AV Technology Europe
AV TECHNOLOGY AWARDS: FINALISTS REVEALED AI IN EDUCATION: WHAT NEEDS TO CHANGE? THE FUTURE OF VIDEOCONFERENCING IN YOUR HANDS: SHURE MICROFLEX, LUMENS VC-A50P DESIGNING THE ULTIMATE COLLABORATION SUITE
EDUCATION, EDUCATION, EDUCATION Technology is helping institutions reach ever more students, no matter where they are in the world
Jo Ruddock, Group Editor
BACK TO THE FUTURE When I last worked at what was NewBay, just over two years ago, AV Technology Europe was just a glint in the editor’s eye. We were busy working with our colleagues in the US and speaking to people on the ground here in the UK and across Europe to see if there was a need for an end-user focused title that would help to demystify the often technical world of AV. The answer was a resounding yes, AV technology users across multiple different verticals felt underserved and were keen to learn more about the technologies available to them and the impact they could have on the spaces in which they work and learn. Two years on and it’s incredible to see how the title has grown and developed under Michael’s editorship and I’m excited to be at the helm at a time when the AV industry seems to encompass more and more sectors and is central to the everyday experiences of users everywhere, from retail and leisure activities to the worlds of work and education. And it’s the latter two that we focus on this month – two areas I think are particularly dynamic at the moment. AVIXA’s recent Market Opportunity Analysis Report on the corporate sector shows that it continues to be the biggest sector for AV, representing almost 39% of an industry valued at $186 billion globally in 2018. Education, meanwhile, was highlighted as one to watch in the same series of reports, as institutions continue to invest in collaborative learning spaces and technologies that will prepare students for the world of work. Interestingly there are similarities between the two sectors, with both recognising the value of working collaboratively and demanding spaces that encourage both effective group working and clear, reliable communication over distance. One area in which they often differ, however, is in
March / April 2019
budget size. Corporates are investing huge amounts in buildings that include every piece of AV tech imaginable. No longer are there one or two high-spec boardrooms on the top floor, now technology greets everyone as soon as they enter a building. Visitors will be wowed by giant displays in the reception area and guided to their destination via way finding tools, while employees will be recognised as soon as they swipe their entry card, with lifts on hand to take them to the correct floor with no waiting around. Each floor will be kitted out with multiple different working zones – quiet areas where connectivity and charging is key, to huddle spaces with simple to use collaboration tools, right up to larger spaces that have the very best audio and video technology to enable seamless meetings for those in the room and those on the far end of a call. Unsurprisingly, these projects have vast budgets that very few education establishment could match. Instead the norm here is for multiple, smaller jobs as specific areas are upgraded or redesigned. Easy-to-use, scaleable, increasingly cloudbased tools, are growing in popularity, so the right infrastructure is key. Hopefully our features on both these subjects will help you to create a space that works, whatever you audience – but remember it’s not just about the tech. User etiquette can mean the difference between a successful meeting and one where everyone leaves frustrated, so take a look at out meeting etiquette 101 on page 28 to see the simple steps that could make a big difference. In addition, space layout can either create a cluttered, unnavigable teaching space or a clean, clear, efficient area for teachers to communicate with students. Our advice on creating the ultimate collaboration space on page 38 will ensure you have the latter. firstname.lastname@example.org
www.avtechnologyeurope.com FOLLOW US ON TWITTER @AVTechEurope
Cover Photo Courtesy of JISC
Group Editor: Jo Ruddock email@example.com +44 (0)7834 964 589 Brand Editor: Duncan Proctor firstname.lastname@example.org +44 (0)20 7354 6036 Contributors: Ian McMurray, Richard Doughty Graphic Designer: Sam Richwood email@example.com Production Manager/Executive Matthew Eglington firstname.lastname@example.org Group Content Director, B2B James McKeown email@example.com Managing Design Director, B2B Nicole Cobban firstname.lastname@example.org
20 IN FOCUS: COLLABORATION Choosing the right collaboration system to ensure longevity and maximum ROI can be difficult. We ask the industry for their advice
ADVERTISING SALES Group sales manager: Richard Gibson email@example.com +44 (0)20 7354 6029
SUBSCRIBER CUSTOMER SERVICE To subscribe, change your address, or check on your current account status, go to wwww.avtechnologyeurope.com or email firstname.lastname@example.org
A QUIET REVOLUTION
ARCHIVES Digital editions of the magazine are available to view on ISSUU.com. Recent back issues of the printed edition may be available please contact email@example.com for more information.
Educational institutions are beginning to embrace AV over IP – and enjoying the many benefits it can bring
INTERNATIONAL AV Technology Europe and its content are available for licensing and syndication re-use. Contact the International department to discuss partnership opportunities and permissions International Licensing Director Matt Ellis, firstname.lastname@example.org
MANAGEMENT Managing Director/Senior Vice President Christine Shaw Chief Revenue Officer Luke Edson Chief Marketing Officer Wendy Lissau Head of Production US & UK Mark Constance Printed by Pensord Press Ltd, NP12 2YA Print ISSN: 2050-6104 Online ISSN: 2052-2401 Copyright 2019
Future PLC, The Emerson Building, 4th Floor, 4-8 Emerson Street, London SE1 9DU
Future plc is a member of the Periodical Publishers Association
All contents © 2019 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.
Future plc is a public company quoted on the London Stock Exchange (symbol: FUTR) www.futureplc.com
Chief executive Zillah Byng-Thorne Non-executive chairman Peter Allen Chief financial officer Penny Ladkin-Brand Tel +44 (0)1225 442 244
AV TECHNOLOGY AWARDS 2019 We reveal the companies and technologies shortlisted for the Technology Award categories at the first AVT Awards, to be held in London in June
BIG INTERVIEW: DAN GOLDSTEIN AVIXA’s newly appointed chief marketing officer talks tradeshows, the power of market intelligence and the importance of explaining the value of AV
CREATING THE ULTIMATE COLLABORATION SUITE Lancaster University’s David Neal shares his top tips on creating teaching and learning spaces that work for everyone
MEET YOUR INTEGRATOR Toni Moss, managing director at CDEC, tells us about the recent industry trends she’s seeing and the technologies that are making a difference in the sector
06 Industry Insights 42 Tech Guide
48 Battle of the Brands 54 Getting to Know You 5
Adapting to AI Changes need to be made if we are to ensure a positive outcome for educational AI, according to Rose Luckin
here are many ways in which AI can be used in education, from the provision of differentiated individual instruction that is tailored to meet the needs of each learner in specific subject areas, to intelligent interfaces that use natural language processing or augmented or virtual reality to help learners with SEN to interact and learn in new ways. Perhaps the most powerful way to think about AI in education is as the tool that can help humans become more intelligent. We need to consider AI in terms of its ability to provide an intelligence infrastructure through the judicious and carefully designed analysis of large-scale multimodal data collected as learners interact in the world. This intelligence infrastructure can inform teachers and learners about the specific details of their learning processes across and within subject areas in a way that can support both teachers and learners. This type of intelligence infrastructure can help us all to be better at learning: a key skill for the future. The impact of well-designed and judiciously used AI on the student experience is that students will be better prepared for learning and better informed about their own learning needs and progress. If we get the use of artificial intelligence right, students can expect to spend more time interacting with each other and with their teachers and less time with their technology. The effect on teachers will be profound: they will need to gain advanced data literacy skills to interpret the analysis of the large datasets that will be available about their students’ progress; they will need to mentor students to understand what this data is revealing about their learning; and they can
expect to spend more time on CPD to ensure that their expertise is constantly refined. Learning environments will also change as more emphasis is placed on collaborative activities. Interdisciplinary problem-solving will require teachers to work as teams to ensure each problem is tackled from the perspective of multiple disciplines. Environments will need to be conducive to increased social interaction with teams of teachers working with larger groups of students on fewer, more complex problems. AI-enabled continuous formative assessment could free us from unnecessary high-stakes testing, although we may choose to maintain some testing if it is targeted at the most valuable aspects of what students achieve through their studies. The most important aspect of assessment is the decision about what to assess and this is where significant change is needed. We need to decide what is valuable as the outputs of education for the modern world – then we can redesign our assessments so that we
identify how best to support students in excelling at what we value. The means of assessing student progress can then be a blend of continuous formative assessment, portfolio production and self-presentation of the evidence each student values from the data that has been analysed while their learning has progressed. In order to ensure a positive outcome for educational AI, we need to change the way we value our educational systems to focus on learners. At the moment our assessment focuses on schools, which compete in fairly pointless ways through league tables. We need to shift the focus of attention to learners and we need to move to an assessment system that values the human intelligence that we cannot automate. If we change what and how we assess learners, then the other changes that need to take place will follow. We must accept that change is inevitable, and I mean significant change. Change is stressful. Therefore, we must build cognitive fitness and resilience into the curriculum and into ITT and CPD. We also need to address the enormous and specifically educational ethical implications before it’s too late. In particular, parliamentarians must recognise the implications of the digital gangsters that are the big technology companies: the intelligence infrastructure I have referred to already exists but not in support of learning. Surveillance and behavioural data harvesting are pervasive and often invisible. The big tech companies are already highly integrated into education in terms of hardware and infrastructure. Rose Luckin is Professor of Learner Centred Design at the UCL Knowledge Lab
Why mentoring is a worthwhile investment As Women In AV’s mentoring scheme gets underway, Ann Pickard explains why it’s so important and the value it brings to all involved
et’s get this out of the way from the start: there is little argument against the fact that the audiovisual industry is traditionally a male-dominated sector and the topic of overall diversity is a tricky one. This is not because the industry is averse to women progressing though – I started as a junior administrator and am now group service director and a member of the board for an organisation that is actively redefining the AV industry. However, things can certainly be improved to encourage more women to take AV roles and to support them to stay in the industry. Mentoring is without doubt a key tactic to achieve this. I joined Saville over a quarter of a century ago, after having worked as a trainee florist and a painter and decorator. Starting as a junior administrator, I was part of the customer services team and while I had a fairly stressful start, I threw myself into my work. I took note of ways in which the service department could be improved to perform better and through sheer determination I rose to the position where I was manager and successfully turned it into a hugely profitable side of the business. Throughout my career, I haven’t had the benefit of a mentor or a person to coach me through the often difficult steps I have taken to progress to where I am today. Even more, I joined the AV sector at a time when not many women were working in the industry and the company head office was based in the North of the country while I was located in the South,
March / April 2019
meaning I had little face time with my manager. However, I was undeterred by these obstacles and was motivated to make my mark and significantly change things for the better. Although I am a strong believer in each individual, male or female, having the power to make what they want of themselves if they are willing to work hard at it, the value of having a mentor is undeniable. I believe in it that much, that I recently became a mentor myself. I am amazed at how many of the struggles I encountered when I first started are still issues for the new talent joining the AV industry today. It is a great feeling to be able to use many of the things I taught myself to help another person progress and navigate their career better and to offer them the advice and inspiration they need to reach their goals faster. I believe the best way to future-proof our industry is continued investment in people and making the enrolment of new talent approachable and the industry appealing. We need to remember that everyone had to start somewhere, so I would encourage any AV professional with knowledge and experience of the sector to get involved with mentoring. Drawn from my mentoring experience so far, my advice would be to make sure you listen carefully to the challenges your mentee is facing and be committed to offering your time and expertise Taking part in a mentoring initiative is completely rewarding as it means you can own the present while shaping the future for the good of all in the industry.
‘I am amazed at how many of the struggles I encountered when I first started are still issues for the new talent joining the AV industry today’
Mentoring is a selfless act, but the investment is a long-term, yet worthwhile one, as you will be helping to nurture a new generation of AV professionals who will drive our industry forward. Ann Pickard is group service director at Visavvi, part of The Saville Group
Don’t buy the cow: servicizing supersizes value and accessibility Visualization as a Service could offer a number of benefits, including lower upfront expense, regular payments and on-call support, explains NanoLumens VP of global marketing Joe Lloyd
nspired by changes in the IT world, a few enterprising companies in the digital display industry have begun to ‘servicize’, their offerings, selling their solutions as a service rather than as individual hardware units. NanoLumens is among the very first true manufacturers to do so, and our servicized display solution is called Visualization as a Service, or VAAS, for short. An affordable and predictable monthly payment replaces an intimidating upfront capital expense, experts integrate management software and remain on call to provide support and training to eliminate user confusion, and timely upgrades in hardware over time ensure the technology won’t grow obsolete. Servicizing makes visualization more affordable for the little guy High-end display technology has typically been reserved for organisations flush with cash. This has left countless organisations underserved by the industry and it has artificially shrunk the customer pool for integrators and manufacturers. That no longer needs to be the case. Instead of a prohibitive upfront price tag, servicized options like our Visualization as a Service (VAAS) allow customers to pay as they go with predictable monthly payments that align with the goals and limitations of their business. In many cases, ad space sales on a display will exceed the cost of the VAAS programme through which a display was acquired. A further benefit is that servicized display products never become a financial anchor. A digital display bought upfront becomes a depreciating asset immediately but when purchased as a
continuing service, a display never becomes such an ignominious line item. This financial flexibility makes VAAS a much easier sell to higher ups who might be hung up on LED’s pricey reputation. When servicing the customer is the business, customer service reigns As you can imagine, visualization providers selling their products as a service are paid by unit-of-service rendered rather than unit-of-product sold. This eliminates the immediate return of a traditional upfront payment and incentivises sellers to nurture strong relationships with their customers, whom they need to keep around long-term to break even. A crucial element of this relationship building involves giving customers the tools to operate their technology confidently. To relieve customers from the burdensome pressure of becoming an expert on the inner machinations of their visualization solution, the NanoLumens VAAS programme includes AWARE, an intelligent display network ecosystem capable of handling all analytics, management and content responsibilities. Consistent with servicization’s commitment to, well, service, AWARE helps take the guesswork out of operating a display. You can’t price out obsolescence, but with servicization, you can price around it As noted, companies that have servicized their products are financially compelled to care about their customers for long periods of time. Over the course of these relationships, visualization products will age out of prime usefulness as superior
products are invented. It takes a diverse approach to combat this march of technological obsolescence. Not only do manufacturers need to continue developing new technologies on their own, but they need to consistently make these upgrades available to their customers. Beyond that, manufacturers need to build their solutions with the kinds of interchangeable subcomponents that can be swapped in and out for seamless maintenance. Further, a strong warranty needs to be in place to protect customers from any routine malfunctions or declines in performance. Each of these elements are crucial to a future-proofed servicized solution. But what do the manufacturers get out of this? Well, they get more customers, which is really all they want. If selling displays in a new way can bring in more customers than the old way, then that is an attractive proposition to sellers, even if it delays their return.
What to do following a data breach In these days of GDPR, how you respond to, and learn from, a security breach is crucial, says Paolo Sartori, managing director at TransWorldCom
ince GDPR came into place last May, data breaches have been at the forefront of many companies’ focus. Breaching GDPR could cost a company vast sums if the appropriate actions are not taken following a breach. The fine for breaking these rules currently stands at 20 million euros or 4% of the company’s revenue, whichever is higher. Whether carried out by a cybercriminal distributing malware or an employee mistakenly sending out email addresses, data breaches are becoming increasingly common. What many companies are unaware of is the steps that they need to take once they have fallen victim to a breach. Here are some recommendations that all businesses should follow should they find themselves the victim of a data breach: What’s key when it comes to data protection is education. A business is only as strong as its weakest link and data security education needs to be at a high standard across a business. This stands true for both avoiding a breach and for addressing it. There are five important tasks that need to be completed following a data breach in order to remain compliant with GDPR legislation. Firstly, the breach needs to be located and stopped. Similar to finding the leak that leads to a flood, when it comes to a data breach you need to find the source. This could be due to the fault of an employee or a peripheral device that has been penetrated by hackers. It then needs to be understood how the breach occurred and the scale of the
March / April 2019
breach. Due to increasingly creative cyber-attack methods, a data breach can happen in a variety of ways. Whether it is via a phishing email that has been mistakenly opened, malware that has been downloaded or a simple GDPR breach where a client’s details are mistakenly sent out, it is important to identify where and how the breach took place. Thirdly, the business needs to notify all those who may have been affected by the breach, take advice from compliance and, where necessary, the ICO. As a company, you have a duty of care to any and all clients or employees who have been affected by a data breach. For example, if sensitive information has been sent out whether it is something relatively innocent like a list of email addresses or something more serious like banking details, the company has a duty to notify every individual on what information has been potentially leaked. Following this, internal security procedures need to be looked at and the current estate needs to be audited for existing and further vulnerabilities. Without going through your data systems meticulously after a data breach, you could leave yourself open to more attacks from cyber-criminals, especially if the initial data breach attracts any publicity. Going through your network’s defences should be a routine activity for any company’s IT department, however it becomes even more pertinent after a breach has taken place. Finally, the company needs to change and update the processes for the preparation, control and recovery from future attacks. As with every aspect of business, it is vital that
‘As a company, you have a duty of care to any and all clients or employees who have been affected by a data breach’
mistakes are learnt from. This could take the form of installing new anti-virus software and firewall security or it could be a case of educating all employees on how to ensure that they keep their data safe. In the era of frequent hacks, you can now hire professional hackers to test your cybersecurity by attempting to penetrate your system. This may sound extreme, but it could be the difference between a safe data system and a 20 million euro fine.
AV TECHNOLOGY AWARDS 2019
First finalists revealed With the first AV Technology Awards ceremony just a couple of months away, we reveal the Technology Excellence Awards shortlist
rought to you by AV Technology Europe and Installation, the AV Technology Awards debut this year, bringing a combination of the prestige the Install Awards has built up over half a decade, with the excitement that was generated by the inaugural AV Technology Europe Awards, which was held during ISE last year. Weâ€™ll be hosting the awards at the Millennium Gloucester in London on Thursday 27 June. The aim of this combined and restructured event is to hit every part of the AV industry and provide an opportunity for
integrators, end users, manufacturers and distributors to all celebrate their successes together. And judging by the number of entries weâ€™ve had, this has already been well received across the industry. The Individual and Project Excellence Awards shortlists will be released very soon so keep an eye on the AV Technology website for more details. And, with no further ado, we are excited to reveal the shortlisted entries for the Technology Excellence Awards. www.avtechnologyawards.com www.avtechnologyeurope.com
AV TECHNOLOGY AWARDS 2019
AUDIO PRODUCT OF THE YEAR
DISPLAY PRODUCT OF THE YEAR
Avid Venue S6L A fully modular live sound platform with three new control surfaces, a new engine, and two new I/O racks – all on a unified platform.
Christie, MicroTiles LED Featuring the latest in LED display technology and advanced mechanical design, MicroTiles are ultra-lightweight and cabinet-free.
Meyer Sound ULTRA-X40 A new loudspeaker series featuring a concentric driver configuration, new amplifier and processor technologies drawn from the LEO family of line array loudspeakers.
Datapath, iolite 12i A compact display controller designed specifically for environments that require very low noise levels, where space is at a premium
QSC Premium Business Music Solution A comprehensive portfolio that includes multi-zone mixers, attractive wall controllers, configurable multi-channel amplifiers and SUB/SAT loudspeakers.
infiLED, Easy Rental (ER) Pro series A high performance and durable LED display product, suitable for a wide range of applications for both indoor and outdoor environments. Optoma Europe, FHDQ130 QUAD series This all-in-one solution comes pre-calibrated out-of-the-box and produces a 130in Full HD image.
Shure Microflex Complete Wireless A wireless conference system that employs advanced frequency management technology derived from Shure’s systems for live performance.
SPONSORSHIP OPPORTUNITIES To find out more about sponsoring this event, please contact Richard Gibson Richard.email@example.com +44 (0)20 7354 6029
March / April 2019
Peerless-AV, Xtreme High Bright Outdoor Display This fully-sealed, weatherproof commercial display offers the highest environmental rating in its class and the widest operating temperature range in the industry. Tripleplay, TripleSign Digital Signage Platform A comprehensive digital signage platform that is fully integrated into the company’s IPTV product to deliver live video content in tandem with impactful digital signage.
COLLABORATION PRODUCT OF THE YEAR Lifesize, Icon 700 A conference room collaboration technology that provides 4K content sharing paired with high-quality audio from the Lifesize Phone HD. Clevertouch, Pro Series An versatile all-in-one interactive touchscreen for meeting rooms, auditoriums, receptions or breakout spaces. Mersive, Gen3 Pod Together with the latest Solstice software, Gen3 Pod offers the ability to mix hard wired sources with wireless, add highlights and mark-up to the screen, and mirror or extend content across dual screens. Starleaf, Pronto Pronto delivers seamless instant connectivity and includes a smart dual connector with support for both USB-A and USB-C connectivity. ViewSonic Europe, ViewBoard IFP7560 An interactive flat panel designed to be the epicentre of any classroom or boardroom; supplementing the delivery of the curriculum and encouraging teamwork and group problem-solving. WolfVision, Cynap Pure The first compact wireless presentation solution that makes no compromises in any of the key areas of performance, security and ease of integration.
AV TECHNOLOGY AWARDS 2019
PROJECTION PRODUCT OF THE YEAR Barco, UDX The world’s most compact highbrightness laser projection platform with integrated cooling on the market. Christie, D4K40RGB The world’s first all-in-one 40,000 lumens RGB solid state projector. Designed with Christie TruLife electronics and Christie RealLaser technology. Disguise, OmniCal A camera-based projector calibration engine that dramatically improves projection quality and setup time. InFocus, IN1188HD An ultra-portable, compact and lightweight projector with HDMI input, high brightness and ultra-long-lasting images. NEC, P525UL A laser projector with a noise level of just 22dB in eco mode that also offers the benefits of filter-free LCD-based technology. Panasonic Business, PT-RZ120 This 12,000 lumens laser projector features a colour-wheel system enhanced by dual heat-resistant phosphor wheels that work in harmony to maximise colour accuracy while reducing energy loss from the light sources.
AV ACCESSORY OF THE YEAR B-Tech International, BT8310XL A wall mounting system designed to mount screens up to 125kg while featuring an easy to use pop-out function and 8-point micro-adjustment. CIE, 2N Helios IP Verso A modular and scaleable combined IP intercom system and access control solution that is suitable for all types of audiovisual project. Peerless-AV, DS-VW775-QR This SmartMount Supreme full service video wall mount with quick release offers time-saving installation and maintenance features, including security hardware and tool-less micro adjustment. Kramer, WP−211T A highperformance wall-plate automatic switcher for 4K, HDBaseT (HDBT), HDMI 1.4, HDCP 2.2 video signals. HoverCam Pilot 3 The world’s first fully integrated wireless digital teaching station, featuring a Windows PC, 13MP document camera, and 21in touchscreen with wireless HD mirroring functionality in a mobile podium.
SIGNAL MANAGEMENT PRODUCT OF THE YEAR Atlona OmniStream The latest version features enhancements including seamless high-speed switching – or fast switching – and new daisychaining capabilities for OmniStream’s existing encoder grouping functionality. Calibre, HQPro1000 The 4K/UltraHD scaler/ switcher features extensive functionality at a more affordable level. Crestron DM NVX Now with Pixel Perfect Processing technology, DM NVX was developed with partners such as Intel and intoPIX to deliver high-quality images every time. Luxul AMS-1816P 18-port/16 PoE+ L2/L3 A switch that combines plug-and-play installation, a simple-to-use management interface, QoS and VLAN support, and fast switching capacity.
EARLY BIRD TICKETS AVAILABLE NOW! Join us at the Millennium Gloucester in London on Thursday 27 June. Book your space now and receive a special early bird rate.
Early bird tickets are available until 22 April so book now to avoid disappointment!
The recently appointed chief marketing officer at AVIXA talks to Jo Ruddock about areas of opportunity for the AV industry and the importance of reaching the real end users
BIG INTERVIEW Congratulations on the new role. What does it entail for you? I’ve been deeply involved in our market research and content development effort for about six to eight months, and what the executive team and I realised was that there are a lot of synergies between market research, content development and the marketing side, so bringing everything together under one roof made sense. So now we can bring content together with marketing, which funnily enough, leads to content marketing. We can play a role as a more sophisticated marketing team, we can actually move just beyond promoting the association’s products and services and actually be a source of value for our members, in our own right, which I think is important. And, because we have invested a lot of time, money and resources in market intelligence and gathering information about our industry and what our members are doing, we can, as a department, be the voice of the customer, the voice of our membership internally. We’re not responsible for all of the innovation and we’re not responsible for evaluating all of the existing products but we can provide that data on industry trends and where things are going, which you need when you’re evaluating how to develop your product set. And in terms of market intelligence – what’s the feedback been like to the content you’re producing? Between AVIXA’s senior director of market intelligence Sean Wargo and I, we presented research findings during ISE to a combined audience getting on towards 1,000 people. And we just couldn’t have done that a year or two ago; we just didn’t have robust enough data. We tend to divide our market intelligence into two areas. One is the supply side – what the industry is producing and delivering to the
marketplace – and the other is the demand side, which is the market itself, the people actually buying the products and services. We didn’t really have any information on the latter, but now our data is really robust and it’s certainly in a much better place to inform content. The feedback that we’ve had from our industry to our new research is really good and we’re continuing to invest; we’ve got three reports coming out this year on the live events industry, for example. They will have a real focus on the end user experience; not just the people who buy the equipment but the real end user – the consumer. Can it be tricky to understand what the numbers in these reports mean in real terms and how it affects people individually and as businesses? I think there’s still a little bit of a gap there. We’ve certainly invested a lot in terms of what we call data visualisation, where we’re not just supplying people with pie charts, bar graphs and Excel spreadsheets. We’re representing our data in such a way that it’s a lot easier for people to see the trends that really matter to them. And I think it’s really important when we talk about market intelligence, we talk about it in terms of insight, not just in terms of data. You can have data but unless you present it in a way that’s easy to understand and easy for people to take away insights, it’s relatively meaningless. I think that’s where the event side of it becomes important as well because we’re doing research-based presentations, but we’re not just presenting numbers. We’re presenting real insight into the direction the industry is going in. From the data and from the discussions you’ve had over the last few months and years, where do you see the biggest areas of opportunity for AV to grow into? It’s interesting. You look at the corporate market, for example,
AVIXA REACHES 1,000 CERTIFIED TECHNOLOGY SPECIALISTS ACROSS EUROPE Last month, AVIXA announced that there are now 1,000 AV professionals with a Certified Technology Specialist (CTS) certification in Europe. “This marks a significant milestone in AVIXA’s development in the European market,” according to Chris Lavelle, senior director of development Europe, AVIXA. “The AV market is flourishing in the region, and we are thrilled that many industry members are committing to professional development. CTS holders across Europe are reaping the benefits of their hard work, with the programme allowing dedicated AV professionals to stand out from the crowd and prove their expertise. We would like to congratulate all our CTS holders for achieving this hard-earned credential, and we look forward to seeing them utilise their knowledge to deliver outstanding integrated experiences.”
March / April 2019
and other traditional markets like higher education, and there’s a lot of talk about commoditisation and the fact that nobody’s making any money on the screens or projectors and no one’s really making any money out of the traditional integration either, as there are so many one-box plug and play solutions out there. The traditional revenue streams that the integration firms have had are certainly challenged. On the other hand I think you’re now in a scenario where there are a lot of services that integrators can wrap around their deployments and AV is becoming much more pervasive. You’re going from a scenario where in the past you had AV in a small suite of well-equipped meeting rooms in an office building or in one building on an education campus, to now seeing hundreds of flexible meeting spaces or training spaces, which don’t necessarily have a huge amount of technology in them. But when you connect all those things together, now they’re all sitting on a network, they become a source of data for that enterprise. I think being part of that data generation and aggregation process is where a lot of the potential for AV lies. I think it’s a really exciting time to be in the industry. The industry is definitely evolving very quickly, which can make life quite challenging for us,
but I think challenging in a good way because there are so many opportunities out there. And in terms of the trade shows – you worked at ISE for a number of years. Has there been anything surprising about the trajectory of that show, since you left? Not really, we built a very good marketing and communications and content team at ISE and they’ve just continued along that trajectory. I think we pioneered the idea of using new content as a way of growing attendance and making new kinds of people feel that there was something at the show for them. It’s become a very inclusive, very broad show, which brings challenges in itself obviously. It’s not always an easy show to navigate. It’s not just the sheer size but the diversity of the technology solutions that are on offer. But I think as an industry we need these broad based hubs for different solutions because there is just so much going on here. What were some of your takeaways from the show – personally and as an association – this year? I was really pleased with the contribution that we made to the show content. I think we’ve evolved quite a bit in the way that we approach
‘That’s what is unique about what we’re doing with our outreach, we’re really trying to get under the skin of what the outcomes are’ the show. We used to be all about our technical training, but now we confine that to our Flashtrack stand, with little bite-sized, 20-minute sessions, and they go down very well. It’s interesting: the technical content is what works in that format. But our longer, two hour, three hour and half day or full day content sessions are much more about end user applications and outcomes. We contributed content to a lot of the other events that were going on this year; Digital Signage Summit, Smart Building Conference, the different vertical market events. Because of the investments that we’re making in research and content development, we’re able to make a much more strategic contribution to the content of the show. And I think that’s really important. In fact the exhibitors were quite explicit with us as co-owners of the show when we met with them a year ago at the ISE advisory board meeting. They said: we don’t need more attendees, we need the people who are coming to stay for longer, and the way that you get them to stay for longer is by providing content away from the show floor. So we’re happy with the contribution that we’re making and I’m really pleased with the way the show’s content is evolving. I’m also really proud of the fact that we are consistently seeing new people coming into the show; we had between 30% and 40% new attendees this year and that’s fantastic. What are some of the key ways you’re showing end users the value of AV? I think it’s really based on discussion. A lot of it is actually about the consumer experience, so when we go to a retail conference, for example, we look at retailers who are using AV in interesting ways but we’re looking at it through the eyes of the shopper, rather than through the eyes of the store owner or the store operator. Similarly, when we look at corporate AV we’re looking at it through the eyes and ears of the employee of that enterprise rather than the technology manager. That’s what is unique about what we’re doing with our outreach, we’re really trying to get under the skin of what the outcomes are. If you invest in AV, if you’re a corporate entity, does that mean it’s easier to retain talent? Is it easier to acquire new talent? It’s a very competitive job market out there in a lot of places, so talent acquisition and retention is a big item on the agenda for employers. If you can use technology to improve communication and collaboration and that makes your company a cool place to work, those are the sorts of conversations that we’re starting to have. What I find fascinating is that we started off with a very preachy approach of trying to persuade people that they should invest more in AV and we very quickly realised that just getting up on a stage and doing a PowerPoint presentation and talking at an audience of
end users or decision makers wasn’t really going to work. So we pivoted away from that towards facilitating discussions. A lot of what we do is identifying key advocates for the power of AV within each vertical. So we’ve got certain people within the hotel industry, for example, who have worked with some of the big hotel chains, who are personally very invested in AV so they can speak eloquently about the power of AV and they can do it in a way that resonates with their peers; if you’re in the hotel industry and you work for Hilton hotels and you’re at a conference and there’s somebody from Marriott speaking you’re going to listen to what that person has to say because you know you’ve got a shared agenda and probably a very similar set of challenges and opportunities. So it’s about facilitating discussion and learning from that – getting feedback and then making sure that that feedback is incorporated into our own research so that the supply side of our industry, the integration firms, consulting firms, service providers and distributors, are aware of these evolving market needs and can adjust their own business model or their own resource allocation or the way that they’re approaching the different markets accordingly. And finally, what can people expect from the InfoComm show this year? Well we’ve got quite a lot going on. I think we’re going to have our biggest ever show in Orlando, certainly in terms of floor space and exhibitor numbers. We’ve got a big focus this year on two vertical markets that we haven’t traditionally focused a lot of education content on and that is retail and hotels/hospitality. So when you look at our seminar and workshop package at the show – which is typically around 120/130 sessions – in contrast to ISE, which pulls its content in from a lot of different partners, at InfoComm we do a lot of the education ourselves because we have a lot of a that capability in-house. So we designed a programme this year, without neglecting some of our core competencies like unified communications and collaboration, corporate AV, higher ed AV, lecture capture, streaming, those sorts of things, we’re still doing all that but we’re adding a lot more about retail and hospitality. This starts to take us more into areas like digital signage, content creation, audio programming, interactivity – perhaps different kinds of interactivity than you would get in a corporate or education environment. So there’s a big emphasis there. We’ve also got our TIDE conference going on again in Orlando which is looking at designing experiences and provides a forum to talk about what’s possible and different ways of approaching it; that’s held the day before the show in Orlando.
AVIXA IN NUMBERS Established: 1939 Number of members: 5,400 Geographical reach: 80 countries Number of CTS holders globally: 12,000 Number of CTS-D (Design) or CTS-I (Installation) specialists: 2,000
Newly rebranded Poly expects the number of AV-enabled huddle rooms to increase by 15% in the next 12-24 months
Choosing wisely for maximum ROI Making the right purchasing decision today will ensure the longevity of your collaboration solution. Ian McMurray asks the industry for its advice
n a press release issued at the end of January, Synergy Research said that the market for video conferencing and collaboration will grow to well over $6 billion in 2019. (Gartner forecasts $7.1 billion by 2022.) However, that statistic masks a fundamental shift in the industry: the same company reports that what it calls ‘USB rooms’ now represent over 20% of all video rooms, up from less than 5% in 2016. Conversely, single codec rooms – those associated with ‘traditional’ videoconferencing – now represent just over 70% of the installed base, down from well over 90% in 2016. ‘USB rooms’ are, to all intents and purposes, what we’ve come to know as ‘huddle rooms’ (although the alternative name may be significant…). It will come as no surprise to anyone to hear that their apparently meteoric rise seems to continue unabated – although it should be said that Synergy Research is clear that, not only do videoconferencing suites still comprise the majority of installations, but also that their number continues to grow. “Over the next five years, we anticipate this trend to continue, and for the decline in traditional single codec rooms to accelerate as users opt for more affordable and easily scalable USB solutions,” says Anne Marie Ginn, head of video collaboration, EMEA at Logitech Video Collaboration. Surprising statistic But Andrew Hug, vice president of sales and marketing at Poly, has a surprising statistic. “According to Research and Markets, there are 32 million huddle rooms globally,” he shares. “However, only 2% of these spaces include equipment for videoconferencing. In rooms not equipped with videoconferencing, this means huddling around a laptop or smartphone and struggling to fit more than one or two people on the screen. So many video conference solutions today are frustrating DIY experiences that result in poor audio and video that don’t allow teams to see and hear everyone clearly.” “We expect the number of AV-enabled huddle rooms to increase by 15% in the next 12-24 months,” he continues, “and we’re already seeing great demand for Polycom Studio that supports this future trend.” That electronically-enabled face-to-face communication and collaboration are the future is, of course, unquestioned. But that future is, perhaps, changing at an accelerating rate – so what does that mean for those installing collaboration systems today? It’s an increasingly important question to answer, given that facilitating collaboration has become a strategic imperative for many organisations. “Videoconferencing and collaboration solutions
March / April 2019
are long-term investments,” believes Michael Helmbrecht, CPO/COO of Lifesize. “As such, organisations want to know their investments will continue to be supported and able to meet the needs of their business for years to come. Often, organisations that invest in the lowest-cost solutions are left with buyer’s remorse in 2-3 years when the equipment they’ve procured is obsolete, or the vendor that supplied it no longer offers support.” Long lifecycles “The most successful organisations are investing in technologies with long lifecycles knowing that, over time, they will incrementally add to the network to improve processes and productivity,” he continues. But what are those “technologies with long lifecycles”? First and foremost the industry, pretty much to a man/woman, sees the cloud as being of fundamental importance when it comes to protecting those investments over the long haul. “The cloud allows your communications services to be provided as a service, rather than a standalone piece of software that can eventually fall out of date,” according to Bradlee Allen, product evangelist at Fuze. “This not only helps futureproof your collaboration approach, but also means that they can be continuously updated and scaled to match your needs.” “While many enterprises currently use on-premises products, today, businesses wanting to deploy a comprehensive collaboration platform are looking to implement cloud-based solutions,” says Kevin Bernitz, VP product management at StarLeaf. “Cloud-based collaboration platforms will make it much easier to bring new services and functionality into their collaboration ecosystem. The cloud offers the freedom to upgrade functionality and deploy innovation almost instantly.” Irrefutable Of course, given the nature of their business, when it comes to Fuze and StarLeaf backing cloud-based systems, there is an element of ‘Well, they would say that, wouldn’t they?’ – but the logic seems irrefutable. And, of course, collaboration is far from the only business application that has benefited from the cloud. And: it’s not just them. “Outdated, embedded technologies can be resistant to future-proof solutions such as cloudbased applications with USB end-points,” says Ginn. “Companies have woken up to the affordability and simplicity of plug-and-play systems paired with cloud-based UC software.”
‘When selecting a solution, buyers should consider products that already include next-generation technologies’ Anne Marie Ginn, Logitech
Pictured from top: Andrew Hug, Poly; Anne Marie Ginn, Logitech
Beyond that, Bernitz notes that, according to Gartner, the core growth driver in collaboration is cloud conferencing, with a compound annual growth rate of 5% through 2022. So it seems that any organisation planning for its long-term collaboration strategy should, first and foremost, be seriously considering a cloud-based solution. What else? Unsurprisingly, interoperability is very high on the list. “We expect there will be a significant move towards interoperability as organisations start to demand that providers ‘play nicely together’,” says Bernitz. “Once this happens, businesses can derive more value from investments without dedicating the time and money to install separate systems.” Loren Shaw, VP of marketing at InFocus, sees things a similar way. “Customers should be wary of hardware that locks them into a single platform, as it can limit available features and stifle ROI,” he believes. “Interoperability gives customers the option to choose the specific solutions that work best for their business.” Of course, there are plenty of organisations out there that invested in collaboration systems many years ago – and may well have learned the hard way. “Many organisations will have a mixture of legacy systems, different collaboration tools, and meeting room systems across their global network,” says Bernitz. “This means that the utopia of moving
FUN FACT According to Logitech’s Anne Marie Ginn, background replacement is a recent innovative technology that has allowed users to get even more out of their video calls and enhance their in-call experience. Background replacement, she says, overlays a neutral or professional-looking background behind the participant, helping calm anxieties about embarrassing piles of laundry that may creep into shot when working from home…
directly to a single platform can be difficult to achieve, even with the best intentions. Only with the help of a solution that provides a wide range of interoperability would this goal be achieved.” Compatibility A synonym for interoperability is, perhaps, compatibility – and, according to Hug, Poly’s design philosophy delivers on that requirement. “Having a one-stop shop for all collaboration needs brings comfort in knowing that all of the equipment and solutions are compatible, but for the optimum collaboration experience, it can be ideal to bring together hardware and software that is compatible with other collaboration platforms,” he says. “For example, if you are a Zoom user but someone outside of your organisation sets up a Microsoft Teams meeting, you want to be able to join that call just as easily as if you were using the meeting tool that your company has chosen.” “That’s why,” he continues, “our headsets and solutions easily integrate conferencing solutions like Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Microsoft Skype for Business, Cisco Webex and Amazon Chime, making any collaboration experience smooth, easy and highly productive.” So cloud-based is important, and interoperability no less so. High on the list in Ginn’s mind is to ensure selection of the latest technology – but also to ensure that a solution that can hugely and positively impact both productivity and employee morale is easy enough to use that those who should benefit from it embrace it rather than shun it. Next generation “When selecting a solution, buyers should consider products that already include next-generation technologies,” she asserts. “4K optics will soon be the standard, and artificial intelligence is helping to make the in-call experience smoother than ever. Most importantly, however, users should opt for a solution that is accessible and has minimal barriers to initiating a call, to ensure that the product is used to its full potential throughout its life cycle.” “We fully expect 4K-quality videoconferencing to become the industry standard in the next five years,” echoes Helmbrecht. “The declining cost of bandwidth and rapid adoption of 4K displays will serve as significant tailwinds that drive 4K video conferencing across a variety of verticals.” InFocus’s Shaw is of a similar mindset to Ginn when it comes to interoperability, compatibility and ease of use. “Businesses should consider how a piece of equipment will provide long-term value,” he says.
INFOCUS: COLLABORATION “For example, systems or devices compatible with only one conferencing platform can be limiting in the future if that platform is discontinued or no longer available, or if employees have trouble using it. Hardware with limited connectivity and compatibility options could negatively affect upgrades and expansion. Ideally, all conference systems from room to room should be identical for ease of use, and if only one space is being upgraded today, that equipment should be selected so that its next generation or a similar device can be implemented in other rooms in the future.” Remote working Cloud-based, interoperable/compatible and easy to use should, then, be top of mind in choosing a collaboration system that will deliver optimum ROI. There is one further key consideration: how easily does the solution accommodate remote working? According to Poly, currently, nearly 67% of the global workforce takes advantage of ‘anywhere working’. Back in May 2012, only 14% benefited from remote working. That’s a huge change in a short time – and one that is only likely to accelerate. “For remote participants, it’s vital that joining a meeting is as simple and intuitive as possible,” says Helmbrecht. “For too long, videoconferencing solutions have relied upon pre-scheduled appointments that aren’t overly compatible with the mobile or remote user. In addition to traditional, pre-scheduled meetings, any Lifesize user can be reached via a unique video address or by joining a meeting in progress.” “Face-to-face interaction is important for team building,” believes Shaw, “and gives remote employees a stronger presence in a large meeting – where on a phone system, they would be out-ofsight. For businesses with remote employees, selecting a conferencing platform that’s easy-to-use on laptops or mobile devices can help smooth the onboarding process.”
Pictured from top: Bradlee Allen, Fuze; Kevin Bernitz, StarLeaf; Loren Shaw, InFocus; Michael Helmbrecht, Lifesize
Ecosystem Fuze’s Allen sees clearly that video is only one element in the ideal collaboration system. “In addition to face-to-face interaction, businesses also need to provide tools that account for all different working styles,” he says. “For many, this will mean going beyond just video to create an entirely collaborative ecosystem that enables workers to communicate effectively – whether that’s live chat, file sharing, or a quick phone call. What’s more, if businesses can provide these services all within a single platform, this will accelerate and enrich the
collaboration experience and make it much easier for workers to do their jobs effectively, regardless of individual working styles.” Earlier, Hug raised the somewhat thorny question of the ‘one-stop shop’. Shopping around for individual ‘best-in-breed’ products and then, in effect, self-assembling them is superficially attractive. On the whole, however, the industry is against it – although Logitech believes it has established an appropriate compromise. “Complete, codec-based systems may appear to be a simple one-stop solution, but they usually come with the drawback of being locked into a proprietary system that requires ongoing maintenance and subscription costs,” says Ginn. “To challenge this model, Logitech has taken advantage of the strength of our partnerships with world-class collaboration platform providers to develop complete collaboration system bundles. Consisting of the best components from each class, these bundles help to create a solution that is better than the sum of its parts, and surpasses the abilities that any single system can offer.”
The Lifesize Icon 700 is a 4K resolution conference room solution
Integrator value “Solution bundles are also only available through our authorised reseller network,” she adds, “which allows customers to take full advantage of the consultation that our partners can offer, advising on the best bundle for the type of room being equipped.” She makes an important point: in a plug-and-play, anyone-can-do-it world, it’s too easy to overlook the value that a system integrator brings. Lifesize’s Helmbrecht believes that single-sourcing a system can have at least one significant advantage. “We’re able to stand behind the end-to-end experience and provide support to customers – regardless of whether they need assistance with one of our appliances, our applications, or our cloud service,” he says. “When you need support, your focus should be on resolving the issue, not chasing multiple vendors trying to triangulate what caused the problem.” It’s tempting to believe that, with the inexorable rise of the huddle room and new, less-structured ways of working, videoconferencing is dead. That,
March / April 2019
‘So many video conference solutions today are frustrating DIY experiences that result in poor audio and video’ Andrew Hug, Poly THE FUTURE OF COLLABORATION Lifesize’s Michael Helmbrecht believes that AI will fundamentally alter how, and with whom, we communicate. Advancements such as real-time translation and transcription will bridge language barriers and enable people from different geographies and cultures to communicate in their native languages, he says. AI will also assist with capturing and digitising whiteboards, presentations and other in-room content, allowing meetings to be easily indexed and categorised based on topic, keyword and context.
Financial advisors Casey Peterson have installed an InFocus Mondopad for collaboration
however, is not what the industry is saying. In the minds of many, it is being redefined: what, after all, is a group of people sitting in a small room interacting visually and audibly with another group of people sitting in a small room, if it’s not videoconferencing? And, in fairness, the majority believe that the old style, dedicated videoconferencing suite still has a place for more formal meetings. Clunky “Videoconferencing is no longer limited to large meetings and conference spaces,” says Shaw. “Videoconferencing as we knew it may be dead – if you’re referring to platforms that are clunky, hard to connect, challenging to invite people to, with poor audio and video quality.”
KEY LEARNING POINTS • Huddle rooms aren’t replacing videoconferencing – they’re complementing it, and extending its definition • The majority of small meeting rooms are not yet video-equipped • Key characteristics of a collaboration solution are that it is cloud-based, interoperable/compatible, simply accessed remotely and easy to use • A single platform that facilitates multiple types of interaction is highly desirable • 4K resolution will become the standard within the next few years
“But videoconferencing as we imagine it in science fiction is coming to our offices,” he goes on, “where users can simply press a button to work on a document simultaneously, ‘hail’ a colleague for a quick chat, build relationships with customers around the world with face-to-face interaction, and more.” Ginn chooses to use a similar adjective. “It’s the expensive, clunky, single codec legacy systems of old that are dying,” she echoes. “Companies have woken up to the affordability and simplicity of plug-and-play systems paired with cloud-based UC software – and the days of single codec video calling are limited.” StarLeaf’s Bernitz summarises the situation perfectly. “Videoconferencing is thriving and ubiquitous,” he avers. “Enterprise-grade videoconferencing that was once only reserved for the most highly paid employees in the largest boardrooms is now accessible to anyone at any size of company.” For many organisations, collaboration has become strategic because it is the preferred style of working – not least because it reflects the preferences of an increasingly millennial-dominated workforce. As such, it’s vital to take a long-term view that will ensure the extended validity and viability of the chosen solution – maximising RoI. Increasingly, it seems, the collaboration industry is facilitating the making of good purchasing decisions.
Meeting etiquette 101 You’ve invested in the best tech, you’ve done all you can to ensure the room has good acoustics, and yet still meetings aren’t running as smoothly as you’d like. It’s at this point that etiquette guidelines can make a real difference. Here BlueJeans offer some top tips to optimise your videoconferencing experience
TOP TIPS NINE STEPS TO MORE EFFECTIVE MEETINGS • Be punctual. • Introduce yourself at the beginning of the meeting, have others do the same. • Avoid making distracting sounds such as typing on the computer and using your mobile phone; close the door to your room to reduce any background noise. • Speak clearly: slow down and enunciate, but don’t shout. There is no need to speak any louder than you would if all participants were in the same room. Speaking too loudly will cause remote participants to turn down their audio which could result in them missing important information. • Keep the microphone clear of papers and clutter. • Don’t interrupt: there is a minor audio delay with video. Let others finish speaking before you begin. • Don’t carry on side conversations. If you need to discuss something internally, let the remote side know, and mute your microphone. • Remember you are on camera and everything you do is seen. • Be yourself and have fun! As the world of work continues to change and more employees work flexibly and remotely, a growing number of meetings are being conducted on the move. Attending meetings from your phone brings a new set of challenges, but following a few simple guidelines can ensure a better experience for all involved. PREPARE IN ADVANCE If you know you need to take a meeting from your phone, prepare ahead of time. Download the app prior to the start of the meeting and familiarise yourself with the location of the important features. You’ll want to know how to join the meeting, mute yourself and share content before the meeting starts. Preparing in advancing will also allow you to set your preferences, like whether or not you want to save battery and data usage by using low bandwidth mode. KNOW YOUR SURROUNDINGS As much as possible, know where you’ll be and what the connection will be like. If possible, stand or sit against a solid background in order to make it easier for other participants to see you. Try to avoid loud areas and windy environments to ensure the best quality audio experience. MUTE YOURSELF Even with clear audio and background suppression, it’s always helpful to mute your audio when not speaking. This is especially true when doing an
March / April 2019
activity like driving where your entire focus may not be on the meeting itself. USE HEADPHONES One of the benefits of having headphones with a microphone is making it easy for others to hear you, but it’s likely even more important for you to be able to hear everyone else in the meeting. Using headphones will ensure that you can hear clearly, and it’ll keep everyone else in your vicinity from having to hear your meeting. This step is particularly important when the team is discussing highly secure information. TURN YOUR VIDEO ON The whole point of video conferencing is the video – it’s much easier to communicate when people can see your facial expressions and body language, so wherever possible, turn on your video in order to experience the same meeting you would have had in-person. STAY SAFE The best part of mobile video meetings is that you can have them anywhere. But the worst part of mobile video meetings is that you can have them anywhere. It’s probably okay to listen to a presentation when you’re in the car, but we wouldn’t recommend trying to present to the Board of Directors while driving 80mph down the motorway. Safety is always the first priority – make sure you’re exercising good judgement on when and where you decide to join (or host) your video meetings.
Meeting rooms are equipped with either one or two 55in or 75in touchscreen panels
Unifying communications When financial services company AIB Group moved its web and technology team to a new building, it invested heavily in visual technology to improve communication and collaboration
ith staff across Dublin, Ireland, the UK and the US, AIB Group faces a challenge shared by many large corporations – how to provide the ability for its staff to communicate more efficiently across offices and borders. When relocating over 500 technical support staff to one of seven new buildings at Central Park, 10km south of Dublin city centre, AIB Group had the opportunity to take a blank canvas and design it to meet the needs of staff while developing a blueprint for future redevelopment. “Collaboration is the cornerstone of the way we work within AIB,” explains Muiris O’Sullivan, project manager, AIB. “We wanted to ensure we were able to
collaborate efficiently both locally, using AV technology within the office, and remotely through videoconferencing. “A lot of the teams that are located at Central Park are from our technical and digital department, so they had experience in the types of technology that are available and had a large input in what would work for them.” Across seven floors, AIB has installed a total of nearly 200 Panasonic professional displays. Integrated by McKeon Group, the technology blueprint is already being considered for three further sites, which will take the total number of displays to over 500. At Central Park, each floor has a minimum of four meeting rooms. Depending on the room size, each is
equipped with either one or two 55in or 75in touchscreen panels. Additionally, there are around 10 breakout spaces on each floor, which are predominantly equipped with 43in touchscreen panels. “Our feedback to date from our staff has been very positive in terms of their ability to actually use the technology and the benefits that it’s bringing through collaboration in general workspaces,” adds O’Sullivan. Digital signage is prevalent throughout the building. A total of 54 TH-43LFE8E, Full HD professional displays are used both in communal areas for signage, within the company restaurant space and in the office spaces as both a dashboard for sharing vital information within teams, and for sharing corporate messages. “When we looked at Central Park at the start, we also wanted to enhance the staff experience at work. Part of that was a connected digital signage solution; we wanted to be able to broadcast both local or corporate messages to the staff, to avoid having to send emails about an event or celebration,” adds O’Sullivan. Benchmarking performance One of the key AV changes that has led to work style changes within AIB is the introduction of several media benches on each of the six office floors. These long, standing benches are each equipped with a 43in touchscreen panel. “The media benches are providing areas for teams to have scrum meetings. The idea is that there are multiple spaces on each floor where people can get together without taking up traditional meeting rooms,” adds O’Sullivan. “We are waiting for data in terms of usage of the various facilities, but just from walking the building and talking to the staff, we’ve seen good uptake for all of the technology and certainly the use of videoconferencing has been really impressive.” Making a statement A statement nine-screen video wall is also in use in the reception area. In addition to branded corporate content, the screen is used for internal meetings and CEO announcements. Tomas Mac Eoin, managing director, McKeon Group, says: “AIB wanted us to deliver a flexible workspace, so that their staff could work together in both an informal and formal way. The number of break out spaces is virtually unprecedented in corporate spaces.” “We’ve installed [Barco] ClickShare so that staff can use any device to get content on screen, annotation software allows teams to work together
March / April 2019
‘The number of break out spaces is virtually unprecedented in corporate spaces’ Tomas Mac Eoin to make changes to that content. In terms of the type of development AIB is doing here, the building really delivers.” “The AV solution was always going to be of key importance to the success of this project,” adds O’Sullivan. “It is a hugely important project for the bank. It is the first time we have opened a new building of this scale in a significant period of time, so having people around me with a high level of professionalism and expertise made my job a lot easier.” “We wanted a world-class, world-leading technology brand within the building itself. We were looking for reliability as a main cornerstone for the technology but we also needed to ensure we had usability too. Panasonic was a natural fit. Once it’s proven here, we’ll look to roll it out across the head office estate. “The main objective was to ensure we provided our staff with a building that was cutting edge in regards to both its design and technology. I feel that we’ve achieved that at Central Park and we’ll use this building as our template in terms of how we implement AV.” www.mckeon.ie business.panasonic.co.uk
The 10 breakout spaces on each floor are predominantly equipped with 43in touchscreen panels
A quiet revolution AV over IP is having a big impact on learning institutions across the globe. Richard Doughty finds out how itâ€™s improving multiple aspects of teaching and learning
Barcelona Business School has invested in a weConnect solution from Barco
n fits and starts, higher education institutions across the UK are hauling themselves into the faster, unfettered environment of AVoIP (audiovisual over Internet Protocol). Video and audio over IP are firmly embedded; last year Spotify racked up 87 million subscribers globally and close to 200 million active monthly users, while every minute some 300 hours of video are being uploaded to YouTube across the world. Increasingly, universities and colleges are being won over by powerful AVoIP arguments promoting scalability, longer reach, larger audiences, remote, speedier and easier maintenance (far fewer black boxes), and substantial space and cost savings. The result has been a quiet AV revolution that has galvanised areas such as learning spaces, student collaboration, connectivity, virtual classrooms, enhanced audio, digital signage, lecture capture and IT trouble-shooting, repairs and general maintenance. Student collaboration Potential students are now asking universities what they offer that others don’t, such as how much contact
March / April 2019
time is there with lecturers; and how will their course prepare them for life in the workplace? Funding hinges on student numbers, and employers increasingly value soft, transferable skills as much or more than subject expertise. The answer is the collaborative classroom. One of Essex University’s new labs for STEM subjects contains 13 desks, each seating six students in a collaborative pod to work on assignments. Any student can show content from their own device on each table’s 55in monitor or on any or all of those on the other desks. What about the risk of smarter students taking over, pedagogues will ask. “Well, we find the slower ones actually tend to learn what ‘good’ looks like, and they realise they may have some distance to go in their understanding,” says Tessa Rogowski, assistant director, IT Services [Client Services]. “But then some of that distance is closed through working with and watching others complete the task in hand in a clever way and this draws comments like ‘Wow, I didn’t know you could do that – can you show me how?’ So small group sizes do seem to work quite well – it’s like having an addition to lecture capture in every classroom!” Meanwhile, for the past 18 months, the University of Hertfordshire has been using Kramer Electronics’ Via Campus collaboration tool in its first collaborative room. “Students can collaborate in normal fashion with a lecturer at front of class but then the lecturer can set them individual projects,” says Kramer area sales manager Tony Bidgood. “The room is designed with independent table control; if students want to work at some point in the evening or outside lectures they can enter class, turn on a pod and collaborate using any laptop or mobile device in their own pod groups. There are also options to collaborate across campus and install third-party programs like Skype for Business and Webex.” All teachers and students can edit documents in real time and display up to six screens on the main display screen, which can be switched to digital whiteboard mode. Teachers can access an e-polling facility to instantly gauge student learning. Students can link up their own devices in any learning space and also dial in remotely. The university’s AV manager, Adam Harvey, says Via Campus is a vast product and that his team knew it would take time to bed in. “We haven’t exposed all the full features to lecturers but we’re starting to drip-feed different features as we go. But it’s working OK and the academics really like it!” Sharing at Coventry University involves big
The new Daphne Oram Building for the Creative Arts at Canterbury Christ Church University has been well received by students and academic staff
touchscreen TVs that are starting to appear on campus plus screen mirroring, according to e-learning developer Amanda Hardy. “A lecturer can now bring their laptop and recast the screen to the projector rather than having to stand it on a podium and plug it in. Students too can present something from their computer on the main screen without having to come up and plug in – it’s a far more accessible and flexible way of presenting.” Bath University is one of many institutions seeking the ideal BYOD display sharing solution that will enable anyone, student or staff, to bring in any device and display it as well. “We’ve found an Australian product called ViVi that will accept any BYOD device, whether IOS or Android-based, and laptops of all descriptions, including Windows and even Linux,” says service manager Rob Hyde. “It will be an entirely new service and hopefully operational by the start of the next academic year.” Simulations Simulated physical environments – Bath is actually building a room that can move – are spreading
‘Lecture theatre time is now much more for engagement and collaborative work’ Colin Boyle, Canon 34
across UK campuses and they are often tailor-made for AV enhancements. Hertfordshire has built real-life environments into its new science building to reflect its specialisms in healthcare and engineering. They include wind tunnels and hospital wards, simulating the look, feel, even smell, and a real-life pharmacy. Students’ actions are videoed and assessed by lecturers listening and watching and then presenting everything back to the student on screen. Coventry has gone a step further in kitting out its brand new sciences building. “We have an ambulance in the building, fitted out with typical ambulance kit but also cameras and mics, so students working in emergency situations can be monitored by lecturers in a control room able to assess their learning and teamwork without the need to look over their shoulders and impose on the dynamic,” explains Hardy. In fact, Coventry claims its AV simulation facilities are among the most advanced in the UK. Its off-campus, custom-built simulation centre houses a large curved screen the size of half a room onto which environments are projected and real actors act out scenarios. Add to that a sports therapist’s suite complete with a running track where cameras track every movement and feed back a vast array of data, including actual length of stride, and the value of simulated environments becomes clear.
‘We’ve seen a growth of interest from town hall addresses in overflow facilities for graduation ceremonies’ James Keen, Tripleplay
1,000 EXTRA CAPTURED SESSIONS IN BATH UNIVERSITY’S FIRST TERM THIS ACADEMIC YEAR
Digital signage Essex, too, offers sport science but within its sports arena it is erecting LED walls connected to performance monitors catering for a larger audience. They allow you to caption up and replay parts of a video showing where people are running, who has possession of the ball, how often the tackles are successful and so on. At the same time they can act as a scoreboard. It’s using two strands of AV – video monitoring and public display – and reflects the wave of digital signage now starting to appear on UK campuses. Duncan Peberdy, an AV specialist and senior lead (digital learning spaces) at HE IT advisory body JISC, says LED walls are going up everywhere both in and outside university buildings – and he should know. In the past three years he’s visited at least 24 campuses with his Sticky Campus AV roadshow. He cites the large screen in Teesside University’s square: “It’s all about providing information to students the whole time they are on campus.” Another well-placed commentator is James Keen, group head of marketing at digital signage, IPTV and video streaming specialist Tripleplay Services. Through its single platform digital signage IPTV video streaming software, Tripleplay delivers advertising messages into TV screens with live TV, including TV and recorded content to desktops and mobiles. It works with around 20 UK universities, including LSE, University of Westminster and the London Business School. “We’ve seen a growth of interest from town hall addresses in overflow facilities for graduation ceremonies,” says Keen. “People are using technology like ours to deliver live camera feeds from the ceremonies to any and all TV screens across campus and also to people’s laptops. Graduation ceremonies are getting bigger and better but still have very limited ticket availability, so interest is growing in an ability to deliver that content to more family, students and guests.
Lecture capture “Introducing lecture capture was a big thing for us over last year,” says Hertfordshire University’s Adam Harvey. “Using Panopto kit, we’ve equipped 20% of our 515 bookable rooms. It’s really taken off with students, who are finding it a very valuable tool. “Just going back to review what was said in a session is really helpful – you can make as many notes as you like but watching it again is always a powerful revision aid. And when you look at the stats, you can see which parts of the video are popular and how long people are watching them for.” In fact, whenever students have got a taste of lecture capture and the benefits it provides, they demand more, says Bath’s Rob Hyde. The university notched up an extra 1,000 captured sessions in its first term this academic year in a country leading the field in Europe. Disabilities Complementing lecture capture are AV measures designed to help those with disabilities, particularly with hearing. Bath, for instance, is seeking a system to enable all students, including those with no disabilities, to hear a lecturer’s words more clearly in a large lecture theatre through earphones plugged into their mobile phone. It is also looking at mic arrays that resemble a ceiling tile with a steerable microphone beam that follows a speaker around a room and ensures all students always get a decent audio pick-up. Fixed to the ceiling with no wires, it covers a 10sqm area and can thus pick up the entire audio in the room. All of Essex’s main learning spaces have lecture capture and, as part of its equality policy, the university is trying to automatically caption lecture captures when at least one student present is known to have a disability “We take the audio file – the voice part of the recording – and ‘throw’ it at Amazon’s web-based voice recognition service (Google also has one),” says Tessa Rogowski. “It interprets the audio file and supplies a subtitling file that we then blend back into the lecture capture. “You do, though, need top flight audio and a fairly neutral English accent for best results. But it’s getting us ready for the forthcoming accessibility rules in 2020; we just can’t have someone sitting there transcribing lectures.” IT system maintenance According to Eliot Fulton-Langley, solutions architect at integrator CDEC: “One of the advantages of AVoIP is the freedom it gives
FEATURE: EDUCATION managers to instantly control a whole building rather than single independent rooms.” An AVoIP system can be managed remotely from a central software platform, with physical visits to a room with a problem no longer the norm. Systems managers can tackle the problem centrally, reroute software around the ‘obstacle’ and with a couple of clicks very often have the room’s system up and running in seconds rather than hours. He goes on to highlight a recent breakthrough in system maintenance made by the cloud-based AVoIP Atlona control system. “We’ve known about this device for a while,” he says. “But we are only now installing it for the first time in a UK university and talking to several others. “To make a change on a cloud-based system such as this, which connects to a main server in the switchroom, you go on to a computer, press a button and it automatically makes the change on every system across every lecture theatre and every campus you have. It’s so simple to administer.” Cameras and projectors Last but not least comes the AV improvement in film and projection quality. “Students want more engaging and higher quality footage,” says Canon’s European project marketing specialist, Colin Boyle. “They’re getting used to the high 4K definition of Instagram, Facebook Live and the home cinema market.” A Turkish medical school at Yeditepe University Oncology Specialised Hospital enabled students to watch live brain surgery in 3D by filming and projecting the operation through two Canon 4K XEED projectors fitted with 3D Infitec filters and then providing 3D Infitec passive glasses to view the film. Two cameras were set up to send left and right eye signals (one to each projector). A media faculty at the German University of Emden filmed a live band in 4K. It then projected it back via a Canon 4K XEED projector on a wide screen at the back of the stage in such high detail that it could be used to train camera operators to film a live event without the band being present. Lastly, holograms of four women from different parts of the world were projected onto a London stage using ‘invisible’ holographic foil. Clever use of cameras enabled people from the audience to ask questions of and get answers back from the holograms in real time. “Lecture theatre time is now much more for engagement and collaborative work – that is where part of the challenge is for universities and HE,” says Boyle. “It’s about having to provide things that are not just within the confines of their space.”
March / April 2019
Tripleplay’s Media Video Player delivers live TV, lecture streams, video, audio and documents
CONNECTING STUDENTS GLOBALLY Leave out holograms and this is about the closest you’ll get to a virtual classroom. Sixty pairs of eyes are focused on a lecturer just a few feet away. Someone has a query and the lecturer will immediately hear it coming from that student, whose screen has its own camera and speaker. Once contact is made, students can either zoom in on the lecturer for a face-to-face conversation (impossible in a traditional lecture) or watch and listen to the conversation between their fellow student and lecturer. We’re in Barcelona Business School’s new space-saving lecture theatre, a studio-like space that bristles with row upon row of live screens; each one equipped with its own camera and filled with the real-time faces of students on MA or MBA courses logging on from maybe just around the corner or thousands of miles away via Barco’s weConnect collaborative learning tool. “We are in a unique position as we have the software to let people both connect and share their content and also to connect virtually online using voice-conferencing,” says Jordan Deemer, business development manager at Barco. “A blending of the two means you can connect people and other classrooms and other content around the campus – it’s a very flexible system.” Northampton University is currently testing a smaller set-up of 20 virtual participants in smaller, multiple virtual classrooms. “Northampton is oversubscribed; its rooms are full and it needs to start using spaces better so we’re trying to encourage distance learning and more remote participation,” says Deemer. Lecturers no longer have to worry about how many people will fit in one room, and built-in analytics reveal how many people respond to their questions, who is raising their hand and who is not, who is lagging behind in understanding. The system makes differentiation much easier for the teachers. Sessions can also be enhanced by inviting remote guest lecturers to take part from all over the world. The system is so flexible that students are free to arrange additional classes after hours and thus not have to stay late on campus. “The real difference more than anything else is that this is real-time collaboration on video,” adds Deemer. “It’s talking to everyone openly.”
EDUCATION: TOP TIPS
Creating the ultimate collaboration suite When creating effective collaboration spaces there are a number of aspects to consider. David Neal, teaching space technology coordinator at Lancaster University, shares his top tips Physical space layout Any collaboration room will have a lower capacity than a traditional teaching room
in the same space. Make sure to plan for this reduction. However, collaboration rooms can be a great use for awkward
spaces where columns and poor sightlines can be eliminated by clever positioning of the furniture and display screens. Will the
EDUCATION: TOP TIPS space be used for traditional teaching sessions? If so then the collaboration desks can be used as repeater displays for the presentation content. For further flexibility moveable tables can be considered, however issues can arise with sub optimal layouts and time lost at the start of classes rearranging the furniture. You may also want to plan for whiteboard space as well for those wanting a more traditional form of collaborative working. Furniture It is important to decide what the optimum number of seats per table will be, too small and you will under utilise the space or too large and the furniture takes over the space. Donâ€™t overload the room with tables to increase capacity; not only do the students need to be comfortable at the desks but there should be sufficient circulation space for a tutor to move between the desks to discuss with individual groups. It may also be desirable to have a central circulation space for students to mingle, especially if the tutors wants to ensure they mix outside of pre-established groups. Providing access to power for user devices is important; sockets integrated into desks will help reduce cable clutter around the room. As USB charging expands to larger devices you should plan for these sockets as well. Inductive charging pads on desks are a nice feature but only work with compatible devices. Consider whether the display screens will be independent of the desks. This gives some additional flexibility to the desks, if they are on castors they can be cleared from the room to give a much more dynamic space while retaining the collaborative features. Are you intending for the tutor to be fully mobile during sessions or will they have a tutor desk/ lectern? A desk may make session moderation easier when sharing content to various displays. BYOD options Consider all the types of devices that users will bring to the room. How will they all connect to your collaboration system? Simplifying how they connect regardless of the device will make room operation a lot easier. Laptops and MacBooks will connect as well as iOS and Android devices so is your WiFi reliable in the area you are deploying? It may require additional APs installing as you will be actively encouraging more devices into the area so you do not want the WiFi to become overloaded. What other features do you want to support as well as wireless presentation? Whiteboard and
March / April 2019
annotation tools, utilising interactive displays? Student polls and quizzes, text chat and file transfer? All options are available on various BYOD solutions. Signal distribution Several products now support multi-room modes, so collaborative sessions can take place between rooms, buildings or campuses. These rely even more on the existing network infrastructure and cabling which can save time and cost on room installations as you no longer need dedicated cabling to a traditional matrix switcher. However, Firewalls and other network security will need to be considered so engage the network team early on. UI Make the user interface as clear and intuitive as possible, there is no need to replicate every possible function if you are integrating a room-based control system. Homogenous design with other campus rooms will help aid transfer of skills of those used to using equipment in other spaces. How will the tutor identify individual tables? Numbers or colours are most straightforward as they can be clearly indicated, for example by using individual colour banding on table edges. Table names are another option but require more signage. Space Champions/lead users and training Ensure uptake of your facility by identifying Space Champions, those who want to and will be able to make use of the space as soon as it is ready. Not only will they be able to help with design decisions but also they can drive use among colleagues, as well as act as another level of support especially covering pedagogical use cases. Aim to make the space self-supporting, if the UI is intuitive and the use of the room is clear then beyond initial familiarisation sessions groups should be able to walk into a collaboration suite and use the system without on-hand technical support. Wallpapers or Splash screens on the collaboration devices can be used to provide training material. Review Remain engaged with the space once it is up and running. Keep going back to your Space Champions and find out how they are using the space and which others are engaging with it; can they be new Space Champions? Also take time to review which features are popular and which are less so, the next collaboration suite does not have to be identical so evolve what the rooms can deliver.
Achieving consistent audio coverage across the 25-metre wide space proved a challenge
Stage school Kingshott School’s new multi-million pound, multipurpose sports and performing arts venue features an impressive AV setup
ith technology advancing apace and opening up endless new opportunities for the next generation, academic institutions are firmly focused on upgrading their capabilities in order to give students access to a full spectrum of learning opportunities. Kingshott School – a leading independent school in Hertfordshire, UK, founded in 1931 – is no exception. True to its mission of becoming a place where innovation goes hand-in-hand with tradition, the school secured a series of investments in order to develop its site, enabling it to meet the expectations of prospective pupils and their parents, and maintain its standing as an exceptional learning provider. Looking for a comprehensive but flexible AV solution for its newly constructed sports hall facility, which can be converted into a 450-seat performance venue, Kingshott sought the expertise of Prime Audio Visual & Lighting Solutions (Prime AVLS), in order to equip the space with full live sound, stage lighting, projection and back of house theatrical show relay systems. “We are always looking to give our students the very best chance of success in life through their education – and that means investing in innovative technologies so that they can keep pace with their peers in today’s dynamic world,” Jude Ilott, bursar at Kingshott School, said of the £2.1 million project. Reflecting on the brief received from the school, James Owen, project manager at Prime AVLS, says: “The brief was emblematic of what we are seeing generally in the education space, with institutions looking to make sure they are at the cutting edge when it comes to their tech capabilities. We were able to incorporate a number of key features in the design which allowed for easy
switching between day-to-day use for assemblies or sports lessons to full scaled sound, lighting and projection for school productions, music concerts and presentation evenings which require a finer degree of control.” This multipurpose nature of the space created added challenges, as Owen explains: “Everything had to be designed to be hoisted above the cricket nets and basketball hoops. We were in discussion with the consultants from an early stage to ensure that we were able to provide roof clearance for the two lighting trusses. We also provided a number of flight cases for the lighting and all loose equipment so that it can be stored away when not in use. Even the audio system used for assemblies is contained in a wheeled flight case that can be plugged in simply using a multichannel umbilical cord.” Innovative technology Central to the AV set up is a Digital Projection M-Vision Laser 18K projector installed on the rear wall of the hall and fitted with an ultra-long throw zoom lens. Owen expands: “The projector was fed from facility panels around the building with distribution, switching and scaling for presentations done using CYP. We used Blackmagic for the scaling and distribution of the video relay systems around the building with the HD show relay cameras being patchable at different locations. A Granite sound paging system and intercom kit was also installed. Live sound is mixed using a Soundcraft Si Impact, fed through a Soundweb which processed all of the DSP and allowed for digital patching using Contrio wall panels.” The Soundweb also handles the paging system around the building with ceiling speakers in most back of house spaces and toilets. Due to their wide dispersion and selectable vertical coverage, three pairs of JBL CBT 70J-1s were specified, one pair on each lighting truss and one pair installed on the front wall for use during assemblies. Their controllable directivity minimises the amount of
‘We are so pleased with the finished solution, which truly allows for every possible scenario for which we might want to use the space’ Jude Ilott
sound being fired at the hard surfaces in the hall. In addition a pair of JBL PRX 18in subwoofers were incorporated to allow reproduction of the lower sub-bass frequencies which can be rolled out and plugged in as required. Owen explains: “Due to the width of the space, we used a number of JBL CBT line array column speakers as these are fairly unobtrusive and were able to cover the width of the seating using two per truss whereas traditionally this would’ve meant using four point source boxes.” When it comes to lighting, control is via a Zero88 FLX console with iPad control and DMX distribution around the building. Twelve moving heads were supplied, six profiles and six washes, as well as eight fixed Fresnels, profile spots and side lighting PARS. All equipment supplied is LED. An array of loose equipment was also supplied including microphone packages for bands and orchestras, a haze machine and follow spots. Scaling up According to Owen, the biggest challenge was the scale of the venue: “Due to the space being a lot larger than most school halls, all the equipment had to be louder and brighter than what would normally be specified, which meant being really very careful in order to stay within budget. The backstage spaces are also very spread out so show video and audio relay systems are important.” The project took place over the course of three months, and the multipurpose space opened in time for the start of the 2018/2019 academic year and has already created the opportunity to deliver the curriculum in new and exciting ways. Owen adds: “The school is delighted with the space they have and can’t believe that a sports hall can look so good when converted into a theatre. One member of staff commented that you can’t even tell that it is a sports venue unless you look up at the ceiling. All the equipment is from professional, trusted brands so the level of
March / April 2019
production is exceptional, and the school is already in discussion with us about how they can use the equipment to best effect when the hall is turned into a banqueting hall for the school’s annual summer ball.” Ilott is equally positive: “We are so pleased with the finished solution, which truly allows for every possible scenario for which we might want to use the space. In addition, the dedicated control room, which we use for tuition and training, allows us to extend the learning experience and encourages even greater student participation. In particular, the equipment specified delivers exceptional results while being sensitive to our sports programme which also runs in the building – more than meeting our objective of creating a truly outstanding, multipurpose venue for our students to embrace learning in.”
www.digitalprojection.com/emea www.primeaudiovisual.co.uk soundtech.co.uk
The dedicated control room is used for tuition and training
THE TECH GUIDE A selection of some of the latest AV products and solutions now available to the market
YAMAHA UC CS-700 SIP Product type: Video sound bar Target market: Corporate
Product type: Visual collaboration application Target market: Corporate What does it do? Rumpus provides simultaneous access to shared screens from meeting participants, and delivers a new layer of communication with shared cursors, annotation and emojis for signalling sentiment. Rumpus was developed thanks to the insights the Oblong team gleaned over six years of work with its enterprise customers on its flagship product Mezzanine. What’s new? Rumpus for virtual teams builds upon a particular insight gleaned from Mezzanine usage. In aggregated opt-in data from Mezzanine customers, Oblong noted that 62% of the time when users are sharing in Mezzanine, they are sharing multiple forms of content. This means that most of the time, when given the opportunity to share content concurrently, people will. Rumpus is set to offer remote workers the same opportunity to make multiple streams of visual material easily and concurrently accessible. Rumpus also leverages gesture (pointing and movement via cursors) to focus attention, provide emphasis and communicate specificity. Perfect for? Virtual teams Released: Currently in public beta More info at: www.rumpus.co
What does it do? The CS-700 SIP is the first video sound bar to integrate PBX and UC applications to deliver high-quality audio from all communication channels and address video and collaboration requirements from one device. It’s compatible with any web application, effectively connecting customers’ VoIP and UC communication worlds together in the video collaboration environment. This protects UC investments and enhances the PBX network with web collaboration capabilities for a streamlined UC strategy. What’s new? With built-in connections for VoIP and USB for UC applications, users can not only achieve clear conferencing audio and video from any unified communications platform, they can also bridge VoIP and USB calls together directly from the device. This enables organisations to support both types of communication from only one wall-mounted device. This eliminates the frustration of operating additional audio equipment, saves valuable table space in huddle rooms and other small conferencing environments, and allows IT to quickly deploy, configure and manage less hardware across an organisation. Perfect for: Huddle rooms and smaller meeting spaces Released: TBC More info at: uc.yamaha.com
HIPERWALL HIPERSOURCE BROWSER
AV STUMPFL PIXERA Product type: Media server Target market: Event staging, corporate, presentations
Product type: Content display tool Target market: A wide range of display applications from advanced collaborative analysis on trading floors to control room applications What does it do? Hiperwall Version 6.0 – the latest version of the company’s IP-based video wall content management system – incorporates HiperSource Browser, which makes it easier to publish web-based content onto large visual canvases such as video walls and direct view LED (dvLED) screens. HiperSource Browser provides a direct connection between web content and the video wall, enabling administrators to bypass screen capture, bringing enhanced flexibility and greater control over content. As well as enhanced functionality, Hiperwall now features a more flexible licensing programme that provides a more cost-effective upgrade path. A new application, HiperFailSafe software, and the repositioning of the controller software enables users to economically upgrade a single controller system to a fault tolerant system. New customers will have the option of buying Hiperwall licenses à la carte enabling them to get the optimum configuration for their needs. What’s new? Hiperwall’s HiperView LED add-on controls every pixel within an LED video wall, making it possible to crop the native LED controller resolution to the actual size of the visual canvas. In addition, HiperLayout software enables eye-catching artistic display and video wall layouts. The user can combine different size and resolution displays together and rotate individual screens to any angle to create an attention-grabbing design. Perfect for? Control rooms where operators will benefit from the ability to bring in content from multiple sources for an enhanced viewing experience. Released: March 2019 More info at: www.hiperwall.com
March / April 2019
What does it do? Pixera is a 64-bit system for real-time media processing, compositing and management. A new interface logic is said to enable even first-time users to intuitively understand the main software mechanics, while the integrated projector and LED display databases allow for drag and drop pre-configuration. What’s new? The new Pixera one and Pixera two media server systems and the upcoming Pixera mini are compact all-around solutions that use the latest processor technology and offer many options for specifying hardware components, input cards and/or software upgrades. Pixera one and two both support the new Flex input card technology. Pixera one is a compact 1U server model that can play back uncompressed 4K at 60fps. Pixera two is a 2U server model that is similar to the Pixera one in many ways but offers more customisation options and a redundant power supply. Pixera two is available with 2, 4 or 8 outputs. Pixera mini is a flexible and ultra-compact media player unit. It will be available with 2 or 4 outputs. Perfect for? Installation scenarios, digital signage and multi-display applications Released: TBC More info at: www.avstumpfl.com
SHURE MXA910 In this first in a new feature, tech users offer insights on AV equipment they have installed; how it’s being used and the benefits it brings. Here we have Paul Guy, collaboration solutions engineer, Solutions & Digital, at KPMG, describing his experience of Shure’s ceiling array microphones
THE INTEGRATOR’S VIEW
Shure’s MXA910 ceiling array microphone is suited to areas including corporate workspaces and education environments. They are particularly useful in mid-sized spaces with multiple users distributed across the plane, offering high audio quality while keeping meeting spaces uncluttered. They can be configured for use in multi-purpose, divisible and reconfigurable spaces, with Shure’s Steerable Coverage technology – which uses up to eight lobes to pick up audio from overhead – meaning spaces that would previously have required multiple microphones can now be accommodated with a single device. Where has this product been installed? We have three units installed in an area of approximately 10 metres by 10 metres. These combine to give coverage for one of our spaces where typically anywhere from 40 to 120 people sit for plenary presentations and conversations. When looking at different products for this project, what made you select the MXA910? I only looked at a few alternative products but was strongly steered towards the Shure product by the integrator and through conversations with peers. What are the most impressive elements of its feature set? Because Voice Lift works well, we no longer need to use wireless mics which were historically used for the larger sized audiences. The improvement in quality of recorded sound over our previous hanging microphones was immediately obvious. From an integration perspective these arrays are probably even more impressive,
Colin Jacobs, design manager, Snelling Business Systems: “In my opinion, the product is a clear winner in many cases largely due to the form factor coupled with the multiple configurable lobes, seamless integration with Dante and third-party preset controllers including Crestron and AMX to deliver high-quality conferencing experiences.” Jon Maguire, business manager, proAV: “The MXA910’s design and features offer an elegant and effective ceiling microphone solution.”
indicated by the surprising amount of configuration that was accomplished purely on the arrays, in comparison to our DSP infrastructure where I had assumed most of the setup works would be required. What elements of the feature set make your job easier? The configuration of the system has included capabilities for fine control, but in truth the defaults settings + On/Off are all I have needed.
If an updated version of this product was to be released, what upgrade would you like to see? We use the arrays for voice lift and for conferencing, one strange quirk is that in a large audience if snacks have been handed out during a session the person eating crisps at the opposite side of the space sounds as loud as if they were sat next to you. We avoid this now by stopping ‘noisy’ snacks, during sessions, a ‘Quaver’ filter developed for this scenario would be useful.
KEY FEATURES • Steerable Coverage, utilising up to eight beams to capture participant audio from overhead • Browser-based control software provides an intuitive user interface • Designer System Configuration Software simplifies setup, allowing integrators to configure multiple virtual MXA910 Ceiling Array Microphones in one tool • Flush mounted into standard ceiling tiles
LUMENS VC-A50P Next we hear about Lumen’s IP PTZ cameras – principally the VC-A50P. Dan Saville, system designer at Pure AV, and Gary Swift, The University of Liverpool’s AV and VC manager, highlight various aspects of the range and how it performs in an education environment
In what environments do you typically install Lumens VC-A50P cameras? DS: We regularly specify the Lumens VC-A50P as part of installed solutions for lecture halls and in large teaching spaces within colleges and universities. The dual HDMI and IP output make them a great option to support lecture capture and room monitoring.
What elements of the feature set make your job easier? GS: I need solutions that I can rely on, and the Lumens have proven to be just that, they rarely fail. We can put them in and forget about them knowing they will perform every time we need them. DS: The ability to take PoE over the Ethernet cable means we don’t need power installed in the camera location, simplifying the installation process and increasing the range of potential environments where the camera can be mounted. This is particularly helpful when not working in new build spaces.
GS: We have installed Lumens cameras across The University of Liverpool estate, most recently throughout all our new large rooms in Building 502. The Lumens camera has become our standard for all seminar and lecture spaces with around 40 of them due for installation this year. Why do you specify it over competitor offerings? GS: We have used Lumens for some years and have always found them to be reliable with excellent image quality. The DC motor servo control has always been ultra-quiet and precise. The cameras are robust and are used frequently and seem to take everything we throw at them. DS: We have found the cameras to be reliable. Over the time that we have been using them, we have rarely had any fail on us. The dual outputs, HDMI for lecture capture and IP for room monitoring simplify the delivery of that requirement. What are the most impressive elements of its feature set? DS: The cameras are DC motor, servo control driven not a belt motor. This allows a wide shooting area (pan angle: from -170° to +170 °; tilt angle from -30° to +90°), as well as quiet, fast and precise positioning movements. The audio input
support AAC encoding with 44.1/48 K sampling frequency is also a great feature enabling audio to be embedded directly onto a webcast stream/HDMI straight out of the camera. GS: We have recently been looking into the option of remote monitoring of our rooms so we can offer better first-line support. We were going to install a separate IP camera, but this product enables us to put a single camera into the room, which we can use for lecture capture and remote support. The fact it also offers live broadcasting is a bonus as we start to look at the introduction of web/social streaming into our lecture spaces.
If an updated version of this product was to be released, what upgrades would you like to see? DS: It would be great to see an auto tracking feature added to enable the camera to dynamically zoom in and out as the speaker moves within the camera’s field of view. This feature would create a steady viewable depth, allowing audiences to comfortably identify and engage with the speaker displayed on the screen. GS: It would be good to see USB connectivity in any future versions of the product. This would enable us to connect directly into the PC for lecture capture applications.
KEY FEATURES • Full HD 1080p signal output format with a high frame rate of 60fps • Supports live broadcasting (MJPEG, H.264 support SVC) • Support PoE (Power over Ethernet) lets network cables supply power
BATTLE OF THE BRANDS: CONTROL PANELS
Controlling nature Control panels act as a gateway to AV technology – making the wrong choice can seriously affect the uptake of spaces
ontrol panels have evolved significantly in recent years, from bulky systems that needed trained users to operate them to simple, intuitive designs reminiscent of consumer devices. In a corporate environment, the simple truth is that employees don’t have the time or the patience to learn how to use technology so if your panel, which is what many users will rate their entire tech experience on, isn’t up to scratch, every other aspect of your meeting room will be viewed negatively. As buildings have become more intelligent, so network connected devices can provide valuable data on room usage while allowing the remote monitoring of systems from anywhere in the world. In the future expect voice and AI to play greater roles in this sector but, for now, five manufacturers highlight their current key offerings in this area.
AMX MODERO G5 Company: AMX Solution: Modero G5 Series Target market: Meeting spaces, classrooms, briefing rooms, auditoriums Sell it to us: Available as 20in, 10in or 7in wall mount or table mount devices, the Modero G5 integrates all the functionality users need into a single interface with intuitive user selections. Automation lets you combine all of the actions at the start of a meeting into a single button press, while the MD-702 and MD-1002 can be configured to run the Acendo Book interface, providing the option to deploy them as dedicated scheduling panels.
CRESTON TSW-760 Company: Crestron Solution: TSW-760 Target market: Office buildings, classrooms, courtrooms, command centres Sell it to us: For controlling audio, video, lighting, shades and other systems, Crestron touchscreens are fully-customisable with easy-to-use controls and icons, true feedback and real-time status display, live streaming video, voice recognition, web browsing, and a full-featured media player for an enhanced experience. PoE connectivity and a range of mounting options make installation a breeze for both new and retrofit applications. Stand out feature: The TSW-760 series features a brilliant 7in capacitive touchscreen display with Smart Graphics technology and five soft-touch buttons.
Stand out feature: AMX Modero G5 Control Panels support the cloud-based Zoom Rooms controller application to expand Modero G5-controlled standard rooms into fully ready-to-collaborate meeting spaces. The AMX and Zoom collaboration offers users the ability to simultaneously and seamlessly run the Zoom Rooms app alongside touch-based room control applications and other onscreen functions such as powering on/off lights and displays.
BATTLE OF THE BRANDS: CONTROL PANELS
CYP CR-KP3 Company: CYP Solution: CR-KP3 Target market: Hotels, central control rooms, conference rooms, homes Sell it to us: The CR-KP3 wall plate control system keypads can send commands to any Ethernet controlled device in a system. PoE support allows for creative placement of the keypad without concern for location near to a power source. The integrated clock and calendar-based scheduling feature allows users to trigger macros to control devices in an installation at a specific time, or on a recurring schedule. Stand out feature: With six direct macro buttons (plus an additional six macros within the WebGUI control), which allows up to 16 commands to be executed within one button press, and a total of up to 128 commands capacity in the unit, this keypad can activate a set of command scenarios in a second.
EXTRON NETWORK BUTTON PANELS Company: Extron Solution: Network Button Panels Target market: With their freedom from distance limitations, a broad variety of button layouts and customisable labels, there are virtually unlimited applications for Network Button Panels Sell it to us: Extron Network Button Panels are fullycustomisable AV system control interfaces for Extron Pro Series control systems and HC 400 Series products. The easy-to-use button panels connect to a control processor using standard Ethernet and work in conjunction with a control processor to perform a variety of AV system functions such as display On/ Off, input switching, volume control and more. Buttons can be customised using Extron Button Label Generator software or by using the online Custom Button Builder application.
KRAMER CONTROL Company: Kramer Solution: Kramer Control Target market: Commercial enterprises of all sizes Sell it to us: Kramer Control is an enterprise-class, cloudbased control and management solution providing IT/AV managers with an easy way to control, monitor and support their AV systems, infrastructures and third-party devices. Designed for enhanced scalability, Kramer Control's cloudbased architecture frees users from the rigidness of programming. Set up your control system, modify and extend it from anywhere without the need to be on-site. By leveraging existing IP network infrastructures, and due to its distributed architecture, Kramer Control is highly scalable and has no single point of failure. Stand out feature: Kramer Control's intuitive drag-and-drop builder is designed to take away the complexity and enhance usability. It is possible to install, configure and modify your control system whenever you desire and without any prior programming knowledge.
Stand out feature: Like all Extron Pro Series control products, Network Button Panels are part of a control ecosystem specifically designed to be secure from outside intrusion and interference.
March / April 2019
MEET YOUR INTEGRATOR:
CDEC Ltd Toni Moss, managing director of UK-based CDEC, talks about navigating the changing education sector and the technologies that are currently making an impact Tell us about CDEC CDEC has been integrating AV solutions since 2000. We are a focused and dynamic group of AV professionals, who are highly driven by creating innovative solutions and delivering the very best AV for our customers. Our team has seen the changes in AV, from the early days of introducing projection systems and interactive whiteboards to schools, to the current more complex configurations which are becoming more commonplace within the sector. To move with this change, our company has also evolved, and our team is more multi-skilled and experienced than ever before. Our project managers and solutions architects are busy ensuring all projects are delivered not just on time and in budget, but that they are technically accurately specified and scoped to ensure that our end users can facilitate excellent sessions, and can use technology to enhance the experience of collaborative working and learning.
CDEC’s vision is reflected in the way that our teams work together – our staff come from all over the UK, and from a range of backgrounds – both professionally and personally, but we share the company’s core values to inspire, to educate, for creativity and excellence and of respect and commitment. It’s also important to me that we promote a diverse workforce and reflect our wider communities; we are fully committed to being an equal opportunities employer. What’s your geographic reach? Our company started in the outskirts of London, in Kent, so naturally we have always had a strong presence in the South East of the UK. However, having grown organically over the years, we now have a national presence right across England and Wales. We have a fairly even split of customers across all phases of
MEET YOUR INTEGRATOR the education sector, from nursery schools to large multi-site universities, as well as a growing base of customers from other verticals, including the health and corporate sectors. What trends are you seeing in the education sector? Current trends in education which we are seeing gain momentum have the common aim of enhancing student engagement and improving the student experience by facilitating group and collaborative learning. The trends do vary across the different phases of education – at primary and secondary level we are seeing a move away from traditional projection systems and more LFDs, IFPs, and certainly in the secondary phase we are getting more involved in designing bespoke spaces, such as hall systems with more professional audio, display and lighting integration, particularly to enhance performance spaces. The continuing shift towards non-didactic teaching, especially in the higher education environment, means technology is being used to facilitate this and to create opportunities for innovative teaching approaches. There is an increase across the HE sector in creating engaging huddle spaces and we have seen manufacturers respond to this, including furniture specialists such as Top-Tec, and TK-Team, which is proactively taking this into account in its designs. This trend is beginning to be picked up by secondary phases, to provide alternative break-out spaces for their students. Space is at a premium across the sector and so providing flexible, multi-use working and learning spaces is becoming a high priority, and we are designing solutions which can quickly be adapted and moved, and which provide maximum value for the spaces they are in. Also in HE, the National Student Survey directly interrogates the students on their view of their institution’s IT and AV facilities, and while there is no direct correlation between this and TEF data, and indeed awards, there is inevitably some influence there, and so institutions are more aware than ever before of the need to provide conducive working spaces. In addition, buildings/facilities management are more involved in design, and we are also seeing more interest in ‘Lone Rooftop’, and ‘Space- as-a-Service’, for example. Are tech expectations changing across educational establishments? Yes – in order to achieve effective collaborative spaces, there has to be the initiative from key manufacturers to meet the customer’s expectations. Driving technologies for this are the likes of Mersive, which has taken the collaboration tool to the next step, along with more traditional manufacturers like Top-Tec with its furniture design, and so education institutions should be finding this approach more and more commonplace. AV has to combine the strategy of being packed away quickly and moved around in order to facilitate flexible learning spaces. BYOD has also gained momentum, and to this end, AirPlay and
March / April 2019
Miracast are the two protocols that have won the proprietary war. There is also an expectation that technology can engage students and staff alike when it comes to digital signage. We are seeing more requests for solutions which will link into student management systems, and to make signage more data driven and interactive, rather than the static PowerPoint styles of old! What projects are you particularly proud of? Of course we are very proud of all of our projects, but some of our highlights include a full AV fit of 16 new build schools in Leicestershire – classrooms, halls and digital signage – which we completed in six weeks that were originally due to be done over six months; a dual projection solution at University of Brighton; the creation of a fully integrated ‘Explore Floor’ at Kensington Preparatory School; the successful delivery of AV in 91 spaces across Goldsmiths University in nine months, instead of a 30-month programme; digital signage, live TV, VC, lecture and meeting spaces at the University of Oxford Big Data Institute (BDI); and the design, supply and install of a new auditorium in the Royal Dockyard Church, a listed building in Chatham Dockyards for Kent University. What technologies are particularly hot in the education sector right now? AVoIP is huge at the minute. It leads to a simplification of technology and the need for fewer boxes making it a much smarter approach to technology. The value of acoustic panels is also being recognised as they provide better intelligibility in environments by minimising echo and sound reverberation, as well as being an attractive addition to the space itself. Focus Pods, which provide small focused spaces that are fully insulated from external noise, and can include writing surfaces or recessed screens, are also hot right now. And what’s your particular favourite and why? While it is hard to choose one, AVoIP is my current favourite, as it allows our customers to maximise their spaces and has the potential for creating and delivering excellent AV in a simplified, flexible space. I believe by simplifying the hardware, this opens up the possibilities for collaboration and for true flexible working and learning.
CDEC Ltd Established: 2000 Head office: Orpington, UK Target markets: Education, corporate, medical Market reach: UK and Europe Website: www.cdec.co.uk
MEET YOUR INTEGRATOR
Are you facing any particular challenges in the industry? There are inevitably challenges in all environments, but one key challenge is working with existing infrastructure, and the limitations that this can present. In particular where historically an institution has deployed a wide range of systems, typically control systems, there are some conversations to be had with customers about streamlining or standardising their spaces so as to engage their end users more effectively. Academic engagement is also a huge challenge, and we are very supportive at CDEC and provide additional consultative support and training to ensure that end users are confident and comfortable with the AV we integrate. Several members of our team have worked in the education sector – across all phases – and as a team, we enjoy sharing ideas and experiences we have had first hand both with each other and with our customers and end users. Has the role of an integrator changed in recent years? Yes – we believe that to be a true integrator you have to be able to be agile. It is not about shifting boxes and boxes of hardware; the role is now much more consultative and supportive than ever before and requires a high degree of understanding of our customers’ requirements and ambitions for their spaces, combined with outstanding technical and product knowledge and awareness.
Why should end users employ an integrator rather than attempt to go it alone? With all the will in the world, while our end users will have excellent working knowledge of technologies, they do require input from specialists and integrators who have more time to identify solutions from a range of sources, which they possibly would not have the same access to. Also, in terms of purchasing power, integrators will always be better placed to negotiate with manufacturers than single customers, and provide a full wrap-round service, which an end user may not be able to achieve within their institution alone. What are some of the biggest mistakes made by end users when it comes to AV? One common mistake is when end users responsible for delivering new AV projects rely on the same manufacturers who they know from the more traditional AV systems. That’s not to say they are not fit for the job, or are not innovative, but we have seen that quite often there is no needs analysis carried out to be able to then benchmark and test a range of products prior to purchasing.
GETTING TO KNOW YOU
Getting to Know: Rob Smith, senior director, integrated systems sales, Shure
Tell us a bit about your background in the AV industry. I initially worked for a small AV company for about 17 years, ultimately becoming a director. I then moved across to Electrosonic and became general manager for the service business, after which I started working for HB Communications and opened up their EMEA operation. So I had around 25 years of AV experience before moving to Shure. You joined Shure relatively recently – what attracted you to the company? I’d been a customer of Shure’s for years, so I was well aware of the brand, products and reputation. An opportunity arose to be part of the company following the reorganisation, which interested me. The final thing that persuaded me was the atmosphere at the head office in Waltham Abbey – as soon as I stepped through the door for my interview, I could sense that everyone was enjoying their work and could feel the positive atmosphere. That clinched it for me. Since then, I’ve visited many of the 30+ Shure offices across the world and it’s the same positive atmosphere in every office, which is really cool. What products are currently proving the most popular at Shure? The Microflex Advance Array microphone range – we’re building them as fast as we’re selling them, they’re that popular, particularly in the UK. There’s also been big interest in Microflex Complete and Microflex Complete Wireless since they were demonstrated at ISE. Microflex Wireless is particularly popular in Central London with all the wireless congestion. Stalwarts include Shure ULX-D, which continues to grow and Axient Digital, which has been great for Shure; its applications are limitless.
There’s been a recent push towards standardisation of AV kit across many large organisations. What benefits does this offer end users? Standardisation of AV equipment offers the end user the same audio and video clarity and performance, whether the meeting takes place in London, Tokyo or anywhere else in the world. Coupled with that, the old model of supporting AV systems doesn’t work in an enterprise deployment model, where you have to standardise the rooms and put in remote monitoring and pick products where you’ve got a manufacturer that can support them globally. You can’t have a niche product, only available in Brazil, and try to deploy that globally. It just wouldn’t work. What advice would you give to businesses investing in AV? Look for a company that understands the nature of the AV business and engages with it, through a good partner network or global presence, or companies working in a niche which they pretty much own. Companies working to the old ‘general’ AV model just won’t survive in the future. The IT/AV convergence has happened; that’s the world we live in, and you need to identify a company with a knowledge and understanding of both markets. Outside of work, how do you like to spend your time? My wife and I spend a lot of time travelling, which is something that we both really enjoy. We also like going for walks, too. Finally, tell us something about yourself which might surprise people… Before the AV industry I spent 10 years in the RAF as an avionics engineer working on Tornados.
Education, Education, Education. Technology is helping institutions reach ever more students, no matter where they are in the world.
Published on Apr 2, 2019
Education, Education, Education. Technology is helping institutions reach ever more students, no matter where they are in the world.