn to the front of the room. Enhanced display technology such as dual screens, LED walls and interactive screens are a powerful way to present to larger audiences. In some cases, video walls can be used in bigger meeting spaces. Generally, these displays offer better and more accessible connectivity and give presenters tools to drive engagement. On the other hand, smaller spaces tend to be more interactive as well as informal – the technology usually reflects this. Touchscreens are more prevalent and it’s worth considering implementing desk mounted microphones so that participants can ‘huddle’ around a presentation that’s central to the room. INTEGRATED CONTROL SYSTEMS Traditionally, meeting spaces would house a user interface in the form of a tablet, enabling participants to control the room equipment. While these types of control units are still in use, meeting rooms are becoming more intelligent and automated than ever before. The key to creating seamless experiences lies in intuitive user interfaces or control room peripherals. Manufacturers are integrating more and more ‘intelligence’ into equipment such as movement detection, auto power on/ off or auto signal detection. This functionality can enhance the user experience and drive real value as well as helping organisations to reduce their carbon footprint. VIDEO CONFERENCING AND UNIFIED COMMUNICATION Video conferencing and unified

communication solutions can turn even small huddle rooms into collaborative workspaces. Ideally, the conferencing solution would be one that users are familiar with such as Microsoft Teams or Skype for Business. The ability to walk into a room and instantly start a session with an interface that users are familiar with not only reduces wasted time but also user frustrations. Video conference technology such as telepresence not only elevates the user experience by helping people feel like they’re in the same boardroom but also allows participants to focus on what matters most, the meeting. Room-based video conferencing systems can easily be installed into existing meeting spaces and integrated with control systems. Additionally, these can be partnered with smart technology enabling audio, video and lighting management at the touch of a button.

Steve Franklin is executive director at Cinos www.cinos.com



Clearing up the confusion between ‘IPTV’ and ‘AV over IP’ It’s important to know the difference between the two terms to get a solution that truly meets your needs, says Exterity’s Mike Allan


he AV industry has reached a pivotal moment and is increasingly moving away from legacy analogue technologies and towards IP networks that are modernising the delivery of video, audio and digital signage. There’s been a lot of talk in the industry about ‘IPTV’ and ‘AV over IP’ (AVoIP) and quite often these terms have been used interchangeably; this has created some confusion in the marketplace and risks users’ requirements not being met. IPTV has grown in popularity over the past decade. One of the biggest benefits of using IPTV is the simplicity and flexibility of using a single shared structured cable network and relatively low-cost IP switches for internet connectivity, application data and AV. THE TECHNICAL EXPLANATION IP-based video solutions, including IPTV and AVoIP, work in a very similar way. In both cases, content is ingested from a source: this could be a pre-compressed source such as broadcast TV, satellite, cable or DTV, or a Video on Demand (VoD) server. Or, it may be a baseband video source such as HDMI or SDI that is then compressed to reduce the amount of bandwidth. This digital compressed video content is turned into ‘packets’ that are transmitted across an IP network in chunks. This transmission is normally multicast (one to many) or unicast (one to one) with packets flowing across the IP network through switches and along ethernet cables or WiFi networks. At the destination device, the packets are received, assembled back into video, decompressed and played on a device. During every one of these steps, there’s a time delay – or latency – between the transmission from the source to being displayed at the destination. Each time the source video is compressed and decompressed there’s a decline in the visual quality, which is a byproduct of the video source being alerted to use less bandwidth. The major differences between the technologies are the degree of compression, the resulting latency and the network needed to carry the content.


BENEFITS AND COMPROMISES To summarise, IPTV uses the most compression and introduces the greatest latency while using the most common type of networks. SDVoE has the least compression and latency while requiring the most performant network – and AVoIP falls in the middle. However, for most HD/4K content used by hotels, conference centres, stadiums and corporate offices to inform, educate and entertain guests, the trade-off between visual quality and latency are imperceptible to most viewers. One of IPTV’s major strengths is its maturity and flexibility, which has resulted in a high level of adoption within the market and the widest ecosystem of technologies supporting IPTV, including set-top boxes and SmartTVs as well as tablets and smartphones. AVoIP, including SDVoE at the top end, is widely regarded as the preferred technology for use cases that require higher visual quality and lower latency. For example, a surgeon performing a laparoscopic surgery where he or she is being guided by a camera would need super low latency and very high visual quality. Although AVoIP is functionally similar to IPTV, its ability to deliver lightly compressed video at the typical 1Gb ethernet network level is its most compelling advantage. The biggest compromise inherent in AVoIP, and more so with SDVoE, is the need for a more advanced network to deliver uncompressed video. This means that customers who need to carry multiple streams must invest significantly in a move to a 10Gb Ethernet network and potentially upgrade not just switches, but structured cabling across a facility. The reality is that many of the AVoIP solutions available today are still relatively immature and, consequently, there’s a small number of suppliers and alternatives. This then drives up the prices for solution elements and makes network upgrades eye-wateringly expensive. For many system integrators, choosing which IP technology to use will depend greatly on the end user’s use case and technical requirements, because one IP technology does not suit all projects. Mike Allan is chief technology officer at Exterity www.exterity.com




n September 2019, National Gallery X (NGX) was launched with the aim of being at the forefront of digital innovation. Sitting next to the National Gallery, the NGX studio will explore how technological inventions can be applied to cultural institutions in the future, informing new kinds of cultural experiences over the next decade. It will combine key immersive technologies, including large screen video, digital projection, audio, motion capture and virtual reality, along with access to experimental technologies in development at King’s. Ali Hossaini (AH), research fellow at the Department of Informatics, and Professor Graeme Earl (GE), vice-dean of the Faculty of Arts & Humanities (external relations) at King’s College London, tell us more about the initiative.

NGX formed from these ideas, as an exploration of the future, as a space for artists to explore technological and social change, but also as an expression of friendship between two great institutions. GE: King’s is increasingly working at the intersection of digital creative industries, culture and scholarship. So NGX is providing a new opportunity to focus some of this collaboration, in a way that crosses between our research and teaching, and also our civic and global work. It’s also really great to be able to support discussions that are as much about critical theory, performance and practice, as about technology, data and interaction. Finally, it builds on our long tradition of digital humanities research at King’s, which has included a lot of work in cultural heritage.

King’s and National Gallery have a longstanding relationship. How did this come about? AH: Links between the two institutions are too numerous to list! On the King’s side, National Gallery X grew from Connected Culture, a programme that developed cultural applications for products of King’s engineering labs. GE: Yes. Our connections included long-standing research and teaching collaborations in areas such as accessible museums, museums and mental health, the archives of art dealers, imaging of cultural heritage and religious art.

What technology do you already have in the NGX studio and what was behind the decision making when it came to choosing this? AH: Virtual, augmented and mixed reality (XR) will transform not only how we experience entertainment, but also our experience of the physical world – from shops to museums, cars to classrooms. This transformation has been brought about primarily by an unprecedented progress in visual/display technologies, which enabled presenting visual content in a manner capable of transporting users to an alternate or augmented reality. The progress in delivering a similar quality of auditory immersion has, however, been less profound, although auditory realism is as (and some would argue even more) important for convincing psychological immersion. For creating striking new immersive sound experiences, NGX employs breakthrough immersive audio technology developed by the team of Prof Zoran Cvetkovic at King’s College London. The technology is a combination of two inventions: Scattering Delay Network (SDN) – a paradigm shift approach to environment simulation that enables real-time synthesis of dynamic soundscapes, and Perceptual Sound-field Reconstruction (PSR) – a novel scalable and reconfigurable multichannel surround sound framework that makes a step advance in the size and stability of the sweet spot compared to state of the art. The combination of the two technologies enables more natural and shared XR experiences for moving audiences, where the sound is truly immersive, hitting audiences kinaesthetically, vibrating their bodies as well as their eardrums.

What was behind the decision to create NGX? AH: The National Gallery is approaching its bicentenary in 2024, and is thinking about what its future means. As we look to the decade ahead, there are emerging technologies that might change the way we create, distribute and interpret art more profoundly than any others in the last two centuries. Mixed reality, artificial intelligence, immersive audio... These and many more create an unprecedented and unexplored array of ways to tell new stories in and about visual art. At the same time, they’ll also reshape society and the economy. As one of the world’s major museums, and a key civic institution, we wanted to explore what all this could mean for us and the sector we’re a part of. King’s College London made for a natural and formidable partner for this project. Not only one of the world’s great universities, but a near neighbour, long-term friend and hugely invested in the cultural space, we came together to paint our own picture of what tomorrow might look like.


Sir Tim Berners-Lee addresses the audience at the NGX launch

Making art history Towards the end of last year, the National Gallery and King’s College London launched a new research partnership to investigate the ‘gallery of the future’. Jo Ruddock finds out more

BIG INTERVIEW What is the novelty of the King’s audio technology? AH: King’s SDN technology enables rendering high-quality environment acoustics everywhere, at a low complexity, making high-quality content creation easy and accessible. It achieves that as it avoids calculation of room impulse responses (IRs) and convolutions by approximating each major surface by a scattering node, positioned at the location of first order reflection. Each node reflects incoming sound waves to all other nodes, so that direct wave-front and first order reflections are rendered accurately and higher order reflections with progressively coarser resolution as they are becoming perceptually less salient. Rendering high quality environment acoustics thus requires dynamically updating only positions of first order reflections, the rest of the computation is comparable to feedback delay networks (FDN) – simplest recursive filter reverberators. Recent evaluations confirm that SDN achieves perceptually very faithful simulation of environment acoustics. Early uptake of VR relies on binaural (headphone) audio rendering for audiences of one. The advent of acoustically transparent headphone technologies enables shared XR experiences, however tracking movements of individuals even in a small group, along all degrees of freedom, and recalculating corresponding sound fields, is computationally very intensive. This, in addition to externalisation problems inherent to binaural rendering, motivates exploration of alternatives based on loudspeaker arrays. The prevalence of binaural audio in XR is due to a limited ability of state-of-the-art multichannel systems to achieve a stable auditory perspective for freely moving audience. Most commonly used techniques, e.g. ambisonics and vector-based amplitude panning (VBAP), aim to reproduce physical attributes of the sound field in the centre of the listening area. As a result ambisonics, for instance, requires an impractical number of channels and precise positioning. VBAP has proven to be much more stable, however rendering of phantom sources between loudspeakers is often challenging with a low number of channels. Both techniques rely on ambisonics recording, that can capture only up to the fourth order spherical harmonics using EigenMike, which costs around $20,000. King’s PSR is a novel technology for low-cost, transportable, scalable, reconfigurable multichannel systems, capable of soundscape rendering robust to loudspeaker positioning and audience movements. PSR employs perceptually salient time and level


differences between loudspeakers to render precise, stable and naturally sounding auditory perspective. Unlike intensity-based techniques, PSR provides an additional cue consistent and mutually supportive with level differences. From the recording perspective, PSR captures sound field information at different locations surrounding the centre, thus facilitating graceful degradation of the auditory perspective away from the sweet spot. Time-intensity techniques have been used in the past and are gaining popularity in the context of XR, however, they are still limited to few heuristic configurations of spaced first order cardioid microphones. PSR, on the other hand, is a systematic framework, applicable to any number of channels, that employs higher order microphones to implement underlying psychoacoustics. And what technologies do you think will feature in the gallery of the future? AH: Some of the most exciting long-term developments are in natural user interface. With a proliferation of tiny, inexpensive sensors and almost unlimited computing power available ‘on demand’ over 5G networks, digital interaction will quickly move beyond touchscreens. We are building capacity for gesture, eye tracking and even braincomputer interface. Residents will explore the expressive power of these new media, and we imagine that visitors may one day expect to personalise their sensory experience in ways we have yet to imagine. GE: Yes! As an archaeologist, the multisensory experience of real objects, people and environments is always the primary concern. The technologies that will make the most difference as far as I am concerned are those that preserve the magic of the real while anchoring it to the imagined, digital world. I like subtle computing that allows you to learn and experience more, without destroying the joy of a gallery and its contents, perhaps tailoring experiences to tell compelling stories about them. Of course, sometimes the art is itself digital first, or a digital expression of a physical piece, and here again I hope the technologies we use will merge into the gallery space.

Ali Hossaini

Can you describe this gallery of the future and the experience it will create for visitors? GE: We can’t, and shouldn’t, pretend to know what tomorrow’s gallery experience will look like. Our goal is to explore what’s possible, to map the types of technology that might enable it, to see how it can respond to the great art of the past, but then to leave it to artists, creators and audiences to invent the


BIG INTERVIEW public good. GE: We see NGX as a new piece in our wider efforts to engage meaningfully, and equitably, with our local and global communities – whether those are the people who live and work around us, our staff and our students, the other institutions we work with, and the bodies that commission and fund the cultural sector. NGX will let us do more co-creation and benefit from many creative perspectives. Is NGX purely focused on new artists or is technology also helping us to look at existing work in new ways? AH: Our goal is to enable any resident, whether artist, engineer or cultural professional, to creatively interpret the new possibilities afforded by technology. We hope that some residents will enter into dialogue with our collection, but all of our outputs will help us interpret the National Gallery’s collection for future generations.

SHARED VISION Professor Evelyn Welch, provost and senior vice president (Arts and Sciences) at King’s College London, said at the opening of NGX: “This is an exciting partnership with the National Gallery; one that builds on our shared vision for innovating and communicating in the arts, technology and humanities. The NGX will build on our creative collaborations at the intersection of culture, the digital creative industries and King’s research, allowing students and researchers to think differently and critically about art and the ways we access and engage with it.’

future together. NGX is a facilitator, co-ordinator and critic of that act of shared imagination, its platform and its source. How important is technology in both creating this experience and in giving artists the freedom/ability to create new work? AH: Right now there is a huge discrepancy between the technological resources available to commercial and non-profit cultural sectors, and indeed to different communities. National Gallery X was formed to give artists, curators and cultural professionals the ability to experiment with new technologies and also to develop them for the general

January / February 2020

The creation of NGX has involved academics, artists, technologists, curators and more. How did this diversity impact the development of the space and its work going forward? AH: Having multiple perspectives, and the talent that comes with them, has made us incredibly efficient on the level of planning and logistics. Because of that, we’ve been able to focus on broader issues relating to methodology and even sociology. Aside from developing ‘the gallery of the future’, we are examining how artists, engineers, humanists, social scientists, cultural professionals and a host of others can collaborate more effectively. The kind of real world problems found in the National Gallery can stimulate new avenues of research while providing use cases for how to develop existing technologies. This is also an opportunity for the National Gallery to get ahead of the innovation curve. Arguably, while museums have yet to undergo the same level of technological disruption as other sectors, there are no doubt many entrepreneurs who would love to absorb the rich market for culture. National Gallery X offers museums a chance to become innovators in their own right and take the technogical bull by its horns. What is planned for the studio in 2020? We will run six residencies in 2020. These will explore a wide range of themes, technologies and artistic contexts. At least one will be run from an open call. Two have already been announced, with arts collective ANALEMA our first residency in early 2020 and artist Simon Mckeown and the Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art to follow. More will be announced soon.


The best yet Anticipation is high ahead of ISE’s final trip to Amsterdam, with the largest ever conference programme, a packed showfloor and more features than ever to satisfy the growing end-user audience 16


he world’s biggest AV show returns to Amsterdam for the final time next month, ahead of the muchanticipated move to Barcelona in 2021, and it seems ISE is very much bowing out of the Netherlands in style. More than 200 companies will exhibit for the first time, including those in the dedicated Innovation Zone in Hall 14, while the conference programme is the most ambitious yet, with 13 events taking place between the 10 and 14 February. Among the new exhibitors at ISE 2020 are household names such as Dell, HP and NETGEAR, as well as leading brands such as Anixter, Axis Communications, Cedar Audio, Funktion One and PSNI Global Alliance. Located in Hall 14, the Innovation Zone has been created to enable companies with exciting new solutions to present them at ISE for the first time. In the same hall, attendees can explore the latest in virtual collaboration as well as experiencing an interactive virtual

reality theme park ride in the VR at ISE feature. Split across the RAI Amsterdam and the Hotel Okura, ISE’s 2020 conference programme will again cover the hottest talking points in the industry and offer agenda-setting insights on a range of topics. Events begin the day before the show opens with The Smart Building Conference, which has been extended for 2020, taking place all day Monday and starting up again on the morning of 11 February at the Hotel Okura.The full-day AudioForum will be centred around acoustics and wellbeing, while the the all-new Cybersecurity Workshop from CEDIA starts at 09:00 in the Hotel Okura. In addition to this biggest ever conference programme, a full professional development programme supported by ISE co-owners AVIXA and CEDIA, will also take place across the show, while almost 1,300 leading technology and solutions providers will be highlighting the very latest in AV innovation.


Ten things not to miss:

CONTROL ROOMS SUMMIT New for ISE 2020, the Control Rooms Summit is a half-day event taking place on 11 February at the Hotel Okura. Looking at all elements of the technology that goes into a control room, from networking, signal management (including KVM) and surveillance video to sensors, analytics and displays, the summit will address the latest trends in technology, design, ergonomics and best practice in this dynamic marketplace, one which AVIXA’s IOTA research suggests will see a compound annual growth rate of nearly 5% over the next four years. Peter Prater (pictured), a founding member and chairman of the International Critical Control Rooms Alliance (ICCRA), will chair the event.

OPENING ADDRESS AND RECEPTION Taking place the day before ISE opens its doors, the 2020 Opening Address will see former Disney executive Duncan Wardle discussing how innovation can become part of the day-to-day working culture in businesses. Today Wardle works with leading brands to help them tap into the innate creative potential of their workforces, focusing on traits such as imagination, intuition, creativity and curiosity that people tend to be discouraged from using as they grow up. He will also discuss AI and why it should be embraced rather than feared. This will be followed by the traditional ISE Opening Reception, which is free to attend for all exhibitors and attendees.


Picture: Artur Salisz

Each evening of the show, the façade of the RAI’s Elicium Complex will be lit up by a spectacular projection mapping display. Produced by ISE and the RAI, it was developed in conjunction with LANG AG, which provided the projectors, white laser mapping from HB Laserkomponenten, and illumination from an Ares XS LED Wash from CLF Lighting on the upper storeys. A compelling audio track will be brought to the audience’s ears via amplifiers and speakers from Biamp; the content itself will be created by Tenfeet, while Indyvideo will provide containers for the projectors and operators, as well as technical production support. Green Hippo will supply media servers. The Elicium Projection Mapping runs from 17:00-22:00 each day of the show (beginning at 16:00 on 14 February).



AVIXA WOMEN’S COUNCIL EVENT Featuring an opening address by Sarah Joyce, chief global officer at AVIXA (pictured) and a keynote from the Hon. Mrs Àngels Chacón, Minister of Business & Knowledge in the Catalan Government, this Main Stage event will provide plenty of discussion points for inspiring, supporting and empowering women who work in the technology and AV industries.

VR AT ISE Another new feature for 2020, VR at ISE will show how virtual reality can be used in immersive, collaborative spaces. Two Digital Projection Multiview VR systems will be demonstrated. These allow up to three people wearing fast-switching glasses to view and interact with a stereoscopic 3D virtual model. Crucially, each person sees the object from their own viewpoint – unlike conventional multi-user VR systems where everyone sees exactly the same perspective – providing a significant degree of realism. VR at ISE will also include an immersive VR theme park ride. Designed and run by Lightspeed Design, this DepthQ VR attraction will take attendees on an interactive fantasy ride through aquatic environments where they encounter touchable jellyfish, a dolphin and even the mythological world of the god Poseidon.

AVIXA DIVERSITY COUNCIL EVENT Organised and introduced by AVIXA council member Kevin McLoughlin (pictured), this event follows the success of three previous Diversity Council events held in the UK and US. TV broadcaster, panelist, author, diversity advocate and the BBC’s first director of creative diversity, June Sarpong OBE will deliver a keynote speech at this free-to-attend event held on the Main Stage.

MAIN STAGE In addition to the AVIXA events, the ISE Main Stage is the setting for a full programme of thought leadership sessions throughout the four days of the show. Sessions will address technology and business trends, and all sessions are free to attend with no advance booking required.






Taking place in Room E102 of the RAI on the afternoon of 12 February, the Enterprise AV Conference will highlight the growing availability of data and the opportunity that data analytics provides to enable better business strategies and workspace/system design. A panel of experts will discuss how careful analysis of business interactions across collaboration tools can be used to inform workspace and system design, delivering a more efficient and user-centric workspace. Organised in collaboration with AV User Group, AVIXA has a line-up of AV giants ready to share their projects and insights on the latest business technology trends.

Taking place on Wednesday 12 February in Room E102 of the RAI, the Higher Education AV Conference will once again see AVIXA join forces with education specialists SCHOMS and EUNIS to create this half-day conference. Gill Ferris, leader of EUNIS Learning & Teaching Special Interest Group, reprises her role as content chair. Under the theme ‘Perspectives in education: supporting technology, teaching and learning, the conference will highlight a range of different perspectives on how to best enhance the learning and teaching experience through effective use of AV technologies. Delegates will hear examples of good practice cases and take away tips from freely available tools and guidance that may help them in their own situations. ¡HOLA BARCELONA! LOUNGE If you can’t wait until the last day of the show to find out more about what Barcelona has to offer as a host city, then stop by the ¡Hola Barcelona! Lounge, located between Halls 7 and 8 of the RAI, which is open throughout the show. Here attendees can enjoy a taste of Catalan culture with music, entertainment and complimentary food and drink served at set times each day. The lounge is presented in association with Barcelona Tourism. ¡HOLA BARCELONA! EVENT To mark the final edition of ISE at the RAI, a special event on the last day of ISE 2020 will reflect on the show’s development over the years while also looking forward to the next chapter of its story in Barcelona.  Entitled ¡Hola Barcelona!, the event will be presented by Integrated Systems Events managing director Mike Blackman and feature appearances from major Catalan and Spanish dignitaries.

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2030 vision The first year of the new decade provides an unmissable opportunity to look forward over the next 10 years. Ian McMurray highlights the key trends and technologies, and finds out how manufacturers are responding to changing user needs


Immersive and virtual experiences will become more common in the new decade



ccording to forecasters over the past 100 or so years, 2020 will see all roads replaced by pneumatic tubes. Telepathy and teleportation will be possible. We’ll all have just one toe on each foot. The letters C, Q and X will no longer be part of the alphabet. Apes will be chauffeuring us around. And those are just some of the more credible predictions. That said: in 1913, Gustav Bischoff had the honour of being more accurate than the majority of futurists when he foretold that, by 2020, our diet would consist mostly of vegetables. Prognosticating about the future has, of course, made fools of some very wise people. But that’s no reason not to try… What are the prospects for the AV industry in this new decade? How will it change over the coming 10 years? What technologies and concepts will become increasingly important – and which will have less influence? CONTINUING GROWTH At the top level, Sean Wargo, who is senior director of market intelligence for AVIXA, sees no reason that growth in the industry will not continue. “Our forecasts for the five years to 2024 predict the industry will grow at a CAGR of 5.7%, rising from $247 billion globally to $325 billion. This is a faster growth rate than GDP during the same period,” he notes. “From where we sit now, I would expect similar growth to continue out to the full 10-year mark, thanks to the continuing wave of technology innovation and its use to address the needs of the ‘experience economy’.” “The AV market is expected to witness consistent growth over the next decade,” echoes Claire Kerrison, senior market analyst professional displays at Futuresource. “Collaboration and connectivity will continue to drive revenues. Ecosystems and their interoperability – like the recent announcement of Microsoft Teams now working with Zoom and Cisco Webex – will remain a key aspect of AV hardware purchasing decisions both in the corporate and education spaces.” Wargo too sees unified communications as a key AV market. “But,” he says, “we expect digital signage, which is currently the second largest, to eclipse it by 2024.” For sure, markets, applications and technologies in any industry wax and wane over time. Among those forecast to wane – or at least see structural changes – despite having at least held their own in the face of stiff competition from alternative technologies, is projection.

SOLID STATE OF AFFAIRS “Conventional projectors as we know them – based on lamp technology – will cease to be produced even in the commodity realms and solid state alternative light sources will prevail as the standard,” believes Frank Reynolds, who is European marketing manager at Antycip Simulation, noting environmental concerns as key drivers. He has an ally in Jasmin Stemmler, product marketing manager, NEC Display Solutions Europe. “We expect to see lamp-based projection largely disappear over the coming decade in favour of laser as a light source,” she says. That’s a view shared by Kerrison, who believes that it is the technology’s failure to readily integrate into collaboration solutions, among others, that are bringing about its decline. She does, however, see demand for high-brightness solutions remaining at least flat longer term as its inherent creative potential fails to be surpassed by any other display technology. It is perhaps worth pointing out that the demise of projection has long been foretold. It remains, however, very much alive. BOXES COMBINE So far as equipment is concerned, integration and connectivity seem likely to sound the death knell for some technologies and applications. “I would expect more functions that are carried out by individual boxes in a system today to be combined,” notes Rob Smith, senior director, integrated systems sales at Shure. “This will reduce the complexity of systems and increase the capability of individual units within those systems.” Klas Dalbjörn, product manager at Powersoft, sees things similarly. “Dumb, standalone analogue amplifiers will likely be replaced with managed solutions,” he avers. “Anything that isn’t connected and managed is likely to disappear.” Martin Barbour, product manager, Q-SYS Cloud Software at QSC, outlines what he believes is the bigger picture. “Right now, the AV industry is mainly focused on piecing together disparate pieces of hardware and making them work as a cohesive system,” he says. “When an upgrade is needed, we tear out what’s there and rebuild from scratch, which costs an exorbitant amount of money and time. This is where we think, as an industry, our value lies. In the next 10 years, our value will lie in how we bring software and hardware together. We’ll start to see an ecosystem approach to system design where a collection of products will be integrated in an intelligent way. Coupled with software, we can create a living platform that grows with the client over the lifetime of the product.”




1 TRILLION Number of sensors forecast to have been installed in smart cities and smart homes by 2030

$325 BILLION Predicted value of the AV industry by 2024

ALL-CONQUERING For everything that goes away, something new will, of course, come along. If the picture doesn’t look too bright (sic) for projection, for example, the industry seems unanimous that the coming decade will see direct view LED (dvLED) displays – which only a couple of years ago seemed fairly exotic – sweep all before them. “Direct view LED technology is viewed as the heir apparent within the display market,” notes Wargo, “thanks to its evolutions and improvements. We don’t see it dominating the display market within the next five years – but by 10 years out, it may account for half of display revenues.” “The LED industry will continue to mature,” confirms Kerrison. “Technology developments and price declines will see it compete directly with LCD solutions towards the end of the decade, even in mainstream applications like presentation.” “Recent technology developments, finer pixel pitches and reducing costs are seeing LED start to become a viable mainstream option for large digital surfaces,” believes Stemmler, whose company recently added to its growing family of dvLED displays. “As standardised bundles are reducing the perceived complexity of LED and local integrators receive the necessary training, there are few obstacles standing in the way of more intense progress for this technology which, at the high end, is offering incredibly long life cycles and making a strong TCO argument.” What else is out there that once seemed leading edge, but that will become commonplace over the coming 10 years? SEAMLESS EXPERIENCE “Functionalities such as verbal interaction will become much more mainstream,” believes Poly’s vice president of SE EMEA, Andrew Hug. “Users no longer want to use a remote control or to push multiple buttons to join a call – the experience should be seamless with the use of voice commands.” “Personalised interactions will also become

“The AV market is expected to witness consistent growth over the next decade” Claire Kerrison, Futuresource


mainstream for AV technologies,” he continues. “Employees of the future will expect meeting room technology to recognise them as they walk through the door, know that they have an upcoming call and join it automatically based on facial and voice recognition.” Face and voice recognition are key branches of AI – and many believe it will proliferate throughout the AV industry in the future. Carl Standertskjold, European corporate segment marketing manager, Sony Professional, is among them. “The rate at which artificial intelligence and automation are being integrated into existing AV technologies is going to increase rapidly,” he says. “While this is already happening with real-time video content, handwriting extraction and automated overlays, the potential applications for this technology in the next 10 years is staggering.” That kind of automation is something that Smith sees too. “We’ll see monitoring capabilities, noise rejecting microphone technologies, capabilities for systems to react automatically to changes in the environment they are deployed in,” he says. WINNING ECOSYSTEMS Dalbjörn picks up Kerrison’s earlier point about the growing importance of complete ecosystems. “Cloud-based remote system management will likely be more widely adopted,” he believes. “Some winning ecosystems will emerge that tie systems together in a more natural way, rather than being in separate ‘silos’. This will allow the system designer to configure and implement control of the system at a higher, more abstracted level.” “Some ecosystems will become dominant,” he goes on, “and every manufacturer will need to adapt to at least one of the winning ecosystems in order to stay in business.” Standertskjold mentioned the growing importance of AI in the AV industry – but what other technologies or themes will drive what customers buy over the next 10 years? What about big data, for example? For most, there is no doubt that we are already living in a world awash with far more data than we can reasonably put to good use – and that will only continue. Any discussion of it will inevitably lead to discussion of the role of the IoT in capturing and disseminating that data from a plethora of connected devices, and of the role of machine learning and analytics in turning it into actionable information. “Once we have all of our disparate pieces of technology talking to each other via the IoT, we will build up a massive amount of data,” says Smith. “The question is then: what do we do with it?


Possibilities include developing real information about usage patterns to inform product and system development. For example, if Shure is able to obtain information on how long Axient Digital ADX transmitters are usually used for between recharges around the world, that can inform the development of battery capacity in future products.” REAL BENEFITS “If you combine IoT, big data and machine learning capacity, we can start to see some real benefits for end users,” Smith continues. “For example, imagine a situation where a large number of rooms have been deployed and, over a period of time, faults have been detected and resolved. All of this data is centrally held and machine learning systems are in place, which may enable fault prediction on a statistical basis to become a reality – and perhaps even self-healing systems.” Poly’s Hug sees advantages for the worlds of conferencing and collaboration. “Machine learning is being used in premium cameras to optimise meetings by identifying attendees and deciding on the most appropriate videoconferencing display format,” he explains. “For example, automatically panning out when larger groups are detected or zooming in on active speakers.

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“This layer of intelligence in AV solutions will increase, bringing personalisation to every individual meeting. By analysing meeting interactions, cameras will be able to make decisions to create a better, more contextual meeting experience – for example, showing a split screen if two remote participants are having an ongoing conversation. Machine learning is also aiding noise reduction in AV solutions by tuning in to the background noise of each piece of equipment and adapting to what it hears – reducing distractions and enhancing the voices of those who are speaking to greatly improve the quality and flow of conversation.” MORE RESPONSIBLE Another theme that will continue to impact the AV industry is the growing eco-awareness of end users. To respond, Reynolds believes that suppliers will need to take a view beyond minimising the power consumption of equipment. “Environmental concerns have been becoming more predominant in the business we conduct,” he notes, “making companies like ourselves more responsible for the waste we create within an installation, and accountable for how the manufacturers of the technologies we represent dispose and recycle their goods as well as how those

Small meeting rooms look set to proliferate following recent rapid growth in the number of huddle spaces

Jasmin Stemmler, NEC



“Anything that isn’t connected and managed is likely to disappear” Klas Dalbjörn, Powersoft

Sean Wargo, AVIXA

goods operate in terms of their carbon footprint and so on.” “And,” he adds, “collaborative VR will help to reduce travel in business and connect companies like never before – while being more environmentally friendly.” Of all the potential influences on the AV industry between now and 2030, there is widespread agreement that the user experience will dominate. “Smart spaces and technologies are proving that they can inform and entertain users,” says Sony’s Standertskjold. “However, the current AV technology landscape has become so vast that creating a meaningful environment that resonates with a business and its workers is increasingly challenging. In the next 10 years, customisability and flexibility will be key to empowering companies to create tech-enhanced workplaces that enrich the human experience. Alongside significant improvements in well-thought-out workplace environments, we are already starting to see most projects looking for more customised solutions, and automation is central to this.” “Automation and connectivity are at the core of any workplace UX,” he continues. “Through the integration of meeting rooms, projectors, displays and booking systems, a workplace can be transformed into a space that works for the employees, rather than employees adjusting to an inefficient office. The impact over the next 10 years will be driven by increased efficiency and productivity as a result of improved physical and digital UX integration.” EVOLVING CHANNEL Where the industry appears to be in most agreement, however, is not about the technologies, products and applications of the future – it’s about how these will come to market, and the evolving nature of the relationship between vendors/integrators on the one hand, and end users on the other. The recurring theme is what else sellers will need to offer beyond what they do today – not least in response to an increasingly price-sensitive market. “The economic value of integrators is shifting towards customer lifetime value,” says QSC’s Barbour. “No longer will our relationships with our


customers be about a one-time purchase. Integrators will be able to offer additional services that can help their customer enhance and better understand their AV investment, while offering integrators new opportunities to grow their business.” “There is a clear opportunity for integrators to expand upon the value-add they bring,” agrees Wargo, “shifting them from what used to be pure installation towards consultation and design of the overall user experience. They even have opportunities in content creation itself as the client base seeks more from its providers. Mergers, acquisition and partnerships will all play a role in enabling the expansion of capabilities in this fashion. So too will creative use of financing and capital. We are seeing it now and will see more as we go through the next 10 years.” UNDER PRESSURE Kerrison sees things similarly. “AV managed services will certainly have a significant impact on channel dynamics,” she says. “Some brands will provide it themselves while others will partner with a leading integrator. Regardless, it will certainly put pressure on distributors and resellers working in the corporate space, possibly even in education.” “This decade will see further merging of roles within the channel as each type battles to remain relevant. The adage ‘go big, go niche or go home’ will become increasingly pertinent,” she smiles. And that, it seems, is not the only threat. For Smith, the huddle room phenomenon – if it can still be called that – will be a game-changer in a perhaps unexpected way. “A trend we are seeing is the increasing number of standard, small meeting room deployments,” he explains. “This has not directly reduced the number of larger, more complex installations, including auditoriums and multi-function spaces – but for integrators to have access to these traditional opportunities, they will need to have a way of addressing the smaller, more numerous rooms as well. The lower level of complexity in these spaces will probably mean that high-level engineering capability will become only one of the core offerings of larger integrators and the ability to provide a global deployment capability, fast turnaround solutions and a support model that works for a much higher number of rooms will become equally – if not more – important for continued success. The good news is that the growth potential for those companies that can address the new AV/IT world is significant.” Dalbjörn provides a fairly terse summary. “The integrator will either need to step out of their comfort zone, if they haven’t already, and become a true system integrator – or accept being a sub-supplier.”  


FEATURE Given what’s going away, what’s changing and what’s coming over the next 10 years – what does the AV industry see as the threats and opportunities it faces? “The opportunities are in value-added services and the increasing need for them,” says Wargo. “The threat is in expanding competition as new and non-traditional provider firms are lured to the growing opportunities. With a better than GDP growth outlook for the sector, you can be sure competition will increase, but rather than fighting over scraps, we see a growing pie with lots for all. The key will be how firms differentiate themselves. Staying in the low-end fray of installation only will be a tough place to sit. Some companies will buy solutions on price alone, as is always the case, but savvy providers will know when to cut and run from a bad deal, which will be one in which quality of experience is compromised too much in favour of lower cost. That’s easier said than lived, of course.” For Futuresource’s Kerrison, smart buildings – if not smart cities – present a significant opportunity for the AV industry. “Data will be central to the AV industry over the next decade and this will be particularly evident in the rise of smart buildings,” she considers. “The ability to offer end users tangible cost-saving measures as part of their AV upgrade will prove highly valuable to the entire industry.” “But,” she continues, “mounting concerns regarding data privacy and ownership could hinder the potential for data analytics. Education and transparency with the general public on what is being captured, where it is stored and how it is analysed will prove crucial to eroding these concerns and allowing the full potential of big data/IoT to be realised.”

what it sees and knows today: for the most part, that will always be the case, whatever we’re predicting. Change will be evolutionary, not revolutionary. That said, no-one should underestimate the likely impact of AI, big data and machine learning. In commercial terms, those inter-related technologies are still, relatively, in their infancy – but they have the potential to be transformative across the board: from the user experience to higher reliability and uptime, they will have more impact than any foreseeable development in either video or audio technology. And: the changes they will engender will be made possible by the universal interconnectivity that the Internet of Things will enable. We may not be able to look forward to a 2030 where roads have been replaced by tubes, or apes are driving us around – or even to having our own personal helicopters, as predicted by Popular Mechanics in 1951 – but it’s clear that we will be able to look forward to an AV industry that continues to thrive.

KEY POINTS nAll the signs point to the AV industry continuing to grow ahead of GDP n Universal connectivity will change everything, leaving behind anything that’s not connected n AI, big data, the IoT and machine learning will be transformative across the board n The focus will remain on enhancing the user experience

THE VR OPPORTUNITY And then there is the XR (VR, AR, MR) conundrum. Now an established event in the ISE calendar, the XR Summit implicitly acknowledges that extended reality is an opportunity for the AV industry. Antycip’s Reynolds is certainly a believer. “New ways to collaborate will see our VR technologies become more widely adopted as VR gets easier for companies to work with their own data and simulation may become more of a necessity in some aspects of our learning curves,” he enthuses. “Virtual prototyping and simulation will become a necessity for a huge number of companies, and virtual content can open up doors for countless procedural training tools addressing a multitude of professional uses.” Inevitably, in a look-forward of this nature, the industry’s predictions are based on extrapolations of

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Education 4.0: A brave new world Technologies including AI, VR and the Internet of Things could be set to transform the learning experience. But with them come profound implications for the use and security of data, writes David Davies




ver since World Economic Forum executive chairman Klaus Schwab used the term ‘Fourth Industrial Revolution’ in a 2015 article, it was inevitable – sooner or later – that the concept of Education 4.0 would begin to gain traction. Generally understood to encompass the educational developments and practices that will support and enable a workforce capable of serving this new era of industry, Education 4.0 is expected to bring a number of emerging technologies – including AI, VR and AR, robotics and the Internet of Things – into the learning environment. But the concept is not wholly about the technologies as it also encourages students to think more rigorously about the trajectory of their careers. If life expectancies continue to grow it is likely that many people will have as many as four or five distinctive phases to their careers. With each of these stages set to involve engagement with different technologies, and at a time when the pace of innovation is accelerating, their ability to change with the times will be more critical than ever. Increasingly, it seems, ‘lifelong learning’ will become a reality for all. Education 4.0 has been the subject of countless think pieces and presentations over the past few years as educators have attempted to map learning’s technological future. All of which prompts several key questions, including: What is the actual status of the concept now in terms of awareness and implementation; what are the main technologies going to be; what might be the main benefits; and what are the implications for the huge amounts of data that will be generated by the use of IoT and AI? FORMATIVE STAGES Few would argue with the contention that – in general global terms – Education 4.0 is still in the foothills. Rose Luckin, professor of learner centred design at the UCL Knowledge Lab in London and a specialist in the application of AI to education, says that to some extent it does “depend on where you are in the world. So from my perspective, you have a country like Singapore [which is working with] AI scenarios and has programmes for skills development. I can also see a lot of progress in countries including Estonia and Finland, but in the UK not so much.” That’s not to say that there isn’t plenty of interesting work taking place in the UK; Luckin points to educators including Sir Anthony Seldon who are developing Education 4.0 courses, while the Education Select Committee was specifically addressing the implications of the Fourth Industrial Revolution for learning before parliament was dissolved ahead of the General Election. In general, though, it’s more “pockets of thinking”, suggests

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FEATURE Luckin, than a focused movement at present. JISC is a UK not-for-profit membership organisation focused on providing digital solutions for education and research. Martin Hamilton, who leads JISC’s future and emerging technologies team, agrees that we are still in the “early stages” of the concept moving from theory to reality, but notes that “over the past year there has been a lot of dialogue with the [educational] community and a realisation that we are at a turning point”. Increasingly, he believes, we will see schools and colleges looking to “embed new technologies in their learning” – a process that will be supported by more and more products that appear to fit explicitly within the Education 4.0 concept. Elsewhere, there is evidence of more scepticism about the concept becoming broadly adopted in a meaningful sense any time soon. Spiros Andreou, service delivery manager of AV systems integrator CDEC, observes that in the UK “we have not yet seen widespread adoption of collaboration and distancelearning technologies that have been on the market for years. Many universities are still focused on didactic, presenter-led teaching and use legacy technologies such as VGA and projection. Those few institutions that are brave enough to invest in updated technologies often confine them to a ‘concept’ space or experimental room, fail to adequately equip their academic staff with the skills to use them, and then brand the project a failure when it fails to make traction. Investing in 4.0 technologies which are even more expensive, experimental and require significant skill to manage and create content for, presents far more risk to universities in an uncertain political landscape.” Meanwhile, in Germany, AV technology consultancy Macom Group reports that many of its customers “want to implement Education 4.0”, says managing director Oliver Mack. “Often, however, they are simply overwhelmed with the mass of products and technologies, as well as the operation and user training for teachers.”

From the top: Spiros Andreou, CDEC; Martin Hamilton, JISC; Rose Luckin, UCL Knowledge Lab

THREE MAJOR OBSTACLES The concerns cited by Mack are not unfamiliar from previous technological transitions, but are surely more acute with Education 4.0 given the number and complexity of the emerging technologies: “Those responsible usually lack an overview of which products are suitable for their own use cases, which user requirements must be met, and how the products can be integrated into the existing IT infrastructure. Often manufacturers are not much help here because they only want to sell their products or product ecosystems.” Another major concern is usability. Like Andreou, Mack hints that a sizeable number of teachers have



“It is logical to deploy rooms that are equipped for the teaching methods used today, but that will also accommodate new teaching methods tomorrow” Julian M Fernandez, Crestron

still not got to grips with current-generation technologies; for example, “interactive displays are often purchased but not used”. Teachers may feel under-prepared to use the new technologies, “afraid of breaking something and not wanting to embarrass themselves in front of their students because they are doing something wrong. So there needs to be intensive training for teachers.” As the technological infrastructure of learning becomes more sophisticated, a transparent chain of responsibility will grow in importance. Teachers and lecturers will need to know “who is responsible for maintenance, who to ask if something does not work, and who takes care of replacement if something breaks. The same problems that occur every day in every meeting room also occur in schools. The only difference is that companies do at least have an IT department. Many schools are dependent on the existence of technically skilled teachers who voluntarily take care of this task. If Education 4.0 is really to arrive in schools, it requires functioning operational concepts.” Mack points out that Germany’s Federal Government has recently passed the Digital Pact for Schools, which will see billions of euros being spent on the digitisation of German schools over the next few years. Education 4.0 is expected to be a major component of the programme, and it is arguable that similarly overarching initiatives will be necessary in other countries if the concept is to progress. FUTURE LEARNING But if and when Education 4.0 achieves international traction, in what primary ways will it transform the learning environment? Andreou is not alone in highlighting the probable shift from the current reliance on “device inputs, processing and display/performance systems” towards each student’s own device becoming the “focal point for technology – whether that presents to other students directly or through a central display, or via a recording that is accessed later”. If the methods of engagement are set to change, then so are the processes that underpin the development of curricula and decisions about how technologies should


be used. There seems little doubt that AI will play an increasing role in these processes, allowing educators to gather profound and extensive data about the behaviour of students. From capturing “the way they use a mouse or trackpad or touchscreen” to their interaction with specific pieces of software, there is massive potential “for monitoring and analysing their behaviour and understanding. As an educator that is hugely exciting, but it’s also the most worrying aspect of [Education 4.0],” adds Luckin. Worrying because all of the data that the AIpowered systems generate will have to be stored, managed and protected effectively, as well as used responsibly. “Data is actually the crucial thing in this entire conversation,” confirms Hamilton. “We can all talk about robots and all these other things that [feel like] sci-fi technologies coming into our lives, but ultimately it’s all driven by data. And the fact is that data about your learning and experience as a student is often highly personal and you probably don’t want it to be broadcast [widely]; what you will want are some controls over who has what information about you. So an informed approach to consent is going to be vital.” While the recent GDPR regulations may provide a basic framework for how educational data might be managed, it seems likely that further measures will be required to take account of AI and machine learning’s full implications – and the sooner the better, one imagines, if we are to avoid a reprisal of the sort of data dilemmas that have hit social media companies. Beyond that, there is the issue of how the data will be managed and by who – on an individual institutional


or regional level, or perhaps via third-party technology specialists with access to dedicated data centres. “That’s a very important question,” agrees Luckin, who is hopeful the quantity of data needing to be addressed will ultimately be limited by a more thorough “understanding of how human learning has developed over the past few decades. If data analysis [can be built around that knowledge then] the volumes of data can be reduced.” A recent Policy Connect piece (www.policyconnect. org.uk/appgda/research/trust-transparency-andtechnology-building-data-policies-public-good) is a good place to start for those wishing to gain a deeper understanding of how data policy might develop. If and when the correct checks and balances can be built into the management of data, its abundance could generate some significant benefits – and not just those related strictly to the learning process. For instance, Andreou suggests it could give rise “in larger institutions to the ability to intervene where a student is suffering mental health or other issues which may not otherwise be picked up except by large-scale analysis of student data and trends from multiple disparate systems”. DEEPER ENGAGEMENT Whether it takes a few years or as many as 10 for Education 4.0 to be implemented in the mainstream, it undoubtedly heralds the potential to deliver an educational experience that connects students more fundamentally with their subjects, and which can be effectively moulded to their needs and career expectations.

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Andy Hook, technical solutions director of AV services provider White Light, remarks that “both for the education of young people in schools and for professional learning in the workplace, an intense engagement with technology means that everyone can consume content in a way that makes sense to them”. He anticipates continued integration of VR, AR and MR into “immersive learning environments and collaborative experiences, allowing students to explore environments, products and ideas in an in-depth, interactive way that has previously not been possible to this extent”. From a vendor perspective this is bound to require an even more responsive approach than education has traditionally warranted. Given that the “definition of what people expect from the future classroom is evolving, it is logical to deploy rooms that are equipped for the teaching methods used today, but that will also accommodate new teaching methods tomorrow,” says Julian M Fernandez, program group marketing manager at Crestron. “[Therefore] installations require flexibility to deliver the classroom of the future that our educational partners are working towards.” Moreover, however sophisticated classroom systems may become, vendors must continue to support “the seamless use of technology that is easy to deploy and roll out for the support staff so they can add the technology where it’s needed and know that it will work all the time”. As with so many movements, Education 4.0 will clearly require effective and sustained collaboration between all stakeholders if it is to develop in a way that fully engages both students and teachers.

If interactive displays are currently under-utilised will Education 4.0 catch on?


Where social meets immersive A new addition to the London entertainment scene, Electronic Theatre offers a unique take on the immersive experience by making screen time social. Jo Ruddock joins in the fun


reated by Will Dean, the man behind Tough Mudder, and fellow fitness entrepreneur David Spindler, Electronic Theatre offers a slightly gentler experience than the renowned endurance event. What hasn’t changed, however, is the focus on teamwork and social interaction. The idea for Electronic Theatre came about when Dean and Spindler were looking for their next project. This coincided with the beginnings of the ‘experiential economy’, with research showing that young people preferred to spend their money on


experiences and creating memories, rather than on physical items. This, combined with a personal experience at a location-based VR concert, whereby the realisation came that these events tend to be solitary due to the use of headsets, led to the pair exploring this area in more detail. Spindler explains: “Relatively quickly we came up with the idea that we could make something that is a group-based experience where technology doesn’t get in the way, and one where you can change up the content easily.”



The use of visors with an antenna on top mean players don’t have to wear isolating headsets

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A very basic prototype was created which consisted of a Microsoft Kinect camera taped to the ceiling and two players moving up and down playing a version of Pong in an industrial unit in North London. After testing the concept with friends and family, the idea of Electronic Theatre was born. Opened on London’s Southbank in October, the first Electronic Theatre site consists of eight interactive digital rooms, or Light Boxes, utilising projection mapping, touchscreens, motion tracking and surround sound technologies, which teams of up to six people enter to complete a number of interactive adventures in 30- or 60-minute sessions. Key to the experience, and to the ability to make this a social event, is the fact that players don’t need to wear VR headsets or any other bulky equipment. A simple visor with an antenna on top to track players as they move around is all that’s required. The current adventure, Alien Aptitude Test, includes retro-style computer games that offer physical and mental challenges accompanied by a high-energy ’80s soundtrack delivered in surround sound. A PacMan-style game has players running around the room gathering coins while avoiding the ghost, while during a pairs-style card game challenge players have to identify matching cards as they move around the room. The latter adventure brings in the element of touchscreen interactivity. Games are developed in house, meaning they can be rolled out on a regular basis; the aim is to have four or five new adventures developed this year. Next up is Rescue the Royals, where teams are charged with rescuing the Queen, who has been locked in a castle in Scotland after Britain was sold to a US live streaming service. Not surprisingly, technology is at the core of the experiences. The AV setup was designed by CTO Jan Breens, who has been working in the field of immersive experiences since 2007: “My background is in integrating large systems such as planetariums. I then moved into VR, like so many people, and so coming back out of VR into something projection based again it’s really nice to see and it’s great fun.” When it came to the initial technical fit out, the team were clear that they didn’t want to have to invent anything new to achieve their aims. What wasn’t so clear was whether the end result would be scalable and result in a price point that people would find reasonable. Which is where Breen comes in: “When I joined, there was a prototype, a vision for games that were fun and social, and the dimensions of the room. From there the challenge was finding the right technology to make it scalable and reliable.

“My approach is always to choose the best tool for the job, focusing on the places that are really important, like, for example, the tracking system – that just needs to be reliable and give the fidelity that is needed, whereas other things in the room can be a little more basic sometimes. It’s striking a balance between spending money in the right areas and still choosing equipment that can last the length of the unit and give us the control we need. “One thing that’s really important, I think in a unit like this, especially one that we want to scale, is that it can be operated easily, and that’s one of the main constraints of choosing equipment.” Spindler adds: “It’s about bringing the games off the walls and into the room. The idea is that if you’re with a group of friends the technology helps support you having a great night, it’s enabling that experience but you’re not having to plug in to technology.” And the visors help with this: “We needed somewhere to mount the trackers and it works well with the ’80s theme, they’re low maintenance, easy to clean and people seem to like them.” The touchscreen technology has also been a hit: “It’s really surprised me in how simple it is,” says Breen. “I’ve done a lot of very big touch video walls and we couldn’t use any of that technology in this implementation because we have wall-to-wall projection so we can’t have a frame or anything like that. We use a very simple camera-based touchscreen system that added a whole dimension to every experience in a very simple manner.” Looking ahead and a motion tracking system that can truly tell you where a person’s arms and legs are is very much on the wishlist. Breens explains: “Currently we track the core of the person as they move around, but really understanding where that person is, that’s a clear benefit to us. That would be a real gamechanger.” There are also plans to add basic speech recognition to enable choose-your-own-adventure-type responses. Currently there’s a microphone in the rooms so it’s just a case of developing the software. Plans for the future don’t stop there – the aim is to open 10-20 units in the UK in 2020, as well as the first units in the US. Spindler explains: “That’s why it was important we were making choices a few months ago that will allow us to do that. It’s grand ambitions for sure but the plan is to have 1,000 units in five years.” There is also an intention to extend the reach of the games, with adventures aimed at younger children to appeal to the family market; educational content is also in the pipeline where less popular time slots will be offered free at the point of use to schools and other educational groups. Look out for Macbeth the video game to help students with their English revision.



The height of innovation A new simulation facility is enabling pioneering research into human responses to the built environment at the University of Bath. Duncan Proctor takes a look


Simulators is a £4.8 million Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) government-funded national research facility, developed between the Universities of Exeter, Bath and Leicester. The first motion platform and environmental control chamber is located at the University of Bath, with a complementary facility due to be installed at the University of Exeter. The equipment will support collaborative research across a range of disciplines, including engineering, health, medicine, physiology, architecture and psychology, to explore how people respond to the built environment. For example, VSimulators will be used to explore the effects of motion for occupants in a tall building which sways in the wind. This has been found to lead to tiredness, low mood and difficulty in concentrating, as well as a lack of motivation for the occupant. Such symptoms can impact negatively on well-being and productivity and, therefore, have an impact for building developers, designers, contractors and owners as well as business occupants. The VSimulators facility will be used to look at other factors including temperature, light, humidity, sound and air quality, enabling researchers to adjust the environmental conditions and monitor the human responses to help gain a better understanding of how the performance of employees improves or degrades. The VSimulator can go from 40°C down to 10°C to recreate what it would be like in different parts of


the world. It is believed that the findings will indicate if air conditioning in office buildings is always necessary and to what degree people can tolerate higher or lower temperatures than we think. The facility will also measure reactions to lighting colour and intensity. Certain colours are synonymous with comfort, but this may impede productivity, whereas others may not be as visually pleasing but improve alertness and concentration. ACCEPTABLE LEVELS On the background to the project. Dr Antony Darby, head of civil engineering at the University of Bath, says: “We did some work ages ago on acceptability of motioning grandstands. We had this big bit of grandstand that we built and we had people jumping up and down on it and so on, to try and understand what their perception is of whether it is safe or not.” This led the team to think on a broader scale and look at the environments within tall buildings. However, Darby and the team discovered that “currently there are no real guidelines on the acceptable level of motion in tall buildings – motion perception but not acceptability”. To explain the difference, Darby continues: “For example, on a train you expect it to move, that doesn’t mean it’s not acceptable. You can perceive the vibration, but it’s an acceptable level, it doesn’t stop you from doing things. And it’s the same thing in a tall building – all buildings move, some more than others, but just because you can see the motion doesn’t necessarily mean it’s unacceptable, or conversely, even if you can’t perceive the motion doesn’t mean it’s acceptable. “So we designed this bit of equipment to help us explore that and expanded it to consider the entire environment and to make it as realistic as possible and allow us to do as many studies as possible.”


Above: VSimulators team (L-R): Dr Antony Darby; Katy Manning; Jon Slade; Julie Lewis-Thompson

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“All buildings move, some more than others, but just because you can see the motion doesn’t necessarily mean it’s unacceptable, or conversely, even if you can’t perceive the motion it doesn’t mean it’s acceptable”

Specialist contractors, working with academic and technical staff at the University of Bath, have designed and constructed the VSimulators facility in the Structures Laboratory at the Department of Architecture and Civil Engineering. This has involved the design and installation of a motion platform by Servotest Testing Systems, a climate chamber designed by Temperature Applied Science and the creation of projected virtual reality environments designed and installed by Antycip. It is anticipated that such research undertaken at the VSimulators facility will impact positively on the design of sustainable buildings with a reduction in wasted energy, alongside positive impacts on productivity and occupant well being. Servotest are a specialist supplier of custom servo-hydraulic mechanical testing solutions. Using hydraulic actuators, they have designed a platform which can move in three degrees of freedom within bespoke parameters, enabling researchers to take recordings from existing structural motion and replicate within a controlled environment. CONTROL CHALLENGES “We are delighted to work with the University of Bath to bring into commission their ‘man-rated’, multiaxial simulation table,” comments Andy Prior, managing director from Servotest. “This project has presented some keen control challenges for us as it requires very smooth operations at low loads. There needs to be very low noise (hydraulic/electrical) and distortion on the acceleration to ensure the test subjects are unaware of the motion simulation. The Servotest team have done a great job to provide technical solutions to these challenges that will provide the most realistic and effective testing for the university.” The environmental chamber was designed and supplied by Temperature Applied Sciences, which is a UK manufacturer of bespoke Environmental Simulation Systems, with many decades’ of experience. The test chamber supplied to the University of Bath for the VSimulators platform has


14 independent control loops, covering temperature, humidity, air-flow, lighting plus a number of hot and cold radiators, which posed significant and unusual design challenges. All of the environmental variables are under programmable control, simulating an almost infinite variety of day and night scenarios. The remote plant and instrumentation packages are connected to the test chamber via flexible hoses and umbilical cables, while the test chamber has been designed to be rigid and lightweight to withstand the considerable force of the Servotest platform. “I was very excited to learn that the University of Bath had again selected Temperature Applied Sciences to work on another project,” comments Timothy Stevens, technical director, Temperature Applied Science. “The Test Chamber is very much the hub of the VSimulators, whereby all of the technologies converge. We were presented with two distinct challenges. Firstly, the chamber had to be very light but also very rigid. Secondly, no fewer than 14 control loops were necessary, all of which had to



Above left: Modern apartment scene Above right: The simulator replicates the inside of an office

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be under programmable control. Our modular system was perfect for the application and has capacity to spare for any future enhancements.” VIRTUAL SURROUNDINGS The 3D VR environments, created by simulation and virtual reality company Antycip, are projected onto three walls to create a realistic impression of living and working in a building space, including a modern apartment and an office with external views of a low-rise city or a dense, high-rise city. These scenes will enable participants to experience and respond to virtual surroundings, adjusted according to the time of day. “Like the other organisations, Antycip is very pleased to be working with the University of Bath on this fascinating VSimulators project,” says Chris Waldron, UK regional manager, Antycip Simulation. “As with many of the professionalgrade VR projects that we are asked to work on, this came with a set of unique challenges; the image

size and nature requirements, the confined area, the angle of projection, and the need to cope with the movement of the platform, all restricted the projector and lens choices, plus created a set of related engineering prescriptions that we had to work to.” The EPSRC-funded project will also feature a VSimulator platform based at the University of Exeter, which will include a 4x4 metre ‘motion platform’ with an 8x8 metre room. The VSimulators facility at the University of Exeter will also offer a fully instrumented floor to record pressure and movement in fine detail, as well as motion capture technology and immersive virtual reality capabilities for up to nine occupants, simultaneously. www.antycipsimulation.com www.servotestsystems.com www.tasltd.co.uk www.vsimulators.co.uk


Taking virtual education to the next level Universidad San Ignacio de Loyola has invested in 11 content labs to reinforce its distance learning output, while offering a space for tutors and students to meet. AVTE finds out more


istance learning has long-enabled academic institutions to extend their reach beyond their physical campuses while making higher education more accessible to students in remote locations. Striving to take virtualised learning in Peru to the next level, the recently opened USIL Digital Learning Factory at Universidad San Ignacio de Loyola features advanced laboratories for the production of educational content for digital delivery. Inaugurated just days after the university celebrated its 50-year anniversary, the USIL Digital Learning Factory is a key component of the San Ignacio de Loyola Educational Corporation’s ongoing digital transformation initiative. The purpose-built facility houses 11 dedicated rooms for recording virtual classes, all controlled and interconnected by state-of-the-art AV technologies. Spanish global technology solutions distributor Crambo provided the AV system design for the facility, with installation performed by Crambo partner and Peruvian systems integrator Rio Pacifico. Ten of the 11 content laboratories are used exclusively as sets for distance learning production, with no student seating whatsoever. Course materials are presented using a combination of laptops, desktop computers and 65in interactive whiteboards, with AVer CAM530 cameras capturing video of the instructor. For the majority of these spaces, Crambo chose Atlona AT-HDRH2H-44MA 4x4 HDMI-to-HDMI matrix switchers


to route the various sources to multiple in-room displays and the facility’s centralised control room. The larger 11th room doubles as a 30-seat auditorium when students come in to meet their teachers at least once per year, and sports an 86in digital whiteboard and video conferencing system. An Atlona AT-UHD-PRO3-88M 8x8 HDMI-toHDBaseT matrix switcher serves the increased signal routing requirements of this bigger space. Crambo deployed Atlona AT-UHD-EX-70C and AT-UHD-EX-100CE extenders to transport HDMI, power and control signals over HDBaseT from each production lab to the central control area, with the latter models chosen to address the longer distance requirements of the furthest-away rooms. “An important benefit was that the built-in PoE support allows us to power the receivers from the transmitters,” says Miguel Ángel González Suárez, production engineer at Crambo. “With 11 receivers in the control room, that saves us from needing 11 additional mains plugs, since they obtain power via the Cat6 cables instead.” In addition to distribution within and between rooms, video and audio signals are recorded to a Sonic Foundry Mediasite recording appliance in each lab. Recordings of classes are managed through the Mediasite platform and stored in the Amazon Web Services cloud, where students can access them through the USIL Virtual Campus. While the AV distribution architecture at the USIL Digital Learning Facility was designed for future-friendly 4K production capabilities, Crambo


CASE STUDY and the university chose not to go beyond full 1080p60 HD yet based on the programme’s goals. “While the Atlona matrix switchers support Ultra HD, we decided to stay in HD,” explains Suárez. “As the content is intended to be published on the internet, 4K would currently present some encoding and remote delivery challenges. Full HD is fine for the nature of this usage, and the Mediasite system with Amazon Web Services cloud storage provides plenty of capacity for those files.” SIMPLIFYING CONTROL A key objective of the USIL Digital Learning Facility project was to make the AV system extremely easy to use for instructors. “We didn’t want the teachers to have the hassle of learning a new environment or of having to use multiple different interfaces to do what they needed,” says Suárez. Crambo selected Atlona’s Velocity IP-based AV control and management platform to provide the ease of use, scalability and flexibility USIL needed. A single Velocity Gateway control processor handles roughly 100 devices across the facility, including Atlona solutions and third-party products as well as relays for powering additional equipment on and off. A second Velocity Gateway was deployed as a backup for automated, fault-tolerant redundancy. Each production room has its own Velocity Touch Panel, with 5.5in touchscreens in the ten smaller rooms and an 8in model in the flagship space. “We configured the laboratories to make them simple, so that users can control the complete recording setup with only the use of the one touchscreen,” Suárez explains. “We created eight Velocity macros that fit in a single screen, each of which executes all of the commands needed for whatever the user is trying to do.” Specifically, users can change the perspective of the camera; start, pause and stop recordings; switch between their laptop and the desktop computer; or mute and unmute the microphone. “They have all of this control in a single page, with graphical icons that make it very intuitive,” he added. “When it came time to train the instructors on using the rooms, it was so easy that it basically took just one minute. That was hugely well received by the users.” Suárez also took advantage of Velocity’s ability to replicate configurations across multiple rooms. “Eight of the rooms were exact mirrors of each other,” he said. “After we did the first one, we replicated it and just made minor updates such as

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the IP addresses of the equipment. This feature was a huge time-saver.” As an IP-based system, Crambo was able to deploy Velocity on the university’s standard network infrastructure. “We just had to ask for the number of LAN ports we needed, and they were accommodated when the facility was built. Their IT department didn’t need to provide any special configurations, and they were very happy not to have to comply with any unusual specifications.” Building on the success of the USIL Digital Learning Facility project, Crambo will install a similar recording room at the institution’s smaller San Ignacio University campus in Miami, Florida. Locations in Paraguay and Bolivia are also on the roadmap. Even within the initial installation, Suárez highlights the scalability that the control system offers for further expansion. “If the university wants to change the configuration, they can do that easily through Velocity, and they have a lot of room to grow if they want to add new devices,” he notes. “We have approximately 100 devices on the one gateway today, but it can handle up to 250, leaving them lots of ability to scale.”

The labs can be controlled via a single touchscreen



THE TECH GUIDE A selection of some of the latest AV products and solutions now available to the market

Exclusive Nureva Console

Nureva Product type: Cloud-based management platform Target market: Corporate What does it do? Nureva Console is said to make it easy for organisations to manage their Nureva audio conferencing systems across multiple locations, from a single, secure dashboard. It combines a simple web client that installs on Windows and Mac meeting room computers and a cloud-based dashboard that can be accessed remotely. Together, they provide an intelligent platform to enroll, configure and maintain every Nureva audio system to enable hassle-free adoption throughout an organisation. What’s new? From Nureva Console, IT managers can remotely determine the state of a Nureva audio system to see if it is set as the default audio device, if the firmware is up to date and whether it is powered and connected to a computer. System information, such as model details and serial numbers, is also available. Looking forward, Nureva Console provides the infrastructure for deep integration between Nureva audio and other third-party solutions. New functionality will be added to Nureva Console frequently. For example, in the near term, IT managers can integrate their room booking and room control systems with Nureva’s new HDL200 system from Nureva Console. Perfect for? Enterprise customers looking for scalability and flexibility Available: End of February 2020




Nureva Product type: Microphone and speaker bar Target market: Corporate What does it do? Designed for the needs of small meeting spaces, the HDL200 system delivers consistent and reliable audio pickup with 10 front-facing microphones to offer maximum installation flexibility. It can be mounted above or below a display, on the wall (mounting bracket included) or on a mobile stand. What’s new? The HDL200 is powered by patented Microphone Mist technology, which fills the entire meeting space with thousands of virtual microphones so that everybody is heard no matter how softly they talk, where they move in the space or the direction they face. Unlike beamforming and tabletop omnidirectional microphones, there are no dead zones where it is difficult to be heard. Microphone Mist has recently received its fourth patent from the US Patent and Trademark Office for its ability to create a continuous sound mask signal that enables an impulse response measurement for each microphone and speaker combination in real time. This allows the system to instantly autocalibrate the multichannel echo canceller for each speaker to microphone combination and provide continuous, real-time, in-room impulse response measurements. Supporting third-party meeting room peripherals was also a design consideration of the HDL200, with the option of a cleverly designed optional magnetic camera mount and a display mount. Perfect for? Smaller meeting rooms up to 5.5x5.5m Available: March 2020 More info: www.nureva.com

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Aver Europe


BenQ Product type: Interactive flat panel Target market: Corporate What does it do? Said to create an interactive meeting room experience for any device, the platform-agnostic Duoboard is available in two sizes, 65in (CP6501K) and 86in (CP8601K) with 4K resolution. It features BenQ’s new Collaboration+ suite of functions, incorporated to maximise efficiency, productivity and teamwork. What’s new? On a singular DuoBoard, the screen can be partitioned to enable the use of multiple applications side-by-side via the DuoWindow feature. Further to this, those who frequently use different operating systems, including Android, iOS, macOS, or Windows, can now run these platforms simultaneously on the screen using Duo OS. Positioning two displays together, the DuoBoards become one continuous workspace. Built-in sensors connect the screens providing businesses with an infinite whiteboard space, without connecting wires. The 20-point multi-touch capability allows for the smooth interaction of multiple users at once. BenQ’s EZWrite cloud-based whiteboarding solution enables remote participants to easily join meetings and add their ideas to the board from their mobile devices. In addition, DuoBoard has an integrated camera with a noise-reducing and echo-cancelling microphone array for high-quality video conferencing. Users can start meetings with just one touch through the BenQ Launcher. Perfect for? Meeting rooms that require flexibility Available: Now More info at: www.benq.co.uk

Product type: Visualiser Target market: Education What does it do? The latest M17-13M mechanical arm visualiser is said to offer crisp texts, bright images and vivid colours. Boasting a 13-megapixel camera, 35.2x total zoom and full HD quality, the M17-13M can rotate, swivel, expand and collapse for the perfect angle to display presentation materials, including paper or 3D models. What’s new? The M17-13M offers live video at 60fps and its one-touch recording function means that users can record entire lessons to review with the class or provide to absent students or substitute teachers. Additionally, users can live stream the video to enable classes to be held remotely, increasing engagement and ensuring all learners are up to date on the lesson at hand. Operating as a document camera with impressive angle control, the M17-13M enables users to capture the image clarity and detail. The onboard annotation capability provides users with the opportunity to add notes, highlight important information or add captions to presentation material easily, making explaining a tricky concept or a key point to a classroom simple. Perfect for? Learning environments wanting to enhance their collaborative and creative learning spaces Available: Now More info at: www.avereurope.com



StingRay 83

Stealth Acoustics

L-Line Series

Philips Professional Display Solutions Product type: Indoor LED displays Target market: Medical, transport, control What does it do? The L-Line Series includes the 27in BDL91XXL and the 44in (16x9) BDL81XXL, with both models featuring a range of pixel pitch sizes, from 1.2mm to 4.8mm. Customers can simply connect multiple LED display cabinets to create the resolution they want, whether it’s 4K, 8K or even higher, creating a seamless display, with no bezels. What’s new? Housed in lightweight aluminium casing, the L-Line Series consists of six indoor modular tiles across two size variants to meet a wide range of needs. The BDL91XXL is designed to reduce electromagnetic radiation, making it ideal for use in airports, control rooms and hospitals where radiation may otherwise interfere with critical equipment and devices. This, together with the fact that there are no high frequency wires in the display or cabinets, has positioned the 27in LED with the superior EMC Class B certification, while the 44in BDL81XXL has Class A certification. All displays are front serviceable, allowing LED modules, cables and power supplies to be changed or altered without having to remove the display from the wall. They can also be purchased as complete pre-configured kits. Perfect for? Environments requiring missioncritical performance levels Available: Now More info at: www.philips.com/c-cs/professionaldisplay-solutions

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Product type: Outdoor speaker Target market: Luxury residential, commercial and marine applications What does it do? This 8in 3-way speaker uses a hybrid of traditional and cutting-edge speaker technologies. The internal drivers are an 8in high-power cone woofer, a 30mm direct coupled neo-magnet mid-range driver and a direct coupled 25mm neo-magnet high-frequency driver. Designed with outdoor theatre audio in mind and with peak power handling of over 300W it is much more than simply a background music speaker. What’s new? The StingRay 83 is completely sealed off from the elements. It is constructed using high-strength UV protected fibreglass and marine grade, fibre-infused ASA plastics, meaning the speaker is completely sealed against intrusion from any outside elements. It has an Ingress Protection rating of IP68 per international CEI/IEC 60529 standards. No moisture, salt or sun will affect the unit, nor will it rust or discolour over time. It is available in standard black, white or with a custom graphic wrap finish. Perfect for? Harsh superyacht or outdoor environments Available: Now More info at: www.stealthacoustics.com


TECH GUIDE 6000 Series



Vivitek Product type: Collaboration/signage display Target market: Corporate What does it do? Combining a 4K panel display, wireless collaboration and digital signage functionalities, NovoDisplay is said to transform conventional meetings into engaging collaborative sessions. For added versatility, during periods of downtime, NovoDisplay can be utilised to stream signage content to employees or guests, ensuring that users can maximise their investment. What’s new? The NovoDisplay Series offers the first all-in-one collaboration and digital signage display and is a complete flat panel display offering. Also of note is the ease with which it enables users to interact with their audience. With built-in NovoConnect – Vivitek’s wireless collaboration solution – NovoDisplay offers simple wireless mirroring as well as collaboration tools, such as split screen presentations – to help all users interact easily. The NovoDS digital signage software is included for free, allowing users to communicate anything they want, ranging from corporate messaging to the daily canteen menu, along with live RSS feeds on weather forecasts, or a simple ‘Welcome’ message for guests. The inclusion of NovoDS bridges the gap between wireless collaboration technology and digital signage in a user-friendly and cost-effective way. A remote management tool is also included at no extra cost. Perfect for? Corporate and huddle spaces Available: Now More info at: www.vivitek.eu

Product type: Subminiature microphones Target market: Corporate, events What does it do? Already one of the smallest and most inconspicuous bodyworn microphones on the market, the 6000 Series will now be even less obtrusive, leaving presenters, artists and audiences free to focus on content and performance rather than technology. What’s new? Measuring just three millimetres (0.12in) in diameter, DPA’s 6000 Series capsules are 60% smaller than the company’s existing 4000 series, but equally as powerful, partly because they include CORE by DPA amplification technology that reduces distortion and increases dynamic range. New colour options for the 6000 series of subminiature microphones have also been introduced so that they can be more closely matched to the wearer’s skin tone and clothing. The modular adapter system also fits most professional wireless systems. Perfect for? Presentations and performances Available: Now More info at: www.dpamicrophones.com


TECH GUIDE Extreme Series



Muxlab Product type: Network controller Target market: Corporate What does it do? The 500812 brings together all MuxLab AV over IP-connected equipment installed on a local area network (LAN), making each device accessible from anywhere when using the MuxControl App on a smartphone or tablet. It runs on a Linux-based system that provides a user-friendly web interface. What’s new? The Network Controller’s autodiscovery feature scans the network and automatically identifies all MuxLab AV over IP equipment. Users can then more easily configure and control these products and their connected devices such as sources and displays through the Controller. Users can create everything from expansive video walls and virtual matrixed systems to more simple AV installations. Repetitive or custom tasks can be configured and saved as presets to be instantly recalled at any time, streamlining connectivity management. The Network Controller can also send RS232 and IR commands to Muxlab AV over IP devices to turn connected AV equipment on and off, such as sources and displays. The Network Controller works hand in hand with the MuxControl App. Perfect for? Simplifying installations of all sizes Available: Now More info at: www.muxlab.com

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Product type: LCD displays Target market: Control rooms, corporate What does it do? The flagship of Christie’s Extreme Series, the FHD554-XZ-H, and its HR sibling are equipped with HDMI 2.0, HDCP 2.2 connectivity, and an OPS slot to accept a variety of processing modules, including Christie Phoenix EP, for a complete solution package. The two new 55in Extreme Series flat panels have 0.44mm/combined 0.88mm extreme narrow bezel and 4K at 60Hz delivery, as well as featuring Christie’s latest generation of tiled LCD technology. The FHD554-XZ-HR is a remote power model that provides improved reliability while delivering mission-critical uptime and redundancy capabilities. For customers wanting an ultra-slim profile for their video wall, the FHD554-XZ-H/HR combined with Christie’s ML25 mount can deliver a total depth of less than 4in. What’s new? Consisting of two flat panel LCD displays – 55in and 98in – the models are TTA compliant to deliver superior performance for control rooms and corporate applications. There are also improvements in optical properties and mechanical robustness. Perfect for? Mission-critical scenarios, including military and government installations, utility and control rooms, and visualisation labs requiring advanced performance and video wall optimisation Available: Now More info at: www.christiedigital.com



Short and sweet Ultra short throw projectors have become a staple within enterprise and business environments, offering high-quality images without shadows being cast across a screen. Adding an element of interactivity makes these devices even more appealing

Designed to deliver engaging presentations or clearly share information in small spaces, ultra short throw projectors can be positioned close to a display without image quality suffering. Not only does this mean functionality can be added to the smallest of rooms, it also removes problems faced by traditional projectors such as people walking in

Company: BenQ Solution: LH890UST 1080p interactive laser projector with ultra short throw Sell it to us: Featuring BenQ’s PointWrite technology and QWrite software, the projector can turn any flat surface into an interactive experience for collaboration sessions with live annotations, without the additional cost of a dedicated interactive projection board. In addition, the dual-screen can be achieved by seamlessly connecting two units for an extended canvas, enhancing its multi-user capability and intuitive templates. In detail: Achieving 1080p resolution at a throw distance of just 1 metre, the LH890UST is suited to front of class teaching when minimal interruption matters most. For schools with limited AV budgets that are looking to increase interactivity in lessons, this projector is described as both powerful and cost effective. With BlueCore laser technology, the


front of the projector light and blocking the screen, and distracting glare from the light source. With an interactive projector, collaboration is enhanced and engagement in meetings or lessons improved. Here we take a look at some of the models on the market offering this functionality.

projector achieves outstanding colour reproduction, enhancing colour saturation and contrast ratio for over 20,000 hours of operation at 4,000 lumens, making it fit and forget without the requirement of lamp replacements. In addition, a modular design means institutions have the flexibility of adding interactivity to classrooms at a later date with future investments. Available: Now


BATTLE OF THE BRANDS Company: Hitachi Solution: CP-TW3005 interactive ultra short throw projector Sell it to us: Featuring an ultra-short throw design and integrating Hitachi software to deliver a complete interactive experience on any flat surface, the CP-TW3005 allows the user to interact directly with the projected image which is ideal for both annotation and whiteboard collaborative sessions. In detail: Designed for higher education and corporate users, the CP-TW3005 combines vibrant image quality with cost-effective operation and produces large images in small spaces. Interactive features include interactive pen, multiple pen capability, autocalibration, PC-free interactive operation and multi-display interactivity. In addition, Hitachi’s Intelligent Eco and Saver Modes with ImageCare combines picture performance with energy-savings for a lower total cost of ownership. Available: Now Company: NEC Solution: UM351Wi interactive projector Sell it to us: In combination with DisplayNote NEC Edition collaborative software and with unlimited finger and pen touch response, users can highlight and annotate on the displayed content, and present from a mobile device; thus enabling schools to create an engaging collaborative classroom solution. The UM series also includes tabletop projection capabilities, which allows people to work on interactive tables. In detail: Designed for collaborative learning scenarios in higher education, the UM351Wi offers an effective enticement to encourage all-inclusive participation; enhancing pupil/teacher engagement for a positive learning experience. The UM series offers bright, dynamic images, with up to 3,600 ANSI lumens brightness. It also eliminates the need for external audio systems with an integrated 20W speaker, which is a 25% improvement over earlier models. Furthermore, it comes with two HDMI inputs, one of them supporting MHL, making it easy for presenters to connect their smart devices to the projectors and when using multiple digital sources. Available: Now

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Company: Optoma Solution: ZH400USTi laser 1080p ultra short throw interactive projector Sell it to us: Launched in 2019, the ZH400USTi features TouchBeam finger-touch interactive technology enabling several people to work simultaneously on the screen, making drawings, annotating, zooming in and out, and rotating images effortless and engaging. In detail: Particularly suited to schools, colleges and universities, the ZH400USTi has been developed from a combination of Optoma’s lamp-based interactive ultra short throw projectors such as the EH319USTi and the ZH420UST. The ultra short throw lens means the projector can be installed close to the wall, avoiding any shadows being cast across the screen from presenters(s), while the 20,000 hours maintenance-free DuraCore laser light source at full brightness is crucial for the education system that requires a fit and forget solution. Available: Now



Vanti Ria Blagburn, technology team integrator at creative technology contractor Vanti, tells Jo Ruddock about the importance of diversity in technology and the opportunity provided by machine learning

Tell me a bit about Vanti Vanti was originally founded as an AV company, but over the years our service has developed into something a bit more unique. We blur the lines between AV and IT to create unique solutions for the built environment that support, enable and empower people. Our user-centric approach puts the people using a space at the heart of the work we do, with the ultimate aim that technology will contribute to a much-improved experience. We tend to work in one of two capacities, with our acting role adapting to the needs of a client’s project. The first of these is the role of Master Systems Integrator, where we co-ordinate the integration of traditionally isolated systems, creating unified experiences for our clients. In line with this,


we’ve developed Smart Core, a building technology platform and framework that seeks to standardise the approach people take to integrating systems and make it much more sustainable for the future (after deployment, clients can continue to use us to make changes or can get their internal development team to update what they need). We’re also increasingly acting as Main Technology Contractor for developments – this role is new to the construction industry, but represents the only real way to get maximum value from the technology present in a building. Elevating the importance of technology design within a construction project creates efficiencies across the board, so we’re working in this role increasingly regularly as the construction and property industries wake up to the benefits of


MEET YOUR INTEGRATOR considering technology earlier in project development. Our thinking is that if a building is designed around the way that people use it, and future potential changes to technology and working style are also considered, then less time and money can be spent on adapting the building further down the line. Clients and people within the industry are only just coming around to the idea that while a building is built to stand for 50+ years, technology systems will nearly all be refreshed on three to ten-year cycles. What’s your geographic reach? We’re currently expanding at a pretty fast rate and are now supporting clients across the UK and Europe, and we’ve just onboarded our first client in Singapore too! Being based in Birmingham gives us great access to the UK, but we’ll happily travel further afield to work on innovative and exciting projects. You were recently named as one of the Midlands’ most innovative businesses. How did this come about? The Innovation 50 is a biennial report that showcases the region’s 50 most innovative companies. We were delighted to be included when the initiative first launched in 2017, and were even more pleased to retain our spot for the 2019 edition. There are so many interesting companies making the Midlands their home because it’s a great place to start a business, and this is especially true for the tech sector: the number of tech companies that chose to set up in the West Midlands rose by 11% in 2018, and Birmingham is home to more tech start-ups than any UK city outside of London. It’s therefore a huge accolade that the judges behind the Innovation 50 recognised the work Vanti are doing when the competition is so stiff. You’ve also been prominent in your support for diversity in technology. Why do you think this is so important? We strongly believe that having a diverse team where everyone feels included makes business sense and is the right thing to do. When you only hire people from a certain background, who look, think and feel the same as you do, you often don’t get the benefit of different experiences and varying points of view. Having a range of voices helps us to consider problems from more angles, which then enables us to make better decisions and build more successful solutions. As a technology company that works closely with the construction industry, we frequently see a lot of gender stereotyping when it comes to roles, but we’re very committed to proactively

January / February 2020

seeking talent that may otherwise be overlooked, and creating a culture that fosters a strong sense of inclusivity and equality. You work across a number of verticals, including education, hospitality and commercial. Which ones are particularly active at the minute? We’re seeing a lot more companies invest significantly in their office infrastructure at the moment, which is a symptom of the changing nature of work. There have been plenty of articles published in recent years around the younger workforce being less motivated by financial incentives, and more by flexibility, company culture and a good working environment underpinned by effective technology. This is prompting companies to rethink the spaces they inhabit and build to accommodate a more modern way of working that centres around helping people be at their best regardless of whether they’re collaborating in a team, holding a 1:1 meeting in a huddle pod, or doing some focused work in a quiet area of the office. What we do is designed to support those individuals and teams by seamlessly enabling their interactions with technology. And are there any specific technologies in this sector that you’re excited about? We’re very interested in the use of sensor technology and how data derived from sensors can be used in combination with machine learning to predict flows and optimise systems without human intervention. For example, if a building has sensors that are able to monitor occupancy and usage of individual spaces, this data can be automatically fed into software for facilities managers, and machine learning can then define things like cleaning schedules or maintenance reviews. This removal of the need for human intervention is sometimes interpreted as a danger to society, with some predicting that such automations will render a lot of jobs obsolete. However, we think it’s an opportunity rather than a risk – by using technology to replace a lot of monotonous or data-heavy work (which is more prone to human error), people can

“If a building is designed around the way that people use it, and future potential changes to technology and working style are also considered, then less time and money can be spent on adapting the building further down the line” 47

MEET YOUR INTEGRATOR spend more time doing the more creative and interesting tasks. What projects are you particularly proud of? Informa’s HQ at 240 Blackfriars was our flagship integration project when it opened in 2016, and we’re currently working on an upgrade that will leverage our Smart Core technology. We helped deliver an immersive, inspiring and flexible smart workplace across seven storeys that encouraged real-time communication and collaboration on a global scale. The results speak for themselves: smart floors are 50% more energy efficient that their non-smart equivalents, with the workplace achieving the highest LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) rating of Platinum (with the second highest score in the UK). Informa also benefited from £1 million in annual productivity savings through use of task automation and their ‘Bring it Home’ initiative, designed to encourage employees to bring clients and partners to the new space and to host events there rather than hiring external venues. Finally, and perhaps most impressively, our work enabled the generation of £1.6 million in additional annual revenue achieved by optimising space based on analysis of usage data to achieve a mobility ratio of 1.8 people to every one desk. We were also hugely honoured to be chosen to deliver the AV and lighting services for the five performance spaces, control rooms and technical suites at the brand-new Royal Birmingham Conservatoire – the first of its kind to offer both analogue and digital recording in every performance space. This was a hugely technically challenging project due to the very specific acoustic requirements – for example, we needed to ensure that all the AV and lighting equipment and cabling didn’t have a negative impact on the acoustics of the rooms. Through our work, the Conservatoire boasts performance spaces with specific acoustic tolerances that can produce incredible, consistent audio experiences. These performances can be mixed using advanced consoles and recorded in both analogue and digital to allow students to understand the difference in sound as well as the advantages and disadvantages of each method. This fusion of traditional and contemporary technologies makes the new Conservatoire unique, allowing BCU to attract the very best students and musicians from around the globe. How important is future proofing spaces and avoiding early obsoletion, and how are you ensuring this with your clients?


We frequently see people thinking about what they want now, rather than designing for the future. Companies evolve all the time, with factors like their reach, size and ways of working constantly changing. We account for this by building as much flexibility as possible into our designs, even when a client hasn’t specifically asked for it. This is especially true when it comes to software – for example, if a client currently uses one videoconferencing tool and needs a system that supports this, we will try to design something that will not limit their ability to change manufacturer in future. Where possible, we recommend the use of open source tools as proprietary software can majorly limit a company’s ability to make significant changes in the future as they develop. The rate of technological change is extraordinary, so it’s vital that integrators are able to design solutions that scale over time. We’ve created Smart Core with this flexibility in mind – rather than bake technology into the building that then becomes exceedingly difficult to remove and replace, we take a more modular approach so upgrading is far more painless than it has been historically. Different systems depreciate at different rates, so it’s important to understand these timescales and use this knowledge to think about when things are likely to need replacing or updating.

Ria Blagburn: “We strongly believe that having a diverse team where everyone feels included makes business sense and is the right thing to do”



What are some of the biggest mistakes made by end users when it comes to AV? One thing we try to discourage is a demand for very specific devices or software simply because “that’s what they’ve always used”. We encourage people to keep an open mind and not write off systems if they’re new to them; there’s a huge range of technology out there now, which is why we’re agnostic when it comes to suppliers. We’re always happy to review the market, and will incorporate technologies based on what’s most appropriate for the job. We relish the opportunity to go to events like ISE where we can see what’s new – after all, we’re a company full of technologists who love playing with new toys!

What are the biggest challenges you’re currently facing? One of our biggest challenges is communicating our capabilities, because there’s still a significant lack of awareness and understanding around integrated systems and smart buildings. It’s hard to conceptualise what we do, because we don’t have a snazzy app or gimmicky product; we do so many things and we often don’t work in the tangible space. This is why we’re striving to help standardise the industry and get everyone on the same page, as it will enable clients and potential hires to better understand the role that systems integrators play and the value we offer. We also still face a fair few challenges when we work with property developers and investors as it can be hard to convince such people to see the value of technology when they want to sell the building for as much profit as possible. The construction industry has also worked in the same way for decades, so the disruption we represent by encouraging conversations about technology much earlier on in the process is not always welcomed by the old guard. However, we are persisting, and are gradually seeing a change in attitudes as people become more and more convinced that the investment is a worthwhile one.

January / February 2020

Environmental impact is a top concern for many end users. How are you meeting this demand for green AV? One of our core values is Care – this includes care for the planet and its inhabitants. We’d therefore bake energy efficiency and sustainability into our designs even if there wasn’t a significant cost saving also associated with this. As there is, it makes it an even easier sell to our clients! We think about opportunities to use technology to reduce energy consumption wherever we can – for example, by placing sensors on windows so when one is opened, air conditioning systems shut down. Finally, what are Vanti’s plans for the future? Scaling, but doing so sustainably, is high up on our priority list, but this isn’t just a case of more business = more money. We really enjoy what we do, which is why we repeatedly receive positive feedback from clients who see the passion we’ve got, and we also want to make a positive impact on the world; being able to grow as a team and reach new territories will enable us to help more companies get the most out of their spaces. We’re also very keen to work with other smart companies and industry bodies to bring greater structure to smart building delivery through the development of shared standards and schema. This will help anyone looking to refresh their technology be able to compare different offerings and better understand what would suit them, and speaking the same language will also make it easier for suppliers to collaborate and partner with one another. We hope to open source our own Smart Core platform in order to help with this process – the way we see it, if the whole industry improves, we’ll benefit. A rising tide lifts all ships! www.smart-core.tech



Aztec As audiovisual supplier to Lord’s, Aztec works closely with the in-house team to support all 15 event spaces as well as special events such as the 2019 Cricket World Cup. Jo Ruddock speaks to managing director John Robson to find out what this entails

You’re the AV supplier to MCC/Lord’s. What does this involve? We provide high-quality AV solutions for a wide range of events. We have developed packages to cater to the regular demands of the venues, these allow the Lord’s event staff to be able to offer the solutions that we know work. We also provide bespoke events with our branding and marketing team for an individual flair that defines us as an AV supplier. In 2019 especially, due to the World Cup and Ashes, we have worked closely with Lord’s as a cricket ground as well as an event space, providing support for press conferences and end of season awards and celebrations. To top off an exciting year of cricket, Lord’s hosted


the World Cup final here in 2019 and have been revelling in its glory ever since. Do you work across all 15 event spaces at the site? Yes, although some much more than others. We work hard to accommodate the demands of a wide range of events while respecting the traditions of Lord’s and its rich history. Event spaces here range from the expanse of the Nursery Pavilion, which spans 1,000sqm of event space, to the prestige of the Long Room, where strict dress codes apply to attend events of elegance and splendour. We also house more conventional spaces such as



The venue is at the start of a major redevelopment, will you be involved in any of the planning when it comes to the technical requirements? Unfortunately not. The redevelopments are not affecting our event spaces, apart from the Media Centre, which is currently off limits while the work takes place. In a venue like this it is safe to say redevelopment is always underway as it continues to grow and develop as a modern venue with traditional values. And, when required, we are always called upon to offer advice on the installation and development of permanent in-house systems and their integration into existing spaces.

Pelham’s and the Thomas Lord Suite, which are more suited to conferences and seminars. All types of events are supported by Aztec and no project is too big or too small, whether it is a small meeting, a conference, an awards dinner or a charity ball, we have it covered. What are the challenges of providing support across such a versatile and varied venue? The integration of in-house systems with our packages can sometimes be a challenge. It is sometimes the case that the in-house equipment is not the best suited to the requirements of the job. With so many event spaces of different shapes and sizes, and different types of events, it is important that the equipment provided matches the requirements. Once we understand the requirements then we can easily tweak the equipment included on the event to utilise in-house equipment or not, whatever is suited to meet the needs of the client. Could you pick out any highlights of your partnership with Lord’s? Enjoying the successes of the World Cup alongside the team here at Lord’s. The place was buzzing during the summer, particularly for the big games during the World Cup and Ashes.

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Are there any technologies or pieces of kit you’re currently excited about? It’s all about LED, more LED and even more LED at the moment. The pixels are getting smaller and the price is dropping. That means bigger screens and higher definition images at a sensible price. As a company we are investing heavily in LED at the moment and for the foreseeable future. Have the changes in fan experiences and the need to drive revenues both on event days and throughout the year impacted any of the AV tech investments at Lord’s? After the successful summer for both cricket and Lord’s as an event venue, eyes seem to be fixed on Lord’s and I have certainly noticed an increase in demand as the venue has received more publicity. The venue is desirable to cricket fans and the general public as they want to be here to be a part of the history that happened last summer. As the demand increases, so will the investment. As a company we work across a number of venues in and around London, and I can say with confidence that the venue pricing here is extremely competitive so I feel that things will continue to grow into the future. The changes in fan experiences are an ongoing issue in sport, as the ways in which we watch and connect has changed. Although we do not have any direct involvement in the match day AV, such as scoreboards and announcements, we need to be mindful that this is primarily a sports venue and that needs to be respected at all times.


Aztec supports a wide variety of venues across the MCC/ Lord’s estate

What’s the benefit to a venue such as Lord’s of having an external AV supplier rather than relying on in house expertise? When clients book an events venue they want the best and most appropriate AV to meet their needs. Often the fixed in-house AV will work for the client’s needs, but not always, and it invariably needs supplementing

“It’s all about LED, more LED and even more LED at the moment. The pixels are getting smaller and the price is dropping”


with additional equipment. Other times the in-house AV is simply not suitable for the job. It does not make sense for Lord’s to buy and own all the equipment and different options to achieve this, as the venue would never get the utilisation from the equipment, especially when you consider replacement cycles and the required investment in new technologies as they emerge. It just cannot make sense. If all AV was provided in-house there would also be a danger of equipment being provided to clients simply because it is available rather than being the most appropriate equipment to do the job. In essence, having an external AV supplier on site allows clients to take advantage of the great pricing that Lord’s have negotiated with Aztec while at the same time having access to a vast range of the latest technologies.




Getting to Know: Mike Blackman,

Managing director, Integrated Systems Events

What are your expectations for the final ISE in Amsterdam? It’s going to be bigger and better than ever. I know I say that every year, but somehow we always manage it. We’ve got what promises to be a fascinating Opening Address from Duncan Wardle, formerly of Disney, about untapping the innate creativity within your business. And we have our biggest-ever professional development programme, supported by our co-owners AVIXA and CEDIA, with no fewer than 13 conferences. Why do you think end user attendance at ISE has grown so much in recent years? I think there are two factors, each feeding off the other. End users have become much more knowledgeable about AV technology and have greater involvement in choosing solutions. At the same time, manufacturers have become more interested in talking directly to end users, either to promote their technology generally or to make end users aware of solutions that their integrator might not be putting forward to them. Both indicate a maturing of the AV systems integration marketplace. How are you catering for this growing demand at the 2020 edition? The growing end-user attendance is the main reason why we are continually expanding our conference programme. I mentioned that we have 13 conferences at ISE 2020 – that compares with 10 last year. Among the new ones are the Control Rooms Summit on the Tuesday and the CEDIA Cybersecurity Workshop on the Monday. Although CEDIA is the association for residential AV integrators, this particular event is just as valid for those in commercial AV. On the show floor, we’ve managed to make some additional space available by making the extension to Hall 5 larger and permanent. But the lack of growing


room at the RAI is the main reason why we are moving to the Fira – Gran Via in Barcelona in 2021. What feedback have you had to the move to Barcelona? People are very excited. When we were researching where the show might move to, we polled some of our exhibitors and attendees about various aspects of some of the cities we were looking at. Barcelona came out as the favourite for hotels and dining. The Fira is a modern, open venue, which should make build-up and breakdown logistics much simpler. And no-one is going to miss the chill February winds of Amsterdam blowing through the halls during show build-up! Outside of work, how do you like to spend your time? I love the outdoor life. I like motorbikes and old cars, and I also enjoy golf, skiing, snowboarding and skateboarding. In my youth I was a skiing instructor and I’ve kept up my winter sports. Recently a long-standing colleague noticed I was walking a little awkwardly, and I explained I’d fallen off my skateboard. His reply? “Serves you right!” Finally, tell us something about yourself that may surprise people… I’m a big Harley-Davidson fan. I used to organise all their events in Europe, and I’ve ridden right across Europe and into Africa on a Harley – as far north as Scotland and Norway, and as far south as Casablanca. Here’s a photo – though you might have trouble recognising me…



Profile for Future PLC

AVT Europe 14 January/February 2020  

Future Gazing - We take a glimpse into the AV industry of the future and discover the technologies we'll be using by the end of the next dec...

AVT Europe 14 January/February 2020  

Future Gazing - We take a glimpse into the AV industry of the future and discover the technologies we'll be using by the end of the next dec...