AV integration in a networked world
Make an impression Visitor attractions push the boundaries in pursuit of greater engagement
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CONTENT Brand Editor: Duncan Proctor, email@example.com Group Editor, Pro AV: Jo Ruddock, firstname.lastname@example.org Group Content Director, B2B: James McKeown email@example.com Graphic Designer: Marc Miller, firstname.lastname@example.org Managing Design Director, B2B: Nicole Cobban email@example.com Production Manager: Matthew Eglinton, firstname.lastname@example.org ADVERTISING SALES Account Director: Duncan Wilde email@example.com Account Manager: Nathalie Adams firstname.lastname@example.org Overseas Sales Contact - Executive Vice President: Adam Goldstein, email@example.com MANAGEMENT Senior Vice President - Content: Chris Convey Brand Director: Simon Lodge UK CRO: Zack Sullivan Commercial Director: Clare Dove Head of Production US & UK: Mark Constance Head of Design: Rodney Dive SUBSCRIBER CUSTOMER SERVICE To subscribe, change your address, or check on your current account status, go to www.installation-international.com/page/faqs or email firstname.lastname@example.org LICENSING/REPRINTS/PERMISSIONS Installation is available for licensing. Contact the Licensing team to discuss partnership opportunities. Head of Print Licensing Rachel Shaw email@example.com ISSN number: 2050-6104
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Attracting attention This month I’ve had the privilege to visit a couple of really innovative and inspiring installations – one of which you can read more about inside. It’s always interesting to see the unique ways AV technology is being deployed and to experience first-hand the almost never-ending applications it has. The first visit was to the Chailey Heritage Foundation, a Sussex-based charity that provides education and care services for children and young people with complex neurodisabilities. TEECOM and 7thSense Design worked on a 4D immersive experience zone for the students to experience a range of eye-catching content.
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Innovation in this area often has ripple effects across the rest of the industry”
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The second use case I was able to see first-hand was at the University of Bath, which has installed a VSimulator in its Structures Laboratory at the Department of Architecture and Civil Engineering to run a series of studies assessing people’s tolerances to environmental factors in tall buildings. For more on that, turn to page 36. Also in this issue we are looking in depth at visitor attractions, presenting a couple of different features, both with an overarching theme of how modern tech trends are changing expectations. The visitor attractions sector is one of those at the tip of the spear in terms of developments in technology, so innovation in this area often has ripple effects across the rest of the industry. While not immediately clear how, those developments can even have an impact on environments like meeting rooms and lecture theatres, so even if you don’t operate in the same sector, it could provide an indication of what’s to come in the not too distant future. In a slight departure from the norm, we also look at the impact social media is having on visitor attractions. This has been of interest for a while as with the way technology, and society for that matter, is going, those online seem to have a greater say than those actually present. It's therefore interesting to see to what extent this has affected how operators and integrators think.
24 Special Report: Visitor attractions
Contributors: Bea Alonso Bob Boster David Davies Wilko Grolman Rob Lane Ian McMurray
16 Innovating to impress With the rise of the 'experience economy', how is this impacting visitor attractions and the lengths needed to go to make an impression?
24 Social attractions As social media permeates into more aspects of modern life, we consider how it's helping to shape the world of visitor attractions
Special thanks: Anita Lo Will McManus Ben Musgrove Joe Scott
Cover Image: Quantum Logos / Ars Electronica Credit: Magdalena SickLeitner
06 Opinion Bob Boster ponders when intercom will be looked at as a necessity Dr Wilko Grolman makes the case for specialist AV solutions in medical collaboration Bea Alonso looks at how the broadcast of Wimbledon has evolved 12 Interview Tripleplay CEO, Steve Rickless, discusses the strategic thinking behind the company joining the Uniguest family and how this affects its future
36 The University of Bath A new simulation facility is enabling the University to undertake pioneering research into human responses to the built environment 40 Arup Boston The company’s Boston office has standardised its visual collaboration in large project teams to save time and money 42 York Minster The cathedral and centre of Christianity in the north of England has been equipped with a ‘largest of its kind’ install to aid intelligibility 44 Solutions in Brief Including a €70m biodiversity centre renovation project, a dynamic lighting install at a South Korea cultural hub, and the NBA's largest centre-hung display at the Chase Center, home of the Golden State Warriors 48 Products Featuring a detailed look at Poly's new Studio X Series of video endpoints
50 Showcase A bumper guide to the best software tools for integrators looking to streamline projects
The Internet of Things is the cause for much excitement, but it’s clear a rigorous approach to security must be prioritised
54 Last word Chris Parker reveals four ways digital signage can help improve customer engagement
Feature: Brave new world or pandora’s box?
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and immediate communication on any kind of production, be it a church service, a multi-site corporate conference or a live concert, it is surprising – but not uncommon – that intercom is not considered at all, or at least not until very late in the design process.
Clear and immediate When should you think about intercom, asks Bob Boster? There is something of a dichotomy when it comes to intercom systems in the AV world: they are often an afterthought or the last line item on the list when equipping a production or installation, and yet with the huge demand for complex, sophisticated productions the actual need for more complex, dynamic communications is growing. Intercom systems are crucial for many reasons, not least safety, particularly in high-risk installations or productions like theme parks or pyrotechnic shows. They ensure the smooth running of events and productions by keeping people informed in real time; and they allow the most capable and experienced team members to give advice to the less experienced. For example, if the head audio engineer located at FOH identifies that there is an issue with a stage monitor, they can easily communicate with their A2 backstage to resolve the situation – all without leaving their FOH position. In addition, people today are working in new ways that require constant communication, whether that is collaborating globally or sharing content across campuses or broad locations. Given the impact of clear
Including intercom early on as a fundamental part of an installation opens up so many more possibilities” 6
There are several possible explanations for this. First of all, intercom is not nearly as glamorous or obvious as many of the more high profile equipment purchases, whether those be screens/projectors/ visualisation/speakers/mixing console, or video switchers. When people are thinking about production tools they are often thinking about ‘content workflow’ – the things that make the content – and not the tools that enable people to do it well or efficiently, which would be more in the realm of ‘production communication workflow’. Secondly, there are a lot of inexpensive workarounds like walkie talkies, which might give people the mistaken impression that it’s a non-issue. However, in today’s world where productions are ever more complex, these solutions are rarely adequate to the task at hand. Third, consultants and designers who are wellversed in intercom often specify a highly flexible and robust solution which, depending on the client and their budget, can induce a kind of ‘sticker shock’. This often leads to intercom being scaled down or even removed because the end user’s technical staff is looking for a place to make some substantive cuts to show financial stewardship, rather than going back to the drawing board and designing a system that really optimises their investment to match their needs. Of course, companies like Clear-Com can help production teams at whatever stage they want help, but installing a communications system as an afterthought can restrict flexibility in terms of how certain needs are addressed because a lot of the infrastructural thinking will have been locked down by the time they come to us. Including intercom early on as a fundamental part of an installation opens up so many more possibilities and allows production teams to do things far more efficiently than they would otherwise be able to.
Project scope In our experience, the House of Worship market more than some others tends to include communications as a key part of a new system, as do some projects designed by real theatrical specialists, but even those sometimes miss the multigeographical part of the project scope. Higher spec corporate AV customers have a habit of specifying a
digital matrix intercom-based solution, when often a digital partyline solution with some IP linking would be adequate and much less expensive. There are many different routes to suit requirements and budgets and lots of opportunities for optimisation. New innovations like IP-based systems, mobile application integration, deeper capabilities in digital partyline solutions, SIP integration, and zoned wireless solutions are all serving customers in new ways – while reducing infrastructural requirements such as wiring. For example, a broadcast studio which previously relied on individual cable runs for each channel can now accomplish the same thing with a single IP-based connection with very low latency, saving installation costs and providing additional capabilities. Obviously we would like people to think about communications as early as possible in the planning process. One way to encourage this is to promote more discussion of ‘production communication workflow’ in the AV market, highlighting real-world user stories of how optimisation of intercom will promote significantly better outcomes. At ClearCom we are focused on presenting our solutions based on different types of workflows, characterising
the differences, advantages and disadvantages to each as it applies to distinct applications.
Value and importance Another longer-term goal is to promote the expansion of the production communication workgroup in ways that enable more people to be touched by the intercom, thus having more people in the production able to experience and value the importance of intercom. We have been doing this by using intercom-associated apps on mobile devices to extend the overall communicating group efficiently, such as dispersed teams or those working across a wide area such as a music festival or a university campus connecting their own devices securely to the core system over cellular Wi-Fi connections. These initiatives are underway within the Clear-Com corner of the communication world and we are already seeing light bulbs going off above people’s heads everywhere we go with these messages. Opening up this conversation with real-world examples can make a substantive difference to planning for future projects. Bob Boster is president of Clear-Com www.clearcom.com
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Seeing clearly Videoconferencing is advancing medical training globally, says Dr Wilko Grolman
The continual evolution of technology in medicine has tremendous potential to improve people's quality of life. One exciting development advancing the medical industry is high-quality, real-time videoconferencing. This has revolutionised everyday tasks, helping healthcare professionals deliver the best possible care and enabling them to share their expertise with colleagues and trainees. The work of Dr Robert Vincent at the Causse Ear Clinic in France is a prime example. The Causse Ear Clinic was founded in 1950 and is renowned for its expertise in ear, nose and throat (ENT) surgery. During ear surgery, surgeons operate in some of the smallest and most confined spaces in the human body. Optical stereoscopic zoom is achieved by a microscope, but others involved in the surgery (nurses, trainees and other professionals) also need to see what’s happening. This is not possible without a highquality video feed. Display fidelity isn’t only critical to work in-theatre. The Causse Clinic is one of the founding members of the LION Foundation. This organisation links otology surgery professionals from around the world in an
Medical collaboration and learning don’t require specialist medical technology but do require specialist audiovisual solutions" 8
eLearning network to improve research, training and patient results. Isolation can be the enemy when it comes to learning medicine, so we ask specialist clinics to broadcast procedures to universities across the world, free of charge. We also deliver a LION Congress three times a year. The May 2019 LION event had 24 participating surgical centres and had thousands of people watching the live stream powered by the Global Telemedicine Studios. To make all of this happen, clinics need technology that can combine the highest possible display quality with lecture-appropriate audio. Moreover, it must also allow for multimedia collaboration to combine informational material with a live feed that demonstrates medical techniques and procedures.
Picture perfect Medical collaboration and learning don’t require specialist medical technology but do require specialist audiovisual solutions. Applying these to a medical setting allows LION Foundation members to elevate their educational offering, as well as guarantee the best possible viewing for the surgeons watching colleagues’ surgical procedures. The Causse Ear Clinic has invested in Poly AV solutions among others. UHD 4K video resolution allows surgeons and eLearning participants to see extremely precise visuals of microstructures. At the same time, conference-quality audio guarantees clear instructions and communication from the surgeon. This makes a huge difference in terms of exposing other medical professionals, often on the other side of the world to their specialist techniques. The LION Foundation also personally tested the Poly G7500 and found the quality to be astounding, with the resolution drawing out the finest of details in surgery. This standard sets the bar for all future LION Foundation broadcasts and will be even more exceptional when specific surgical hardware (microscopes and endoscopes) also have 4K capabilities. Such technology enables the same quality of training for everyone – whether that student is in the room or joining from any location on earth. Everyone can experience the surgery first-hand and feel like they are there in the operating room. It’s truly revolutionary for the medical professionals who may one day themselves be performing these procedures and can learn how to complete minute and technical surgeries in such detail. Dr Wilko Grolman is Professor of Otolaryngology, and president of the LION Foundation
Full stream ahead How has the broadcast of Wimbledon evolved, asks Bea Alonso? As with previous years, there was an abundance of live streams available to watch Wimbledon this year. Just one example is Virgin Media – the broadcast channel announced that it would be providing its customers with access to all of the big matches on Centre Court in 4K, with HDR. Wimbledon has already pre-empted the rise in new technologies by setting up its own broadcast division a couple of years ago to future-proof its control over technology, content and engagement. Wimbledon’s broadcasting rights were previously outsourced to the BBC, which meant that the All England Lawn Tennis Club (AELTC), who organises Wimbledon, had limited access and control over The Championship’s content. Hence it was an obvious decision for the AELTC to announce in 2017 that Wimbledon Broadcasting Services (WBS) will have full control over the TV cameras and broadcast output worldwide. The AELTC can now control its individual stakes and audience engagement in-house, build on its existing stakeholder relationships (while staying on good terms with the BBC), and look at newly available revenue streams.
The AELTC offers an augmented reality experience, which allows fans to watch the practice courts usually closed to public viewing, through its website and app” 10
This also permits the AELTC to be more creative with their content outside of the UK, as they no longer need to pay the BBC to exclusively broadcast the matches overseas, and instead can invest in new technologies to increase revenue and audience engagement. For instance, the AELTC offers an augmented reality experience, which allows fans to watch the practice courts usually closed to public viewing, through its website and app. IBM Watson AI is in charge of powering Wimbledon’s highlights and analytics, using new levels of engagement and user assistance, to deliver an enriched fan experience. The technology offers real-time match reports; using 22 years of unstructured data to analyse an estimated 53,713,514 tennis data points. Last year Wimbledon fine-tuned its AI systems to automatically edit videos by analysing the crucial moments of each match – crowd noise, players’ emotional reactions and match data. It only takes AI-supported technology a mere five to 10 minutes to package highlights from the six main show courts. In 2018 alone, there were 220 million views of highlights across Wimbledon’s digital platforms. Now the technology can recognise the exact moment when the tennis ball hits the racquet. This means that video content producers are able to edit the highlight clips a lot more precisely.
All-round experience With the help of AI, the AELTC has successfully streamlined its content supply chain in a time- and cost-efficient manner. Rather than just localising content for the UK market, it is creating and distributing a significant number of original videos for different markets and delivering an all-round excellent user experience. The AELTC possesses much greater overview of its supply chain, which is tightly controlled and completely connected; video content producers now have an exceptional understanding of both the cost of production and the most well-received content. The key to optimising speed and efficiency in a content supply chain is to connect and manage all its components, making it as flexible and organic as possible. However, it’s not an easy feat as Wimbledon and its technology partners have been developing their strategy to enhance the global fan experience for 30 years! Bea Alonso is director of product marketing at Dalet www.dalet.com
Steve Rickless, Tripleplay
Be my guest Following its recent acquisition by Uniguest, Tripleplay CEO Steve Rickless talks to Jo Ruddock about the strategic thinking behind the deal and what the future holds as part of this enlarged family Tripleplay is heading towards its 20th anniversary. What changes have you seen in the industry over this time? Market acceptance of IP and software has been a monumental change, it has really elevated our platform to the mainstream, having spent a number of years in the shadows as we competed against hardware vendors pushing appliances and delivering across AV networks. This acceptance has also seen the convergence of IT with AV as 12
both come to terms with one another and become more aware of their new trust in each facet. Your focus is on IPTV and digital signage solutions. What are the benefits of IPTV? IPTV takes a source, whatever format that is and from whatever source, and allows its mass distribution to either media players, smart TVs, desktops or mobile devices; IPTV is about more than just distributing live broadcast content, it
Steve Rickless, Tripleplay
There was a lot of interest in Tripleplay, but we had to find the right partner to ensure our business continued to thrive” is also about enabling video communications from one to many and doing so in a way that doesn’t negatively impact the network or integrity of security. Uniguest recently announced the acquisition of Tripleplay. How do Tripleplay’s solutions complement Uniguest’s offering and what was the strategic thinking behind the deal? Tripleplay has been operating at a very high level for a few years now, delivering innovative and professional solutions while also maintaining an exceptional level of growth and profitability. Through our business, Uniguest is opening up a number of new channels and markets for its solutions, but also enhancing its own offering into the hospitality and aged care space. Together we’ve created a 350-person strong business, spread across the globe, delivering technology solutions into every market sector; there is a long-term strategic vision for our solutions and we can see that together we are much stronger than we are apart. There was a lot of interest in Tripleplay, but we had to find the right partner to ensure our business continued to thrive and with Uniguest we only see opportunity and complementary technology, and that’s why we decided to work together. Uniguest operates in a number of markets in which Tripleplay isn’t currently active. Do you see opportunities for growth here? We absolutely see opportunity from Uniguest’s expertise. The hotel market is one we have worked in a lot across the world, but we’ve not viewed it as a key global market for several years as we strengthened our hand in stadiums, arenas, banking and corporate environments. With the introduction of our solutions to Uniguest’s clients, and vice versa, we can see a real opportunity to grow Uniguest’s brand outside of the USA, and we can see an opportunity to expand adoption of Tripleplay’s hotel and aged care solutions through Uniguest and our sister company, Touchtown. Uniguest also acquired Onelan in 2018. What benefits will a combined Tripleplay and Onelan offer to the market? Onelan has several solutions that Tripleplay needed in its portfolio such as interactive wayfinding and room booking, and Tripleplay had an IPTV platform that Onelan needed in its portfolio; so it was a match made in heaven really. When you take
away the crossover from a digital signage perspective our product set is very complementary, and even with digital signage we can see that both our solutions have a niche they fit into that will help us to target industries we previously walked away from. So, while the market might not understand that straight away, we can see huge opportunities to enhance the service we can both provide to existing clients and in future opportunities. How do you see Tripleplay developing over the next few years as part of the Uniguest family? With this partnership we now have financial leverage we have never had in our 18 years as a business; we are backed by a strong, stable and keen backer in Uniguest and we intend to use that to drive our industry forward and make our own platform even better. There will undoubtedly be challenges to overcome as we merge Tripleplay with Onelan and integrate our product sets together, but we are taking a logical and sensible approach to that and will make it happen in a way that does not negatively impact our clients and allows us to deliver above and beyond what we had planned. There is no rush, there is no urgency, we have two very well run, very stable businesses currently and we will be doing our utmost to ensure the service we deliver is at least as good but likely better than it has ever been. And what about the wider market? Do you expect to see more consolidation in the coming years? As we’ve gone through this process, we have learned that consolidation is absolutely the way the market is going; we know there are a number of companies looking at acquisitions and mergers, and we know where those are likely to be. It makes sense for digital signage companies to consolidate, but what makes more sense is for digital signage companies to consolidate with IPTV platforms as the market finally realises that the message we first spoke about in 2008 is the one they should be shouting themselves; IPTV and digital signage should be a single platform solution. You recently held your annual User Group day. How did it go and did any interesting topics come up for discussion during the event? There were obviously questions around our acquisition/merger, and we were pleased to welcome Lee Hogan and Matt Goche from Uniguest as well as Hugh Coghill-Smith from Onelan to the event to discuss with our clients what the future holds; and we think we addressed those concerns. But what we are still finding is that our clients’ focus is, more and more each year, on helping us to enhance our user experience, simplifying workflows and making digital signage and IPTV a quick and easy job for anybody in a business to get involved in. Along with that we see more requirement for enhanced services from a training perspective. As the kind of user we sell to changes we need to ensure we allow them to be self-sufficient; marketing people love new platforms to communicate through, but they don’t want to constantly re-learn a technology, read in-depth technical documents or call a helpline to find out how to schedule some content.
Steve Rickless, Tripleplay
ABOVE: Anna Valley deployed NEC displays with a Tripleplay IPTV system for content management at the Genting Arena, now the Resorts World Arena
What do you see as the next frontier in the drive for greater fan engagement? And are you wary of a tipping point where it distracts from the sporting event? Tripleplay has traditionally stayed away from the in-bowl experience; we focus on everything else, every other area of an arena or stadium. What we have seen is a real drive to lengthen the duration of an event day, make the experience about more than just winning and losing, more than about the two hours of the game. Teams and venues need to find a way to bring fans in two or three hours before an event and keep them there an hour after; not only does that maximise revenue potential but it also means that experience is less reliant on success or sporting entertainment. This in turn means that fans are more likely to return regardless of result, nobody wants to keep paying £35 a week for a team failing to perform, losing games and providing no value for money. But if you judge your ‘day out’ on the hospitality you received, the comfort, the entertainment you get away from the pitch then you are more inclined to return even after your team has just lost 4-0 at home.
Do you feel, generally speaking, the solutions you offer are fully utilised once deployed or do you see examples where its only the basic functionality being regularly employed? Some do, some don’t, but that’s the nature of our solution; it can do so much, it can deliver a unique experience for every type of user in every type of environment that it would be very difficult for anybody to fully utilise the platform. That said, we do see the larger global corporate clients we work with really pushing the platform to its limits, we see wonderful adoption in the sports and arena space where our technology lights up the environment and that is something that makes us very proud. But we’re also proud to see a local council delivering public information, or a hotel delivering TV and VOD to guests in their rooms or a media team reviewing content through our desktop media portal; we can be all things to all people, but we don’t mind when people use just the bits they need; the rest of it is there when they need it. www.tripleplay.tv
t’s almost as if there’s some sort of conspiracy against the visitor attractions industry. Consumer electronics companies have brought us large screen 4K TVs – now with added HDR. They’ve brought us objectoriented audio. They’ve brought us VR headsets. Meanwhile, Spotify brings us all the music we could ever want to hear – and Netflix and Amazon are bringing us all the movies we could ever want to watch. Why would we ever leave home to go to a museum, a theme park, a visitor centre or any of the other places we used to go? And yet… In the UK at least, according to VisitEngland, the visitor attractions market is – largely – holding its own, with admissions in 2018 generally flat. Museums and art galleries saw 6% growth – but heritage centres saw a comparable decline. And, in fact, ALVA – the UK’s Association of Leading Visitor Attractions – reported 9% growth in visitor numbers, despite overseas tourist numbers being down. The industry must be doing something right – and one of the things about which it is clear is the role of AV technology.
Story first “It is getting harder to amaze people,” admits Peter Cliff, creative director at Holovis, “which is why, for the experience market, the story and guest journey come first, not the latest technology. The technology is a tool to create unforgettable moments, to throw guests back in time or immerse them in alternative worlds.” Fabian Stumpfl, chief executive officer of AV Stumpfl, agrees. “Unless we are looking at attractions/installations that impress purely based on a bigger-is-better approach, the magic has always been in the way a story is told,” he says. “We as manufacturers aim to provide new and exciting technological tools that will enable our customers to tell even better and more exciting stories. You could compare this to us giving a painter additional colours for their colour palette.”
The past few years have seen the rise of the so-called ‘experience economy’, in which increasing numbers of people choose to spend their money on doing things rather than buying things. Ian McMurray finds out how that’s impacting the visitor attractions industry
Size matters That’s a lot of projectors and media servers – which illustrates another point: size, as so often, matters, especially when it comes to establishing a clear difference between a visitor attraction and a visitor home. “The scale of the technology that forms part of a visitor attraction is impossible to achieve within a domestic environment,” notes Ross Magri, managing director of theme park audiovisual engineering company Sarner. “Furthermore, while home users have started to embrace 4K, commercial users are looking at 8K and beyond projection on large surfaces that would be impossible to achieve at home.” Stumpfl sees things similarly. “High-definition and 4K/8K resolution, HDR playback, 10-bit content and so on are growing in importance," he says. “Almost all major theme parks now think in those terms, while by comparison, the broadcast industry in most western countries is lagging years behind, for structural reasons.”
An Ars Electronica exhibition, ORBIT is a real time reconstruction of time lapse photographs taken on board the International Space Station by NASA’s Earth Science & Remote Sensing Unit.
It is, of course, too easy to think of ‘visitor attractions’ as a single market – but nothing could be further from the truth. To take purely British examples: the London Eye could not be more different from the Tate Modern, nor could Edinburgh Castle be more different from the visitor centre at Stonehenge or the Harry Potter studio tour. Each will have different ways of leveraging AV technology. Panasonic’s European product manager for projectors, Thomas Vertommen, has an example. “The National Museum of Qatar, which opened earlier this year, is the perfect example of how AV technology has helped museums transform into modern day attractions,” he says. “Set in a spectacular building, the museum tells the story of Qatar and its people using Panasonic technology to deliver an immersive experience. The museum uses a total of 172 media servers to feed 112 Panasonic projectors across seven galleries, and nine different art films.”
© Antonio Pagano / RES
ABOVE: The National Museum of Qatar
“Museums love the new technological possibilities,” he goes on, “but newly built museums often have the advantage of being able to integrate digital workflows much more easily, while more traditional museums may have to invest a lot more initially to build a digital infrastructure before being able to make the most out of new technological trends.” The industry is generally agreed: the best visitor attractions leverage AV technology as a means to an end – not an end in itself. “It’s important that the right balance is found – and it starts with the story and creative concept,” believes Leander Werbrouck, segment marketing manager, proAV at Barco. “If that’s well done, then audiences will be engaged, will be surprised – and that will only be amplified by the technology. The advances in 4K and immersive visualisation and more are allowing the artist or creative director to bring their ideas to life in a photorealistic way – which in turn only makes a good story better.”
Early adopters Matt Barton, CEO of 7thSense Design – which develops advanced media servers for visitor attractions – reinforces Magri’s claim that his industry leads in technology adoption. “Visitor attractions – notably, high-quality theme park rides – were the first places to introduce highend visual display systems such as fully uncompressed 8K stereoscopic technology to the public,” he claims. “Prior to use in attractions, these technologies were found only in niche, specialist applications such as flight simulation and medical 18
imaging. Some large-scale dark rides pioneered the highest resolution displays viewed from the shortest distances long before 4K or 8K TV was anywhere near the home market.” Few disagree that, the higher the resolution of a screen, the more ‘real’ the images it delivers appear. “Our industry’s goal is to transport guests to an immersive alternate reality,” believes Scott Harkless, chief innovation officer at Alcorn McBride, a company developing products specifically for the visitor attractions industry. “The more convincing that reality, the more satisfied guests are with their experience. Any technology that aids in the integration of show experience with this alternate themed reality is appealing to attraction designers. One example that comes to mind is the transition to very bright, very fine pitch LED walls as an alternative to projection.” The key word is ‘immersive’. The challenge, however, is how to create that immersion. The transition from passive consumption of content – the old linear television paradigm – to one that is more actively involved (from choosing from hundreds of viewing options to selecting the angle from which to watch a football match, for example) is accelerating. There is a growing desire to be engaged. Historically, that may have meant interactive touchscreens, which not only helped engage but also provided at least the perception of a personalised experience.
Not interested “Today, if we just throw an interactive touchscreen in front of guests, they will not even be interested – let alone immersed,” laughs Harkless. “We have to
It’s important that the right balance is found – and it starts with the story and creative concept” Leander Werbrouck, Barco be clever and implement experiences that reinforce our themed environments. This would involve experiences that accept guest input like gestures, touch, or voice and then react somehow with the themed environment around them – perhaps speaking a secret phrase to bring a seemingly inanimate statue to life, or the wave of a hand causes huge rocks to magically move. Technology is absolutely required to pull
things like this off, but the guest should ideally be unaware that it’s there.” That may seem somewhat futuristic – but at Holovis, it represents the here and now. “Every operator wants to give their guests personalised experiences based on their unique journeys, their level of engagement and the paths they choose to take,” says Cliff. “We’re facilitating this by developing a new product called HoloTrac, a proprietary software suite that leverages advanced computer vision and tracking technologies. This produces powerful data analytic visualisations and insights into park dynamics and operations on the backend, but can be fronted through the provision of guest experiences with personalised content that extends and enhances their journey. The core components of this are attribute, object, gesture and audible recognition, presenting more ways for guests to engage that go well beyond touching a screen.” Some have suggested VR/AR as key technologies for delivering immersive experiences to the visitor attractions world – but others aren’t so sure. “To view a place from your favourite movie or story on a screen or VR headset is one thing,” believes Harkless, “but to physically walk around it,
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Thinking. Inside the box. #43244 - P12 Main Ad - Installation Mag - 183x115.indd 1
Key Points • Visitor attractions have been early adopters of high-resolution screens and objectoriented audio to deliver more immersive experiences •
While a few visitor attractions major on the wonders of AV technology, for the majority it is there to support the story/ journey
• The industry is pushing the boundaries of personal experiences and visitor engagement well beyond simple interactive touchscreens •
What the visitor attractions industry is doing has implications for the broader AV industry including boardrooms, hospitality and training
touch things, interact with the environment, and chat with your favourite characters face-to-face is something else entirely.”
Personal shared experiences For Harkless, as for many others, one of the key advantages of visitor attractions over home entertainment is that they provide the opportunity for personal shared experiences – if that’s not a contradiction in terms. “From a design point of view,” says Cliff, “we have learnt to steer away from emerging platforms like VR that lock people away in singular experiences.” “The holy grail is multi-user interactivity,” believes Barton, “so that all involved can each have their own custom experience – while simultaneously enjoying a group experience.” “This presents its own challenges, though, from both cost and technology limitation perspectives,” he continues. “We’re seeing examples of solutions to this from theme parks that give each user a ‘role’ in the experience. So: instead of everyone having their own, unique take on an experience – they each play a different part in a ‘team story’ instead.” Vertommen too believes that there are alternatives to VR that can deliver greater guest satisfaction. “The brighter, more life-like visuals and sound quality delivered by the latest AV technology can take interactive and immersive experiences to the next level, without the need for complex and cumbersome virtual reality technology,” he says. “It is now possible to make people feel like they are on the stage with their pop idol or at the centre of a 20
scene from history in a museum by manipulating what they see and hear.” Barco’s Werbrouck believes there is a role for the ubiquitous mobile device – but it has its limitations. “Although BYOD applications can have a strong value-add to an experience, a key element is to allow experiences to be shared,” he says. “Sharing moments and engaging large crowds on the spot is still quite hard to do with only mobile or by simply adding a layer of augmented reality; to create real immersion in the physical life, visualisation technology such as projection or LED displays remains a key go-to means to meet the needs.”
ABOVE: The Louvre presented the museum’s first VR experience to commemorate the 500th anniversary of the death of Leonard da Vinci
We have to be clever and implement experiences that reinforce our themed environments”
Credit: Emissive and HTC Vive Arts
Scott Harkless, Alcorn McBride
Highly adept There can be little doubt that the visitor attractions industry has become highly adept at pushing AV technology to its limits. But: is there anything that the AV industry at large can learn from it, or benefit from? For Harkless, the answer is a resounding ‘yes’. “I think the concept of show control can bring benefits to projects that, for various reasons, try to force boardroom control systems to do things that are much better suited for show control systems,” he says. “I’m also optimistic that the themed nature of what we do can bleed into other markets. I can imagine a world where more bars,
restaurants, retailers and so on embrace the idea of themed experiences to differentiate themselves in their markets.” “As adoption of the latest AV technology becomes mainstream and costs begin to fall, innovative uses of the technology that have been pioneered by visitor attractions will rapidly transfer to other sectors,” adds Vertommen. “It’s not difficult to envisage the value some of these immersive experiences could offer students in education and workers being trained in commercial environments.” And visitor attractions are, from one key point of view, no different from any other AV application. “Most technologies used in visitor attractions are the same as those used throughout the AV industry,” says Barton. “It’s how they are used that makes the difference. Attractions are all about storytelling, clever system design and invisible integration. In a great visitor attraction experience – as with any other AV experience – the technology becomes invisible.” For Fabian Stumpfl, it’s about the process. “The technology being used in visitor attractions is often the same as is used elsewhere,” he says, “but the mindset needed for creating a successful visitor attraction often necessitates asking some questions that more corporate AV applications could use as part of their planning process.”
Continue to innovate For its part, the visitor attractions industry needs the AV industry to continue to innovate. Sarner’s Magri echoes the words of Mintel’s November 2018 report on the UK visitor attractions market – the “need to invest in new technologies [is one of the] more immediate issues for operators to consider”. “AV technology will not only continue to play a crucial role within the visitor attraction market, but is bound to grow,” he asserts. “However, this can only be achieved if we embrace new technology, as the challenge for many in the industry is how to integrate
disparate technologies into a homogeneous solution that works seamlessly within a visitor attraction.” “Technology has come a long way from the days of film and slide projection,” he concludes, “but the fundamentals remain the same: while technology will continue to play an important factor in any visitor attraction, the narrative remains the driving force.” “Visitor attractions will continue to demand the latest and greatest technologies for immersive experiences,” adds 7thSense Design’s Barton. “3D immersivity, 3D projection mapping and 3D sound in particular are trends that I think will really ramp up in that world – anything that enhances the immersive nature of the experiences.”
The challenge for many in the industry is how to integrate disparate technologies into a homogeneous solution that works seamlessly within a visitor attraction” Ross Magri, Sarner
Case Study: Alterface, Barco team at award-winning theme park Walibi Belgium, voted the country’s best theme park, recently unveiled Popcorn Revenge, which was designed and built by Alterface and benefits from eight laser phosphor projectors by Barco. The projectors support an immersive journey through a Bollywood-inspired cinema complex with seven different rooms: the popcorn machine, a central hall, four themed movie theatres where visitors are presented with iconic film scenes, and a grand finale. In these rooms the journey is suddenly disturbed when the popcorns come to life; with the help of laser guns in the trackless vehicles, passengers can shoot them away. Visitors always see only six of the seven rooms in random order, so multiple trips are needed to experience all the different scenarios.
“And,” he smiles, “anything that gets rid of those dreaded glowing rectangles.”
Symbiotic The relationship between the AV industry at large and the visitor attractions industry is clearly a symbiotic one, with one providing technologies for the other to push to the limits. “I would say the majority of the technology used in visitor attractions is the same as that used across the AV industry – with some exceptions that are specific to the visitor attractions industry,” says Magri. “Many of the components used within a visitor attraction are those used elsewhere in the AV industry. This is important, especially as the visitor attractions market is not sufficiently large to support the manufacture of products that are specific to one industry.” 22
As AVIXA constantly points out: the AV industry is all about delivering great experiences – from collaborative communications to digital signage, from education to control rooms. From that point of view, the visitor attractions industry is no different – except, perhaps, in how far it pushes the technology. If there truly is a conspiracy on the part of consumer electronics companies to drive visitor attractions out of business, it’s clear that they need to up their game. www.7thsensedesign.com www.alcorn.com www.avstumpfl.com www.barco.com www.holovis.com www.panasonic.com www.sarner.com
Social attractions With social media having growing influence on the attractions sector, Rob Lane investigates how it is helping to shape operations and technological developments
he selfie is about more than individual egos, the ‘self’. It, and more broadly social media in general, is having a huge impact on the design and operations of visitor attractions worldwide. Indeed, social media is playing a burgeoning role in the entire lifecycle of attractions and public attendance of them. “Operators began to recognise social media as a different type of mass media and not just personal media,” explains Suk Hoon Lee, S.I Division/deputy head of department, C2 Artechnolozy. “Social media is certainly changing operations and advertising for visitor attractions. If you can’t spend time all day in one place, you will find another place to visit 24
afterwards. Social influencers are developing and/ or proposing the theme: and attractions developers are responding.” “As is many sectors and context, social media has evolved quickly and continues to change at pace,” says Blair Parkin, principle, executive vice president at TEECOM. “The design, improvements and changes of visitor attractions are now pretty much all base-lined against social media input, together with more traditional visitor research and consumer testing.”
Expanding visitor reach Given it pervades everything these days and has
Visitor attractions to be taken into account by most businesses, it is perhaps unsurprising that the attractions sector would ensure social media is so much a part of the visitor experience – particularly when it’s helping in expanding visitor reach. “Social media is a massive part of everyday life now and as such is always a consideration in any business, but especially so in leisure and tourism,” comments Chris Devaney, operations manager, Heritage Great Britain. “It has given every guest a voice and more importantly it has given operators a way to listen. Interactions, reach, reviews and comments all give the chance to see how guests feel about the experience and evaluate whether the experience delivered and as such the chance to generate additional visitors. “It has particularly had an impact in allowing further reach than ever before, giving visitor attractions the chance to create that connection with visitors before their arrival and communicate their message. Utilising the different properties of each platform allows operators to directly communicate the differing degrees of their brand in various ways while still maintaining personal connection with the person listening.” “Social media puts pressure on operators to change the visible part of the visitor attractions,” adds Suk Hoon Lee. “This means that operators need to be concerned with the details as well as the overall appearance. This is because for those who love to use Instagram, the most important thing is how beautiful or charming they look to others who visit their page.” But it’s not just a question of thinking about whether a particular area of an attraction is likely to be interesting or attractive enough for a visitor to take a snap. Operators can also come up with ingenious ideas that lead to ‘viral’ Instagram posts, a good example being Platform 9 ¾ at the Harry Potter Studio Tour just outside London, where people love posting an image of them appearing to walk through the platform wall with a baggage trolley.
Specifically planned “Attractions that offer highly visual content such as artefacts, objects or views are finding that the pause to take a selfie is altering visitor flow,” explains Parkin. “Many new projects are integrating this visitor demand into new designs specifically creating backdrops and views with a place for visitors to gather to take selfies. Operators are finding that the layout and design of new exhibits needs to be specifically planned, lit and arranged to accommodate selfies and shared photo opportunities that can start a social media conversation about a specific topic.” “In addition, while social media has a big impact on the attraction itself, it has the positive effect of
Great social media presence is part of the success some attractions are having appealing to audiences outside of their core visitors” Blair Parkin, TEECOM introducing hidden surrounding areas or linked products," says Suk Hoon Lee. "Actually, most social media users introduce restaurants, cafes or shopping places with their posts.” As visitors have become savvier with how to spend their money and which trips to make, the experiential nature of attractions has become more and more important, and social media can be a part of this. “Interaction is key to generating that personal experience that creates emotional connection,” says Devaney. “This can be simply from acknowledging with a ‘like’ or commenting below. Social media gives you the chance to show visitors you care about their experience and feedback, allowing you to create ‘influencers’ for your own brand because you continue that positive experience long after they have left the attraction.” The promotional aspect of social media is crucial, of course. Before making the decision to visit attractions, potential visitors research reviews and comments, mostly on TripAdvisor and Facebook, though of course platforms will continue to change and evolve. “The demographic of this visit-planning and the decision-making is shifting,” says Parkin. “In family groups the younger members are now often driving the decision making by informing themselves of what’s on offer and what others think of it. “Many attractions I work with are tracking their TripAdvisor comments daily and taking proactive actions to respond to any observations and correcting any operational activities that are consistently reviewed badly. Great social media presence is part of the success some attractions are having appealing to audiences outside of their core visitors and in particular the market for teenagers and young adults.”
ABOVE: Royal Liver Building
Narrow spheres However, it’s easy to just treat social media merely as an add-on, a must-have, without thinking creatively about how it can truly enhance visitor experiences, beyond the opportunity to spread the word via the various channels. “While social media is all-pervasive in attractions marketing these days, it seems to me to operate within fairly narrow spheres,” opines Simon Reveley, CEO Figment Productions. “There’s definitely room for innovation: you often hear that attractions are hungry for new ways to extend the guest experience.” There’s also a danger that social media could undermine the magic of experiences. The time a guest spends in the heart of any experience are precious moments – and can sometimes just be a few minutes after a long wait in a queue. So, it could ruin the experience of being immersed in another world if the visitor is distracted by another Instagram opportunity. “I think we can all do more to build content generation seamlessly into the experience itself,” continues Reveley. “Technology can help, moving us forward from the traditional model of awkward photo opportunities, towards integrated technology
Key Points • Social media has given attractions the ability to reach people before and after a visit to create a lasting connection and two-way communication • Attractions need to upgrade WiFi systems in order to support the growing number of wireless transactions on social media • New technologies like augmented reality can provide great opportunities for user generated content
where the magic can be captured invisibly. In fact, there are lots of ways that can be built into rides and other attractions already.” The real trick, according to Reveley is what happens next. Attractions need to look at new methods to unlock the way guests access
ABOVE: The Jordan Museum
generated media. This has been tried before with QR codes, but these haven’t always proved popular (the process is a little convoluted) with unpredictable levels of adoption among guests. Well-produced apps are one answer, but differing attitudes among visitors to downloading bespoke attraction apps need to be carefully assessed. “The use of technology as a backdrop has caused recent challenges for the AV industry,” says Parkin. “Single chip DLP projectors produce images that are difficult to capture on a mobile phone because of the way the image is made up sequentially at high speed from red, green and blue images. LCD projectors are starting to make a strong comeback in museums as the images they produce can easily be captured in a selfie.” In addition, many attractions have to upgrade their WiFi systems in order to support the growing number of wireless transactions sending images, communicating on social media. Parkin: “Specifically, close to any exhibits which are popular, the number of available WiFi challenges has to be increased meaning more robust and higher density WiFi systems being deployed within
the attractions. Social media relies on connectivity.” New technologies like augmented reality can provide great opportunities for user generated content, transforming queue lines from frustrating experiences into new entertainment zones with innovative interactivity. “AR in particular is an amazing double-whammy,” enthuses Reveley. “It provides spontaneous interactive entertainment and generates content that’s instantly shareable on social media – and the media itself can act as both a promotion for a ride/attraction/IP with the guest appearing as the star of the show. “I’m amazed we haven’t seen more done with AR in this arena, especially as the number of active smartphones capable of delivering excellent AR experiences has skyrocketed. This is far from niche technology – it’s mass market now, although a lot of people have probably never used the AR capabilities of the phone that’s already in their pocket.” According to Reveley, there are certain types of technology-based attractions that open up new ways of generating shareable media. “We have a hyper-reality experience where we allow guests to create their own avatars where they can choose
© Tom Hennes, Thinc Design
the body shape they want as well as virtual costumes,” he explains. “Crucially, their face is their own: we generate a 3D version of their head from a single picture. They then embody that avatar throughout their journey into other fantastic worlds and we capture their adventure, which allows us to give them a take-away video: it’s the movie starring the guests.” This is far removed from the isolation of ordinary VR experiences, and is more of a social experience for groups of families and friends, with output resembling a movie trailer. Visitors can build and share their avatars before attending the attraction, and can then share the highlights video: as a ‘movie’ they star in. Ultimately, while social media influences visitors’ choices, can help to generate additional interest and even enhance the visitor experience, it is only truly successful when working in tandem with exceptional attractions, often driven by exceptional technologies. “Except for the side of word of mouth, I believe the success of the attraction or its operators basically depends on its own quality including
Technology can help, moving us forward from the traditional model of awkward photo opportunities, towards integrated technology where the magic can be captured invisibly” Simon Reveley, Figment Production
uniqueness, quality of service, how spectacular, enjoyable or beautiful it is,” explains Reveley. C2 Artechnolozy’s Suk Hoon Lee adds: “In the end, social media should be viewed as one of the public relations methods. Only the attraction’s own quality can truly impact on a visitor’s heart.” Sam Smit, head of creative at Eden Project International, agrees, seeing social media as a necessary tool, but one that doesn’t necessarily improve the visitor experience. “It is relatively hard to get people to engage with social media beyond selfies, which can be very good for the visibility of the destination but doesn’t necessarily help engage visitors with the content. “In the future we aim to find ways to enrich the visitor experience and spark conversations by applying new technologies and evolving design techniques to the creation of our experiences.” www.c2at.co.kr www.edenproject.com www.figmentproductions.co.uk www.heritagegb.co.uk www.teecom.com
Brave new world or Pandoraâ€™s box? The ability of a new generation of connected devices to deliver valuable data and facilitate fresh applications is causing real excitement in sections of the pro AV world. But without a rigorous approach to security it could also yield serious problems, discovers David Davies 30
f it feels like the Internet of Things (IoT) is only a relatively recent development, then it may surprise you to discover that the term was first coined 20 years ago. Its originator is generally agreed to be Kevin Aston, who deployed the term in describing RFID â€“ whereby electromagnetic fields are used to automatically identify and track tags attached to objects â€“ when working at Procter & Gamble. The exchange of information remains integral to IoT as we understand it in 2019, but now it is more commonly to be found applied to consumer market products for the smart home. From domestic appliances to lighting systems, thermostats, home
Internet of Things
security technology and cameras, IoT-connected products allow a new level of control and responsiveness for users accessing them via devices including smartphones and smart speakers. With Gartner forecasting that 25 billion connected devices will be in use by 2021, this is already a massive global trend. Little by little, the buzz around IoT and its potential for professional applications has also grown louder. As businesses look to optimise their use of energy evermore tightly, energy-consuming devices with internet connectivity can be used to communicate with utilities to balance power generation and minimise unnecessary consumption. Hence, IoT is increasingly regarded as being fundamental to the future of building and home automation technology – but there are also plentiful applications in areas ranging from conferencing to transportation systems and vehicle-to-vehicle communications. As might be expected at this relatively early stage, the general impression from contributors to this article is one of ‘cautious enthusiasm’. There is talk of potential applications as well as solutions that bridge the gap between pro- and consumer worlds. But there is also recognition that much work needs to be done in order to manage the huge upturn in data resulting from IoT deployments, and to successfully address potential security problems.
The influence of the connected home
Integrators must equip themselves with the skill-set that means they understand how to deploy, monitor and manage these devices successfully" Stijn Ooms, Crestron
Many would concur with the assertion by Mark Childerhouse, director of Pioneer Group, that current developments owe much to the seamless user experience that is now expected in the domestic environment. “The most significant drivers to change in end-user perceptions, I would argue, have been the developments in home technology,” says Childerhouse. “Thanks to home assistant devices and voice-commanded smart home lighting and entertainment technology, users expect a fully connected, integrated experience, with their smartphones functioning as a command centre for a whole host of peripheral technology.” Tony Crossley, special projects director at Pure AV, also highlights the awareness of IoT in the home and the ways in which this is translating to the professional world. “Clients are now far more aware of IoT devices, and many of them are already using products from Apple, Amazon and Google in their homes. As a result, they are interested in exploring this technology in the workplace,” he says. But without the necessary background reading or guidance, this can easily result in some unrealistic expectations. Joost Demarest is CTO of the KNX Association, which promotes the use of the KNX communications technology for building automation. “The IoT makes people believe that
Internet of Things
simply hooking up something to the internet will make it miraculously work with anything already connected,” he observes. “Of course, this can hold true if devices are from the same manufacturer or when they are integrated via cloud-based solutions. Today, this mostly does not hold true when the products are from different manufacturers and if they need to communicate directly, without the help of the cloud.” Crestron director of technology Stijn Ooms is also keen to dispel the belief in some quarters that “with the Internet of Things, if you have one IoT device from one company and one from another manufacturer they will be able to connect instantly and share information. Trying to get one vendor’s motion sensor to talk to another’s lighting system would be a good example. But the reality is that IoT has not reached that stage yet and so there is still programming and customisation required [to achieve that level of data exchange].”
Success ‘about being selective’ It therefore follows that, for integrators and consultants, managing expectations tends to be a major part of current IoT-related projects. But perhaps even more critical, is the need for them to work closely with clients to identify applications or individual aspects of a project where IoT can bring real benefits over the long-term. Integrators should be ready to have difficult conversations with clients, indicates Ooms, for instance with regard to the common assumption by end users that “once everything is connected [the installation] will be the subject of simple updates, but in fact that won’t always be the case”. With the IoT ecosystem growing steadily, “integrators must equip themselves with the skill-set that means they understand how to deploy, monitor and manage these devices successfully”. Childerhouse acknowledges the pressure on integrators to expand their use of IoT, but he thinks that ultimately “it’s about being selective. Integrators need to think carefully about what end users want from the service and work backwards from there. They should think carefully about connecting devices which support a service the end user requires, and also [make accommodation] for how these demands may change in the future.” Indeed, for both vendors and integrators, it should never be a matter of “being able to say that we do IoT – it must be about the user experience”, says Joe Andrulis, executive vice president of corporate development, Biamp Systems. “The starting point should always be how do we create a great user experience and then consider what we need to do to deliver that.” Meanwhile, as public interest in IoT grows, integrators must also be prepared to flag up potential 32
In order to manage data effectively, it’s important to understand first what data is available" Joel Chimoindes, Maverick AV Solutions Europe
problems. It is crucial, says Crossley, “to offer guidance to our clients, and if we feel that they are pushing too hard towards an IoT solution we have to highlight the potential pitfalls”. The huge volumes of extra data generated in IoT environments mean that installations can be more responsive and energy-optimised – but customers have to be ready to manage and make the most of the data. Joel Chimoindes, vice president of Maverick AV Solutions Europe, remarks: “The proliferation of IoT means you have to be very clear about what you want to achieve through an IoT project and how that will benefit your business. In order to manage data effectively, it’s important to understand first what data is available, what data is relevant for your business, the overall objective and eventually the business outcome.” The ability to connect an entire ecosystem of devices “doesn’t necessarily reflect the service that users actually want, and there’s no use in gathering data you don’t know how to use”, says Childerhouse. “IoT needs to be integrated properly and effectively so that’s providing the service required by the end user.”
Opportunities and liabilities The not inconsiderable issue of security – more of which anon – aside, virtually everyone agrees that IoT could open up major new sources of work and revenue in the years ahead. But given the consumer market’s tendency towards a few major players holding many of the cards, there are also concerns about over-consolidation that could ultimately dampen competition and creativity. “For any industry IoT is an opportunity, not only for the AV industry,” says Demarest. “It bears the hope that we will finally do away with the Babylon of protocols, to make way for a world where indeed everything can talk to everything without substantial integration effort. However, it also bears the risk that this ‘consolidation’ may lead to the concentration of everything in just a handful of suppliers.” Inviting interviewees to nominate professional
Internet of Things applications where IoT stands to be advantageous brings forth suggestions encompassing everything from retail to conferencing. Childerhouse points to “interactive displays and kiosks with digital catalogues [allowing] stores to effectively expand their range of products on display without increasing the physical footprint of the store itself. AV and IoT are already changing the way shoppers interact with retailers, and this hybrid approach is going to be crucial for keeping high street retailers buoyant.” IoT will also enable more rapid updates of digital signage displays in commercial locations and elsewhere. “By being part of the IoT network, displays can be updated according to live factors such as user behaviour, weather or time of day, which can feed into the system management and modify content in real-time,” says Childerhouse. Building automation “especially in light of sustainability requirements and reducing power consumption is a major place to start with IoT,” believes Chimoindes. For instance, “we are seeing a major call from IT managers to be able to prove the effectiveness of spaces, with the rise of hot-desking and video calling changing the face of the workplace. Creating spaces which people can use to collaborate effectively will be a major use of IoT, which is why meeting room displays and products are increasingly building it in as standard for the future.” For Crossley, IoT heralds an increased ability “to do lots of things, in many cases for a relatively low cost. For example, we can control an AV system using voice commands, and we can control lights, blinds and heating efficiently and cost-effectively. Our clients can use their own devices to share data wirelessly, and we can use the technology to check the status of equipment remotely.” Pure AV’s own recent IoTrelated endeavours have included the integration of cameras, voice control pods and even smart bathroom mirrors into their systems. The through-line in this diverse roster of applications will be IoT’s ability to enable “meaningful two-way data from any kind of device at a much lower point of entry”, says Chimoindes. “It enables IT managers and AV network operators to assess the effectiveness of a system, its requirements for the future, and to give an ROI which is much more robust.”
Key Points • • • •
Growing public awareness is leading more customers to explore solutions with an IoT dimension Managing expectations is crucial as some customers think that IoT means instant and trouble-free connectivity and communication Manufacturers are bringing an increasing number of solutions to market with explicit IoT messaging Security is a significant and growing concern as consumer goods and AV/IT security provisions continue to differ
An abundance of access points Despite all the potential benefits, no one denies the profound security implications of IoT. As Childerhouse observes: “If each and every peripheral device has its own IP address, each device becomes an access point and therefore a potential security liability which needs to be managed correctly.” But once that has been fully recognised it is possible to “respond to and manage these access points properly. There are lots more gaps to fill as the network has more potential liabilities, but mitigating risk often comes down to basics such as strong passwords and restricted access.” Crossley observes that “as traditional IT equipment becomes more secure, there is a growing consensus in the IT security industry that IoT devices may offer hackers a route onto a network. That’s why engagement with IT/network managers at an early stage is critical to ensure that the design developed is secure and able to meet the security standards of all stakeholders.” For vendors and integrators alike, IoT is giving rise to a new sphere of services. Pure AV, says Crossley, has “started to offer free security reviews on networks for integrators to take to their end users, helping them to demonstrate where weak spots on their networks can be fixed and what needs to be considered moving forward. Specialist security services will certainly be required moving forward for AV integrators.” “Security is a very hot potato,” says Demarest, “especially when communication cannot be
Internet of Things
protected against eavesdropping, as is the case for wireless communication and if connecting to the internet. If the latter is the case, then the manufacturer or the ecosystem has no choice but to provide sufficient protection mechanisms to avoid unwanted intrusion. Unquestionably, this increases the integration effort; the added value of the [required] security comes at a price.” In terms of KNX, the Association has spent much time over the past few years working on a definition of a KNX-standardised IoT interface that will allow anyone wishing to tap into the data of a KNX installation to access an ecosystem-specific interface. Demarest says: “With this IoT interface, KNX will be able to grant access to its home and building automation data at installation level, rather than the level of products from one single manufacturer. More will be shown at the ISE and Light + Building shows early next year.” Industry-wide it could be that there eventually needs to be an organisation devoted to IoT standardisation, with a particular emphasis on providing a baseline of operation and security for the conjunction of professional and consumer systems. “It could be that there ends up being an independent organisation to look at security standards and we all conform to the one approach. Or it could be that [standardisation emerges] from individual companies. It remains to be seen how it will all shake down, I think,” says Andrulis.
Solutions with IoT messaging What is certain is that an increasing number of manufacturers are bringing solutions and services to market with explicit IoT messaging. Stijn Ooms points to Crestron’s XiO Cloud, which is the company’s unifying IoT-based platform for remotely provisioning, monitoring and managing Crestron devices across an enterprise or entire client base. Operating on a subscription model, the XiO Cloud supports direct device-to-cloud connection via the Microsoft Azure software IoT Hub without requiring any additional hardware. Over at Biamp, Andrulis highlights developments such as its Beamtracking Microphones, which are designed for deployment with the Tesira platform and utilise AEC algorithms and beam-tracking technology to analyse the signals from each microphone element in order to determine the location of the contributor. This information is passed to the beamforming algorithm to tell it where to steer the polar pattern. “We do see considerable opportunities around IoT in the conferencing sector,” confirms Andrulis, who also underlines the importance of “a very active twoway flow of information” with consultants and integrators during this period of great change across 34
© KNX Association cvba
It could be that there ends up being an independent organisation to look at security standards and we all conform to the one approach" Joost Demarest, KNX the industry: “We do meet regularly with those groups as well as end users to help determine the kind of experiences that people require.” Given that the nature and scope of IoT deployments will remain the subject of significant variation, canvassing opinion is going to be critical to vendors as they plan their future R&D activities. Security’s moving target is also going to be an enduring preoccupation, but for those vendors and integrators who can use IoT to bring real value to professional environments the opportunities are plentiful. www.biamp.com www.crestron.com www.knx.org www.pioneergroup.co.uk www.pureav.co.uk www.tdmaverick.eu
University of Bath
Project of the month
VSimulators team (L-R): Dr Antony Darby; Katy Manning; Jon Slade; Julie Leiw-Thompson
Reaching new heights The University of Bath has installed a new simulation facility to undertake pioneering research into human responses to the built environment. Duncan Proctor reports
Simulators is a ÂŁ4.8 million EPSRC (Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council) government-funded national research facility, developed between the Universities of Exeter, Bath and Leicester. The first motion platform and environmental control chamber is located at the University of Bath, with a complementary facility to be installed at the University of Exeter. A few days after the official launch on 9th October, Installation was invited down to the University of Bath to have a look at the new facility and hear more about the Universityâ€™s studies. The equipment will support collaborative research across a range of disciplines, including engineering, health, medicine, physiology, architecture and psychology, to explore how people respond to the built environment. For example, VSimulators will be used to explore the effects of motion for occupants in a tall building which sways in the wind. This has been found to lead to tiredness, low mood, and difficulty in concentrating, as well as a lack of motivation for the occupant. Such symptoms can
University of Bath
impact negatively on well-being and productivity and, therefore, have an impact for building developers, designers, contractors and owners as well as business occupants. The VSimulators facility will be used to look at other factors including temperature, light, humidity, sound and air quality, enabling researchers to adjust the environmental conditions and monitor the human responses to help gain a better understanding of how the performance of employees improves or degrades. The VSimulator can go from 40°C down to 10°C to recreate what it would be like in different parts of the world. It is believed that the findings will indicate if air conditioning in office buildings is always necessary and to what degree people can tolerate higher or lower temperatures than we think. The facility will also measure reactions to lighting colour and intensity. Certain colours are synonymous with comfort, but this may impede productivity, whereas others may not be as visually pleasing but improve alertness and concentration.
Perception and acceptance On the background to the project. Dr Antony Darby, head of civil engineering at the University of Bath, says: "We did some work ages ago on acceptability of motioning grandstands. We had this big bit of grandstand that we built and we had people jumping up and down on it and so on, to try and understand what their perception is of whether it is safe or not."
This led the team to think on a broader scale and look at the environments within tall buildings. However, Darby and the team discovered: "Currently there are no real guidelines on the acceptable level of motion in tall buildings – motion perception but not acceptability.” To explain the difference, Darby continues: “For example, on a train you expect it to move, that doesn't mean it's not acceptable. You can perceive the vibration, but it's an acceptable level, it doesn't stop you from doing things. And it's the same thing in a tall building – all buildings move, some more than others, but just because you can see the motion doesn't necessarily mean it's unacceptable, or conversely, even if you can't perceive the motion doesn't mean it's acceptable. "So we designed this bit of equipment to help us explore that and expanded it to consider the entire environment and to make it as realistic as possible and allow us to do as many studies as possible.” Specialist contractors, working with academic and technical staff at the University of Bath, have designed and constructed the VSimulators facility in the Structures Laboratory at the Department of Architecture and Civil Engineering. This has involved the design and installation of a motion platform by Servotest Testing Systems, a climate chamber designed by Temperature Applied Science and the creation of projected virtual reality environments designed and installed by Antycip. It is anticipated that such research undertaken at the VSimulators facility will impact positively on the design of
ABOVE: Office replica scene
University of Bath
sustainable buildings with a reduction in wasted energy, alongside positive impacts on productivity and occupant well being. Servotest are a specialist supplier of custom servo-hydraulic mechanical testing solutions. Using hydraulic actuators, they have designed a platform which can move in three degrees of freedom within bespoke parameters, enabling researchers to take recordings from existing structural motion and replicate within a controlled environment.
Control challenges “We are delighted to work with the University of Bath to bring into commission their ‘man-rated’, multiaxial simulation table,” comments Andy Prior, managing director from ServoTest. “This project has presented some keen control challenges for us as it requires very smooth operations at low loads. There needs to be very low noise (hydraulic/electrical) and distortion on the acceleration to ensure the test subjects are unaware of the motion simulation. The Servotest team have done a great job to provide technical solutions to these challenges that will provide the most realistic and effective testing for the University.” The environmental chamber was designed and supplied by Temperature Applied Sciences, which is a UK manufacturer of bespoke Environmental Simulation Systems, with many decades’ of experience. The test chamber supplied to the University of Bath for the VSimulators platform has 14 independent control loops, covering temperature, humidity, air-flow, lighting plus a number of hot and cold radiators, which posed significant and unusual design challenges. All of the environmental variables are under programmable control, simulating an almost infinite variety of day and night scenarios. The remote plant and instrumentation packages are connected to the test chamber via flexible hoses and umbilical cables, while the test chamber has been designed to be rigid and lightweight to withstand the considerable force of the Servotest platform. “I was very excited to learn that the University of Bath had again selected Temperature Applied Sciences to work on another project,” comments Timothy Stevens, technical director Temperature Applied Science. “The Test Chamber is very much the hub of the VSimulators, whereby all of the technologies converge. We were presented with two distinct challenges. Firstly, the Chamber had to be very light but also very rigid. Secondly, no less than 14 control loops were necessary, all of which had to be under programmable control. Our modular system was perfect for the application and has capacity to spare for any future enhancements.“ 38
Virtual surroundings The 3D VR environments, created by simulation and virtual reality company Antycip, are projected onto three walls to create a realistic impression of living and working in a building space, including a modern apartment and an office with external views of a low rise city or a dense, high rise city. These scenes will enable participants to experience and respond to virtual surroundings, adjusted according to the time of day. "Like the other organisations, Antycip is very pleased to be working with the University of Bath on this fascinating VSimulators project,” says Chris
ABOVE: Modern apartment scene
University of Bath
Waldron, UK regional manager, Antycip Simulation. “As with many of the professional grade VR projects that we are asked to work on, this came with a set of unique challenges; the image size and nature requirements, the confined area, the angle of projection, and the need to cope with the movement of the platform, all restricted the projector and lens choices, plus created a set of related engineering prescriptions that we had to work to." The EPSRC-funded project will also feature a VSimulator platform based at the University of Exeter, which will include a 4x4 metre ‘motion
platform’ with in an 8x8 metre room. The VSimulators facility at the University of Exeter will also offer a fully instrumented floor to record pressure and movement in fine detail, as well as motion capture technology and immersive virtual reality capabilities for up to nine occupants, simultaneously. www.antycipsimulation.com www.bath.ac.uk www.servotestsystems.com www.tasltd.co.uk www.vsimulators.co.uk
Master planning The global consulting firm, Arup, wanted to use digital tools and drawings in its collaboration sessions to improve decisionmaking and discussions around complex construction challenges. Tom Bradbury reports
rup’s mission is to help clients solve large, complex construction challenges. As with most industries, increasing digitisation enables new ways of working, and Arup has embraced the latest technologies. The company has an ongoing need to demonstrate to its clients how their concepts and designs will look, which includes viewing plans and graphics in detail. Close consultation is essential, not just with clients but also between Arup’s employees whose skills encompass a range of complementary disciplines. Effective collaboration allows the expertise of each member of Arup’s project teams to be combined for better decision-making. Such collaboration is often best done on large displays, using sophisticated AV technology. This facilitates the creation of optimal design and construction plans, so the company can meet – and exceed – client expectations. "The role of the global IT function at Arup is to drive standardisation,” says Roy Salfarlie, VC specialist at Arup Global IT. “We strive to build AV solutions based on IT principles that we can support globally through remote support and configuration. The benefits are substantial and the total cost of ownership significantly lower as we are able to streamline everything from configuration and user interface to support and monitoring."
Across the globe The challenge was to enable interactive visual collaboration for large multidisciplinary teams. Arup frequently employs large project teams which often include participants from across the globe. These require large meeting room spaces and displays in order to collaborate effectively. Arup has around 400 videoenabled meeting rooms across its various offices and understands how vital it is to effectively connect their disparate employees and clients. 40
The extensive requirements for successful team collaboration, as well as for productive client engagement, meant Arup had difficulty finding the right solutions to suit varying needs. This was particularly true for the larger spaces that are more complex to design from a collaboration perspective. Several bespoke solutions were considered; however, most were expensive and not easily scalable to the size of room and specific meeting requirements. Arup was looking for something that the company could replicate across its offices, while being easy to manage and support. Many of the company’s larger meeting spaces are multipurpose and are used for ‘town hall’ type events. In addition, they can be used for specific meeting, presentation and application-centric needs, such as for Building Information Modelling (BIM). While Arup’s small and medium size rooms were working well, a staff satisfaction survey highlighted users were becoming frustrated with the lack of ability to hold larger meetings and presentations involving many people. An assessment of the requirements for large meeting spaces revealed the need to showcase projects successfully to clients, as well as enable inter-company collaboration on a large scale. This included the use of sophisticated software applications and allowing extensive and detailed sharing of data, to facilitate the complex decision-making to drive projects forward.
Driving standardisation Arup recognised that standardising on technology across offices makes collaboration easier and saves time and money. Using a range of different solutions meant that users were having to spend time learning how to operate each particular room before each meeting. This was slowing down the collaboration process and impacting meeting efficiency. Standardisation was a particularly attractive goal because it would allow ease of use by providing a consistent user experience and centralised IT support. To address such needs, Arup’s global IT team engaged with Cyviz who offered global turnkey solutions for multipurpose collaboration spaces. Together with a control and management system managed through a centralised server, and a standardised intuitive user interface, the solution delivered according to Arup’s most important needs. "We wanted a company with extensive experience and industry know-how to help us create the next generation of collaboration spaces to meet the needs of our digital workforce,” explains Salfarlie. “The Cyviz solution has overcome the challenges of large-scale presentations to both internal and external audiences. The clarity of resolution, and
LEFT: The multipurpose room in the Boston offices of Arup with its blended projection solution creates a seamless canvas for collaboration and BIM applications
the ability to split screens using multiple projectors has revolutionised our work and will make it easier to demonstrate our plans to clients and to collaborate internally." The Cyviz technology allows several content sources from various feeds to be displayed on a screen at the same time, together with videoconferencing. A user can move easily from one window to the next, stretching the image and zooming in at the touch of a button without having to manage different feeds. Arup particularly liked the fact that Cyviz offered complementary yet standardised technology to other systems already deployed elsewhere and was able to provide a consistent user experience.
Economies of scale The Cyviz solution is now up and running and working effectively in Arup’s Boston office. Users are delighted with the ease of use and high quality, flexible visual experience, especially the ability to view multiple images simultaneously. As the user interface remains the same for each office, changes can be made to accommodate the specific requirements of each meeting, while still providing a ‘plug and play’ consistent experience. The economies of scale the system provides reduces overall costs, and because only a
simple software update rather than reprogramming is needed, the total cost of ownership is much lower. The Cyviz solution architecture means Arup internal IT is able to manage a larger part of the support. Users cite ease of use including simple operation of the rooms, clear join button to initiate meetings and the consistency of the user experience, as well as the ability to see multiple content sources as the main benefits. Superior video and audio quality means travelling to customer sites or between offices is much reduced, saving time and money as well as reducing Arup’s carbon footprint. Arup has said it is committed to further improving the user experience through technology and will continue to investigate the use of new technology such as AI, AR and VR to enhance projects and collaboration processes. The process of standardisation will serve to future-proof its systems. The centralised control and monitoring, along with the remote management of the systems and meeting spaces are essential to the efficiency of the operation. Arup is now looking at rolling out Cyviz solutions throughout its offices globally . www.arup.com www.cyviz.com
True faith The largest installation of the xC-Series ensures intelligible speech at this cathedral, known as the centre of Christianity in the north of England, writes Olivia Brady
teeped in centuries of history, the city of Yorkâ€™s Minster holds a revered place in the lives of locals and visitors alike. The in-house team recently completed an innovative project, installing over 100 loudspeakers from the d&b xC-Series of cardioid columns, forming the largest system of its kind in any Minster â€“ and becoming the largest single installation of the xC-Series to date. As a space designed for reverberant excitation by the choral songs of old,
which now hosts a myriad of services and events, the requirement and challenge of this project was to deliver a sound system like no other. To enable a platform for transparency, engagement and spiritual intimacy no matter the expression of worship. Wigwam, part of SSE Audio Group and now Solotech, in response to a commission from church leaders, commenced work on a solution for the cathedral situated at the heart of Christianity in the north of England since the seventh century. The system needed to be capable of delivering the spoken word without distraction and reinforcing live music for a variety of events.
Custom solution Wigwam installation manager Phil Goldsworthy was familiar with the two-way passive column loudspeakers from the d&b xC-Series, which are engineered to provide effective solutions for acoustically challenging environments while being architecturally complementary to their surroundings. An RAL colour matched system was chosen as the perfect companion to the soaring masonry on display throughout the Minster. Goldsworthy worked closely with York Minster
representatives, and as a result, specified d&b 24C cardioid column loudspeakers along with the 24C-E extension companions on each column, with the 24C-E’s providing an additional octave of vertical pattern control down to 190Hz; alleviating issues around the commonly problematic low-mid frequencies. Additional d&b xC-Series units in the form of the smaller 16C loudspeakers, were added around the altar and in the quire. All 108 loudspeakers are efficiently powered and individually processed by the d&b audiotechnik 10D amplifiers, with complete control via R1 and Q-SYS integration to ensure the system is harmoniously flexible for every possible outcome. “The 24C features mechanically steerable high frequency drivers, which can be adjusted to direct the audio to where it’s needed,” says Goldsworthy. “This allows you to mount the units completely vertically, tight up against the pillar and quite high up, yet still achieve an even audio coverage to the congregation below. “The units are narrow enough to fit within the grooves of the masonry – helping to reduce the visual impact of the installation, which is vital in a listed building of this type. We further reduced the impact by colour matching the speaker to that of the pillar.”
Minimising reflections All xC-Series products deliver high intelligibility, remarkable directivity control, even off-axis
frequency response and full bandwidth cardioid dispersion pattern. The incorporated 4in drivers radiate through waveguide elements at the front and via perforated metal, through damped ports at the rear of the cabinet. The resulting cardioid dispersion pattern minimises interference caused by wall reflections in the low and mid frequency bands by 18dB – minimising the energy dispersed on to surfaces to the rear of the loudspeaker, thus negating destructive cancellation in the listening plane. Alexander McCallion FRICS, director of works and precinct at York Minster, explains: “When we went out for tender we were inviting people to put forward solutions which included premium speaker systems. We shortlisted, interviewed and selected Wigwam who had put forward the d&b solution. Before we signed any contracts, we invited them in to let us listen to this product and the clarity just from one speaker, meant that we were positive that we wanted to appoint and proceed with the d&b product. “We’re very happy with how the system looks and of course, how it sounds. York Minster, I believe, has the best sound system on the market.” Goldsworthy concludes: “The sound quality is second to none in a building of this type and the installation is incredibly sympathetic to the Minster’s architecture. The system provides huge flexibility for a wide range of uses and is simple to operate.” www.dbaudio.com www.sseaudiogroup.com
Solutions in Brief
Naturalis leads the way with 360º projection The Naturalis Biodiversity Centre in the Netherlands has reopened to the public after a renovation project costing around €70 million. The centre now features 22 Canon XEED WUX5800Z and XEED WUX6600Z LCOS installation projectors across its four exhibits. The discreetly positioned projectors have enabled Naturalis to create enhanced immersive exhibitions, offering visitors a unique experience that breathes life into one of the largest natural history collections in the world. Following a tender process which began at ISE 2018, Naturalis and system integrator Ata Tech selected Canon projectors for their versatility. With ambitious designs for each of the museum’s exhibitions, it was essential that the projectors used were high brightness, offered incredible image quality and employed a large lens shift. The XEED WUX5800Z and XEED WUX6600Z LCOS projectors are capable of a very large lens shift, which was essential in both the permanent Death and Dino exhibitions at Naturalis, where the integrator needed to avoid shadows being cast by visitors and skeletons. The Death exhibit is home to one of the first 360°
projection installations in Europe. This installation stacks five XEED WUX5800Z projectors on top of one another at the centre of the room – avoiding crossfire of projections that could lead to distorted images. With Canon’s edge-blending technology the images from each projector are seamlessly connected with accurate pixel positioning delivering a continuous image. www.ata-tech.nl www.canon-europe.com
Gimje Centre invests in compact, powerful lighting system Hansam System has equipped South Korea’s Gimje Cultural and Art Centre with Martin by Harman lighting fixtures to deliver dynamic lighting displays for events and performances. Founded in 2009, the centre hosts plays, operas, musicals, exhibitions and more; it is home to a 488seat grand performance hall, a smaller 230-seat performance hall and various exhibition halls. “The theatre needed a custom lighting solution that was more compact and powerful than their existing setup,” said Sehoon Park, sales manager, Hansam System. “The old fixtures were halogen lamps and the client wanted to replace them with new LED lighting units that could deliver better performance.” Hansam System equipped the performance hall and projection room with Martin ELP-WW warm white and ELP-CL full colour LED ellipsoidal fixtures. Featuring 19° beam angle tube lenses, the ELP fixtures provide tight, punchy beams for creating dazzling lighting displays. “The Gimje Cultural and Art Centre is the only theatre in the city, so we wanted to deliver the best 44
possible lighting solutions to ensure the perfect viewing experience for every event, ” said Gyeongwon Kim, lighting director, Gimje Cultural and Art Centre. “We are highly satisfied with the solutions provided by Harman and Hansam System, especially the ELP-WW units, and would like to acknowledge the innovative measures taken to integrate the larger ELP-CL units in the projection room as well.” www.harman.com
Solutions in Brief
Zytronic at centre of personalised healthcare experience When Hong Kong healthcare provider LifeHub wanted to implement a new automated system to interact with patients at its clinic, it envisaged a large interactive screen in the practice, allowing patients to make menudriven selections to address their individual healthcare needs. When not in use, the screen would act as a large mirror – rather than ‘just’ a blank screen. However, turning this vision into reality required some advanced technology. LifeHub turned to DHS Engineering, a Hong Kong-based green engineering consultancy. To deliver the project, DHS partnered with ASPIS Innovation Solutions, the Hong Kong distributor for UK-based Zytronic. The solution was defined as a 55in multi-touch screen that mounts on the wall in LifeHub’s reception area, with a second unit elsewhere in the practice. A 700cd/sqm high brightness LCD display panel would be mounted behind the mirrored surface; the specially mirrored glass becomes reflective when the display is unpowered or showing a dark screen, but still allows enough light to transmit through when content is displayed. At ASPIS’ suggestion, a gasket would be
added between the screen and mirror to minimise the risk for electromagnetic interference. The touch panel components selected were a 55in mirrored glass and ZyBrid sensor combined with a Zytronic ZXY500 multitouch controller with the 256 inputs necessary for such a large display. As the screens were located in public areas, where there is a risk for vandalism, a 6mm glass was selected. www.zytronic.co.uk
Solutions in Brief
The full programme of 37 artworks for Lumiere 2019 has been revealed. Created by Artichoke, a UK-based producer of art in the public realm, Lumiere runs from 14-17 November in the UK city of Durham. The 10th edition will feature dramatic installations, dynamic projections and reflective works, which showcase the diversity and creativity of light art, including interactive installations where audiences manipulate or become part of the art. Stones by artist collective Tigrelab Art (Spain) is a shape-shifting videomapped projection onto the facade of Durham Cathedral, that visitors can change using stone tablets. Inspired by the coloured tiles that characterise many Portuguese cities, Human Tiles by Ocubo (Portugal) will transform the exterior of Gala Theatre & Cinema into a kaleidoscope of projected patterns created in response to the movements of visitors’ bodies in realtime. Tug at the rope that propels Amelia Kosminsky’s floating sculpture Celestial Brainstorm (UK) and sparkling neurons will be released into the night sky; make music by rotating Stellar Projects’ The Stars Come out at Night (UK); and fly up and down in a playground of illuminated see-saws by Wave-Field
© Matthew Andrews
Lumiere festival to light up Durham
Variation H by CS Design, L4 Studio (Canada). Professor Janet Stewart, executive dean (Arts and Humanities) at Durham University, said: “Lumiere is an inspiring event; it’s innovative, exciting and something that many, many people look forward to greatly. As Durham’s University, we’re very pleased to be a major partner for Lumiere Durham 2019: sponsoring the festival and hosting new and returning installations." www.artichoke.uk.com
Golden State Warriors score NBA’s largest centre-hung display Chase Center is the NBA’s newest arena and following a Samsung LED display installation it now includes the largest centre-hung video display in the league. In total more than 64 LED video displays have been designed and installed by Samsung subsidiary, PRISMVIEW, at the new home of the Golden State Warriors. Samsung LED technologies showcase a detailed picture, ensuring each fan is immersed in the action. The new Warriors centre-hung main videoboard offers over 900sqmof active video display, making it the largest LED video display centre-hung installed in a sports arena. It integrates 15 displays varying from 6.7mm pixel pitch on the main displays and upper halo ring, to 4mm pixel pitch on the underbelly displays, amassing a total of more than 26.3 million individual LEDs. To elevate the fan experience further, Samsung and the Warriors stepped outside the arena to install the first-ever full outdoor LED display in San Francisco. Fastened to the outer wall of Chase Center’s west entrance, the vibrant display provides a preview of the technology that can be experienced inside. The superior image quality of Samsung’s 10mm LED video 46
display is said to be second-to-none. The displays are built to withstand any environmental elements. In addition to the ground-breaking centre-hung and outdoor LED displays, Samsung LED technologies can be found throughout the venue, adding up to 53.6 million individual LED pixels. https://displaysolutions.samsung.com
Solutions in Brief
Creativity enhanced with Amadeus immersive sound system Paris’ Théâtre du Vieux-Colombier has installed an Amadeus HOLOPHONIX sound processor along with a variety of Amadeus speakers and subwoofers creating a new, reimagined immersive sound system. In recent months, the theatre has undergone an in-depth renovation of its stage infrastructure. The electro-acoustical system was also completely redesigned, in close collaboration with the theatre’s technical manager Philippe Lagrue, along with Dominique Bataille, a multidisciplinary creator, sound engineer and composer. The electro-acoustical system is now built around a HOLOPHONIX spatial sound processor, developed by Amadeus, in collaboration with the STMS (Sciences et Technologies de la Musique et du Son). The main sound system is designed according to a semispherical concept to get the best envelopment for spectators and adapted to the geometrical shape of the hall – a parallelepiped – and the technical and aesthetic constraints imposed by the hall. The system comprises 23 speakers made by Amadeus plus the HOLOPHONIX spatial sound processor.
Ten Amadeus PMX 8 MKII speakers – five on each side along the whole theatre floors’ depth – were seamlessly integrated into lateral ‘arches’ of the wooden frame evoking a boat’s overturned hull. They are supplemented by eight Amadeus PMX 5 MKIV speakers that are integrated into the upper ‘arches’ in zenithal position. www.amadeuslab.com
Situated at the heart of New York City’s Times Square neighbourhood, The Times Square EDITION hotel uses audio, video, lighting, system control and broadcast infrastructure at the edge of what’s technologically possible, along with thoughtful, future-proof ways to keep the hotel current as technology advances. AVL design and integration firm Clair Solutions was brought onboard as the consultant and integrator that brought it all together. The hotel’s 200-seat Paradise Club features a clear sound reinforcement system, but its multiple restaurants, bars, lounges, and terraces have livemusic quality sound systems for a DJ or small band for public or private parties. Paradise Club uses crystal clear, high-volume CAT215 line array elements, USLP218 subwoofers, and 1AM stage monitors from Clair Brothers (sister company to Clair Solutions) powered by Lab Gruppen amplifiers with LAKE processing. The rest of the spaces use a combination of top-of-the-line Tannoy and Danley Sound Labs loudspeakers and subwoofers, QSC amplification, and QSC Q-Sys for overall system-level DSP. Clair Solutions put everything on schedulers so that volumes and
© Nikolas Koenig
Clair Solutions futureproofs luxury NYC hotel
content change at appropriate times without requiring intervention by the EDITION staff. Clair Solutions’ lighting work in Paradise Club included a huge, attention-getting ‘starburst’ LED ceiling. Each of its 72 radial arms is composed of between 36 and 42 individually-controlled RGBW pixels are capable of colour effects, colour washes, or even video content. www.clairsolutions.com
Product of the Month
KIT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT Product of the month
Product of the Month
Poly Studio X Series It’s… a series of simple video devices for meetings. What’s new? The full range of video endpoints is designed to simplify the videoconferencing experience and deliver high-end audio and video capability. The completely reimagined video portfolio includes two new purpose-built all-in-one video bars, the Poly Studio X30 and Poly Studio X50. The Poly Studio X Series does not require an external PC or Mac to drive the Zoom Rooms experience and features new Poly MeetingAI capabilities for breakthrough audio and video experiences built on machine learning and artificial intelligence. In addition, Poly announced that the G7500 video operating system will also support the Zoom Rooms experience natively. Details: This range of devices means that Zoom Rooms can be deployed in meeting rooms of all sizes, from huddle rooms to boardrooms, with enterprise-grade quality. “Customers love Zoom because it offers an unparalleled video experience – and now with the Poly Studio X Series, using Zoom in a huddle room or conference room becomes even easier and more powerful,” said Eric S Yuan, chief executive officer, Zoom. “A conference room with a single purpose-built device running Zoom means customers get simplicity, ease-of-use and innovation at their fingertips – core tenets of our Zoom product offering.” Open offices and flexible workforces mean the experience in huddle and meeting rooms has got to be right to keep workers connected. Following the launch of the Poly G7500 for mid- to large-sized meeting rooms and the award-winning Poly Studio plug-and-play USB video bar for huddle rooms, Poly is bringing greater choice and flexibility to address the needs of all meeting spaces with its Poly Studio X30 and Poly Studio X50 devices. Poly’s line of video devices is designed to work with modern collaboration applications to streamline the experience, completely reinvented with support for 4K UHD. Poly has also introduced Poly MeetingAI features that improve all aspects of the meeting experience. Advanced noise suppression makes it easy to hear human voices while simultaneously blocking the typing or pen clicking that may be happening at the same time. New unmatched video production rules automatically allow remote employees to truly see the faces and the context of what is happening, without requiring anyone in the room to touch a remote or reconfigure a setting. “We’re constantly looking at how we can modernise the way people work, and that means making collaboration much simpler – with the software of their choice,” said Joe Burton, president and chief executive officer at Poly. “Our completely refreshed line of video devices is designed to drastically streamline that experience of walking into any meeting room and starting a meeting instantly and easily.”
Poly Studio X30 and X50 The Poly Studio X30, designed for small offices or huddle rooms, supports 4K UHD video and built-in wireless content sharing capabilities, all in a compact design. The Poly Studio X30 supports the full range of Poly MeetingAI capabilities, so it packs a boardroom experience into a small box. Content collaboration is enabled wirelessly and the video bar’s premium audio engineering offers plenty of pickup power. The Poly Studio X50, the larger of the two new solutions, boasts even greater pickup range and high-quality speakers to suit the needs of mid-sized conference rooms. In addition to the new Poly MeetingAI features, the Poly Studio X50 supports dual screens for Zoom Rooms, expanding the capabilities to support the needs of larger conference rooms. It also supports 4K UHD video, 5x zoom, wireless content sharing, audio input/output and a roomthundering stereo speaker system. Flexible installation means both Poly Studio X models can sit, stand or be mounted wherever desired, with downward facing connection ports making this flexibility possible. To make it even easier to install and use, Poly also announced the new Poly TC8 touch controller that offers a native Zoom Rooms interface, highperformance, and a single PoE cable so there is no need to stretch cables or cords across tables to connect to the video bar. G7500 for Zoom Poly also announced that its G7500 video endpoint for mid- to large-sized conference rooms will run the Zoom Rooms app natively, completing its family of videoconferencing products. The Poly G7500 combines content collaboration and videoconferencing capabilities in one device, integrating advanced audio features, wireless content sharing and 4K UHD video. The G7500 can be combined with an array of camera, microphone and display options for an immersive audio and video experience in larger conference rooms and training rooms. In addition to supporting Zoom Rooms natively, the Studio X Series, like the Poly G7500, also supports the full breadth of conferencing capabilities through open standards like Open SIP. This new product suite rounds out a full complement of Zoomenabled endpoints from Poly. The Poly Studio USB video bar is already certified for Zoom, as is the Poly EagleEye Cube USB camera. Poly’s VVX line of desk phones support Zoom Phone, and Poly’s line of noise-cancelling headsets can be used with Zoom on Mac or PCs or with a smartphone. Available: The Poly Studio X30 and Poly Studio X50 are available for pre-order now with general availability by December 2019. The Poly G7500 for Zoom will be available as a software update for the G7500 in December 2019. www.poly.com/video-conferencing
Software tools AV system design and documentation can be costly and time consuming. The latest suite of software tools for integrators aims to make this more efficient and less resource intensive. We take a look at some of the offerings on the market
AV design made easy Launched at ISE 2019, Design by Numbers from designflow is an AV and smart building design and documentation service aimed at commercial AV integrators. It is particularly suitable for AV companies that struggle to get designs out on time because of high workflow demands or design department understaffing. The service is also tailored for AV companies who need design assistance in specific areas or for particular projects. This can include things from full BIM (Building Information Modelling) designs through to detailed rack engineering
incorporating accurate thermal measurement and management. With Design by Numbers there is no need to invest in specialised design software nor is extensive user training necessary. The service is designed to be flexible and can be your whole design team, or just take up the slack when you are overloaded. According to designflow, users can make up to 40% margin on the design elements of a project and they need only spend money on design when clients pay for this service.
Jetbuilt takes AV planning to the cloud Jetbuilt is a cloud-based proposal and estimating software designed to allow integrators to quickly populate projects with equipment, labour, shipping and other values. As well as being compatible with PC, Mac and iPad, it is also available as the JetbuiltGO app on Android and iPhone devices, which enables two-way communication between sales managers, engineers, project managers and technicians in the field. The tool features a dashboard to track usersâ€™ pipelines, clients, proposal status and budgeting, which allows integrators to track profits and margins from each 50
project. The international version includes currency options, default tax rates by country and the ability to label tax fields. The Project Management 2.0 tool features a management task list which creates an enhanced visualisation of steps, conversation, photos and documents between projects managers and technicians. It also features a database of 1.5 million products that is updated by the Jetbuilt team as manufacturers release new products. Integrated dealer pricing is managed via manufacturer
authentication, by directly adding prices to a project or uploading price sheets. www.jetbuilt.com
Intuitive control for Q-SYS installs Q-SYS Designer Software enables users to design the signal flow and processing of all inputs and outputs into a single file for the Q-SYS Ecosystem. Designed as an audio, video and control system design software, integrators can focus their energy on building the system without having to labour over a complex learning curve. It can be used to configure any Q-SYS installation â€“ from a small conference room all the way to the largest theme park or stadium. It provides a drag-and-drop control programming solution along with simplified, modern scripting tools allowing even a novice programmer to develop sophisticated AV systems and user control interfaces while enabling a smoother, expedited installation process. The latest release, v8.1, introduces support for the Q-SYS NV Series network video endpoint, which allows users to easily integrate native video streaming capabilities into a Q-SYS design. It also stages a number of functionalities for the
upcoming release of Q-SYS Reflect Enterprise Manager, a cloud-based monitoring and management tool. Developing Q-SYS Control capabilities even further, the latest release provides HTML5 UCI support allowing users to open, video and interact with Q-SYS UCIs
from any web browser. It also adds CSSbased UCI styling, so integrators can build more dynamic end user interface themes and apply global styling changes across multiple UCIs. www.qsc.com
Streamline AV integration with Sirvez Launched in September 2019, Sirvez is a first of its kind product dedicated to simplifying projects for AV integrators and end users. It features a fullyfledged CRM that manages all elements of customer integrations, from the most simple, to the most complex. The system covers: site surveys, calendar, costings for personnel, project sign off â€“ including asset management of kit installed â€“ and feedback from the customer when a project has been completed. The system covers three user types, integrators, freelancers and end users, offering multiple benefits to each. For example, integrators can view calendars of partnered freelancers and contractors while filtering by skill sets, for example CTI, AMX Programmer, Extron Programmer, etc. Quotes can be requested from individual or multiple
contractors on a day rate or project basis. When partnering on a project it is also possible to choose which parts of the project the partner will have access to. In addition, the live labour P&L tracker on projects, the ability to compare quotes with actual costs and automated feedback simplify projects at each stage. Benefits for freelancers include the ability to share calendars with partnered integrators; in this scenario partners will only see dates available and not information on each individual calendar entry. The system also integrates with Xero and QuickBooks for quoting and invoicing purposes. End users can pre-map all rooms across their site and share this
information with integrators. They can work on multiple projects with multiple integrators at any one time, view project updates in real time, ask questions and comment on individual rooms/kit list items or overall project issues easily. www.sirvez.com
Designs made simple by Stardraw Using Stardraw Design 7.3 integrators can create system drawings including block schematics (showing system interconnections), 19in rack layouts with front, rear and side views, sales presentations, custom panel layouts and floor-and reflected ceiling plans. Smart, industry-focused tools and a library of over 110,000 symbols representing products from 1,000 manufacturers make it quick and easy for integrators to create professional drawings and supporting project data. It is suited to any kind of systems integration project that uses audio, video, control, lighting, or networking products,
so everything from commercial or residential AV systems, to live events and themed attractions, education, medical, corporate, security and more. Where different products connect to each other, Stardraw Design 7.3 can be used to design and document that system. By taking an integrated approach to system design and documentation, one file contains all of a projectâ€™s products, data and drawings, and changes made in one place ripple through to other
views as appropriate, reducing the need for repetitive data entry. This also reduces errors such as double-counting and omissions. www1.stardraw.com
Security key to new Vaddio Deployment Tool The Vaddio Deployment Tool is a Windows-compatible application designed to simplify equipment installation by providing a single interface for configuration management, device discovery, mass firmware updates and remote troubleshooting. At the click of a button the software tool shows all compatible Vaddio products across a deployment on one screen, allowing users to select devices from the network then choose an action such as configure controls, reboot the device, unmute the audio, or update firmware. With the configuration management feature, users can copy set-up configurations and apply them to other devices. The Vaddio Deployment Tool requires authentication from each connected device and encrypts all stored authentication. The application collects
no user data of any kind to respect the ever-growing privacy concerns of users. Where other cloud-based solutions could leak sensitive information, Vaddio Deployment Tool does not use cloud services, so integrators and AV managers can be confident that all audio, video, shared content, meeting and business data remains private
and secure. The tool is cost free, there are no licence or maintenance fees and Vaddio does not harvest any data or benefit from providing this tool, except to improve the installation experience for its customers. www.vaddio.com
Brand building with digital signage Visual solutions should be placed in an area of the building that maximises visibility. This is a great way for installers to get their brand in the public domain. A digital display can aid in telling a company’s story, and for a business looking to build brand identity it’s important that customers have sight of brand materials to help generate recognition. The best medium for this brand building in-store is visually – placing signage in a reception or meeting space can help shape awareness and promote the business from within.
Engaging your customers Chris Parker reveals four ways digital signage can help improve engagement Businesses of all sizes look to gain a competitive edge through new technologies, and installers are well placed to advise companies on the best products to find this advantage. One of the biggest ways for installers to build better client relationships is to understand their customers’ businesses and needs – as well as what their customers expect from them. Business attitudes and expectations of technology continue to change – they must now serve multiple functions to demonstrate value to the business and make investment worthwhile. It is therefore critical for installers to understand the benefits that a newly introduced device can bring to a business, otherwise products can be underused or it can lead to dissatisfaction further down the line. Digital signage is one such tool that, as a rule, isn’t typically used to its full potential. Wayfinding and advertising are both great uses, however there are many innovative ways to harness the power of AV technology. As the digital signage market evolves, so too do their uses. Here are four key ways that installers can recommend the use of digital signage to connect with customers. 54
Providing a central point of information An AV display can be an essential information hub in any retail or hospitality setting. Digital signage can be used to report and broadcast important company information, as well as updates from the outside world. Specifically for customers, information about offers can be displayed company-wide, maximise awareness – even potentially aiding with sales. The benefits of using AV solutions as an information hub are not limited to commercial locations – businesses of all kinds can benefit from a digital signage tool that could inform employees of news and market updates in real-time. Generating opportunities for partners A digital signage solution does not need to be thought of solely as a tool to promote the client’s own business; it could be used to create opportunities for cross-market selling. For example, a digital display in a gym could feature third-party products, such as sportswear and health products, while a display in a hotel reception could be used to promote local car rental services, restaurants, or theatre events. Managing queues to maintain quality service In a retail setting, keeping customers informed with regular updates and announcements using digital signage can be a great way to improve their experience. Something as simple as a ticketing countdown, or a more managed solution with specific updates is a practical way for keeping customers informed or organised. Digital signage is a familiar, easy-to-use AV solution, and one which can continue to increase value for owners. Installers that demonstrate to clients where value can be added will build lasting relationships and ensure returning business. Chris Parker is senior product manager at Sharp UK www.sharp.co.uk
Make an impression Visitor attraction numbers push the boundaries in pursuit of greater engagement.