Issue 219 / March 2019
AV INTEGRATION IN A NETWORKED WORLD
Capital of culture
Proposals are in place for two London concert venues
'It's just glorious fun'
Graeme Harrison starts anew with Bluesound Pro
Our comprehensive show wrap-up
EXTENDED OPPORTUNITIES? Opinions are split on what new XR technologies mean for uptake
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Modest growth, mighty experiences
fter an ISE equal parts informative and exhausting, (relative) normal service resumes for the AV community. It does feel slightly strange to be talking about an ISE show and not including a few lines about how organisers managed to record double-digit percentage growth again, which, as I wrote last month, has pretty much become the new normal. In fairness, it was always going to be a tough ask to hit the heights of the last few years, when the show is already basically operating at maximum capacity. While the show didn’t record astonishing attendance figures (81,268 was the official number), it more than delivered on Duncan Proctor, Acting Editor technology and experience (which is kind of the whole point). firstname.lastname@example.org Rather than the headline-grabbing figures we’ve seen in the @install8ion past, there were a number of quietly impressive accomplishments. There was another 225 new companies exhibiting this year, and 92% of floor space for next year has already been sold, illustrating just how unmissable the show has become to the vast majority of the industry.
‘Wednesday saw the single largest one-day attendance for any show at the Amsterdam RAI, which is a nice feather in the cap for ISE’
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Wednesday saw the single largest one-day attendance for any show at the Amsterdam RAI, which is a nice feather in the cap for ISE. Friday attendance passed 20,000 for the first time, which will also provide comfort to show organisers, though compared to the other three days there is a very noticeable drop-off in engagement and how busy it feels in the aisles. The litmus test of an event such as ISE is – do you feel like the eyes of the entire industry are fixed on what is going on there? Tuesday to Thursday this is unquestionably so, but when Friday arrives you no longer feel this is definitely the case. That being said, ISE 2019 delivered in a big way and while 2020 will probably pull in a similar number of attendees, there is a growing sense that the showfloor is only part of the story now. What goes on in the conference sessions, the vast majority of which are now hosted away from the RAI, have almost reached equal standing. If the show continues to put on high quality and varied sessions, this will create an interesting dynamic ahead of the move to Barcelona. That leaves me just enough space to give everyone a nudge in the direction of the AV Technology Awards. Our revamped awards programme, which combines the best of the Install Awards and the AV Technology Europe Awards, is now open for entries. Full details are on page 6.
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Special Report: XR 18 To be, or not to be?
New technologies are emerging that combine, in varying degrees, the real world with the virtual world. We get insights from the industry on the likelihood of them being widely embraced
24 New realities
As adoption of XR technologies becomes more commonplace across sectors and applications, we look at how integrators can get involved and the AV and non-AV challenges they face
Contributors: David Davies, Graham Fry, Rob Lane, Phil Marechal,
Picture: Robert Kallenbach / CCS Suhl
30 Kiln Theatre, London
Rob Lane on the ways AV is improving healthcare Phil Marechal on the real-world potential of artificial intelligence in unified comms
A range of carefully specified audio systems is helping this newly renovated theatre punch well above its weight
32 Congress Centrum Suhl, South Thuringia
Once of Biamp, Graeme Harrison is starting anew with Bluesound Professional
42 Last Word
Graham Fry of SCC AVS discusses whatâ€™s next for the newly merged business
This congress centre has been equipped with a new active acoustics system and event-specific presets in this time sensitive install
34 Solutions in Brief
Including an acting schoolâ€™s immersive audio system; back-to-back rooftop LED displays; and a discreet audio solution at an upscale event venue
06 AV Technology Awards 2019 14 Show review: ISE 2019
Ian McMurray, Steve Montgomery
28 Concert venues
37 New Products
Including Haivision, Magewell, Nureva and Sonifex
Special thanks: Monika Brauer, Monica Gaspar, Dave Wiggins
Cover Image: Igloo Vision
With two new concert venues proposed for London, we find out what we can expect from these significant new additions to the cultural life of the capital
06 AV TECHNOLOGY AWARDS 2019
Winning combination Here’s what you need to know to put together an award-winning entry
ominations are now open for the inaugural AV Technology Awards ceremony, which takes place on Thursday 27th June at the Millennium Gloucester in London. Brought to you by Installation and AV Technology Europe, 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. The award categories reflect this, with the focus still very much on teams and projects, but with entry criteria widened to include submissions from every part of the AV supply chain. Products and solutions are also a big part of the event, with entries closely linked with successful projects and we will be adding to the Hall of Fame, a category that has been a big part of the Install Awards for the last five years. Whether you’re a one-man-band or a large, multinational corporate – you will have an equal chance of winning. And aside from the Outstanding Achievement Award, all awards will be vetted by an independent panel of judges.
The award categories are as follows: Project Excellence Awards • Education Project of the Year • Corporate Project of the Year • Hospitality Project of the Year • Retail/DOOH Project of the Year • Venue Project of the Year • Visitor Attraction Project of the Year Technology Excellence Awards • Audio Product of the Year • AV Accessory of the Year • Display Product of the Year • Collaboration Product of the Year • Projection Product of the Year • Signal Management Product of the Year Individual and Team Excellence Awards • Distributor of the Year • End User Team of the Year • Industry Newcomer of the Year • Integrator of the Year • Manufacturer of the Year
Hall of Fame • Outstanding Achievement by an Individual How to enter Entries are open to any professional working in the AV sector. It’s free to enter and you can submit nominations for as many categories as you like. Specific entry and eligibility criteria for each category can be viewed on the AV Technology Awards website. Entries close at 5pm on 20th March 2019.
Sponsorship opportunities To find out more about sponsoring this event, please contact Richard Gibson email@example.com +44 (0)20 7354 6029 www.avtechnologyawards.com
08 OPINION: ON THE AGENDA
Rob Lane Caring is sharing
AV is helping to improve healthcare in a number of ways
n spite of budgetary restrictions continuing to challenge NHS managers – with Brexit hinting at harder times to come – the use of AV in healthcare continues to make an impact. Imaging, 3D optical surgery, diagnostics, telemedicine, and augmented anatomy lessons all continue to influence healthcare spend. Indeed, according to AVIXA’s 2017 Industry Outlook and Trends Analysis (IOTA), pro AV sales in the global healthcare sector are expected to record double-digit growth by 2022. The trend towards less invasive surgeries continues, with endoscopic tools and uncompressed 4K content helping surgeons to work with more clarity and ease than ever before.
AV impact But it’s also outside of the surgery where AV is having an impact, with a huge growth in digital signage systems informing patients where their departments are and when they should proceed to treatment rooms – helping hospitals with patient flow at the same time. And away from the daily cut and thrust of hospitals, AV is helping to improve healthcare education. Video distribution over Ethernet/IP networks allows high quality video with near zero latency to be beamed from operating theatres to campuses anywhere around the world – either in real time or on demand. This allows medical practitioners and R&D teams to easily share knowledge, speeding up the development of new treatments. Video distribution systems are also energising the telemedicine sector, by connecting patients and doctors in order to offer instant access
to specialist knowledge and creating a better patient experience. Another area where AV is helping with UX is with regard to wellbeing, as video systems are employed to create ‘image windows’ to help reduce patient stress, moving away from the whitewashed walls of yore. NEC recently partnered with Sky Inside to provide moving image window and ceiling apertures (pictured). The Intensive Therapy Unit (ITU) at the Walton Centre NHS Foundation Trust
‘Away from the daily cut and thrust of hospitals, AV is helping to improve healthcare education’
in Liverpool was first out of the blocks with Sky Inside’s ‘sky view’ system, allowing patients to see the outside world during therapy. Images of the sky moving from day to night helps to improve patient sleep patterns, helping to reduce incidences of delirium, a high risk condition with intensive care patients.
ISE recap With some exhibitors complaining that ISE ‘flatlined’ this year, with attendance only increasing by 345 to 81,268 (admittedly yet another attendance record, and another cracking show), perhaps the organisers need to come up with ways of appealing directly to sectors like healthcare when the event moves to Barcelona in 2021. Attracting installers has never been an issue for the world’s premier pro AV showcase; pulling in end users and influencers is more of a challenge. Will the larger Barcelona venue allow for more sector-specific areas and forums, allowing – for instance – those working with healthcare professionals to showcase what AV can do to improve patient care? It would certainly be a way of pulling in less AV-savvy attendees, and would be great for business. Perhaps AVIXA could expand its professional development programmes to include sector enhancements. The 16th annual ISE didn’t disappoint in terms of other records being broken, despite the modest attendance increase. Total floor space hit 56,100sqm, the show’s always-busiest Wednesday broke the largest ever one-day attendance for any event at the Amsterdam RAI, and the number of attendees on Friday exceeded 20,000 for the first time. With 92% of next year’s final RAI ISE show sold by the end of ISE 2019, 2020 promises to be another corking event, albeit something of a transition into Barcelona 2021 – where the organisers should have the space and revenue to further enhance AV’s grip on healthcare and every other key sector. Rob Lane is founder/director of Bigger Boat PR
10 OPINION: ON THE AGENDA
Phil Marechal Automated collaboration
Artificial intelligence has real-world potential in unified communications for enterprise
rtificial intelligence is a broadly used term to define machines that can continue to learn and improve its algorithms without human input. Perhaps the most commonly recognised example is virtual assistant devices such as Alexa, which is now able to understand 90% of the conversation around it. AI is even responsible for the computation happening behind the scenes within Salesforce, Facebook, Google, and other online platforms. In 2017, businesses spent $12.5bn on AI systems, and analysts expect that number will grow by 54.4% through 2020. That’s because new programming techniques, algorithms, and computational languages are allowing computers to cross new thresholds in self-learning, driving new innovations with untold potential, especially within enterprise collaboration. Currently, AI will provide many automated benefits for collaboration. This includes AI assistants that can start meetings, mute microphones, reset the system when the conference concludes, and schedule future meetings. Participants never have to touch a button for these tasks. This not only simplifies and streamlines the collaboration process, but it eliminates the hassle of training participants on how to operate various devices and applications, while allowing them to focus on their primary responsibilities and giving them time to brainstorm.
Making strides In addition, AI is making strides in improving audio conferencing quality. With new capabilities, audio processing technology can learn what audio data is unwanted in an audio stream, such as background noise, detect it when it occurs, and
eliminate it from the conversation. This ensures a clear, accurate, and productive conference without distractions and disruptions. As algorithms continue to be refined, AI-based audio and video technology will be able to further their ability to learn and understand the nuisances of human language for improved voice-to-text applications. In meeting applications, headway is already being made in this area, allowing conferencing systems to identify speakers and their voices through voice imprint technology. Now the AI assistants in these systems can take notes and
‘In the future, AI will make it even easier to have meetings where every component is automated’
transcribe the conversation, eliminating the need for human-based services. Plus, it can deliver the transcription with vital information highlighted and create a list of action items for participants. This represents a valuable, more cost-efficient content stream for companies and improves productivity.
Greater automation There are a lot of industry predictions about AI, some of which are more realistic than others. In the coming year it’s expected that more than 10% of IT department’s customer service staff will be devoted to writing scripts for robots. These scripts will allow businesses to automate the more mundane parts of customer service, leaving AI machines, rather than humans, to handle simple
tasks such as travel reservations, banking, and more. Another example is teaching how to connect a new user to a collaboration meeting with a computer and AI can help guide the user without human intervention. In the future, AI will make it even easier to have meetings where every component is automated and participants never have to lift a finger to start, manage or end a meeting. Virtual reality will also be part of this development, providing participants with the capability to insert 3D objects such as products, spreadsheets, or even dynamic, real-time data into the meeting video stream and analyse them in new, deeper ways. The companies that are able to harness the power of machine learning data in order to create a more natural interaction with people over time and distance will ultimately create a richer, more collaborative experience. We live in very complicated information structures. AI isn’t going to address every component of a meeting perfectly, but the trade-off is an algorithm that gives users a fairly high calculation that, in most instances, humans couldn’t replicate each and every time. Currently, that means that companies can use the technology to address and improve their longterm IT and collaboration needs. When it comes to improving the user experience and opening up new business opportunities, the industry is only at the beginning of the imagination of what AI could accomplish. Phil Marechal is VP, product management and business development at Yamaha UC
INTERVIEW: GRAEME HARRISON, BLUESOUND PROFESSIONAL
‘It’s just glorious fun’ management buyout or something like that. Our future was to some extent determined by things out of our control, and it was not at all because of the performance of the company. It was a generation change in the family that had previously owned the company and they’ve been fantastic bosses for us for 30 years. They just didn’t want to be in the owning companies business anymore. I think being owned by a private equity [firm] is a very different proposition than being owned by a family. You see it all over the industry and the priorities change. It’s part of business really.
The former Biamp stalwart left the company last year after 27 years to seek a new challenge and fill a hole in the market he had identified 15 years previously. Duncan Proctor gets a deep dive on his new venture You left Biamp last July after 27 years, and a few months after the acquisition by Highlander Partners, was it a direct reaction to the acquisition or was it something you had been looking to do for a while? No it was a direct reaction to that. It was clear that Biamp – post-acquisition – was going to be a very different company to Biamp – preacquisition. Not necessarily a worse company, but just a different company. And Rashid [Skaf] came in with his agenda and for some people in the company that will work well and for some of us it was not the company that we had built over the last quarter of a century. And so it was a mutual
decision that my future would be better served somewhere else. Before the acquisition, were you thinking there was still a lot that you wanted to do and achieve at Biamp? I think there was still a lot we could have done. The company was still growing very fast, we were very profitable. We were owned by a familyowned company who basically, after owning us for nearly 30 years, decided that they didn’t want to own companies anymore. They sold both of the companies they owned. It was beyond our control really and Biamp was way too big for a
How does your mentality change now – is the start-up mentality completely different to that of an industry leader? Yes it is really. When you have been somewhere for 27 years, it is kind of like being married for 27 years and going out dating again and you think – am I just old and fat and white-haired and no one is going be interested in me, or do I have something to offer? And it was kind of like that for me. The big thing was about 15 years ago, Matt Czyzewski and I had come across a company called Slim Devices, who made the very first network music player. It was before streaming services and I bought one of these things called a SLIMP3 as a way of getting the files off my computer into my Hi-Fi system and it became apparent that this was an interesting proposition. Biamp looked at that and putting that functionality into our audio DSPs and the whole purpose of that – at that time – was that Slim were talking about mirroring files in the cloud – kind of like an iCloud, but 15 years ago – either mirroring files or mirroring the metadata. We were talking to the guys at Slim to do that, and then they were bought by Logitech. And Logitech wasn’t really interested in B2B stuff, certainly in those days. So those negotiations stopped and we all forgot about it and got on with our lives. And when I was introduced to the people at Lenbrook and the opportunity came about, I suddenly thought ‘In the last 15 years nobody’s done this – why has nobody done this?’ Why has no one made hardware for streaming devices for commercial spaces? I started calling a whole load of people – consultants, distributors, integrators saying ‘what am I missing here? Why has no one done this?’ And everyone said ‘I don’t know, I haven’t
thought about that before, but you’ve got a point’. It gradually, over a number of weeks, became apparent that there was this hole in the marketplace and that was really interesting to me. A combination of the fact that the opportunity to go back to the beginning and do something again and rebuild a company with the same sort of ethos as Biamp – a really people-focused company, one that was fun to do business with was really attractive. Plus the opportunity of working in this area and being first to market with a new category of products was really interesting. There’s a third element to it that is important to me. I used to be a musician, and I used to have a little record company and studio – decades ago, and a lot of my friends are still musicians and there is this question of artist rights in the age of streaming. A number of my friends – Imogen Heap and Zoë Keating, Amanda Palmer and others – are agitating in different ways for a different revenue split and being first to market with commercial hardware for streaming services puts you in a position to have a little voice to the streaming services saying ‘hey guys you know as you roll out business services you might want to think that you’ve got an opportunity now to address this situation a little bit and charge more for those services, which will benefit you, but will also benefit the musicians whose work we’re all listening to’. That was a subsidiary thing, but it is of great interest to me. You say there’s a hole in the market for this, so do you expect things to move quickly as people realise that this is something completely new? I suspect it will move fairly quickly. What’s happening at the moment is that people are doing it in a whole load of different ways. People are using products actually designed for consumer/ residential application in commercial spaces. And it is not really designed for purpose. For example if you go into a restaurant with streaming equipment from the consumer space you have the app on your phone and you have access to their wireless network, but there’s nothing to stop you going in and playing your own music. And a lot of people don’t realise that, but there is no security in any of these systems. There is another element to it, which is that there are beginning to be streaming business music services available. If you are a large hotel chain, you will go to Mood Media or PlayNetwork or Musicstyling and you get a curated stream for your chain of stores or chain of hotels and that includes advertising and messaging and it is downloaded typically once a week or once a month, with rights paid content. That doesn’t work well for a chain of three restaurants. It is way too expensive to go to someone like Mood media and it is not flexible enough. And nowadays streaming is a realistic
INTERVIEW: GRAEME HARRISON alternative. There are services coming available that allow commercial establishments to play rights paid music, particularly in North America. Let’s just use England as an example. You could have a bar – say you pay PPL for artist and record company rights and PRS for composer and publisher rights and then you theoretically have the right to play stuff in your bar whether it be a live band or a CD. You are technically not allowed to play Spotify and Pandora, not because of the performing rights issue, but because of the terms and conditions of their content from their personal services. All of this is a nightmare to your average business owner. I think the statistics globally are only about 20% of businesses actually pay the PROs and if it’s bundled with the content, then it becomes 100%, which is a good thing for all concerned. There’s a changing environment in terms of
‘It’s kind of like being married for 27 years and going out dating again’
the content as well as the hardware that it is played over and I think it is responsible to be aware of both. We could just say we are a company that makes streaming hardware, and just like a company that makes CD players we are not responsible for what you do with that. But I want to be a little more proactive than that, we can’t be the police but I want to have a bit more of a place in the conversation around what digital rights look like in commercial spaces going forward. Can you tell me a bit about the Lenbrook Group. It is a mid-sized, private and globally minded business overseeing a group of companies based in Toronto and they own three Hi-Fi brands – NAD Electronics, PSB Speakers and Bluesound wireless multi-room players. And they have long wanted to get into the commercial space and we were introduced by a mutual Australian friend of ours. What I’m doing is heading up a fourth company called Bluesound Professional, which to begin with takes products from each of those three other companies and modifies them to be commercially suitable under a separate range called Bluesound Professional. As time goes on the Bluesound Professional line will veer away from the residential side of it with a new product roadmap that has products that are more and more fit for purpose for the hospitality/commercial sector. I’m coming into this small group of companies, which feels very much like Biamp felt a few years ago. A really tight, passionate team of people. And I have this remit to build out a commercial side of their business and it’s just glorious fun.
Where do systems integrators fit into the Bluesound Professional model going forward? This is one of the reasons that consumer focused brands have not done this, because the commercial side of the business is totally separate to the residential and even custom install CEDIA bit. There is the Hi-Fi stores that do custom install as well, and then there’s pretty much a hard gap, and then there is the commercial market. There have not been products available for those people. If you are a systems integrator and you want to use a streaming player at the moment, you have got to go to a Hi-Fi store or go online and put it in. You have no protection against the bar owners saying ‘well I’ve got a mate at the local Hi-Fi store I can get a great price’. And the equipment is not fit for purpose, so you have got to shoehorn it in. Whereas what we are doing is making a specific range of equipment that is not available to the residential sector, that is designed from the ground up for the commercial sector and only available to the commercial sector through the commercial sales channels. What are your short, mid and long-term aims and goals for Bluesound Professional? Short-term is a first release suite of products that we showed at ISE and we are shipping in a few months time and building our global distribution network and launching that series of products to the market. At the same time, I’m in discussions with musicians and some of the streaming service companies to foster relationships. We already support SOUNDMACHINE, that is one of the services already available on the platform, and we are talking to other providers. A lot of the long-term vision is for an architectural change. What people are used to doing now is putting in source material to a DSP and running it around the place with Dante or CobraNet or Q-LAN or AVB, and taking it to endpoints. Whereas in in the age of streaming you do not need to do any of that – your endpoints are your decoders. What we’re looking to do is build out a whole range of equipment, from streaming devices to loudspeakers. The underlying platform is called BluOS and it is what underpins Bluesound Professional and Bluesound and some products from different Hi-Fi manufacturers. It is bringing a 21st century architecture into the hospitality space. With Biamp I was really focused on the enterprise space, this is focused on a different market area and bringing modern architecture to that and hopefully being able to influence how the content providers are recompensed.
14 SHOW REVIEW: ISE 2019
As advertised For our show review of last month’s ISE, we’ve got a whistle-stop tour of some of the attention-grabbing launches, highlights from a stacked conference programme and all the winners from our Best of Show Awards programme
he 16th ISE was the biggest in the show’s history and provided further evidence of why it has become the international destination of choice for AV professionals. Across 15 halls and a showfloor of 56,100 net square metres, this year’s event housed 1,301 exhibitors. Of these, 225 (17%) were companies taking space at ISE for the first time. The overall number of registered visitors to ISE 2019 was 81,268 – a modest increase on the figure from 2018 – however 32% were attending ISE for the first time. And Wednesday saw the largest ever one-day attendance figure for any show at the Amsterdam RAI. LG arrived at ISE with its advanced information display technology. This included Transparent OLED Signage as well as a full lineup of LED products. Transparent OLED creates new possibilities for retail and gallery environments LG’s Falls display had – merchandise can be its Euro debut at ISE clearly seen through the 38% transparent display when content is played. Making its European debut was the LG OLED Falls display. The display welcomed visitors at the main entrance of LG’s booth and is constructed from 88 flexible Open Frame OLED displays.
LG also showcased its fine-pitch for LED calculators. Unilumin’s MP Mini-LED LAPE series of LED displays, the LAA Unilumin unveiled series bezel-less 130in meeting room its MP (Mass LED Screen and its Color Transparent Production) Mini-LED LED Film. 0.9mm on the first Samsung introduced a trio of 8K day of ISE 2019. display solutions. Having achieved The new 82in QLED 8K Signage a key technical combines the market’s highest breakthrough of resolution with AI upscaling technology. mass-producing Mini LED with mass transfer Samsung also launched a 292in version of trinting (MTP) for chips, Unilumin is able to elevate ‘The Wall’ display in 8K, available globally in LED displays. The new solution goes beyond LCD the first half of this year. It’s a large-format and LED signage by achieving a one-off transfer modular display ideal for luxury residences as of 20,000 chips for the MP Mini-LED, while well as for business purposes, configurable and increasing the final pass yield to 99.997%. customisable to a variety of sizes and ratios from A number of new solutions were on show from 73in to 292in. Vestel, including digital signage, videowall and Multi-Link LED HDR is said to be the industry’s stretched displays. first 8K LED HDR technology. Using Samsung’s The manufacturer launched the Extra Bright proprietary algorithm and scene PDX Digital Signage to deliver higher impact analysis, Multi-Link LED HDR turns visibility for indoor environments. The series is any content into HDR quality, without available in 55in and 75in full HD models. special meta-data. Also on show was its latest videowall solution, The EZ-HD Series of LED displays which is said to overcome the usual challenges was exhibited by SiliconCore last of adoption by offering a customisable solution month in Amsterdam. The range that is easy to set up and use in a wider variety of is designed for professional and applications. As well as full HD 49in, 55in and 65in corporate environments, and screen sizes for display purposes, it provides the engineered to be installed by two option of a 65in UHD screen to ensure detailed technicians in under three hours. picture clarity from closer viewing distances. Displays are available in three fixed Lastly, Vestel revealed 37in and 86in NB Series sizes – 110in, 130in and 165in diagonal stretched displays in flexible designs, which are at HD resolution, removing the need both easy and cost-effective to adopt and install.
d&b’s Henning Kaltheuner discusses the Milan protocol
There were significant developments of the Milan AVB protocol announced at ISE, having initially been unveiled last year. The major players behind the protocol revealed that there will be a new generation of products that work together successfully “at new levels of convenience, reliability and functionality.” Milan will be supported by a specification and certification process designed to guarantee interoperability among Milan devices. Details of some of the first related products were also announced including d&b audiotechnik’s DS20 audio network bridge – the company’s first product for connecting its loudspeaker systems to Milan – and Adamson Systems Engineering’s CS7p point source enclosure. Biamp launched a suite of new products in Hall 3. Firstly, for open ceiling installations, two new desono pendant speakers – the P6 and P6-SM. These speakers are ideal for retail, restaurants, casinos, and other applications that require background and foreground music or paging. Also launched at the show was the Crowd Mics audience engagement solution, which transforms every smartphone and tablet into a personal microphone and interactive response system. desono C-IC6 conferencing speakers are a new line with an optional AMP-450BP backpack amplifier, delivering high quality audio and an easy installation experience for integrators. New Parlé Beamtracking microphones are designed to deliver an extraordinary audio experience to every conference room, including the TCM-X ceiling and TTM-X tabletop models.
SHOW REVIEW: ISE 2019
including new loudspeakers, 10G L2 switches and significant firmware upgrades. The show also saw the company highlight its Active Field Control (AFC) system. The VXC and VXS speaker range was expanded with the VXC2F 2.5in full-range, low profile ceiling speaker and VXC8S 8in bandpass ceiling subwoofer (pictured left). Also launched was the SWP2 series of network switches, which include 10Gbps fibre uplinks, making them ideal for high capacity Dante networking, including 96kHz. Yamaha’s RIVAGE digital mixing systems also received another upgrade with the debut of RIVAGE V3.0. This firmware update adds the new DaNSe dynamic noise suppressor plug-in, developed by Dr K’s lab at the Yamaha Corporation in Japan to bring improvements in speech clarity for theatre and broadcast. Dataton revealed a new series of highperformance media servers at ISE 2019. The Lastly, Biamp announced its new Tesira WATCHPAX 60 series of high-performance media amplifiers, which are enterprise-ready rackservers feature the latest processor technology, mounted amps said to offer flexibility through robust exterior and redundant power supply as asymmetric power distribution, selectable standard. The new rack-friendly series is suited speaker impedance, and multiple connectivity for demanding applications such as live events, options. attractions and broadcast installations. Described as “the best The new 2U media product we’ve ever made”, EM server will be available Acoustics launched its HALO-B in three models offering mid-sized line array system – from four up to 12 the third system in the HALO outputs and support family. HALO-B sits between for uncompressed HALO-A and HALO-C in both video playback. Each physical size and overall model features HDMI Dataton launched the WATCHPAX 60 series system output, and as such is and SDI input, balanced the most versatile system in audio, dual 10 Gbit/s the family. It is a two-way reflex-loaded line array network for high-speed content transfer, high element featuring dual 8in LF drivers and four 1in performance ultra-durable NVMe media storage. HF drive units. Kramer introduced Kramer Kronos – a secure, Meyer Sound updated its UPQ line with a new enterprise-class cloud-based room booking Class-D amplifier and the current UPQ-1P and and scheduling platform. The meeting solution UPQ-2P have been re-designated as UPQ-D1 and streamlines and automates the management UPQ-D2, respectively. A third variant, the UPQside of room booking. Due to its integration with D3, offers a new 80° x 80° coverage option. All Kramer Control, IT administrators can use a three variants retain the same exterior cabinet room’s availability as a trigger for automatically dimensions and rigging points as current UPQ controlling room elements. With 802.1x and models. Transport Layer Security (TLS) encryption on All three new variants incorporate the same all communication to and from the scheduling proven driver complement as the prior versions. touch panels and the Kramer Kronos server The low frequency section relies on a 15in (cloud-based), sensitive booking and scheduling neodymium magnet information is completely secure. cone driver while Peerless-AV demoed its indoor and outdoor high frequencies LED, weatherproof displays and kiosks. An are reproduced by Electric Vehicle Charging Station, featuring a 4in diaphragm two 55in Xtreme High Bright Displays, was a compression driver. popular talking point on the stand as the surge A number of new in this emerging market continues. Next to the products and firmware EV kiosk, a new Back to Back Outdoor Smart updates were on City Kiosk, featuring touchscreen and audience show from Yamaha, measurement capabilities, proved the appeal of
16 SHOW REVIEW: ISE 2019
Michael Schneider, creative technology head at Gensler
More of a focal point than ever before, and worth the trip alone, the conference programme at ISE 2019 more than lived up to the hype. The Smart Building Conference was up first with delegates at this year’s event told of the need for smart building designers to adopt a ‘human-centric’ approach. Michael Schneider, creative technology head at Gensler, also argued that smart buildings should not just automate functions such as light or temperature control – they need to engage with the inhabitants within them. Also designers need to communicate with heads of marketing and HR and not just those working in operations. This, he said, would mean that buildings can be used as communication tools for staff, new recruits and clients. The XR Summit on the Tuesday afternoon at the Hotel Okura presented the case for
The Digital Signage Summit, part of the programme of events at the Okura, revealed global sales of large-format commercial displays reached 5.6 million last year – a 21% increase on 2017. Market value now stands at $14.6bn, an increase of 18% year on year. Every market across EMEA recorded growth. However there is disruption as a result of changing consumer behaviours and expectations driven by the likes of Facebook, Amazon, Netflix and Google. Signage is having an impact in retail, but it is not the only sector. Around 80% of brands L-R: Michael Karagosian with Nick Dager from Digital Cinema Report
The XR Summit panel
storytellers to put the user at the centre of the experience. The fact this has not been achieved yet is the reason why the consumer market is yet to embrace VR, it was argued. The lacklustre consumer take-up has not stopped firms from experimenting with immersive technologies, particularly in the B2B, travel and entertainment sectors. A number of use cases were presented during the discussion, including an upcoming virtual holographic tour featuring Amy Winehouse, and a case that utilised VR and AR to enhance virtual online collaboration.
experienced an increase of up to 33% in sales using digital signage. In addition, visual aids have been shown to improve classroom learning by up to 400%, quick service restaurants report a 30% increase in order value when customers use smart vending solutions, and 52% of travellers are more likely to visit a hotel that offers self-check in. Wednesday’s Digital Cinema Summit was also hosted at the Hotel Okura and featured renowned cinema industry consultant Michael Karagosian. He stated that a lack of clear leadership and a cash-strapped studio system in the throes of consolidation are factors that threaten to hold back digital cinema’s second wave. Karagosian also claimed that there has been too much talk about new HDR systems and not enough emphasis on the problems
‘How Technology Enhances the Fan Experience’ panel
that need solving for HDR to become a reality. This includes the way colour is managed as all screens will not have the same dynamic range. Focusing on the fan experience, AGORA debuted at ISE 2019, and looked into how fan engagement can be improved both within the stadium and outside of events. The news from the panel discussion was positive for the AV industry as it is set to play a key role in creating these experiences. According to AVIXA’s 2018 Market Opportunity Analysis Report, which focused on sports venues, the sector is a major component of the overall global AV industry, representing 23.7% of its value at just over $27.5bn. The sector also shows a compound annual growth rate of 5.8%, bigger than every other sector, including corporate. In contrast, it was also revealed that investment in emerging technologies such as voice control, AR/VR and interactive kiosks has declined this year, but it is unknown whether this is a sign of venues moving away from these technologies or simply evaluating initial investments. Sean Wargo, senior director of market intelligence at AVIXA, told delegates at the Hospitality Tech Summit that hospitality is one of the principle verticals to watch as the AV industry continues to grow over the next four years up to 2023. Hospitality is currently experiencing a better than average annual growth rate, forecast at 6% between 2018 and 2023. APAC will lead the way, according to Wargo, and will become the fastest growing region within this time period, commanding 35% of total hospitality revenues globally. This positive outlook provides fresh opportunities for AV firms to diversify and stay robust against the onslaught of recession. Wargo added that while the hospitality sector was keen to invest in AV kit primarily to improve customer experience and satisfaction, the sector also has a desire to communicate its brand story. In terms of current AV spend within the hospitality sector, AVIXA research reveals that video displays came out on top, accounting for 34% of total spend. While scale of investment is lower in hospitality than verticals such as corporate and education, AVIXA research into the hospitality sector revealed that a sizeable percentage of project budgets (almost 6%) go on AV.
SHOW REVIEW: ISE 2019
Installation Best of Show Awards at ISE 2019
Altia Systems – PanaCast 3
Here are all the winners from Installation‘s Best of Show Awards at ISE 2019. Judging was as tight as ever, so huge congratulations to the winners and a big thank you to everyone who entered.
AMETEK Electronic Systems Protection – SurgeX Defender Series AtlasIED – Strategically Hidden Speaker Loxit – Hi-Lo Mono Slimline Multi Position Fixed Height Wall Mount Canon Europe – XEED 4K5020Z ClearOne – COLLABORATE Space Crestron – DM-NVX-350 disguise – vx 4 media server InFocus – Mondopad Ultra intoPIX – TICO-XS codec
All smiles for this rabble from Canon Europe
Mersive – Solstice Kepler Optoma Europe – FHDQ130 Samsung – QLED 8K Signage Unilumin – 4K MP Mini-LED WolfVision – Cynap Pure
L-R: Loxit’s Andy, John and Heather Whittle nail the Best of Show acceptance pic
Slightly overwhelmed by the gravitas of the Best of Show handout - Optoma Europe’s Ross Noonan
L-R: Erin Orsulak, Simone Oberti and Kerry Filkins were all suitably pleased in this well choreographed snap
Clearly a natural with a Best of Show certificate - Melissa Adamson of InFocus
A heady mix of happiness and cool detachment - WolfVision pair (L-R) Christian Loacker and Andreas Ganahl
18 SPECIAL REPORT: XR
NEC has helped deploy AR in retail, where it is used to enable customers to ‘see’ what’s in the box
To be, or not to be? New technologies are emerging that combine, in varying degrees, the real world with the virtual world. Ian McMurray asks to what extent the AV industry is likely to embrace them.
ometimes, it seems Shakespeare’s Hamlet was written almost entirely as a sequence of memorable soliloquies. Among the more famous extracts from them is: “I could be bounded in a nutshell And count myself a king of infinite space Were it not that I have bad dreams.” Critics have long argued over what this means – but there is a consensus that, as with much of the play, it is about the nature of reality. Hamlet, they say, believes that reality is not absolute, but personal: reality is not necessarily a shared experience, but entirely relative to each individual. Which brings us neatly to the new realities of the 21st century: augmented reality (AR), mixed reality (MR), and virtual reality (VR) – collectively known as extended reality (XR). There are, unsurprisingly, divergent views on whether XR is a useful term. Thomas Walter, section manager, strategic product marketing at NEC Display Solutions
Europe, believes the term has value. “From an AV perspective, it definitely makes sense to summarise AR, VR and all other sub-segments under XR, since they all follow the same basic concept of combining real-and-virtual environments and human-machine interactions using computing and display technologies.”
Confusing “From a technical point of view, each of the technologies have applications that are specific to that technology, and as such, it would be confusing to refer to all modes of realities under one name,” says Ross Magri, managing director of Sarner. “However, for the layperson, this is not the case – and if we were to use a single umbrella name to refer to all modes of realities, we would avoid a lot of confusion.” Frank Reynolds, marketing manager, Antycip Simulation, isn’t so sure. “XR is a good general term to cover the breakthroughs that VR, AR and MR are offering and providing,” he believes.
Key Points n XR may be a convenient term - but VR, AR and MR have very different use cases n There are many instances of MR/AR in action in AV applications n VR is largely discounted because of AV’s focus on shared experiences n XR is likely to enhance AV existing applications rather than drive new ones “However, when any specific discussion happens about what the technologies can do, then the terms used will tumble down to VR, AR and MR. To me, it’s like using MS Office as the general terms for the tools we use on our PCs – but then talking about MS Word, MS Excel and MS PowerPoint. Like these terms, most conversations will be at the specific level rather than the general one.” Stuart Hetherington, CEO of Holovis, is clear. “VR, AR and MR are very different platforms and, although they can be described under the same generic terms – such as XR or emerging technologies – they have very different use
SPECIAL REPORT: XR
cases and applications.” XR is, then, perhaps a term of convenience rather than a meaningful one, and may even confuse rather than clarify: the fact is that applications of VR, AR and MR are likely to be very different.
not previously taken stands at the show. There is widespread agreement that this marked a significant step. “The technology is still in its infancy and occupies a niche market,” says Magri. “However, the fact that there is such a high interest in ISE confirms that companies are realising that there
Real benefits Spiros Andreou, service delivery manager at integrator CDEC, explains how his company approaches the problem. “We are very much engaged with MR from the perspective of providing a collaborative virtual classroom and believe that the concept has real benefits,” he notes. “The impression, however, is that XR means wearing an uncomfortable helmet and goggles, with dizzying graphics and disorienting multi-channel audio. That’s led us to separate the various roles and talk about ‘Headset VR,’ ‘Mobile Device AR’ and ‘Classroom MR’ so that our customers are on the same page.” That uncertainty about terminology didn’t stop ISE hosting its second XR Summit this year, however – and what was notable about ISE 2019 was that it saw no fewer than 16 exhibitors identifying as potential providers of VR and/ or MR and/or AR solutions. Twelve of them had
‘In my opinion, mixed reality has the highest potential as it allows us to merge the real world with the virtual one’ Ross Magri, Sarner
is a mass market application for VR, MR and AR.” “It’s hugely significant,” believes Reynolds, “as it shows a maturing of the XR community and market, signified by it joining the mainstream AV industry. The real test will be to see if the number grows in 2020 and if those who exhibit this year return. If it does, and they do, then XR
SEAMLESS FOR THEM. EFFORTLESS FOR YOU.
will not be a niche side street.”
Opportunities? Which, of course, begs the question: what are the opportunities that might see those exhibitors – and more of their kind – at ISE 2020? Reynolds is bullish. “We’re seeing VR CAVEs for shared collaboration on engineering projects at automotive manufacturers, and head-mounted display-based applications for AV experiences such as that at the Kremer collection virtual art museum,” he says. “However, MR has the biggest potential impact in the future, when the device for experiencing it has become established and commonplace. Trans-disciplinary artist Doctor Vesna Petresin currently uses a combination of XR technologies in her sound and visual art programmes, providing her with the ability to expand the audience’s experience beyond what is physically available, while keeping them sharing the experience of being together in the physical world. VR can be isolating, and MR is more realistic than AR.” Entertainment is a logical application of XR technologies, not least because of their roots in gaming, where mobile, headset and
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20 SPECIAL REPORT: XR
XR is still widely associated with wearable technology, which engenders some resistance
screen-based applications have become widely available. Sarner provides audiovisual engineering for theme parks and visitor attractions, and Magri is clear where the future lies for that application. “In my opinion, mixed reality has the highest potential as it allows us to merge the real world with the virtual one, whereas VR is an extension of 3D film into a 360° format – which has its application, but nowhere the potential of MR.” But what about applications that are closer to home for many in the AV industry? So-called ‘gamification’ has long been a topic of discussion in educational circles, and XR is a logical extension of this.
Worth exploring “We are quite bought into the benefits of MR,” CDEC’s Andreou enthuses. “A big use case for MR in schools is collaborative group work, where the group takes on abstract roles such as camera operator, adventurer, director and co-ordinator to complete a puzzle or challenge together. The possibility for immersive experience, which would engage pupils, develop real world collaboration skills and feature topical and curriculum-driven subject matter makes this
technology well worth exploring.” Not everything is quite yet where he would like it to be, however. “With the application of some industry standards to prevent vendor lock-in, some easy tools for our customers to use to develop content, and support from larger manufacturers, this technology could be the next step from interactive touch in classrooms and lecture
‘The future will be this blending of the shared experience and personalised experience that we’re currently seeing’ Frank Reynolds, Antycip
spaces. We are, however, starting to see support from larger software companies – such as Microsoft’s Mixed Reality Portal. The AV industry also needs to step in with innovative and flexible technologies that can integrate with a
customer’s existing equipment.” Retail, as so often, is at the leading edge of AV technology – and there, XR has already established itself. “XR isn’t about the future – it’s already here,” states NEC’s Walter. “One example is the Lego AR solution in retail stores, where shoppers can hold the Lego box in front of an NEC large format display and they see the contents virtually displayed on the box, with all the parts fully assembled, set up and in motion. That allows shoppers to easily see what’s inside the box and what they can do with it. This application is up and running in multiple Lego stores around the world.”
Promise And: it’s not just retail. “MR and AR show promise in delivering real business benefits,” notes Hetherington. While pointing out that VR is far from ready for prime time in the business world for a number of reasons, “and are already being deployed and tested in enterprise sectors for applications such as design visualisation, virtual manufacturing and real-time data overlay and review. Some of these use cases are still operated in large tracked environments and range from data validation to real-time configurations and
22 SPECIAL REPORT: XR commissioning suites, photo realistic modelling, process validation, service and maintenance, digital twin and procedure tracking.” “With AR, we are using it as a sales and marketing tool to demonstrate our capabilities and to help customers better understand what we are offering,” adds Antycip’s Reynolds. “For example, we use the AR capability on an iPad Pro to show customers what the projectors we are recommending would look like when set up in their proposed demo or VR room, or to show them the size of the screen that we are recommending. Elsewhere, we’ve seen AR being used in theme parks to improve customers’ experience in queues, by building on the content being shown on the existing displays; VR has been used to help sell season tickets for the new Spurs stadium; and to augment health and safety training on large scale building sites.”
Enhance – or create? There is an extent, then, to which XR is already making its way into environments that are, if not exactly AV mainstream, then certainly adjacent to it. The question for many is: will XR simply augment/enhance existing AV applications, or will it create new ones? Andreou is dubious about its ability to enhance unified communications – an application widely touted as a candidate for XR-ification. “Initially, he says, “room users will be reluctant to wear devices that connect them to a virtual experience, especially given the size and bulk of wearable equipment that is on the market today. It will also be difficult to pitch XR technologies in meeting, collaboration or presentation spaces unless there is a very compelling use case, so it is hard to imagine how existing AV will be supplemented by XR to provide additional use cases.” “However,” he continues, “in the future, should XR prove popular enough, it may be that components are integrated into commercial technology such as VC codecs in order to provide a more immersive experience for remote participants.” On the other hand, as Hetherington points out – insofar as CAVEs are a collaborative environment, VR is a technology that is suited in specific instances to enabling improved understanding and communication.
Additional value Walter sees opportunities for both enhancing existing applications and creating new ones. “There are applications which help to enhance an existing application with additional value for the user, such as virtual car configurators,” he observes. “We also see other applications that are new or replace existing technologies, such
as virtual wellness resorts, where VR mixed with audio creates a relaxation space, with applications in offices and airport lounges to reduce stress.” Reynolds has a clear vision of the way forward. “Today, AR is all about enhancing existing AV applications, such as entertainment events and venues using professional AV displays and who are adding to this through personalising the user’s experience and engagement with AR elements,” he believes. “Going forward, it will create new opportunities – but also disruption for the AV industry, as the new elements come from providers outside of the traditional AV industry. The future will be this blending of the shared experience and personalised experience that we’re currently seeing – but the balance or share between the two will vary, with the concern that the AV element becomes marginalised. Savvy AV companies today should be looking to have AR services or capabilities as part of their market offering, so that they can offer the full solution to clients in the future. This in turn will create new opportunities for them.” The exact impact of XR technologies on the AV industry remains difficult to assess. Given the level of investment in them, and the excitement about their potential, they are for sure impossible to ignore – as are studies like the one from Statista that show the VR/AR market jumping from $27bn in 2018 to $209bn in 2022 – and it would be foolish for any industry participant not to track developments in the space, as Reynolds implies.
Hype “There is still a lot of hype around the connection between XR and AV,” says Hetherington. “Of course, the industry definitely needs to be aware of the benefits and opportunities, while also appreciating that traditional AV, and the continuation of innovation and advancements in the core AV technologies, will still be the significant focus and requirement for corporate clients. Regardless of which platform you’re working with – VR, AR or MR – none are geared up for the large scale communications that have been the real strength of the AV industry: traditional AV systems, and especially secondary screens, will continue to be the primary focus for a long time yet.” In all the discussion of XR, there appears to be a perception that AR and MR have the greater potential. So: what of VR? Will it ever have a role to play in the AV industry? CDEC’s Andreou believes he sees a way forward. “I hope that we will see a ‘killer IDE’ – integrated development environment – or a ‘killer game engine’ such as Unity or Unreal Engine that allows hobby developers
Results revealed In a wholly unscientific survey, interviewees for this article identified what they believed were the AV applications that would most readily exploit XR technologies. 1. Training 2=. Entertainment/leisure 2=. Retail 2=. Education 2=. Healthcare 6=. Virtual manufacturing 6=. Collaborative design 6=. Wayfinding 6=. Remote assistance to produce content for VR very easily,” he says. “This kind of advancement would allow software houses to produce more commercial applications such as classroom journeys, simulation tools and interactive games in response to market demand from the education and corporate sectors.”
Way to go For Magri, there is still a way to go, however, before Andreou’s vision can be realised. “We first need to see a killer hardware solution before software is considered,” he believes. “While the hardware remains so cumbersome and at times difficult to use, and with the quality just not being there – no matter how good the app is, it will always be limited by the processing power of the hardware.” It’s hard to conclude anything other than that the jury is still out when it comes to XR and its impact on the AV industry. Yes, there are existing use cases, and successful deployments. It seems certain that retail, for example, or education/training applications can benefit from the new technologies. AV niche markets, such as healthcare, are promising candidates. MR and AR at the present time have significantly more potential than VR, if only because they are likely to prove easier to overlay on existing AV infrastructures. There is enthusiasm and caution; excitement and concern; positive and negative views about the opportunity for XR in the AV industry. But then, as Hamlet famously said, continuing his musings on relativism and what precisely constitutes reality: “There is nothing either good or bad but thinking makes it so.”
www.antycipsimulation.com www.cdec.co.uk www.holovis.com www.nec-display-solution.com www.sarner.com
24 SPECIAL REPORT: XR
Picture: Igloo Vision
New realities As adoption of XR technologies grows across sectors, Steve Montgomery looks at how AV integrators can get involved
mmersive technology is becoming more common and useful to businesses and commercial organisations and is appearing in a wide range of application areas and industry sectors. In its three forms: virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR) and mixed reality (MR), extended reality offers vast potential to the AV sector to create and deliver new offerings to the end user customer base. Unlike 3D technology, which failed to grab viewers’ approval, extended reality is already an established consumer technology; particularly in the gaming and entertainment arenas and is readily available on smartphones. Hardware and software tools are backed by some of the largest manufacturers in the world – Samsung, Microsoft, HTC and Google for example. It is also being used by major brands, like Audi, BMW, Remy Martin and Ikea, to promote their products through virtual customer information and interaction. It looks like extended reality is here to stay.
The question now, is how we as AV technologists can become involved; how we can leverage our audiovisual expertise to benefit, and make money from, this exciting technology as it penetrates deeper into the commercial environment.
Range of applications In the current climate of constant technological advancement and economic uncertainty, organisations need to find new ways to drive efficiency – immersive technology is proving to be a valuable solution. VR and AR are revolutionising workflows, improving processes, and offering a means of differentiating from the competition. The range of applications is vast. “The business and commercial applications for AR, VR and MR are wide ranging,” says Matthew Bumford, head of marketing at Kazendi. “To be honest, too many to mention. There have been some clear wins in industries such as manufacturing and health in the case of MR, retail and brand for AR and real
Key Points n Integrators need to understand the issues and challenges with the technologies that are not directly related to AV n Immersive technology is rapidly evolving and the potential applications for XR is expanding across a number of sectors n Headsets remain a barrier in VR and MR as the hardware is not currently comparable to human vision and it can feel isolating for the user estate and brand experiences for VR but as the AR, VR and MR industry grows, the costs will reduce and wider interest will increase so the amount of commercial applications will increase too.” The technology is well established already, as Neil Evely, head of business development, REWIND points out: “It’s fair to say that VR is nothing new. It’s been around for years. But now, as VR is becoming more accessible, reliable and costeffective, it is being rapidly adopted across a whole range of industries, from architecture to tourism.
SPECIAL REPORT: XR 25
“For example, within automotive, brands such as Ford, Audi, Volvo, Jaguar, and Hyundai have all been using VR for many years and have since changed processes for design, safety, sales, and purchasing. VR is also reshaping the aerospace industry. The technology is being used for design and manufacturing, passenger entertainment and maintenance, with a significant focus on its use as a learning tool for engineers and to enhance training.” Its application is widespread, with most industry sectors able to reap the benefits from immersive experiences, including educational institutions and government departments. Jakes de Kock, head of marketing at Igloo Vision, explains how his company splits its activities to address different application categories: “There are three major segments that we address. Firstly, visualisation – which is mainly used within the AEC industries. Bringing architectural,
‘The best strategy for anyone looking to implement AR, VR or MR would be to select an agency or an XR studio and begin a conversation’ Matthew Bumford, Kazendi
engineering, and construction design concepts to life. Businesses can create 3D, CAD, CGI or BIM content, use 360° films or fly-throughs or can show clients or stakeholders how their finished concepts will look and feel. “Secondly in the training arena, simulation of environments allows trainees to experience a virtual situation when it is totally impossible to recreate that physically – due to expense, safety or simply because the environment has not been built. It can immerse entire teams in the centre of any situation. With 360º fully immersive sound and vision, you can re-create realistic scenarios. “Thirdly, the experiential market. With wraparound sound and vision, brands can engage, inspire and entertain their audiences. They can transport an audience from a high street to a beach, glacier, the slopes of an erupting volcano or anywhere they choose to support their brand story.”
Issues and barriers Despite the general optimism across the industry, there are issues and barriers holding back its adoption and restricting the rate of takeup. Some of these are physical and a result of practical application. “Wearing a headset to view content, especially for virtual reality applications
is seen as a big barrier to its use,” says Simon Benson, founder, Realised Realities. “In much the same way that 3D glasses isolated users, VR goggles separate people. In environments, such as education and museums, goggles are shared and this presents hygiene issues, with headsets needing to be cleaned between use. There are also age restrictions limiting the adoption of VR in education. Immersive applications also require high power processing in the computers used to create and deliver interactive content although this will abate with time. A new image must be presented to a viewer following movement of their head within about 20ms, otherwise there is a risk of inducing motion sickness; although this varies from person to person. This is because the viewed image does not follow the personal movement of the head as quickly as it should. AV integrators need to understand these non-AV issues. “Mainly it is about learning about the devices themselves as they tend to act as peripherals to existing hardware or as standalone devices and much of the complexity comes down to understanding how they work, their limitations and strengths,” points out Benson. “Good knowledge and understanding of PCs is essential as there are minimum requirements for the associated headsets. If the PC is not powerful enough, the headsets can be completely unusable as slow updates of the headsets can be a nausea trigger.” Another technical limitation that the AV industry should be aware of is that the goggles used currently have a narrow field of vision, limited resolution and image quality. Benson explains: “The field of view of headsets tends to be a limitation for virtual and mixed reality systems. VR is typically 100° FOV and MR is often only 40°. Human vision is more like 240°, so we are some way off the goal of simulating reality in the headsets yet. Resolution is also limited with many VR headsets providing a visual fidelity that falls short of HD displays currently.” This is something he believes will change: “It’s similar to when Apple launched the first Mac with a windows and mouse interface. It was great, and we can still see its influence today, but things have moved on a lot and we now have much higher fidelity mice with more buttons, larger screens with higher resolutions and more GPU power etc. - nowadays the whole experience is more refined. The same will happen with immersive technology. It is likely that we will see higher resolutions, wider fields of view, more robust tracking, better input devices and so on.”
More opportunities With the widespread availability of virtual, augmented and mixed reality around us in our
everyday lives, there are good opportunities to try, and familiarise ourselves with the concepts. And then to dream up and create new solutions and applications to take to market. There are more and more opportunities to try VR, AR and MR in places such as museums, games, retail stores, specialist VR arcades, theme parks and many businesses. There are also meet-ups in most major cities focused on immersive tech where demos are often given and experts congregate. This is an activity that Evely recommends highly: “The best starting point is to gain some hands-on experience with headsets and experiences. Nothing comes close to actually putting a headset on. With the cost of head mounted displays coming down, and with great free content available for all platforms, getting one for your company is a good place to start. Exhibitions and conferences can also provide an introduction to the medium and allow the curious to experiment with minimal outlay.” When we have convinced ourselves of the opportunities, the next step is to entice and convince the potential customer. In immersive applications, as with the digital signage industry, ‘content is king’. The experience or value is just as good or effective as the content created. There is a clear skills requirement for developing applications for AR, VR and MR technologies. Due to the nature of development many companies will simply elect to use third parties to define and develop applications and experiences and then use their own expertise to turn this into a solution
‘Good knowledge and understanding of PCs is essential as there are minimum requirements for the associated headsets’ Simon Benson, Realised Realities
for the customer.
Combined approach Buying in expertise is probably a good place to start. The industry is still advancing at a significant speed so specialists can provide the most up-to-date knowledge of the technology and industry as a whole. It is tempting to think the DIY option is best, but as we saw with the VFX industry, doing this in-house can turn out to be a false economy. Fortunately, there are several agencies and content creation specialists who can help; leaving AV integrators to then assemble the solutions and present them to the customer. Bumford is
26 SPECIAL REPORT: XR
The Rémy Martin mixed reality is also one of the very first HoloLens experiences that is designed for consumers around the world
an advocate of this combined approach: “I see a clear relationship occurring between AR, VR and MR studios, ideation or creative agencies or enterprise customers and the installation industry and technicians to work together to create real-world solutions for the technology in whatever space is being discussed. The best strategy for anyone looking to implement AR, VR or MR would be to select an agency or an XR studio and begin a conversation.” Kazendi has taken this a stage further and developed the HoloMeeting application, which is designed for collaboration and communication to be used on a day-to-day basis for enterprise customers. Bumford offers some opportunities: “With some out of the box thinking and support from installation, this app could be used right away for large-scale presentations or to enlighten board meetings or trade show exhibitions for instance. Most important is to have a clear idea of how the technology will be used and in which environments as is it is not always a case of ‘plug and go’ with the equipment for this technology.”
Lack of understanding Despite the forward-thinking attitude of these creative organisations there is still a disjoint
between what can be offered and what actually is; a feeling that we are limited by creativity rather than technology. de Kock summarises this as: “A lack of understanding by stakeholders on how the technology can be applied to add true long-term value to a business. Ideally, a business decision-maker has to experience the technology as applied in real situations relevant to the business before they can realise the full potential.” Which comes down, again, as a task of educating the customer into what can be done; something that the AV community has faced time-and-time again – and are well-practiced in dealing with. Immersive technology is evolving rapidly and is set to continue so at an equally rapid pace. Mainstream adoption has been slower than we would expect, and probably have hoped; due largely to the historical expense and complexity of the technology. This is changing, and should open even more opportunities to install exciting immersive solutions that are simple to deploy, and easier for end users to understand and use. The new Oculus Quest for example, combines headset and processor, allowing it to work wirelessly and with simplified set-up and alignment. Bandwidth limitations have also contributed to the delay in widespread adoption of immersive
content. Both VR and AR require a cheaper, more substantial network with lower latency and more consistency. In short, 5G is a necessity. The rollout of 5G across large venues and areas will enable much larger, more impressive content to scale across lighter weight devices, essentially allowing for the heavy lifting to be done remotely in the cloud. The display device simply becomes the delivery mechanism, reducing hardware costs and increasing easy adoption. This is augmented by new the new WebAR API for augmented and virtual reality. It provides access to web-based content via a web browser using a combination of technologies including WebRTC, WebGL, WebVR, and the modern sensor APIs, negating the need to download a standalone app and in some cases a marker to launch AR content. Immersive technology has a bright future and one that can be utilised by those active in the AV sector to provide new and exciting solutions to customers.
www.holomeeting.io www.igloovision.com www.kazendi.com www.realisedrealities.com www.rewind.co
28 BUSINESS FEATURE: CONCERT VENUES
Concept Design for the Centre for Music concert hall Picture: Diller Scofidio + Renfro
Capital of culture The proposed new Centre for Music in London took a decisive step forward in December with the release of the initial designs. With a further venue – to be located in Wimbledon and designed by the legendary Frank Gehry – also under discussion, David Davies finds out what we can expect from these significant new additions to London’s cultural life
n an oft-cited criticism from the early years of the 20th century, German critic Oscar Schmitz infamously described England “as das land ohne musik” – translated as “the land without music”. It was always a highly questionable sentiment, but it’s one that certainly won’t be applicable to London if two new concert halls, currently in development, go ahead as planned. But first, some context. The ability of London’s existing concert facilities to offer a suitable platform for classical music, in particular, has been a topic of discussion for many years. Despite improvements over the years, the acoustics of several key venues – for example the Royal Albert Hall and the Barbican Centre – are regarded by some as being less than ideal. Increasingly, though, the debate has turned to the possibility of building a brand new venue with state of the art acoustics as the chief priority. Comments made by conductor Sir Simon Rattle have proven especially influential here. Until recently the principal conductor of the Berlin Philharmonic, Rattle has recently returned to the UK to become music director of the London Symphony Orchestra, whose home base is the Barbican Centre. Although effusive about the cultural contribution made by the Barbican, he suggested that a new venue was needed as the Barbican was unable to accommodate about a fifth of the orchestral
repertoire (quoted in The Guardian, January 2017). In an embattled cultural climate afflicted by arts cuts and dwindling private sector sponsorship, his remarks were not without controversy, with some observers calling for investment to be focused instead on other areas – both in artistic and geographical senses. Despite these concerns, momentum behind the initiative has continued to grow, with the Barbican, London Symphony Orchestra and Guildhall School of Music & Drama recently releasing lead architects Diller Scofidio + Renfro’s first concept designs for the proposed Centre for Music. Intended to provide an important new cultural facility in the heart of London, the Centre for Music is expected to be located on the current Museum of London site, linking north from Tate Modern, the Millennium Bridge and St Paul’s Cathedral, and between two major new Elizabeth Line stations. With the City of London Corporation confirmed to provide £2.49m to the scheme’s development, the project will now move ahead to further design, fundraising and business modelling.
Let there be more light Incorporating an imposing, pyramid-shape tower and extensive glass-fronted facades that promise to the fill the venue with light, the initial designs are
certainly striking, and will provide a ready contrast with adjacent buildings. “The foyer would be abuzz day and night, filled with activity and glimpses into the inner life of the Hall,” says Elizabeth Diller, founding partner of Diller Scofidio + Renfro. “We imagine a concert hall for the 21st century that embraces both a bespoke and a loose fit approach – tailored for exceptional symphonic sound, yet agile enough to accommodate creative work across disciplines and genres.” Rattle himself also emphasises the role of the new centre in providing not just a world-class venue for classical music, but a more general cultural hub: “The idea that there can be a new cultural centre in London, in the [proposed new designation of the] Cultural Mile, and that in the middle of it a truly great international, modern concert hall of our time, equipped for everything of this age, is very exciting. [It would be] a sign of London as a dynamic cultural city when we are going to need this and more.” The ability of the hall to be truly multi-functional will be critical as it’s arguable that no venue of this size – the expected capacity is 2,000 for the main hall – could survive and prosper long-term with a uni-genre programme. And with current construction estimates suggesting a cost in the region of £288m – to be raised entirely from private donations – the value of appealing to the widest possible selection
BUSINESS FEATURE: CONCERT VENUES 29
of artistic palates among investors surely speaks for itself.
Exterior view of the proposed Centre for Music Picture: Diller Scofidio + Renfro
Huge advances As co-founder and principal of RH Consulting, Roland Hemming has been involved with sound design and consultancy at numerous concert venues worldwide. Like many observers in the industry, Hemming believes that recent progress in acoustics could significantly benefit a newbuild concert hall – but that the multi-purpose requirements of most contemporary venues should be integrated fully into the project. “Over the years there have been huge advances in our understanding of acoustics and our ability to manipulate a space, depending on the type of performance,” he says. For example, “a newer concert hall can include variable acoustics. Furthermore it can have broadcast provision built into it, rather than it just being an afterthought. With performances streamed to cinemas nationwide, it would be helpful to make this easier to produce on a more regular basis. “There is also the commercial reality that whilst a pure concert hall is wonderful, having it designed to cope with a wide variety of events – along with hospitality and other revenue streams – will be beneficial. This flexibility should also be mindful of the fact that the definition of a concert is far more open. Whilst ‘traditional’ classical and jazz, for example, are still popular, there is a blurring of styles and technologies. This doesn’t just include mixing traditional and modern instruments, but also mixed media events with video and performance art. A modern concert hall needs to deal with these artistic demands.” One does not have to look too far for examples of modern facilities that seem to cope well with a variety of artistic disciplines. In the UK, the Bridgewater Hall in Manchester – which provides a home for the Hallé Orchestra and is the primary concert venue of the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra – was built in the mid 1990s, and sports a capacity similar to that proposed for the new Centre for Music, and is frequently praised for its excellent acoustics. A little further north, the Sage Gateshead – which was completed in 2004 – is also hailed for its ability to accommodate different performance styles, although it’s fair to say that architect Norman Foster’s design wasn’t received wholly favourably at the time. For his part, Hemming cites one of the most recent additions to Europe’s network of concert halls, the Elbphilharmonie in the the HafenCity quarter of Hamburg, Germany. Featuring a glasscentric construction variously compared to a hoisted sail, water wave or quartz crystal, the venue was designed by architectural practice Herzog & de Meuron and opened its doors in January 2017. As one might hope of a venue that ultimately cost a reported €789m, Elbphilharmonie evinces a
remarkable attention to detail. Hemming notes: “The almost obsessive approach to the acoustics, along with seamless integration with all the audio technology, is impressive. They also did a really cool thing with the audio by integrating the in-house PA and the broadcast systems into one network. What was clever here is how they handled rights management, which is a critical thing with this sort of venue.”
Another capital project…? While the plan to build a new venue in the City of
Picture: Geordie Wood
‘We imagine a concert hall for the 21st century that embraces both a bespoke and a loose fit approach’ Elizabeth Diller, Diller Scofidio + Renfro
London has been widely debated for several years now, there was more surprise expressed at the mid-February news of a proposed 1,250-seat venue for the London suburb of Wimbledon. According to
The Observer, venue proponent Anthony Wilkinson – director of the Wimbledon International Music Festival – would want the facility to host musicians and genres from around the world, as well as
providing a home for the Wimbledon festival and the Wimbledon Choral Society. To this end, Wilkinson has called upon the services of Frank Gehry, the iconic Canadian-born American architect whose numerous cultural projects include the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles, and the Art Gallery of Ontario in Toronto. Gehry is believed to have drawn up initial designs for the proposed venue, for which no specific timeline had been made public at the time of writing. In the case of the Centre for Music, it is expected that construction would take around four years, so even if full investment is secured it is doubtful the venue would open before the middle part of the next decade. But the current sense of excitement about the project – as well as the generally favourable reaction to the initial designs – means that it seems very probable that the money will ultimately be found. There is no doubt that the Barbican, Royal Albert Hall and Southbank Centre will continue to make a massive contribution to London’s artistic life. But the promise of a new venue that takes advantage of all the latest acoustic and technological advances is genuinely thrilling, and – as Rattle hints – it could help to cement London’s cultural status in the unpredictable period that lies ahead.
30 SOLUTIONS: KILN THEATRE, LONDON
PROJECT OF THE MONTH
New season This newly renovated theatre in Kilburn is a smaller venue that is able to punch above its weight thanks to a variety of carefully specified audio systems. Olivia Brady reports
he phrase ‘London theatre’, usually prompts images of the West End with its dazzling array of productions, from Chekhov to Disney and almost everything in between. There is however an extraordinary strength in depth to London’s theatre scene, with numerous more intimate venues dotted in and around the capital, presenting a mix of productions no less diverse and relevant than their big-city siblings. From a technical viewpoint there is certainly now an issue of trickle-down expectations, as audiences (perhaps without realising it) generally expect to enjoy the key production values found in the larger auditoria regardless of location. As dialogue and music remains central to almost all shows, the quality of audio presentation is perhaps the single most critical operational requirement in contemporary theatre. Kilburn’s newly-refurbished Kiln Theatre is a perfect example of how smaller venues are equipping themselves with state-of-the-art audio
systems that not only fulfil audience expectations, but provide enough operational flexibility to handle a broad portfolio of productions. Kiln Theatre opened in 1980 as the Tricycle Theatre, designed as the permanent home of the Wakefield Tricycle Company. The company was known for its new writing productions, community theatre and also performed plays to young people in schools and community centres. While the company continued to tour occasional productions after 1980, the theatre also became a receiving house for a number of other alternative theatre companies.
Completely refitted In July 2016 a £7m refurbishment project was initiated to update the theatre’s auditorium and front of house spaces and in September 2018 the theatre announced its reopening as ‘Kiln Theatre’, starting with a season of plays running well into 2019. Artistic director Indhu Rubasingham’s new season opened with Holy Sh!t by Alexis Zegerman and features nine
Installed Audio nClear-Com RS-702 beltpacks nd&b audiotechnik Y10P full-range enclosures nd&b audiotechnik V-SUB subwoofers nd&b audiotechnik D20 DSP-equipped amplifiers nEM Acoustics EMS-51 and EMS-61 and EMSn121X loudspeakers nEM Acoustics AQ-3 amplifiers nMeyer Sound LINA line arrays nMeyer Sound 750-LFC and 900-LFC control elements nMeyer Sound LINA/MINA Grids nMeyer Sound UP4-XP loudspeakers nMeyer Sound MPS-488 power supply nMeyer Sound RMServer remote monitoring system nYamaha QL5 digital mixing console nYamaha Rio3224-D input/output device nYamaha Ro8-D Dante interfaces
plays, including seven world premieres, one British premiere and a major revival of a musical. The auditorium has been completely refitted and features a flexible stage and
increased capacity (up to 292 seats), with eight wheelchair positions with access at stalls level, increased accessibility at front of house and backstage areas, additional toilets and an upgraded façade with street-facing café. The theatre’s new audio infrastructure was specified by sound designer Alexander Caplen (who also designed the first show after the reopening), featuring an eclectic mix of products installed by the in-house team and supplied by Autograph Sales & Installations. A longstanding friendship and professional relationship between Caplen and Rubasingham led to him also fulfilling a broad consultancy role to ensure that the finished result was a fully operational theatrical venue equipped to contemporary standards. Caplen was assisted in the specification by Tim Middleton (who also designed the venue’s network infrastructure and configuration) and by Nicki Brown who helped ensure that operational requirements were met during the design stages. The planning and installation of Caplen’s design was subsequently handled by production sound engineer Jon Sealey. The main house PA is by d&b audiotechnik, with four Y10P full-range enclosures and two V-SUB subwoofers, all powered and processed by a pair of D20 DSP-equipped amplifiers. Surround, delay and on-stage monitoring requirements are all covered by a mix of EM Acoustics products including 24 EMS-51, six EMS-61 and four EMS-121X, all powered by six EM Acoustics AQ-3 amplifiers. A Yamaha QL5 digital mixing console at FOH provides extensive audio mixing capabilities, with a single Rio3224-D input/output device and two Yamaha Ro8-D Dante interfaces located in the amplifier room and accessed via a comprehensive Ghielmetti patch field. Autograph Sales & Installations also supplied a ready-to-roll rack, built to the theatre’s own design, for the Dante redundant playback system, which includes the new X-DANTE Dante Network Audio Changeover unit from its own Signature range of products. They also supplied eight Clear-Com RS-702 beltpacks and applied asset labels to all items before delivery.
Comprehensive nature Jon Sealey describes the project from his vantage point as systems integrator: “Having worked closely with Alexander on a number of other projects, I was thrilled when he approached me about looking after the installation. As soon as I met the team at Kiln Theatre, I knew we were all pushing towards offering a world class theatre and the quality of the production resources on offer is extremely high.” “Due to the comprehensive nature of the
SOLUTIONS: KILN THEATRE, LONDON
The new season at the Kiln Theatre opened with Holy Sh!t by Alexis Zegerman Picture: Mark Douet
core infrastructure spec’d by Alexander, we pretty much hit the ground running. The control position was built and configured in one of Kiln Theatre’s rehearsal rooms before the installation project began, which meant as soon as we were granted access we were online and able to test. I’ve been really impressed with Autograph’s XDANTE and the updated XUSB2 is very pleasing on the eye.” Sealey continues: “Dante was the obvious choice [of digital protocol] for Kiln Theatre. We can patch to and from multiple sources without limitation, and can drop off or pick up audio signals from all areas of the building, while the Ghielmetti patch field offers great versatility for our own equipment and integration of subhired equipment on larger shows. “We have a great selection of equipment to offer to visiting designers and can easily integrate with equipment sub hired for larger shows. Kiln Theatre’s first play with music involved a band on stage with Aviom personal monitoring and 16 ways of Sennheiser 5212’s/3732’s. This was easily implemented through existing infrastructure, plus an additional Rio3224D and Aviom MY card hired from Autograph. We moved the control position from the control room at the back of the circle to a more traditional position at the back of the stalls with very little effort and after a simple re-patch of our backbone network we were up
and running as if nothing had happened.” “We made the decision to upgrade the theatre’s show relay package to HD-SDI quite late during the installation project. Whilst the initial outlay was larger it has been well worth it, with compliments on the quality of both the colour and infrared relays from FOH staff and stage managers alike. It has also allowed us to simplify the show relay to the later comers monitors in the foyer. We embed the show’s audio onto the HD-SDI signal and simply patch this through the facilities panels in the FOH areas.” The theatre’s proximity to Autograph Sound is clearly a happy bonus as Sealey concludes: “Autograph were happy to assist with a hardware failure during rehearsals for our second show last November, sending us a spare unit across from Kentish Town in a matter of minutes, not hours, and we were able to just about rescue that afternoon’s rehearsal. I’m sure our close relationship with Autograph will continue to grow over the coming years.”
www.autographsales.co.uk www.clearcom.com www.dbaudio.com www.emacoustics.co.uk www.meyersound.com www.yamahaproaudio.com
32 SOLUTIONS: CONGRESS CENTRUM SUHL, SOUTH THURINGIA
The Great Hall of the Congress Centrum Suhl includes an existing mobile ‘orchestra shell’ Picture: Robert Kallenbach / CCS Suhl
Pre-set for success Completed in time for New Year’s Eve, the Great Hall of this congress centre has been fitted with a new active acoustics system with a series of event-specific presets. Tom Bradbury reports
he Congress Centrum Suhl in South Thuringia, Germany was constructed in the mid 1970s and reconstructed in the 1990s. Compared to other multifunctional performing arts halls the Great Hall of the congress centre stands out with a volume of 34,000 cubic metres, 2,352 seats and a stage area of 200sqm. The Great Hall is used for conferences, cabaret, theatre and a variety of concerts. The reverberation time of the hall is 1.3 seconds, which provides good conditions for speech and TV show productions, but is too dry for chamber music and the more symphonic concerts.
Enhancement focus The goal was to improve the hearing experience of the visitors and to enhance the very short natural reverberation time for concerts and other events. The focus was on enhancement of the acoustical envelopment and the volume perception during concerts.
Installed Audio n Amadeus Core plus tablet for preset activation nAttero Tech Synapse D16Mio and unD32 audio interfaces nAudio-Technica U853 microphones nCanford Bittner 8X100 multi-channel power amplifiers nD-Link DGS-1210 Gigabit Switches Renkus-Heinz CX61 loudspeakers
The operators of the Congress Centrum Suhl decided on a regenerative electroacoustical Amadeus Active Acoustics system, because it offers the latest methods for generating multi-channel reverberation and multi-channel reflections. In terms of the other system components, existing equipment had to be used where possible, for example the 74 ceiling loudspeakers of a formerly
About the installer n Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Ahnert of ADA-AMC Acoustics & Media Consultants designed the system. ADA-AMC is based in Berlin and provides room and building acoustics, noise control, audio and video design, sound reinforcement measurement and consulting n System components were supplied by distributor MediasPro Medientechnik, based in Eckersdorf, Germany nElektroakustik Neuenhagen installed the acoustics system and Dante network. The company also works on installs in houses of worship, conference halls and sports and hospitality venues
installed system. A general requirement was for all components to feature extreme low-noise and undistorted sound. The microphones and speakers were specified by ADA-AMC Acoustics & Media Consultants, Berlin. The size of the hall meant special care was taken to guarantee a consistent acoustic enhancement throughout the venue. ADA-
SOLUTIONS: CONGRESS CENTRUM SUHL, SOUTH THURINGIA 33
AMC also had to ensure that single speakers could not be detected and localised.
Acoustic system Amadeus is a regenerative acoustic system. In these systems, the signals of the stage and the diffusive sound in the auditorium are picked up with nearly invisibly installed microphones and transferred to a processor. The signals are only very slightly processed and redistributed through a large number of wide dispersion speakers in the ceiling and the side walls into the diffuse field of the entire audience area. By reproducing the natural sound of the hall, the reverberant energy is increased. In addition stage signals are used to increase the amount of early reflections, and are processed and distributed through speakers on the side walls. This increases the spatial impression and the sound transparency of the room. The additional reverberant energy and early reflections add to the natural acoustics similar to architectural measures like moving panels or reverberant acoustic spaces. In contrast to former systems, the Amadeus system software migrates with future developments. To pick up the acoustic signals, seven AudioTechnica U853 microphones were distributed above the stage to work with an existing mobile ‘orchestra shell’. Seven more U853 microphones were evenly distributed above the audience. Special care had to be taken to avoid possible interferences of the existing dimmer cables with the microphone cables in the restricted installation space of the roof. After processing in the Amadeus Core, the signals are distributed to the speakers. The speakers are characterised with a clean and natural sound, a wide uniform frequency response as well as wide and even coverage. Measurements of the 74 existing JBL Control 28 speakers in the ceiling showed that they could still be used. For the side walls and the back of the hall, 35 Renkus-Heinz CX61 speakers were added. To achieve a smooth sound, the EQs of all speakers were adjusted via the Amadeus Core DSP. For amplification, the install included 10 Bittner 8X100 multichannel power amplifiers. The signals are transmitted via a newly installed Dante network, using an Attero Tech Synapse D16Mio interface with integrated microphone pre-amplifiers for D/A conversion and three unD32 breakout boxes for A/D conversion of the loudspeaker signals. All components except for the speakers and microphones are rack-installed in a confined space in the roof above the audience.
Presets After the installation, the different acoustic
iPad with Amadeus Active Acoustics preset user interface. Picture: Robert Kallenbach / CCS Suhl
parameters of the different venue types were tuned according to special requirements and stored in presets on a password-protected iPad. The presets can be activated by a keystroke before anyone enters the venue for an event. Presets include: Theatre: Mean reverberation time of 1.41.5 seconds; no increase of the natural reverberation time of the hall, but denser reflection pattern. The room acoustics are optimised for speech intelligibility with the typical envelopment of a theatre hall. Chamber Music: Mean reverberation time of about 1.7-1.8 seconds. This preset offers a higher density of reflections. Acoustical envelopment and the perceived loudness are increased, with an emphasis on transparency. Symphony Concert: Mean reverberation time of about 2.0-2.2 seconds. This preset offers an appreciably longer reverberation time, higher density of reflections and transparency of soloists or instruments or instrument groups of the orchestra. Cathedral: Mean reverberation time longer than three seconds for demonstrations and special effects.
Result and feedback The time schedule for the project was very ambitious. The actual installation time for the microphones, the central rack and the speakers as well as the tuning of the system was three weeks – just before Christmas and with events taking place in the hall almost daily. Old system components had to be dismantled and the new microphones and speakers were installed. Just in time, the new Amadeus Active
Acoustics system was tuned and introduced for the New Year’s Eve concert 2018 of the Prague Festival Orchestra. “The co-operation of all persons in charge was extraordinarily pleasant and professional”, says Thomas Lunacek, integrator and managing director of the Elektroakustik Neuenhagen. “I was really impressed that we got a thank you note after the New Year’s Eve concert from the Congress Centrum.” Professor Dr. Wolfgang Ahnert, managing director of the ADA-AMC Acoustics & Media Consultants, comments: “We believe, that the new enhancement system will allow high quality orchestral performances in the Great Hall of the Congress Centrum in the next years, if not decades.” “The Congress Centrum Suhl is very pleased with the result of the installation of the reverberation enhancement system“, says Diana Schneider, managing director of the Congress Centrum Suhl. “This is reflected by the great number of feedback messages from our visitors, who speak about a special sound experience and perfect musical enjoyment. Special thanks to all persons and companies in charge for the very competent project design and implementation.”
www.ada-amc.eu www.amadeusaudio.fr www.atterotech.com www.audio-technica.com www.canford.co.uk https://eu.dlink.com www.elektroakustik-neuenhagen.de www.mediaspro.de www.renkus-heinz.com
34 SOLUTIONS IN BRIEF
Car dealership deploys fully networked AV setup A new BMW and MINI dealership in Sheffield includes an innovative handover experience for customers collecting their new vehicle. A fleet of LG displays were installed throughout the showroom, including consultation booths, handover lounges and the service reception. In total, 73 screens were deployed, 51 of which to communicate promotional and informative messages to customers and a further 22 facilitate back of house operation. MCS, enlisted for this project, created a 17 by 48 NetworkHD AV over IP matrix system, spanning a total of three Cisco SG300 switches to distributed content across multiple displays at once via seamless source switching and real-time synchronisation.
MCS also built a bespoke floorplan themed interface to provide dealership control of both audio source and level as well as video
distribution for designated model areas, plus an automated timer function to switch the displays on and off each morning and evening.
Acting school achieves total immersion with TiMax Technical Theatre students at the Guildford School of Actingâ€™s recently benefited from hands-on experience creating dynamic soundscapes and source-oriented vocal localisation for their stage musical production of 9 to 5. Out Board provided the School with a TiMax spatial delay-matrix, complete with TiMax Tracker, for students to experience the creation of a sound design with a greater level of intelligibility and audience immersion. The classic LCR-hung Optima 5 line array system in the schoolâ€™s Bellaris theatre was augmented with a centre left and a centre right hang for 9 to 5. Loaned directly from Inspired Audio, these helped add extra resolution in the TiMax object-based spatial image definition rendering.
Outdoor LED displays define luxury living space Developer Questar Properties has unveiled its latest residential community in Baltimore, complete with luxury amenity deck centred around two FLEXStorm LED video displays from PixelFLEX. This property, located at 414 Light Street, is a luxury living space spanning 44 storeys and designed by architecture firm Solomon Cordwell Buenz, with an interior design by Kari Whitman. The rooftop deck is on the exterior of the 7th floor and features two HD FLEXStorm 8mm
LED video displays from PixelFLEX. Wanting to establish a signature design element that would draw residents together, two FLEXStorm video displays were installed back-toback to create one seamless visual experience. For the control aspects, the team wanted to provide both a user-friendly and comprehensive CMS. Knowing that the onsite staff would have a number of different display needs, they created a simple yet expansive design for the daily operation.
SOLUTIONS IN BRIEF 35
Premium event venue matched with Meyer Sound solution The new Terrain Gardens at Devon Yard in the Main Line suburbs west of Philadelphia has been equipped with a discreet Meyer Sound IntelligentDC loudspeaker system with premium audio capabilities. The venue has become the location of choice for upscale weddings, parties and corporate events in the area. The venue’s lush, horticultural setting creates a lavish backdrop for special occasions year-round, with locallyinspired menus, signature cocktails and handselected wines. Terrain Gardens includes three distinctive event spaces: the Reception Room, a combination of rustic charm and modern amenities available for celebrations year-round; the Garden Porch a weather-protected space
overlooking the gardens; and the Ceremony Garden, a secluded garden hideaway. Each space has its own discreet, colour-matched Meyer
Sound system, with each system functioning either independently or combined into one system using a Q-Sys network.
News studio opts for LED RTÉ News studio in Dublin has been upgraded with a range of AV solutions, designed and installed by Ion Solutions. The new upgrade includes a 24m x 3m videowall, which spans three sides of the studio and utilises Absen LED technology, Sony HDC-P1 HD camera systems and a Viz MultiPlay videowall controller, all supplied and installed by Ion Solutions. Other features include a new set design and additional presentation areas, meaning content is delivered in a more visually engaging manner. Ion Solutions’ in-house technical team designed the bracket system, which allows the videowall to be installed very close to the studio walls. Compared to a standard bracket system, this bespoke design increased space on the studio floor by 30sqm.
Noise problems solved at Miami Beach hotels Audio Video Lighting Innovations (AVLI) has specified Martin Audio CDD systems for upgrades to the pool deck sound systems of two Miami Beach luxury hotels, the Mondrian South Beach and Shelborne South Beach. AVLI’s James Reed commented: “With the Mondrian South Beach pool deck, which faces the bay, we had to solve the problem of noise reflecting off nearby neighbouring residences. The hotel’s original sound system was somewhat
underpowered and they were getting a lot of noise complaints from neighbours because the DJ would take a speaker and try to blast it across the pool. “So they called us in to solve the offsite noise problem, which we did very effectively by installing 10 CDD10-WR’s per side on the column system encircling the pool that supports the awning. We positioned each speaker on a column above a decorative planter about six feet above the ground, facing each other in a half moon shape.”
Kit you need to know about
PRODUCT OF WORK PRO Audio THE MONTH WFS 500 CX, 10 CX PLUS and PA 8150
It’s… two passive, two-way speakers and a Class-D amplifier
What’s new? The full-range projector speakers offer high level voice intelligibility and musical clarity. The PA 8150 amp features LED indicators and independent volume control on each of its eight channels. Details: For external applications such as theme parks, aqua parks, shopping malls, stadiums and train stations, WORK Pro Audio has released the WSF 500 CX and WSF 10 CX PLUS. The WFS 500 CX and 10 CX PLUS are 1,000W and 300W respectively, and both incorporate horn-loaded 10in diameter transducers and 2.5in voice coils in a bass reflex enclosure. The high frequencies are reproduced by a 1in exit compression driver, a 1.75in voice coil and an 80° horizontal x 60° vertical horn, which delivers consistent coverage across the entire vocal range. Both speakers are visually discreet and are
enclosed in black or white weather-resistant fibreglass that can withstand adverse environmental conditions. Both also incorporate an Aluminium grille covered with a protective water repellent fabric and four pole connection cables that enter the enclosure through a cable gland, thus preventing water, dust and moisture from damaging the transducers. The 500 CX is a low impedance speaker, while the 10 CX PLUS is available with either low or high impedance and includes a high quality 120Wrms@100V line transformer, making it suited to installations where long cables need to be deployed. At ISE 2019, WORK PRO Audio also introduced the PA 8150, a Class-D amplifier that offers LED indicators and independent volume control on each of its eight channels, making it ideal for installations in restaurants and venues where audio needs to be individually controlled in different spaces. Delivering up to 150W per channel and a total power output of 1,040W, the
low impedance PA 8150 has several protections such as short circuit, thermal, ultrasonic and RF and fits into a 1HU 19in rack. With the installation market increasingly embracing AoIP, Equipson has also added to its BlueLine range of installed network audio products by introducing two Dante Gateways – the DD2 and the DD4. The two input/two output DD2 and four input/ four output DD4 allow for the extraction of analogue audio signals from the Dante network, as well as the introduction of analogue channels within the same network. Both devices are configurable with Dante Controller, use Euroblock 3.5mm connectors and have balanced inputs and outputs to provide greater immunity to noise that interferes with audio signal lines.
Available: Now www.workpro.es
38 TECHNOLOGY: NEW PRODUCTS n Haivision Makito X4 This 4K ultra low latency video encoder features the highest available 4K UHD and HD encoding density and exceptional video quality, ideal for live broadcast, remote production, enterprise, and defence applications. The Makito X4 4K UHD HEVC/H.264 video encoder is based on Haivision’s new MX4 HEVC/H.264 programmable eight core encoding engine that delivers broadcast quality and the highest available density.
www.haivision.com n Lawo V__matrix
One of number of new IP broadcast products from Lawo released at BVE 2019, the V__matrix ecosystem is based on generic high capacity FPGA-based processing blades, upon which software-defined Virtual Modules (VM) are loaded to create the functionality required. The range of VMs include the vm_dmv644 – claimed to be the world’s first infinitely expandable true IP multiviewer and the vm__ UDX – 4K format converter.
n Magewell Pro Convert NDI encoder The new Pro Convert SDI Plus standalone NDI encoder is the fourth entry in Magewell’s expanding Pro Convert family of devices for bringing traditional video signals into IP-based production networks. The new model, which will be featured at NAB 2019, converts SDIconnected HD or 2K input sources into NDI streams with extremely low latency and is available immediately.
n Nureva Active Zone Control Active Zone Control has been added to the Microphone Mist technology platform that powers its HDL300 and Dual HDL300 audio conferencing systems. This feature gives users a new level of control over the thousands of virtual microphones that fill a space and provide full-room audio coverage. Using a simple, visual interface in Nureva Room Manager software, IT staff can designate a zone within the room to be optimised for audio pickup.
AVN-CU2-DANTE and AVN-CU4-DANTE It’s… a pair of Dante commentary units What’s new? Both units use Dante AoIP together with four wire connections so they bridge the gap between old and new technology. Details: Showcased at BVE 2019, the AVNCU2-DANTE is for two commentators and the AVN-CU4-DANTE for up to four commentators. The AVN-CU2-DANTE provides two mic/ line inputs with a wide, adjustable gain range and +48V phantom power, and has two stereo headphone outputs. It’s powered using PoE and Neutrik EtherCON connectors, with primary and secondary ports for power and network data redundancy. SFP cages are also available for networking and there’s an additional four pin XLR 12V DC input. The unit supports up to 16 I/O AoIP channels and up to 16 simultaneous I/O AoIP streams. Stream setup to and from the unit is initially via Dante Controller with more detailed configuration performed by using the built-in web GUI. The CU2 can also be remotely controlled from the web interface with front-
panel lock-out options for unit operation. The AVN-CU4-DANTE is a dual version of the AVN-CU2-DANTE providing four mic/line inputs with a wide, adjustable gain range and four stereo headphone outputs with lockable jack sockets, suitable for operation by three or four commentators. The feature set is as per the AVN-CU2-DANTE, with the following differences – it has a universal AC input, there are four on-air buttons, four page buttons, four cough buttons, eight talkback buttons and three user buttons.
Available: Q1/Q2 2019 www.sonifex.co.uk
It’s… a touch control display for collaboration and meeting rooms What’s new? Tap is part of pre-configured room solutions for collaboration platform providers such as Google Hangouts Meet, Microsoft Teams, and Zoom.
Details: Like other Logitech conferencing equipment, Tap is built on open standards, enabling a broader set of integrations, for example with interactive whiteboards and room control functions. With the addition of Tap, Logitech Room Solutions simplify the deployment and use of videoconferencing in meeting rooms. Coupled with intuitive software from collaboration service providers, users can utilise functions like onetouch start, calendaring, and content sharing. Tap couples the purpose-built utility and robust build quality of a meeting room touch
control panel with the affordability and flexibility of a tablet. It delivers one-touch video calling for users in an IT-friendly design ideal for mass deployments. Featuring a 10.1in touchscreen, HDMI input for content sharing, and robust cable retention, Logitech Tap is designed and engineered for reliable convenience in the meeting room. A range of table, riser and wall mounts offer placement flexibility, while in-wall rated cabling enables topologies and room layouts that please the eye as well as IT.
Available: Q2 2019 www.logitech.com
40 TECHNOLOGY: SHOWCASE
Large-venue projectors Manufacturers are blending a growing array of colour and brightness capability into more compact and install friendly models
Christie delivers lightweight solution Launched late last year, the D4K40-RGB is a 40,000 ANSI lumen RGB laser projector. It has been engineered for large venues, sports facilities, domes, giant screens, planetariums, theme park attractions as well as any other facilities seeking to create impactful largescale visual experiences. It is said to be the smallest and lightest high-brightness, omnidirectional, all-in-one RGB laser projector on the market. Visually, the D4K40-RGB produces greater than 90% of the Rec. 2020 colour space for vibrant true-to-life visuals all built into a projector weighing less than half of its closest competitor. Delivering
over 30,000 hours of operation to 80% brightness, the solid state D4K40- RGB laser projector offers high frame rates up to 120fps, 5,000:1 On/Off contrast ratio, and omnidirectional capabilities. Christie RealLaser solid state illumination provides a wide colour gamut and when combined with TruLife electronics and 4K resolution, allows the D4K40-RGB to reveal an amazing depth of detail. Additionally, the D4K40-RGB is said to consume less power than any other 40,000-
lumen RGB laser projector, with 220V single phase operation. Thanks to Christie TruLife, it supports a video-processing pipeline of up to 1.2 Gigapixels per second, enabling 4K DLP at 120Hz performance.
Epson accommodates flexible positioning The newly launched EB-L1090U installation projector has been designed for use in large venues – from auditoriums, showrooms, and museums, to music tours, theme parks, and even churches. It fits into most environments thanks to its discreet, compact design and neutral colour. The projectors deliver bright, high contrast, detailed visualisation for any media including videos, presentations and images, even in bright daylight. To accommodate flexible positioning, lenses are interchangeable (including ultrashort-throw) and 360° installation allows the projectors to be placed virtually anywhere. The interchangeable lenses further enhance the user experience, making sure the end user can get the image precisely where it’s needed.
Having consulted with customers, Epson saw the need for versatile, reliable, low maintenance, 9,000 lumens installation
projectors. The EB-L1090U provides the user with more choice and a wider range of options to suit different scenarios.
Over one billion colours from Canon At ISE 2019, Canon launched its first large venue 4K projector, the LX-4K3500Z, capable of projecting 4K images with 40,000 centre lumens of brightness from two colour laser light sources – the brightest of any Canon projector launched to date. This high brightness 4K DLP laser projector is targeted at large venue entertainment environments, such as sporting venues, stadiums and arenas. As 4K resolution is becoming more accessible in the home cinema market, consumers are increasingly demanding higher image quality from public displays. This, coupled with the need to deliver truly immersive experiences at big events, has
resulted in the demand for high resolution and high brightness large venue projection. The LX-4K3500Z is equipped with 10-bit colour processing to deliver over one billion
NEC enables large digital cavasses
The NEC PX1005QL laser projector was launched last month and is designed to meet the rapidly-growing demand for large digital canvasses in meeting spaces, boardrooms and conference centres, auditoriums in education establishments, and for digital signage in retail or leisure areas. It features up to 10,000 ANSI lumen brightness and 4K UHD resolution. It features a completely sealed optical laser LCD engine, which allows a filter-free design. Strong colour brightness is maintained and multiple signal inputs can be combined to a crisp 4K UHD picture using Picture by Picture and Picture in Picture capabilities. For future-proof signal connectivity and processing there are numerous 4K resolution inputs such as Quad 3G SDI, two DisplayPort and two HDMI slots, plus an optional slot for 4K/UHD OPS Slot-in PCs. The projector is classified Risk Group 2, which means no safety precautions are needed to protect the audience and the model is maintenance-free, providing further benefits in high and difficult to access locations.
colours across the DCI-P3 colour space. It uses 3-chip DLP technology with HDR and 30,000:1 high dynamic contrast ratio to produce true-to-life colour reproduction. It is hugely versatile and has been designed for flexibility in installation. Compatible with seven precisionbuilt exchangeable lenses from ultra-wide to ultra-long zoom, this model offers high-quality projection onto 100 – 1,000in screens from distances of 2m to 176m and can also be positioned in any 360° orientation, simplifying creative or complex installations.
Vivitek provides high light efficiency The DU6693Z is suited for large screens in meeting or lecture rooms, where the screen has to be big enough for the audience at the back to be able to view the content being displayed. It features 7,000 lumen brightness and WUXGA resolution, as well as advanced cooling and reliability, which means it can be depended on for 24/7 operation. Thanks to its advanced engineering, it is very quiet and emits as little as 32dB at normal mode full power run. Additionally, for added set up and viewing flexibility, the DU6693Z benefits from a motorised lens and horizontal and vertical shift. It has also been designed to support 360°/portrait projection mode. On a further practical level, the DU6693Z brings the benefits of HDBaseT digital transmission and network control to installers and users alike. High light efficiency is another stand out feature. Additionally, the DU6693Z employs advanced thermal management technology to improve the projector’s cooling efficiency and effectiveness. Its optimised air flow and better cooling means that lower fan speeds are required thanks to the heat or hot air being driven out of the projector in www.vivitek.eu a more efficient way.
Panasonic’s low maintenance offering A 20,000-lumen laser projector, the PT-RZ21K has been designed for staging, events and higher education. It has 3-chip DLP imaging with SOLID SHINE laser phosphor technology. Other features include hermetically sealed laser modules for up to 20,000 hours of maintenance-free operation. This provides greater reliability and colour uniformity, reducing the maintenance burden and TCO. High brightness and a compact body makes this model suited for use in auditoriums and permanent https://business.panasonic.co.uk installation in visitor attractions.
42 LAST WORD: GRAHAM FRY, SCC AVS
Natural progression SCC acquired avsnet in November last year as the IT services company sought to become a player in the visual communications and collaboration space. MD Graham Fry explains what’s next for the newly merged SCC AVS
ow does it change how SCC AVS will operate? This brings us far more opportunity while ensuring we can effectively meet the demands of our enterprise customers and the scale at which they operate. In recent years, greater numbers of large companies have recognised our ability to deliver innovative, tailored solutions. Forming SCC AVS is a natural progression of our mission and our commitment to delivering an exceptional customer experience. There’s been a significant spike in the number of integrator acquisitions over the last year or so. What do you attribute this to? Collaboration is now part of digital transformation and organisations that collaborate better are proven to grow faster. We’ve reached an inflection point, one where decision-makers in larger corporates have recognised that the business value from better collaboration extends far beyond obvious benefits such as time and travel savings. This demand for collaboration has been reflected in the market with larger IT providers and systems integrators searching for specialist, creative providers to bolster their own offerings. What are your plans for the company’s next stage? We have already successfully merged our two teams and operational integrations are almost complete. Our immediate focus will be on driving opportunities through SCC’s business, educating
our partners and customers of our wider capabilities, and communicating the business benefits to a broader community on a much larger scale. AV as a Service (AVaaS) has been highlighted as a key development in the channel. Is this the direction you see things going? AV as a Service has been a major trend for years – people want a business outcome with an SLA. Joining forces with SCC enables us to be even more creative with how we financially support our customers, especially now with our access to the wider Rigby Group and an even stronger
‘AV shouldn’t be treated as a standalone investment, rather an important business and technology decision that involves everything’
relationship with Rigby Capital. We are not bound by traditional lending methods and can deliver tailored commercial solutions that simplify how businesses procure and invest in collaboration. Companies want simplicity and consistency. That means regular payments spread over a time period unique to their balance sheet that allows them to refresh solutions as technology develops and improves. In our home lives, we’ve had this a long time. We all know what our smartphone, TV and utilities will cost us, there are no surprises. Businesses want exactly the same – the flexibility to move with the times without ever being tied into expensive and restrictive contracts. Our capabilities in this area really separate us from others in the industry. Graham Fry is MD of SCC AVS
Extended Opportunities? Opinions are split on what new XR technologies mean for uptake.