Installation 229 March 2020

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March 2020

AV integration in a networked world

Issue 229

Earn and learn What technologies are enabling the move to digital learning?


CONTENT Brand Editor: Duncan Proctor, Group Editor, Pro AV: Jo Ruddock, Group Content Director, B2B: James McKeown Graphic Designer: Marc Miller,

Duncan Proctor, Brand Editor @install8ion

Managing Design Director, B2B: Nicole Cobban Production Manager: Matthew Eglinton, ADVERTISING SALES Account Director: Duncan Wilde Account Manager: Nathalie Adams Overseas Sales Contact - Executive Vice President: Adam Goldstein, 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 page/faqs or email LICENSING/REPRINTS/PERMISSIONS Installation is available for licensing. Contact the Licensing team to discuss partnership opportunities. Head of Print Licensing Rachel Shaw ISSN number: 2050-6104 Future PLC 1-10 Praed Mews Paddington London, W2 1QY

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

Curtain call Well that was quite something. The last ISE in Amsterdam was always going to be memorable, but most assumed it would be for a whole other set of reasons. To battle not one but two international crises (of varying degrees) is quite something and crystallises the determination of the industry to keep calm and carry on. At time of writing, the dust has not completely settled, but (touch wood) there have been no health issues raised off the back of the show going ahead. And it could have been so different. Mobile World Congress was cancelled this year due to the same coronavirus fears, and is hosted in the venue ISE is moving to next year. We will have to wait and see what the longer-term effects will be on the mobile industry as a result of its biggest showcase being cancelled, but ISE has reaped the rewards as during the show 950 exhibitors have booked stands for next year. Now to crunch the numbers. Taking into account an international health crisis and the chaotic travelling conditions brought on by Storm Ciara, it’s not surprising attendance figures are a way down on last year. But they are certainly not disastrous – Tuesday’s attendance was 27,592, Wednesday 34,004, Thursday 28,678 and Friday 15,213. The total number of unique attendees was 52,128 and there was a cumulative total of 116,599 visits. The first day of the exhibition did feel quieter than I can ever remember, and there was a slight unease, given the health fears, but moving into Wednesday the show felt noticeably busier and more relaxed. Despite Thursday’s drop, I think at this point people were just happy there were no issues, aside from the odd coronavirus-related rumour. And Friday’s numbers were only slightly higher than those on the conference Monday before the exhibition opens. All in all, while show organisers will obviously have wanted a different set of circumstances, you have to hand it to them for fighting through it all and putting on such a spectacle. The same goes for the exhibitors, who must have each wrestled with the decision to attend. On to the Gran Via – Fira de Barcelona. And if this year’s show has taught us anything – don’t make predictions and expect the unexpected.

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18 Contributors: Aneet Chopra Mike Clark David Davies Steve Franklin Rob Lane Ian McMurray Stuart Moots

Special thanks: Gemma Stenberg

Cover Image:

Special Report: Education 18 Connected learning Educational establishments have long been significant investors in AV solutions, and another round of investment is taking place as new technologies offer important new ways of learning 24 Getting the word out Taking steps to ensure that future industry intake is diverse and representative of the population is one challenge – but what if young people aren’t even aware of pro AV?

Getty Images Credit: Johnny Greig

06 Opinion

The largest permanent Leonardo da Vinci exhibition utilises a wide range of audiovisual and multimedia technology to present the cultural icon’s character and genius in new ways

40 International Convention Centre Wales Over 1,000 RCF components were specified across this vast 26,000sqm, reconfigurable site, which hosts meetings, conferences and exhibitions

44 Solutions in Brief Including immersive lighting displays for the reopening of Shanghai circus, an integrator opts for an LED wall at its HQ, and a large-scale sound reinforcement project for the Dallas Cowboys

47 Products

10 Show review

Well-rounded lighting control options bring new levels of personalisation to the smart home

30 Feature: The rise of the machines Artificial intelligence is changing the world, but how much of an impact will it have on AV, and how quickly will it be integrated? 4

36 National Museum of Science and Technology

Stuart Moots reveals the different demands placed on wireless microphone systems Aneet Chopra on the future of voice control and Industry 4.0

We look back at the showfloor highlights and share the key takeaways from the conference and events programme. We also have the winners from our Best of Show Awards

© Lorenza Daverio


Featuring Philips Professional Display Solutions T-Line interactive touch displays

48 Showcase

50 Last word Steve Franklin highlights four key steps to upgrade your meeting room


Wireless demands How do the demands placed on wireless systems differ depending on the environment, asks Stuart Moots?

Different environments and different use cases all have a huge impact on how best to build a suitable wireless solution. The demands of a live touring event are very different from a conference venue or a corporate boardroom. All events require coordination and planning that needs to take place before the event but especially for live events the production crew needs to know what the RF environment will be like at the venue location. They need to know which frequencies are available and they will need to licence appropriate frequencies ahead of time. Most larger-scale events of this kind depend on the UHF bands of RF spectrum as this space offers us a reasonable amount of space with the performance levels required to run large channel counts over reasonable distances. For smaller events, users may not require such large channel counts – or operating distance. In which case, other areas of spectrum become feasible, areas such as 1.8GHz and the DECT band. The DECT bands have an added advantage in that they’re

Engineers shouldn’t shy away from wired technology altogether; given the squeeze on available RF spectrum” 6

available for use globally and licence-free. Other events in the live space might call for highchannel counts and zoning, in order to achieve reliable performance across multiple spaces or rooms. Corporate events or trade shows are a great example here. In this case, a well-versed RF engineer may utilise features like our ‘high-density’ mode found in Shure ULX-D and Axient Digital. In high-density mode, we can turn down the output power and increase the channel count dramatically. The reduced power makes zoning between multiple rooms much easier, reducing the possibility of interference between one seminar room to the next. Whichever wireless environment you operate in, the risk of interference is always present. The demand for wireless airspace across the board has never been greater; we’re living in a time where the demand for wireless microphones is continually increasing, while the space we have to operate is steadily decreasing. The key across all wireless use cases is a combination of spectral efficiency – as in using equipment that makes efficient use of the space available – and a solid understanding of RF coordination. No matter what your use case for wireless, a strong understanding of how to spec, coordinate, and deploy wireless systems is key.

Greater numbers Across the board, all users are deploying wireless systems in greater numbers. Installed corporate audio technology is exploding, as more companies see the value in high-quality AV connectivity to increase business efficiency. In theatre applications, we’ve seen somewhat of a revolution in production values, where traditional boom-mic operation is replaced by wireless tech. The miniaturisation of wireless bodypacks has continued this trend. We’ve seen use of wireless increase in circumstances where previously it wasn’t an option, such as sporting events. Even in live touring, the amount of channels has increased (and continues to increase) drastically. Modern consumers expect a certain standard of production, and wireless microphones are a key factor in upholding expectations. Even at work, businesses want to remove the clutter of wireless wherever possible, and the smoother this all works, the better it is for the user and the visitor. That being said, engineers shouldn’t shy away from wired technology altogether; given the squeeze on available RF spectrum, if the production will not suffer for using a wired alternative, then it may be wise to do so. Our innovation and technology is allowing us to reassess how we can manufacture


wired microphones that offer huge versatility for multiple uses.

Wireless misconceptions One of the biggest misconceptions we hear about wireless is around licensing. It’s still commonly thought that you can buy a system, plug it in and start using it straight away. There are systems that allow this, such as any 2.4GHz system, or DECT based wireless, but in almost all other circumstances you need a licence to operate legally. This is not only important from a legality viewpoint, but also from a lobbying perspective when it comes to campaigning to preserve the space available for wireless microphone operation. If regulators like Ofcom are to take us seriously when it comes to spectrum regulation, the greater the visibility they have of just how many people are using wireless microphones, the better. Another commonly held misconception is that digital wireless is assumed to be more efficient than analogue wireless. It’s true that a well-designed digital system can outperform an analogue wireless setup in terms of spectral efficiency, but this is not always the case. A high-end analogue system will still perform well on-air where a poorly engineered digital system cannot. This being said, the future of

wireless tech is inevitably digital due to the efficiency gains of digital modulation schemes. The improved efficiency is down to the more predictable deviation of digital wireless signals when compared to a frequency-modulated analogue signal. However, to reiterate, we shouldn’t be as simplistic to think that, just because a system is digital, it is more efficient. The linearity of the transmitter and robustness of the filters in the receiver play a key role. The better engineered a system is, the more efficient it will be. Stuart Moots is director of pro audio at Shure UK

We shouldn’t be as simplistic to think that, just because a system is digital, it is more efficient”



surveillance cameras can all be voice-enabled, saving employees time.

Giving machines a voice

The future of voice and Industry 4.0 People will come to expect voice control in professional environments, says Aneet Chopra Over the past decade industrial machines have learnt to ‘talk’ to each other, collecting and sharing data. This trend towards automation and data exchange, often referred to as Industry 4.0, has led to the visualisation of the production line and decision-making that has enabled faster, more efficient systems with new highs in productivity and safety. More recently voice control has risen to prominence as a means of interacting with home technology. As people become accustomed to the benefits of handsfree control, organisations are asking if it’s possible to integrate the two together and bring voice interfaces into industrial equipment. Safety will be the main benefit of voice control in Industry 4.0. Turning off the TV is never an emergency, but the ability to stop a machine when the big red button is out of reach could save lives. Voice will be combined with proximity sensors to act as a two-factor safety authentication. Similar logic applies to general machine control. Lighting, security systems,

The number of devices connected to cloud services using AI processing and voice is forecast to increase exponentially to billions by 2025" 8

While voice can change the way we interact with machinery in the industrial space, we can’t just plug an Echo into production line equipment and expect it to work. Industrial spaces are big and noisy with lots of reflective reverberant surfaces. To extract voice commands from the captured audio stream with absolute reliability will require different types of signal processing, optimised for the different environments. But for voice to become a key feature of industrial landscapes, there will also have to be a switch to more distributed networks, away from centralised systems. The ability to control devices using voice has coincided with the development of deep learning and AI made possible by the huge processing power available in the cloud. While there are compelling arguments to integrate existing Industry 4.0 networks with AI and voice, all based around cloud services, it doesn’t necessarily deliver an optimal solution. Many industrial processes are time-critical (remember the big red button) so any delay in response time is problematic. The number of devices connected to cloud services using AI processing and voice is forecast to increase exponentially to billions by 2025, which will put a huge burden on network performance. In addition, the more reliance companies put on cloud services, the more opportunity there is for security breaches. The solution to this problem can be found in the development of the Artificial Intelligence of Things (AIoT), another consumer trend to running AI on devices at the edge of a network. A new generation of embedded devices will be able to collect data and make decisions themselves, as well as connecting to a network or cloud service. Not only will performance improve particularly in critical real-time scenarios, but security will also improve as data is held locally. We’re closer than ever to being able to run intelligent processes on devices at the edge of a network. Industrial machinery will be controlled by voice, touch and gesture, as well as other connected machines. The outcome will be improved safety, security, comms and control, alongside greater efficiency and productivity within the industrial landscape. Industry 4.0 has led to major technological progress in the last decade. The arrival of truly intelligent embedded devices and voice will be critical to the development of Industry 4.0 in the next decade. Aneet Chopra is VP of business development at XMOS

Show review

ISE 2020

The end of

ISE ensured it went out in style as it said goodbye to its RAI Amsterdam home with a packed conference agenda, the very latest technology innovations and a look ahead to what we can expect from Barcelona in 2021



he final ISE in Amsterdam was undoubtedly one to remember, from the worry of the coronavirus outbreak to the travel challenges brought about by Storm Ciara, 2020 will certainly be a year that will be talked about well into the future. Thankfully, the showfloor and the conference sessions also provided many discussion points, and despite lower attendance figures, the energy and excitement across the RAI Amsterdam and Hotel Okura was clear throughout the week. The 2020 conference programme was the most extensive so far and it ran throughout the week, beginning with the Smart Building Conference in its new one-and-a-half-day format. Here speakers included Erik Ubles, CTO at smart

an era

building pacesetter EDGE, who gave a keynote address considering the four pillars of smart buildings – wellbeing, design, sustainability and technology. He was followed by Daphne Tomlinson, senior research associate at Memoori Research, who reviewed the market and technology trends for occupancy analytics and location-based solutions in smart offices. Day two of the Smart Building Conference focused on the Smart Workplace. One highlight here was Elisa Ronka, Siemen’s European lead for smart office, who shared her vision of the top qualities needed in future commercial workspaces – specifically flexibility, personalisation, privacy and finding effective ways of measuring ROI. Other verticals up for analysis included the control

Show review

ISE 2020

rooms sector, where true mission-critical situations were up for discussion. This included CERN control centre manager Rossano Giachino exploring the hugely complex control room operation that underpins the Large Hadron Collider, and Samuel Forbes, general manager of Fugro, who explored the impact of remotely operated vehicles on Australia’s oil and gas industries. The Digital Cinema Summit struck a particularly positive note when David Hancock delivered his keynote. “There are lots of sensationalist headlines claiming that streaming is the end of cinema,” said Hancock. “Cinema is such a long-established medium, and it’s been here at various points in history. Many formats have risen and fallen, but cinema has remained.” Hancock explained that, according to IHS Markit statistics, the average person is still going to the cinema three times a year, which equates to around eight hours annually. “We may not be talking about something people do every day, but cinema is still very much in everyone’s minds,” he said. Ultimately, he added: “People are still watching more content than ever. Underpinning all the changes in consumption of media, cinema is a remarkably stable sector.” The focus of the AVIXA Enterprise AV Conference in 2020 was on data and analytics, with Jonathan Mangnall, director U-Topia, stating that enterprise AV needs to behave more like data-rich, demanddriven digital outfits such as Netflix or Amazon, to enable the organisatons they serve to get closer to their customers. To illustrate his point, Mangnall showed attendees a slide that pitted supply-driven companies such as Sony against ‘demand’ driven outfits like Apple. Macy’s was similarly measured against Amazon and Blockbusters against Netflix. “This tells us that whoever gets closest to the customer wins,” he stated, adding that the challenge for the AV industry now was to find new methods of managing, measuring and monitoring its meeting room technology.

Showfloor highlights Away from the conference sessions, and the showfloor once again played host to numerous debuts and launches. Day one of the show saw Shure taking to the ISE Main Stage to take the wraps off its IntelliMix Room software-based digital signal processing (DSP). Working under the tagline ‘DSP in a .Zip’ at launch, IntelliMix Room is the first audio processing software for Windows 10 PCs optimised for Shure conferencing microphones. It means that rather


Show review

ISE 2020

than having to unbox and install multiple DSP units, users can simply download and deploy software to in-room devices within seconds, without the need for more cables, additional hardware or large AV racks. Kramer used ISE to launch its VIA GO² and VIA Campus², designed to bring new levels of flexibility, simplicity and creativity to meeting and educational spaces, according to the manufacturer. Described as a powerful addition to its VIA line, VIA GO² delivers wireless presentation functionality in a compact form factor, at an affordable cost. With 4K HDMI output, 1024-bit encryption, 60Hz video streaming and native AirPlay, Miracast and Chromebook support, the new VIA GO² saves users the need to install soft clients on their devices. 12

VIA Campus² is a wireless presentation and collaboration solution that makes it easier to get connected and get work done during meetings. With any laptop or mobile device, users can view, edit and comment on documents in real time and record sessions. Meeting participants can display or stream full uninterrupted 60Hz video from their device, with the ability to play YouTube videos in full frame rate. VIA Campus² can show up to six presenter screens on a single main display simultaneously and 12 on a dual-display setup. ISE 2020 also provided the opportunity for Sony to announce its new beamforming ceiling mic, the MAS-A100, which is designed to enable flexible hands-free lectures and presentations. According to the company, the mic will significantly improve the audio experience within education and corporate organisations by removing the need for handheld or body worn mics. Appearing at ISE for the first time was the DuoBoard platform-agnostic interactive flat panel from BenQ. Designed for meeting room environments, the display is available in two sizes: a 65in model (CP6501K) and an 86in (CP8601K) model with 4K resolution. Placing two DuoBoard displays together allows them to be used as a single continuous workspace with built-in sensors connecting the screens. BenQ’s Duo OS enables Android, iOS, macOS or Windows to run simultaneously on the screen. A single DuoBoard can be partitioned to run two applications side by side, enabling multitasking and facilitating the flow of information between different apps. The DuoBoard has an integrated camera together

Show review

ISE 2020

to its screen sharing capabilities. Crestron showcased an array of new and enhanced products designed to help organisations drive greater communication, collaboration, and productivity at scale. This included the Crestron Flex MX Series, the latest addition to the company’s line of UC solutions. It allows users to run native Microsoft Teams or Zoom Rooms software, or BYOD mode on the same device. Also debuted was the NX2 Series, a range of DM NVX USB-over-IP endpoint extenders in a wall plate form factor. They are designed to provide routing and extension of USB 2.0 signals across the network between NX2 devices and are completely interoperable with DM NVX products. The company also used ISE 2020 to unveil the latest enhancements to its DM NVX AV-over-IP platform: native support for the AES67 audio-over-IP standard and ultra-fast, no-glitch switching. The new functionality will be available for existing DM NVX products via a free firmware upgrade.

Eye catching events

with a noise-reducing and echo-cancelling microphone array for videoconferencing. Mitsubishi Electric launched the latest version of its high-end LCD videowall system. The LM55P4 is the latest iteration of Mitsubishi Electric’s flagship 55in professional-grade LCD monitor and is said to offer an improved visual experience when used in videowall applications thanks to the greatly reduced bezel width compared to earlier versions. At just 0.44mm, the obtrusive gaps between individual LCD tiles are virtually eliminated to create a nearseamless display. Also launched at ISE was the Windows-powered C-Line series from Phillips. Designed to provide an all-in-one solution, with usability, collaboration and productivity at its core, it is available in 55in, 65in, 75in and 86in variants. The series comes equipped with a wide range of dedicated features. Harnessing the familiarity of a traditional Microsoft Windows PC, users are able to play an active role in any meeting, whether physically in the room, in another office, working from home, or even another country, thanks

In addition to this, there were a number of other show areas and features that caught the eye of both attendees and locals alike. The projection mapping extravaganza on the RAI’s Elicium building was undoubtedly one of these. Despite the often wet weather, this impressive display, produced by ISE and the RAI, working in conjunction with seven event partners, drew the crowds each evening as it displayed a variety of content perfectly mapped to the façade of the building, accompanied by a compelling audio track. The visual feasts continued once inside with a massive hologram greeting visitors entering through Entrance C. This unique multidimensional spectacle was crafted by Novaline and CarbonBlack Technologies together with Panasonic, Disguise, MX, Thearent, Lang AG, NTTRB and Majo media. The latest technological developments didn’t stop there, however, with the Innovation Zone in Hall 14, which offered everything from the latest in screen stands and advertising solutions to streaming media devices and room booking tools.

Looking ahead Of course, the show wouldn’t have been complete without saying farewell to Amsterdam and looking ahead to what’s on offer at Barcelona 2021. The ¡Hola Barcelona! event on the last day of the show did just that. Featuring key figures from ISE, AVIXA and CEDIA, as well as Spanish dignitaries and RAI staff, it was a fitting way to thank Amsterdam for its support over the years, while raising excitement about the next chapter in ISE’s development .

ISE 2021 will take place on 2-5 February 2021.


Show review

ISE 2020

Installation Best of Show at ISE 2020 Here are all the winners of our Best of Show Awards at ISE 2020. Many thanks to everyone for entering and congratulations to all the winners!


NEC – LED-FE Series


WINNERS Albiral Display Solutions – Arthur Holm Dynamic4 AtlasIED – IPX AUDAC – MFA2xx Avocor – Avocor ALZ Solutions Bose Professional – Bose Videobar VB1 All-in-One USB Conferencing Device Clevertouch – IMPACT Plus Crestron – DM NVX Director Virtual Switching Appliance; Crestron Flex Wall Mount UC Video Conference System for Zoom Rooms Software; Crestron Mercury X Video Conference System; DM NVX 4K60 4:4:4 HDR Network AV OPS Decoder; DM Lite d&b audiotechnik – KSLi System D-Tools – System Integrator (SI) DVIGear – DisplayNet DN-225 Matrox – Matrox Extio 3 IP KVM Extenders Mersive Technologies – Mersive Solstice Active Studio Meyer Sound – ULTRA-X20 NEC Display Solutions – LED-FE Series Nexus 21 – Apex Motorized TV Wall Mount Optoma – QUADZilla Poly – Studio X QSC – AD-P.HALO sub/sat loudspeaker RTI – VXP-82 All-In-One Presentation System Samsung – Samsung Flip 2 Squirrels – Ditto SurgeX – Squid WolfVision – vSolution MATRIX Yamaha – VXC2F

ISE 2020

Show review

DVIGear – DisplayNet DN-225

Matrox – Extio 3 extenders

Meyer Sound – ULTRA-X20

Bose – Videobar VB1

Crestron – DM NVX D80

Mersive – Solstice Active Studio

Nexus 21 – Apex mount

Optoma – QUADZilla


Albiral – Arthur Holm Dynamic4


AV Technology Awards 2020 ISE

THE SEARCH IS ON A new addition to our awards programme, the Pro AV Power 20 list ranks the industry’s most influential business and technology leaders driving the industry forward

Individual and Team Excellence Awards Pro AV Power 20 Rankings Pro AV Power 20 Most Influential Person of the Year – selected from the Power 20 nominations Company of the Year End User Team of the Year Industry Newcomer of the Year


he only initiative of its kind in the marketplace, we are looking for the 20 most influential figures in the AV industry. Who are the business leaders, technology pioneers, or market influencers having the most profound effect on our industry? Who do you think should be on the list? For the very first time, the AV Technology Awards 2020 – powered by Installation – is giving the AV market the chance to recognise its most inspirational leaders, innovators, and influencers through the launch of the inaugural Pro AV Power 20. The Power 20 ranks individuals who have demonstrated significant technological, business, or market leadership in the last 12 months


(between March 2019 and February 2020). The executives and professionals on this list will make up what the market decrees is its 20 most influential figures. Any one person can nominate more than one candidate for inclusion on the Power 20 list, but should clearly highlight the individual(s) deemed worthy of number one ranking. The Power 20 list will be compiled by the content and market specialists from AV Technology Europe and Installation in association with an advisory board of AV experts and nominations from the market. There’s also less than two weeks left to enter the main part of the awards categories. Entries close at 6pm on 11th March, in the box out is a full rundown of the categories.

Outstanding Contribution [Selected by the Installation and AVTE editorial team]

Project Excellence Awards Corporate Project of the Year Education Project of the Year Retail/DOOH Project of the Year Venue Project of the Year Visitor Attraction Project of the Year Residential Project of the Year

Technology Excellence Awards Audio Product of the Year AV Accessory of the Year Collaboration Product of the Year Display Product of the Year / Projection Product of the Year Best Use of Emerging Technologies For the full list of Power 20 criteria and to enter all nominations, visit:

Special report


Special report

Connected learning ABOVE: At the University of Liverpool, Pure AV says that a consistent user interface across formal and informal learning spaces has proven hugely successful


Educational establishments have long been significant investors in AV solutions – and, finds Ian McMurray, another round of investment seems to be taking place as new technologies offer important new ways of learning


niversities and colleges are, perhaps like never before, under pressure. Operating, in many countries, in a challenging social and economic landscape, their goal of equipping students with the skills and knowledge necessary to survive and thrive in the world of work has seldom been more difficult to achieve. They’re under pressure to deliver not only results, but value. And: as if that wasn’t tough enough, they’re having to respond to a world of work that is not only increasingly digital – but to respond to the preferred learning styles of highly digital-savvy young people. “There is enormous pressure on universities to deliver an excellent, student-focussed experience, as, alongside research performance, student satisfaction is a crucial measure of a university’s success and standing,” points out Andy Truswell, systems

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© Picture TIG


integration manager at integrator Pure AV. “In response to that pressure, our experience suggests a significant acceleration in the take-up of technologyenabled digital learning in the university environment.”

Growing expectations “We see digital learning continuing to expand, as higher education institutions face growing expectations from students, faculty and others to support students and teachers in their quest to share ideas in a more fluid way,” echoes Dana Corey, GM/ VP of sales at Avocor. ‘Digital learning’ is the new phrase on educators’ lips. It’s defined as any kind of learning that is facilitated by the effective use of technology – and embraces everything from e-textbooks through gamification to mobile/remote learning. “Digital learning provides all stakeholders with the ability to gain access to resources, lectures and content at a time convenient to them and in a format convenient to them and from a device of their choosing,” explains Lee Denton, education specialist at integrator Visavvi. “AV has a big part to play in this – and the take up is accelerating. The core driving factor is agility, providing a more flexible and userfocused experience, no matter which side of the podium you are.” Colleges and universities have long been leaders in deploying audiovisual systems in order to facilitate better communication. To what extent are they able to build on their existing investment as they transition to new ways of teaching/learning – or are new facilities being created to augment or replace the old? “We’re seeing a mix of the two across the sector,” says Spiros Andreou, service delivery manager at CDEC. “Some universities are expanding with new

buildings, and some are consolidating remote campuses into a central one – but most are just upgrading on a 5-7 year rolling replacement model. In some cases, the addition of more updated collaboration spaces falls into upgrade projects, rather than a separate project. For others, it’s a perfect use of underused/unused space on their estate.”

Focus on collaboration

ABOVE: By integrating a Crestron AirBoard and NVX-351 system at the University of Derby, students can now work collaboratively and benefit from a more engaging learning environment

Phil Waterhouse, who is business development manager for Technological Innovations Group (TIG), sees a similar situation of adapting what’s already in place. “With more and more builds happening, and a five-year refresh in most university establishments, the uptake continues to grow,” he says. “More specialist rooms are being created with a focus on collaborative working – even within what was a traditional lecture theatre.” In other places, it seems that more of a wrecking ball approach is being taken. “Classrooms and student areas on campus are being transformed and upgraded to remove old projector-based setups and switch out traditional whiteboards with digital versions,” notes Corey. “Wireless networks across campus are also becoming favoured over traditional wired setups – and with this switch to wireless comes a need for the latest AV devices that can support wireless.” If projectors are being replaced – what’s happening to other legacy equipment? “Interactive whiteboards are being replaced by collaboration devices in some instances, but in others, collaboration products are being used in conjunction with IWBs,” says Nick Mawer, marketing manager at Kramer Electronics. “There is still a place for document cameras, but VHS machines are going.


Special report


I recently visited the University of South Wales, Cardiff and admired a small classroom complete with surround sound system. It was a screening room for the BA in Cinema course.” On the other hand: as in so many environments, the ‘tried and trusted’ still has a place.

Mixing it up “Traditional solutions are still the mainstay in a class environment in higher/further education,” believes Waterhouse. “If you use a collaborative classroom and have a large IWB at the front, then having the ability to see each individual work group’s work on the main IWB is simple, mixing that traditional product with the latest AV devices. We have also seen the increased use of traditional pen-based whiteboards with capturing devices being installed to give a very traditional use case – but still able to capture that with the latest technology.” And, as Mawer points out: more traditional teaching/learning approaches have different strengths to those that are enabled by more recent developments. “Programmes such as the Sticky Campus, sponsored by Jisc [see boxout], have opened up the eyes of universities to the possibilities of collaborative learning,” he says. “However: there is still a place for lecture theatres, as a lot of students can be taught in a single space by a single teacher, whereas a collaborative classroom is more intensive in its use of AV equipment and typically will educate fewer students at any one time – even though you can do things in a collaborative classroom that cannot be done in a typical lecture theatre.” It seems, then, that lecture theatres, IWBs and so on are still relevant – but what are the technologies that are enabling the move towards digital learning? 20

There is still a place for lecture theatres, as a lot of students can be taught in a single space by a single teacher” Nick Mawer, Kramer Electronics

New levels of capability First and foremost, it seems that AVoIP is key. “AV over IP has introduced a whole new level of capabilities for higher education,” claims Denton. “The ability to dynamically change the way spaces are configured and can be merged to create multifunctional environments to suit capacity opens up so many possibilities for optimising space and resource utilisation.” “The distribution of audiovisual signals over the network with AV over IP devices to create flexible videowalls, multi-display classrooms and breakout spaces, is the state of the art in higher education,” agrees Andreou, who also notes the importance of display-sharing devices and collaborative distance learning/remote participation tools. “AV over IP is probably the leading product and the

ABOVE: Open plan spaces, as with this one designed for the University of Durham by Visavvi, encourage collaboration

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Education success with that has led to it being expanded to traditional teaching spaces to create a connected education establishment,” adds Waterhouse. “This has meant teaching larger groups in more spaces from one room and having interaction from more students. Pure AV’s Truswell sounds a note of caution: the most influential technology depends entirely on your point of view. “When it comes to state of the art, what qualifies is very much in the eye of the beholder,” he says. “An AV manager might think of AV over IP and the flexible delivery of content it enables – but to a student, it could be to log in and pull up the lecture they’ve missed, or the academic in their office conferring with research partners might think it’s the all in one soundbar and webcam in their office that enables them to collaborate with anyone, anywhere.” Avocor’s Corey, who notes the rise in popularity of sophisticated large interactive displays as a key enabler for digital learning, is also cautious – but for a different reason.

Ease-of-use is critical for higher education installations where, even more than in an office, the people using the system will have different exposure to technology” Dana Corey, Avocor

Easy to integrate “What has become clear in the last couple of years is that, while new features and technology are interesting for colleges and universities, the most important factor is that the technology is intuitive and easy to use, and that it works with the technology and platforms that students and faculty already use,” he believes. “Ease-of-use is critical for higher education installations where, even more than in an office, the people using the system will have different exposure to technology, preferred platforms, and levels of tech savvy.” Having cited AVoIP as an important facilitator of the new learning paradigm, TIG’s Waterhouse believes he knows which is the next most influential. “The second biggest growth has been BYOD,” he says. “This gives the student the ability to connect their device to the teaching space and deliver information that would ordinarily need to be emailed to the lecturer or transferred to a storage device. This ease of use has created a better flow to the class.” The theory of BYOD makes perfect sense, just as it does in the corporate environment. The practical reality, however, seems to be less straightforward. “Many institutions have installed wireless BYOD tools to allow presentation to a display without needing to plug in a cable in smaller rooms,” says CDEC’s Andreou. “However, there are very few campus rollouts of BYOD technologies being actively used to deliver digital learning and most deployments are confined to proof of concept rooms or specialist learning zones.” “For many universities, the issues around BYOD are traceability,” he adds. “Some universities have IT restrictions on eduroam [see boxout] being able to

identify all users of the WiFi – so unless there is a point of log on, many products fall short of requirements.”

Manufacturers challenged Waterhouse sees a similar scenario. “Problems arise when the WiFi offered to the students is eduroam – and the corporate LAN is where the device sits,” he explains. “Manufacturers are challenged to make both meet to enable the student to stream and send info to that device even though they are outside of the corporate LAN. Some manufacturers like Crestron have managed this and, working with the universities, have shown them how to create a secure yet effective BYOD environment.” It’s not all ‘doom and gloom’, however, as Pure AV’s Truswell points out: “The capability for BYOD connection is pretty much a standard now in the spaces we design and install for higher education. An excellent and consistent GUI design, whether driven by the university or integrator, is essential to ensure a trouble-free experience for the room user.” “At the University of Liverpool,” Truswell goes on, “the adoption of a consistent user interface incorporating BYOD, across formal and informal learning spaces and within social study areas has proven hugely successful. It has resulted in improved student ratings and enabled students to move seamlessly between formal group teaching, independent and group-based study; the ability to use their own devices and to access reliable WiFi has been a vital component of that experience.” Somewhat related to BYOD, and a key element of digital learning, is distance learning. “There has been a shift towards this for a number of years, as universities strive to generate additional income


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beyond the physical environment,” says Visavvi’s Denton. “Distance learning, however, is often driven by student demand with students preferring to undertake professional qualifications as they work – the so-called ‘earn and learn’.”

More familiar For Kramer’s Mawer, distance learning is both an opportunity and a challenge for integrators. “AV companies need to get more and more familiar with IP streaming services in order to offer real-time lecturing remotely,” he believes. “We’re seeing interest in Microsoft Teams- and Zoom-enabled rooms, which is handy for Kramer as Zoom and similar videoconferencing apps are available on VIA Connect Plus and VIA Campus2.” Avocor’s Corey also sees demand for Zoom. “AV is a critical support tool for remote learning,” he says. “As more students choose flexibility in their higher education experience, AV, such as conferencing tools like Zoom, can help bring them together for group projects or study sessions, or even one-on22

Key Points • A transition away from traditional AV-based solutions is taking place in higher education • Collaborative learning is seen as complementary to, rather than replacing, lecture-based learning • AVoIP is the key technology in enabling digital learning • BYOD is, in theory, an important element of digital learning – but implementing it can be challenging • Ease of use continues to be critical in maximising uptake of new learning

ABOVE: While collaborative spaces may at the heart of digital learning, traditional AV approaches still have a place – as with Visavvi’s installation for Durham University


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Jisc’s Sticky Campus

When it comes to state of the art, what qualifies is very much in the eye of the beholder”

Jisc – a not-for-profit UK company supporting the use of technology in higher education – has created the concept of a sticky campus, a digitally-enabled space where students want to spend time, even when they don’t have a formal teaching session to go to. It’s a learning environment designed to give students everything they need for collaborative and solitary study, and to promote active learning.

Andy Truswell, Pure AV eduroam one learning with teachers or other students. And with interactive whiteboard displays, this is made even easier because instructors can teach as they would in an in-person setting – with the benefit of remote students seeing exactly what they’re showing and being able to communicate directly with questions. This level of integration can truly change the way that remote students can learn and feel a sense of connection to their studies.” Corey talks about making things easier. That’s a challenge as universities and colleges invest not just in more AV solutions, but more AV solutions of a range of types – with the potential for greater complexity. It does, however, create opportunities for the integrator community. “It’s very easy for an integrator to put all this kit into spaces,” says CDEC’s Andreou. “The issue seems to be gaining buy-in from academics and teaching staff. This is especially a problem for subjects taught by visiting lecturers who are not able to attend training sessions to use new equipment. The art of the system design is that no matter how complex the back-end, the front-end needs to remain as simple as possible. There is a lot of evidence that seems to show control surfaces designed around square app-type buttons work well as that mirrors day-to-day life on phones and tablets.”

Working together seamlessly Vizavvi’s Denton sees a similar opportunity. “It’s true that technology in isolation is becoming easier to use – but when combining the number of devices needed to equip a modern teaching space, it could potentially become more difficult if not integrated professionally,” he believes. “In fact, as technology becomes more accessible, there has never been a greater need for integrators to ensure that systems work together seamlessly to allow for the new focus on the enhanced digital academic journey that the market currently supports.” Pure AV’s Truswell sees the role of the integrator

eduroam is an international roaming service for users in research, higher education and further education. It is designed to provide researchers, teachers, and students easy and secure network access when visiting an institution other than their own. It is available in over 100 countries worldwide at tens of thousands of locations.

as a complementary – and vital – one. “I think there is significant pressure on the AV teams within universities,” he says. “Team sizes can be small and have to cover vast estates. While they often have excellent technical knowledge, they don’t necessarily have the resources for full self-sufficiency.” “There is potential for integrators with the right skill set to add significant value,” he concludes. “Integrators like Pure AV can bring a great deal to the in house-teams and have a hugely positive impact on project outcomes.” It becomes clear that the market for AV solutions in further education continues to be a vibrant one – and one that very much reflects what’s going on in the commercial world. Lecture theatres and classrooms haven’t gone away, just as boardrooms and meeting rooms are still with us. Projectors and IWBs continue to have a role to play. But: digital learning is all about embracing what technology can bring – collaboration spaces, BYOD, remote participation – and adding it to the existing mix. If the goal of higher education is to better equip students for the world of work, it’s vital that colleges and universities reflect how technology is being deployed in the outside world. That, they are unquestionably doing.


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Getting the word out Taking steps to ensure that future industry intake is diverse and representative of the population is one challenge – but what if young people aren’t even aware of pro AV as a viable career option in the first place, asks David Davies?


his year’s ISE again offered encouraging signs that professional AV is taking steps to ensure that the next generation of employees (and employers) is more representative of society as a whole. AVIXA Diversity Council and Women’s Council events were among those addressing the need for greater diversity, while it was also a recurring topic during CEDIA personal development tracks and training. But another event – the AV Career Day, jointly organised by AVIXA and CEDIA – pointed to another, even more fundamental consideration: that young people have to actually be aware of professional AV as an option when they are beginning to plot their future careers. And judging by the responses of several others who contributed to this feature, there is a very real concern that the message is still not always being heard.


Graeme Massey leads the team at JacobsMassey that specialises in recruiting for the AV and digital media industries. Describing various ongoing initiatives as “fantastic”, he remains concerned by the “issue of not enough people actually realising that the industry exists. More people at the school and college level need to know that [AV] is an option, and that they can go on to obtain secure and well-paid jobs in the industry.” Hence he is not alone in suggesting that “industry awareness be aligned with diversity and attracting more women into the industry” as efforts are made to enhance the workforce of the future.

Recruiters’ perspectives Of course, to understand how much work remains to be done, it’s important to have a clear understanding of the present situation. Both


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A diverse and representative workforce brings innovation and creativity to the industry, and helps ensure we continue to thrive and grow in the future” Sarah Joyce, AVIXA

Massey, for JacobsMassey, and Cheryl Aitken-Smith, MD of Audio Visual Recruitment, have many years’ experience of working in recruitment for professional AV and are therefore well-placed to track the changing expectations of employers and the composition of recruitment as a whole. Indicating that the demand for skilled professionals into the industry is again on the rise – “people seem to be feeling more confident about expanding their teams” – Massey agrees that “there has been a lot of discussion about diversity and that is obviously to be welcomed, but the reality is that [there is still a long way to go]. At a recent event if we take gender as an example I could count on one hand the number of female freelance technicians in attendance.” Massey recognises the need to bring the broadest possible cross-section of talent into the

industry, and to this end the company is currently involved in developing an AV apprenticeship scheme in conjunction with Middlesbrough College. Ultimately, the hope is to take it nationwide on a distance-learning basis, but already Massey is sure of the probable interest in the scheme: “We had an afternoon meeting a while back with about 20 to 25 employers in the room and there was a huge level of interest, so we are excited to see how that takes shape in the months ahead.” The nature and availability of training is also a concern held by Aitken-Smith, who believes the barriers to more people becoming involved in the industry have “predominantly been [access to] educational courses which cover both the audio and the visual education required. There is no shortage of audio engineering courses, but when you present the client with an audio educated candidate they don’t tend to feel that the education fits the entirety of their requirement.” She therefore welcomes moves by a number of educational establishments, including the universities of Salford and Hertfordshire, who have “acted on the requirement for a combined audiovisual course, as opposed to mainly audio |or visual.” Audio Visual Recruitment, says Aitken-Smith, has always had a dedicated education sector on its website furnished with regularly updated information about courses run by universities, colleges, CEDIA and other industry bodies. But she does have some reservations about accusations regarding lack of diversity in pro AV. “Personally, I feel the word ‘diversity’ is a slightly overused buzzword,” she says. “If you Google the question ‘what is diversity?’ you will get this


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answer: ‘Understanding each individual is unique and recognising our individual differences. These can be along the dimensions of race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, socio-economic status, age, physical abilities, religious beliefs, political beliefs or other ideologies.’ “Having been in the industry since 2000 and recruiting specifically in the AV marketplace since 2006, I am not aware of a more diverse sector to work in. In a sector that ranges from the creative mindset to the hands-on engineer, we have always dealt with the employment of a very diverse workforce. Areas within the AV sector may appeal to different individuals, but across the sector there is definitely a place for everyone if they have the right technical skills.” Aitken-Smith echoes Massey’s sentiments about awareness in the broader talent pool. “Candidates from sectors which interact with AV are always keen to branch into the AV sector, but unfortunately there is still a lack of awareness [by some job portals] where positions are advertised. In a list of more than 83 industry sectors, some portals still haven’t added 26

AV as a sector in the last 13 years.” But in general she seems upbeat about future intake, noting that often at industry events now she will observe “a new generation of young enthusiasts who have become captivated by this sector”.

Coordinated action As indicated at the beginning of this article, ISE 2020 saw an impressive showing by CEDIA and AVIXA – both in collaboration and separately – in terms of events designed to raise awareness of the industry and increase diversity of employment. CEDIA vice president Ian Bryant indicates that these activities are taking place at a time when there is actually cause for optimism that real change is in progress. “There is always more to be done to support diversity in our industry,” he allows. “However, we are seeing some marked areas of improvement. [For instance] we are seeing more diversity in positions like technicians, system designers, project managers and programmers.” But he readily agrees that ensuring initial engagement with the industry is crucial: “I think


the first step has to be building awareness that this industry provides viable career paths – if people don’t know about our industry, we can’t get them involved.” To that end CEDIA is collaborating with AVIXA Foundation – which AVIXA chief global officer Sarah Joyce says “provides access to skills education, builds career pathways and encourages hands-on experiences” – on the AV Career day initiative. Over the past few years, the AV Career Day programme at ISE has grown from the support of a few local Netherlands universities to welcoming more than 200 international students, who have the opportunity to explore the showfloor, engage with AV professionals, and learn more about commercial and residential audiovisual technologies related to areas of academic study.

Good opportunities Aneta Armova-Levin, CEDIA’s education manager, says that AV provides “good opportunities for people who want a creative, yet challenging career that does not require a traditional college or university education. As the world’s largest professional AV and

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Key Points • Pro AV is one of many trades worldwide facing skills crises and difficulty recruiting talented and qualified personnel • The number of recruitment initiatives and combined AV training courses has increased, but there is still an issue with awareness of the industry at school and college level •

CEDIA and AVIXA are among the organisations continuing to increase their activities year-round and at major trade shows to improve diversity in the industry

systems integration show, ISE provides the perfect backdrop for students to find out about the career opportunities available to them in both the residential and commercial AV sectors.” The AV Career Day at ISE 2020 was, says Joyce, “a very successful event which hosted 170 students


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from 12 different universities across Europe, all of whom had a day at the show and attended specially tailored events.” Coming up on the calendar, Bryant reveals that there will also be an AV Career Day at the next CEDIA Expo, taking place in Colorado this September, which will “target high school and college students interested in technology as a profession”. Several other events at ISE, including two on the ISE Main Stage, addressed issues of personal development and diversity. The AVIXA Diversity Council Forum featured a discussion on advancing equality and diversity led by broadcaster and author June Sarpong, who was appointed as the BBC’s inaugural director of creative diversity in October 2019. Meanwhile, the AVIXA Women’s Council Forum incorporated panel sessions as well as a presentation by Hon. Ms. Àngels Chacón, minister of enterprise and knowledge of the Generalitat of Catalonia, who shared her experience in creating programmes and opportunities that address the hurdles blocking women’s empowerment and recognition in industry. Speaking a few days after ISE 2020 closed its doors, Joyce observes that “reflecting on these events reinforces to me that AV is a very broad and open community with a breadth of opportunity and a workplace that is fully engaged with the future of the industry. We need to take advantage of 100% of the talent that is out there; a diverse and representative workforce brings innovation and creativity to the industry, and helps ensure we continue to thrive and grow in the future.” Joyce emphasises there must always be yearround concerns, pointing to regular sessions run by AVIXA across Europe and North America “to keep up the momentum. These topics need to be kept at the forefront of our minds in order to make a change in the industry, and we’ve found that events like this get people motivated and talking to their colleagues about making small changes that amount to a big difference.” Bryant alludes to a raft of other initiatives from CEDIA, including the sponsorship of two technical students this year in the US – “one with Orange Technical College [in Florida] and another with SkillsUSA at their National Leadership and Skills Conference [in Kentucky this June]. These events bring in thousands of students interested in a technical career. CEDIA is also involved in SPARKS UK’s Meet the Lecturers 2020 series, where students get to interact and engage with industry leaders.” Looking ahead, Bryant alludes to continued collaboration with organisations such as “WorkOne, American Job Centers, veterans associations and other workforce programmes to be more inclusive and get people looking for jobs or career pathways 28

The biggest gap we see is with the entry-level technician that is a hard worker, motivated and committed" Ian Bryant, CEDIA into our industry.” He also reveals that CEDIA is currently in “the final stages of [developing] an educational programme that will be taught at authorised training partners across the country and globe. Our boot camps in the US and UK are getting revamped, and some will be going to a hybrid online/ in-person approach. Our workforce development department will also be working with local integrators across the globe to then employ the graduates of these programmes.”

‘Crisis across the trades’ If it can sometimes feel like there is a mountain to climb in terms of ensuring sufficient future intake into the industry – both in terms of numbers and diversity – then it’s worth remembering that these concerns are hardly limited to pro AV. As Bryant remarks, “we are seeing [skills crises] across the trades – it’s not just technology professionals, it’s electricians, plumbers, builders, etc. Companies in both the residential and commercial markets are struggling to find talented and driven workers. In nearly every conversation I have with a company they have voiced their concerns that they just cannot find qualified employees. The biggest gap we see is with the entry-level technician that is a hard worker, motivated and committed. Someone like that will move up the ranks quickly.” Once inside the business, many will find that – as Massey remarks – “it’s an industry with a lot of extraordinary opportunities”. The recent increase in collaborative activity between companies and trade organisations around recruitment is clearly good news and means the industry now stands a fighting chance of attracting the people it will require to maintain its present prosperity.



The magical rise of the machines Artificial intelligence is changing the world, but how much of an impact will it have on AV, and how quickly will it be integrated? Rob Lane reports



s soothsayer supreme Arthur C Clarke once opined, “any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic”, and although it’s fair to say that AV has seen its fair share of ‘magical’ technological solutions during the past few years (touch displays and motion sensors would certainly make most pre-millennium Muggles gasp!), AI is perhaps the most spellbinding of all. Whether communicating with us in our kitchens via Alexa and its competitors, beating humans at chess or – as reported last month – discovering powerful antibiotics, AI is changing the fabric of our world. Very soon, scientists say, AI will be able to more accurately predict the weather (much harder than it sounds, apparently), and there doesn’t seem to be any area of human existence that won’t be affected in some way by supercomputers in the years ahead. But how is AI informing AV and dovetailing with the other ‘magical’ technologies driving our industry forward, and what are its limits, if any? The automation of voice-activated room control is certainly a key AI application, from an end user perspective. “As more and more people use home automation systems such as Alexa and Google Home,



they are getting used to having control of spaces,” explains Amy Cronshaw, principal consultant and operations manager, macom UK. “End users, especially those coming into the workforce from university and school, will be expecting more and more of this type of technology to be available.” “Voice control is an obvious exciting opportunity,” agrees Alex Capecelatro, co-founder and CEO of Josh. ai and CEDIA Board Member. “Facial recognition and other intelligence with cameras is something we’re [also] seeing people utilise and it will only get better. There are some exciting innovations in home security utilising AI, as well as energy management.”

James Knight, production director at Engage Works. “AV tech in meeting rooms will be able to detect the number of people in the space, and help people find empty rooms for their meetings. The temperature in the room will be fed back to the central system to ensure air con is only used while people are inside, and lighting will react to the mood in the room and the circadian rhythms of the attendees. “In retail, advertising will pull data from online shopping habits and deliver personalised advertising, and personalised mood music will be used to target different demographics at different times of the day.”

Big focus

Essential to adoption

The integration of AI with AV and its emerging technologies is definitely a big focus. Holovis has developed several proprietary software suites that capture, measure and translate data into usable metrics for its key markets. “These are developing all the time, as the use cases of industries that can benefit from this advanced level of understanding is huge,” explains Stuart Edgington, Data and Analytics Innovation, Holovis. “The entertainment industry is also becoming an early adopter of AI technologies,” he adds.” We are most notably seeing this through our themed entertainment work, where AI is being used to enable personalisation, identifying attributes of guests and make them a part of the media experience.” Holovis’ proprietary software suite HoloTrac is currently being used within the LEGO Factory Adventure dark ride, which will be debuted at LEGOLAND New York this coming July. This is the world’s first use of on-ride tracking technology that identifies the attributes of guests, maps their position in the virtual space and transforms them into LEGO Minifigures. Edgington: “The on-screen recreation is customised based on guest’s attributes to present a unique experience including hair colour and style, whether they are wearing glasses and the colour of their t-shirt. Motion tracking even allows the Minifigure to move as the guest does. “Our HoloTrac platform leverages advanced computer vision and tracking technologies underpinned by deep neural-network-based facial detection and recognition algorithms – all in less than 0.5 seconds!” The advent of the truly smart building will also begin to have a huge impact on the use of AI within spaces. Smart AV systems will feed real-time data back to building control systems, allowing savings in energy and greater personalisation for end users. “AI will become ubiquitous and will span AV, IT, software, as well as all consumer electronics,” opines

It’s this integration with existing technologies that has become essential to the adoption of AI within the AV industry. Digital signage, facial recognition, augmented and virtual reality, and of course big data: these will all dovetail with AI to create more intelligent, user-friendly and measurable AV experiences. “Digital signage is one of the key integration areas for AI and AV,” says Edgington. “Whether this is in a traditional setting such as retail – allowing analytics of customers, product placement and engagement – or through a theme park’s network, identifying guests to continue their personal adventure. “Behind the scenes in entertainment locations, AI is [already] being used to enhance operations, security and planning by providing real-time tracking intelligence of the way in which people are moving around the space. This combines with simulation data to deliver extensive insights, which can be viewed in real-time, paused and used to run simulation scenarios. “With this enhanced accurate picture of proceedings, operators can choose to act on these to improve the flow of guests, alleviating queues and congestion by diverting them to other areas of the park.” In the corporate environment, facial recognition is already being used to create ‘Virtual Concierges’ where guests are recognised upon arrival. They can use speech detection to book in for their meeting virtually, be sent to the right meeting room and alert their host. “Another area for integration is through emerging technology platforms including augmented reality, where machine learning applications can fuse with native CAD to determine the accuracy of applications, such as those within manufacturing,” adds Edgington. AI will gather data from AV systems and combine it with enormous computing power to deliver personalised insight and control of systems. “As big data processors (Microsoft, Google, IBM et




al) search for new sources of data, we can expect to see them looking for allegiances with current AV providers who have equipment in thousands of spaces,” says Knight. “The Internet of Things will include AV equipment.”

Sector to sector The use of AI in AV is of course likely to differ from sector to sector, with security concerns playing a major part in decision-making. “Deployment trends will be most different from mainstream uptake in those with strict security restrictions,” explains Cronshaw. “These technologies are less likely to be deployed in large financial institutions or defence organisations, due to concerns (real or perceived) around recording and sensitive information. “I believe we will see the strongest initial uptake in education and sales based organisations, due to the wealth of added value these systems could provide in education and sales environments.” As with many of the newer AV technologies (interactive displays and voice recognition perhaps being the best examples), AI is likely to be influenced by consumer uptake. With so many homes boasting Alexa and its competitors, AI is already becoming the ‘norm’. “The consumer sector will drive new technologies into the workplace,” agrees Knight. “The smart home will set employees expectations, and companies will be forced to invest in order to attract the best talent. AI will be a core part of the healthy workplace of the future.” But while the utilisation of the various AV technologies tends to vary from sector to sector, AI – as with the other AV solutions – is unlikely to be a stranger to any sector as we move forward. “Holovis has a unique cross sector capability, operating in very diverse areas from entertainment to manufacturing, and [we have] found in the past that for some applications the AV technologies may remain the same, but their use cases and application differ wildly,” explains Edgington. “This also appears to be the case for AI applications. Our HoloTrac software has been developed as the backbone of all our applications, with the core functionality of attribute, gesture and object recognition, ChatBot AI and spatial tracking utilised within different applications – but to a different degree depending on the users and use case.”

Security As mentioned, security is likely to be the main brake to adoption of AI within AV, and some of this has been down to the data used to create the AI. With AI still in its infancy, until now we’ve seen that huge existing data sets have often been used to ‘train’ AI, leading to problems with the inclusion of human 32

These [facial recognition concerns] are largely unfounded claims, and there are so many great benefits that AI offers in the right environments” Stuart Edgington, Holovis prejudices and fallibility. As a result, there’s a way to go before it can be fully trusted. And of course, AI will continue to harvest data – for many AV applications this will form a major component of its raison d’être – with privacy a major concern. “Security will always be an issue,” says Cronshaw. “As with cloud-based technologies, there will always be some organisations that AI will not be a good fit for unless it is developed and stored in-house. “Open and honest reports from manufacturers on what is logged, what is kept and how they use your data is the most straightforward way for organisations to feel comfortable with new technologies that involve data retention. Launching systems with open API’s, to allow companies to build their own harvesting software could be a future way to encourage the more security conscious organisations to work with AI.” It’s important that both the client and the integrator understand who has access to the data, and how that data can be used based on the manufacturers involved. “Security is a major issue that home technology professionals and clients need to consider,” opines Capecelatro. “For example, low-cost mass-market voice assistants tend to send everything to the cloud and use voice data to target ads.” “Privacy issues are rightly a concern for applications that include recognition of an individual user or guest,” agrees Edgington. “[But at Holovis] the systems that we develop don’t store any personal information or data that can be tracked back to an individual. The user is completely anonymised, and nothing can be reverse engineered that could compromise personal information.” Reports suggesting facial recognition may be banned in the EU are certainly causing concern



among potential adopters, and this is perhaps the most contentious of the AI solutions in terms of privacy. Big data and AI are intrinsically linked here. “Use of any data (facial included) without permission is one that strikes at the heart of the ‘right to anonymity’, says Knight. “There are some big questions to answer around what is fair use of data, and should citizens be able to walk in public spaces without being tracked or mined for data. “Should the state be able to look up where you are at any point? Liberal democracies will have to balance security with personal freedoms in a way they haven’t had to before.” In the professional space there is of course less of an issue, as there is a greater expectation of being observed by managers (human or AI), and companies are able to ask employees’ consent as a term of employment. However, the retail sector has some serious soul searching to do when it comes to the deployment of all AI, especially face recognition. “Clear and honest guidelines from both manufacturers and organisations that have the technologies implemented are the best way to communicate how people’s data is going to be used,” explains Cronshaw. “As long as the data is only professional, not personal, concerns should be lower, and if necessary a disclaimer that staff and visitors sign could be a way to cover GDPR concerns.” “Facial recognition in public places with public data is very different than in private residences,” adds Capecelatro. “For example, in the home, we’re seeing facial recognition only utilising local data to determine if someone is a known family member or an unknown ‘stranger’ on premises. This doesn’t violate privacy, as it’s a local, private use, and not a public entity like an airport using public data to identify anyone and everyone.”

Fixed functionality There are non-invasive ways of deploying AI in AV to avoid privacy concerns, with room control perhaps being the best way to deploy voice-based AI devices without compromising personal data. Locking down the technology to fixed functionality is an excellent method of seeing an increase in deployments, alongside a lower level of fear around the new tech. “Try to work with systems that don’t sell and trade personal data, avoid going to the cloud when possible, and understand the privacy statements of the companies involved,” says Capecelatro. “You can achieve full voice control and AI in a private way, if you select the appropriate products.” What’s clear is that the increased use of AI within AV is inevitable, particularly as consumer demand – as we’ve seen with touch displays, via smartphones and tablets – keep moving in an AI-influenced direction. 34

“As long as the consumer trends continue to move towards AI based products, the commercial market will inevitably have to follow suit,” agrees Cronshaw. “The key is to ensure that the AI technologies being suggested for use within corporate environments are specifically developed for working spaces, rather than consumer products that are repurposed.” “I think so [that increased use is inevitable] and I think that is not a bad thing,” adds Capecelatro. “AI solves many problems that enhance automation systems. That said, be mindful of low cost and/or free products and what data they are getting access to in exchange.” The negative connotation AI has with the general public as a result of reports of privacy intrusion via facial recognition could possibly hold things back, although it’s interesting to note that privacy issues don’t appear to have stopped people signing up almost willy-nilly to FaceBook and the other social media platforms. Essentially if there’s a perceived benefit from today’s ‘free’ technologies, the public tends to forgo its privacy concerns. “These [facial recognition concerns] are largely unfounded claims, and there are so many great benefits that AI offers in the right environments,” explains Edgington. “For entertainment, giving guests a next level experience, personalising their day or guiding them around a museum space to their specific interests, has a direct correlation on their enjoyment and ability to interact with and change an environment.” Ultimately AI can be a force for good, and as long as privacy concerns around data use in particular are managed correctly and consumers continue to see the benefits artificial intelligence brings to their day-to-day lives, it will continue to be adopted within AV. “Data is the new gold,” says Knight. “AI can detect new illnesses faster than doctors, suggest new cures for diseases from millions of possibilities, search for faults in machines and improve itself over time. The ability of AI to find the proverbial needle in a haystack is too valuable to remain unused.” It may not really be indistinguishable from magic, but AI is much more than just smoke and mirrors, and – if handled correctly – the AV industry is set to benefit hugely from its integration into existing technologies. If Arthur C Clarke were alive today he would surely be able to predict where the technology will lead us (he was rarely wrong), but it doesn’t take a soothsayer’s mind to recognise that AI is the future – and not just within AV.

Project of the month

Universal icon A wide range of audiovisual and multimedia technologies have been utilised in the largest permanent Leonardo da Vinci exhibition. Mike Clark reports ABOVE: The dream of flight © Lorenza Daverio – New Galleries Leonardo



ollowing a four-year upgrade, in December 2019, the year of the 500th anniversary of Leonardo da Vinci’s death, Milan’s National Museum of Science and Technology (MUST) opened its New Leonardo Galleries. It is the world’s largest permanent exhibition dedicated to the global cultural icon, offering the public an updated reading of his character, presenting the truly unique and innovative elements of his thought. Since 1953, when it was originally opened, the Museum has told this extraordinary story to visitors from all over the world, attracted by the fascinating genius. In the last 15 years Leonardo was at the centre of initiatives involving all kinds of audiences: travelling exhibitions, conferences, publications and educational activities. The New Galleries’ impressive exhibition was designed by French scenographer and architect François Confino with Studio LLTT, and the galleries’

high-impact multimedia aspects by Neo (Narrative Environments Operas) and MYBOSSWAS, all with the Museum’s specialists.

Circle of characters Confino states: “Leonardo da Vinci is one of the restricted circle of characters we tend to describe as “universal”, like Mozart, Einstein and maybe Chaplin. This was the understanding – and the challenge – with which we began our work with the Museum, to totally redesign the historic exhibition dedicated to Leonardo da Vinci. The collection preserves many models created in the 1950s to translate Da Vinci’s drawings into three-dimensional items. This starting point inspired the idea of making these extraordinary designs come to life using large video projections, immersing the public in a deep emotionally intense visit.” As well as the cultural support of over 70

National Museum of Science and Technology, Milan prestigious institutions, including the Royal Collection Trust of Windsor and l’Institut de France in Paris, the Galleries (curated by Claudio Giorgione) also has technical partners of the calibre of Sony, Erco and Prysmian Group. A spectacular setting accompanies visitors on a journey starting from the Florence of the 15th century that traces Da Vinci’s training and the influence of Tuscan engineers up to his stay in the Milan of the Sforza. A journey through the art of war, work and production, flight, anatomy, waterways and architecture that ends with a perspective on Da Vinci’s influence on Lombard Renaissance painting and an immersive installation dedicated to drawings of the last period of his activity. The leitmotif of the new layout is both chronological and thematic and involves over 170 exhibited works (70 models and historical reconstructions, 33 naturalias, 18 antique volumes, 17 casts, 14 frescoes and paintings, six ancient artefacts, 13 historical facsimiles) with 39 multimedia installations accompanying visitors and presenting ideas, knowledge and dreams that characterise the thought of Da Vinci and the Renaissance. The Museum is housed in a 16th century Olivetan monastery, so the architectural structure imposed a careful selection and placement of the exhibition’s historical objects, some of which are of considerable size.

Tech integration The company with the unenviable task of integrating the impressive array of AVL technology in an unobtrusive manner into the galleries was Ephon Communication. The AV design was by Michel Helson (Realisationeurope from Lussan, France) in collaboration with Francois Confino (Alphabeth sarl) and Marida Cravetto and Federica Pagella (founders of Turin architecture studio Studio LLTT). The executive design was realised by Euphon Communication based on the preexisting design. The extensive multimedia set-up was developed with the help of 36 Sony laser projectors (VPLFHZ120L, VPL-FHZ58L and VPL-FHZ66L models), equipped with optics suitable for the various sections. Prysmian donated approximately 20,000m of various types of cable to the museum for the installation (Afumex low-voltage, fire-rated with low toxic fume emission, PVC, copper and optical fibre cables). Euphon project manager Luca Biselli explains: “As far as the choice of brands and models of the hardware installed was concerned, each decision was taken with the artistic management (by Cravetto and Pagella), works management by Tatiana Milone (EOS Consulting) and Claudio Mazzucchelli (CM srl for EOS Consulting) and the museum staff.”

The first room, dedicated to everyday life at the time of Da Vinci, was transformed into a street of a Renaissance Tuscan city and three niches give visitors the feel of being in Da Vinci’s Florence, as they feature projections in which three characters tell visitors their stories: Da Vinci’s maid, a cloth merchant and a young apprentice of the workshop of sculptor and painter Andrea del Verrocchio, where Leonardo trained. Each person is projected by a Sony FHZ66 with VPLL3003 lens, and their ‘talk’ with visitors is heard thanks to Yamaha VXL1B8 loudspeakers.


ABOVE: Waterways © Lorenza Daverio – New Galleries Leonardo

Maximum intelligibility Biselli continues: “The most complicated section as far as sound reproduction was concerned was the central section, ‘Artists and engineers?’, where four different audio tracks are played back, often simultaneously. Maximum intelligibility was ensured in each work’s ideal listening point, in spite of inevitable overlapping, thanks to Yamaha’s slim VXL1B8 arrays’ well-controlled coverage area and excellent projection.” Cornered Audio C5 speakers were deployed in other sections to meet both aesthetic and functional requirements, as they were able to be positioned between the ceiling and the projections. The excellent quality of the speakers also enabled good intelligibility even in rooms with more than one projection. RCF DP1420EN sound projectors met audio requirements in another section of the galleries.

Exclusive approach As far as lighting is concerned, the 200 ERCO fixtures installed were various models (6, 12, 18,



National Museum of Science and Technology, Milan

and 24W) of the Luedenscheid-based German manufacturer’s range of compact track-mounted Parscan LED fixtures, with warm (3000°K) and neutral white (4000°K) light, some fitted with snoot and honeycomb accessories. Narrow Spot, Spot, flood, wide flood and wall washer lens options are used, as well as Spherolit oval flood lenses with 360° rotation. Michele Cascio of ERCO Illuminazione explains: “Each museum installation requires an exclusive approach, but the Leonardo Galleries are truly unique within the category, as they combine paintings, manuscripts, scale architectural models, and large machines, as well as a multi-sensory visitor experience, all in a single permanent exhibition.” As well as the Erco fixtures, illumination is also courtesy of over 120 ProLights Minieclipse profile fixtures by Italian manufacturer Music & Lights, installed in 11 of the rooms, with five different projection angles (19, 26, 36 and 50°) and CREE White TU (Tungsten) 3100K 28W LED light sources. In the presence of such a large number of extremely varied exhibits that enable visitors to realise the polyhedral genius of Leonardo, choosing the highlights is no easy job, but these must include the hall dedicated to the Art of War, which features a large projection on both walls reproducing Da Vinci’s drawings, used as the background to display models related to ballistic and military studies, including the famous giant crossbow, placed inside a diorama representing battle scenes. Then there’s ‘The dream of flight’ section, where one sees how Leonardo transformed the birds’ anatomy into machine form, using pulleys, gears, and endless screw and bolt systems, and his drawings of these impeccably illuminated fantastic machines make a powerful impression. Then Leonardo’s studies and analyses of the human body as the most perfect of all machines, often utilising techniques appropriate for architectural drawings to represent it. To fill the section with notes and drawings by Leonardo of “The cardiovascular system and principal organs of a woman” (courtesy of the Royal Collection), nine Sony FHZ66 are deployed, with playout from six Watchout Players and the audio from eight Yamaha VXS8 enclosures and six VXS10S subwoofers.

Study and curiosity In the ‘Waterways’ section it is shown how for Leonardo, the vivacity of the Lombard school of hydraulics was a source of study and curiosity and an extremely important educational experience during his Milan years. Here visitors can literally walk on the waters, thanks to six Watchout players feeding three Sony FHZ66 projectors with VPLL3007 lenses projecting on the floor, and audio 38

is courtesy of two Yamaha VXL1B824 enclosures and a VXS10S subwoofer. The conclusion of the journey, which helps discover Da Vinci’s multi-faceted life and works, is entrusted to a large immersive installation, ‘Man and the Cosmos’, based on multiple projections of drawings by Da Vinci, who in the last years of his life devoted himself to formulate wide-ranging theories about nature. Fabio Mazzurana, corporate and education channel account manager, Sony Professional enthuses: “Sony is once again the protagonist of a museum installation. The New Leonardo da Vinci Galleries have international visibility and being a partner fills us with pride. We used our skills, resources and technological innovations, with which our projectors are permeated, to help visitors experience the exhibition in a truly unforgettable way.”

ABOVE: Man and the Cosmos © Lorenza Daverio – New Galleries Leonardo

End-to-end audio Over 1,000 RCF components were specified across this vast 26,000sqm, reconfigurable site, writes Olivia Brady


hen the £84m International Convention Centre Wales (ICCW) opened in September last year, it was the first of its kind in Wales. The joint venture between the Welsh Government and the Celtic Manor Resort delivers 26,000sqm of total floorspace for meetings, conferences and exhibitions (around the size of four international rugby pitches). For visitors driving down the adjacent M4 motorway, the 10m-tall red steel dragon provides an unmistakable landmark. Incorporated within this is a 4,000sqm, pillar-free, almost infinitely reconfigurable main hall, and it was this space that threw up many challenges for the technology contractors, Stage Electrics. Their solution was to specify an end-to-end audio workflow from the RCF catalogue, tying nearly 800 loudspeaker products (and over 1,000 RCF components in total) into a multi-use PA in the main hall and mobile systems for the meeting rooms, 40

merged into a fully-compliant PA/VA environment.

Scope of work With the inception of the project dating back to 2016, many technical pitfalls had to be overcome along the way by Simon Cooper and the Stage Electrics engineering team. Stage Electrics was awarded the contract in part by virtue of having worked with Celtic Manor on a number of previous occasions and by putting forward the most compelling solution to the challenges posed. The scope of work – incorporating AV, lighting (including public space), technical loose equipment and stage engineering consultancy – was set out by Russell Phillips, VP, facilities and development at Celtic Manor. But first Cooper, along with business development manager Saul Eagles, needed to initiate a stringent, but uncompromising costcutting programme to bring it into budget. Once Mick Butler, RCF’s UK regional sales


International Convention Centre Wales, Newport manager North, had conducted a site demo of the TTL 6-A three-way active line source, it was the obvious choice. “That was the litmus test,” says Butler. The decision was rubber-stamped by Eric Rymer from venue consultants, Right Solution, who has worked with RCF at similar International Conference Centres in Belfast and Birmingham. “We then developed the scheme over the next 18 months,” he said. Originally, the voice alarm/evacuation had been subject to a separate contract, with another brand and electrical contractor in line to carry out the work. Since this approach would have vastly exceeded the budget, Butler was soon introducing Simon Cooper to Francesco Venturi from RCF’s engineering support group in Italy. Following a meeting in London in September 2017, talks were finalised to sit an RCF DXT 9000 multiplatform comms system (linked to RCF ceiling speakers, aluminium projector speakers, and Media background speakers at the heart of the set-up. He was able to deliver proof of concept that Voice Alarm and Pro Install could be integrated into a completely scalable and versatile range of configurations (since ICCW offers 26 different room geometrics). Both Dan Aldridge, commercial and projects director at Stage Electrics and Simon Cooper realised that by being able to create their own specification advantages of cost and efficiencies could be achieved for all parties – notably that the entire workflow would be in the hands of a single contractor.

Sound reinforcement The sound reinforcement in the Main Hall functions independent of the PA/VA. For this, Stage Electrics provided 18 TTL 6-A elements, 10 TTL 6-AS active bass modules with RCF SUB 8006-AS providing further LF extension, all controlled using RCF’s proprietary RD Net. The three-way TTL 6-A line source is equipped with two 12in low frequencies woofers, four 6.5in midranges and a 3in voice coil compression driver while the TTL 6-AS contains three 12in woofers. Flexible and quick to rig, this scalable system can be set up as a one-box solution or expanded into a complete column, optimised by allowing the TTL 6-A tilt angle to be set accordingly. A further six RCF EVOX 10 and four EVOX 12, along with the HD 10-A, HD 12-A and SUB 8006-AS have been provided as a portable roll-in/roll-out system

for use in their 15 flexible meeting rooms, in addition to Media M 801 for further reproduction purposes, including background. Mick Butler explains: “TTL 6-A can do all that and as it’s a line source system with wide horizontal and controlled vertical pattern – you don’t need to do comprehensive calculations every time you reconfigure the room.” Hosting such varied content, it was vital the ICCW could turn the spaces round quickly to accommodate the incoming corporate events, and the specific sound requirements. The addition of RCF’s DXT 9000 component became the icing on the cake after a completely separate zonal system had been ruled out. Both Aldridge and Cooper sensed they could achieve significant cost savings without compromise. “There were discussions in the office and there was only one company we would feel comfortable in putting forward because we wanted outstanding quality both for evacuation and the background music system,” says Aldridge. “At that point we were very much in the hands of Francesco Venturi,” adds Simon Cooper. “RCF has a track record in large scale PA/VA and so it became a turnkey job. Francesco came up with the proposal … and 771 speakers later …!” In fact, virtually every room has an RCF speaker, whether PL 70EN ceiling speakers, horns, BS 5EN pendant speakers or DP 1420EN aluminium sound projectors. Venturi confirms that RCF’s integrated site-wide PA/VA solution also needed to meet all standards in terms of emergency purposes, while allowing for general entertainment contributions plus background music reproduction in common areas, along with suitable voice reinforcement in meeting rooms for conferencing. “This would require a single infrastructure of EN54-24 certified speakers,” he recalls.” Integrating these facilities in a single solution would maximise performances, make the application more cost-effective and reduce installation efforts.”

Challenges But he faced two main challenges in submitting a consistent technical proposal for speaker deployment since, in addition to the reconfigurable main hall, the ICCW is a five-storey building, with a three-floor entrance atrium, meeting rooms, two car park levels and kitchens, as well as a 1,500 raked seating auditorium. “After considering Stage Electrics’ requirements we came up with the most fitting topology for every space, considering all parameters,” says Venturi. Regarding EN54-16 certified electronics, topology had to deal with the building layout as well, being distributed in the three available technical rooms, sharing monitored data and audio (Dante standard) upon an Ethernet fibre



International Convention Centre Wales, Newport

ring-configured network. Venturi states: “Besides the emergency facilities, the VA system needed to allow for local inputs broadcast on a zonal basis supporting a third-party audio-over-IP distribution system that manages routing and room combining capability by means of wireless control surfaces.” While RCF’s DXT9000 platform would meet all requirements and VA standards, additional pro audio devices would exist as a separate system, outside the scope of voice alarm. Outside the conferencing spaces the large atrium presented a particular challenge with regard to STI, notes Simon Cooper. This was successfully overcome, with the proposed design validated by EASE measurements, based upon predicted performances.

Consistent design This approach fulfilled the pre-conditions for a consistent design. In the main hall, DP 1420EN aluminium sound projectors, deployed at a height of nine metres from floor level on a rain-diffusion basis, allow for a measured average STIPA figure that exceeds performance requirements of the Voice Alarm standard. Finally, the client turned to RCF’s wiring department for PA/VA rack building, device wiring, testing and pre-configuration. Acceptance testing activity with Stage Electrics was also managed at RCF’s Reggio Emilia HQ. The final count consisted of six cabinets housing EN54-16 certified electronics (matrices and amplifiers), EN54-4 certified battery 42

chargers for secondary power feed (including batteries), distributed in the three technical rooms and interconnected on an Ethernet fibre ringconfigured network supported by dedicated network switches programmed by RCF. The PA/VA installation was commissioned by RCF personnel alongside key Stage Electrics team members, comprising Simon Cooper, technical project manager Chris Brant, site team leader Aaron Godsmark and commissioning engineer Steve Chappell. They worked both on the PA/VA and the wider technical packages; these included lighting control in all spaces within the venue, truss and motor packages, technical equipment inventory, technical facility panels, custom power panels, audio, video, DMX, optical fibre and structured network cable infrastructure, and equipment racks. In summary, Venturi confirms that the RCF application has been fully approved by the customer, and is in line with RCF Engineering Support Group’s own design targets. Speaking of the success of the integration ICCW head of technical services, Simon Denman-Ellis, comments: “I think what the team liked most is the ease of use with the RCF systems. Everything just works seamlessly, a real plug and play set-up but with the high-end sound and reliability you would expect to find in a much more complex system.”

Solutions in Brief

University trials Sony AI-powered Edge Analytics Appliance The University of Wales Trinity Saint David (UWTSD) has announced a trial of the intelligencepowered Sony REA-C1000 Edge Analytics Appliance with a view to expanding later in the year. As part of its existing relationship with Sony, this new trial will allow UWTSD to evaluate the transformative potential of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and video analytics across different departments. The REA-C1000 uses AI technology to create impactful video presentation content that is said to empower presenters, captivate audiences and transform the quality of communication like never before. The purpose of the trial is to help UWTSD staff and students experiment with the powerful features of the appliance, and develop new workflows and lesson styles. The trial will also uncover new use cases and create inspiring video content for scenarios and departments including the real-time capture and digitisation of diagrams and complex

equations in mathematics, physics and engineering classes via the Handwriting Extraction feature, and the creation of engaging materials for humanities and media students and staff.

Harman creates immersive lighting displays at Shanghai circus To create spectacular lighting displays for the reopening of the world-famous Shanghai Circus World, Guangzhou Bai MingHui Lighting Technology Co equipped the venue with Martin by Harman lighting fixtures. Located in the heart of Shanghai, Circus World features an ornate 1,638-seat theatre with an elaborate architectural design and a distinctive golden dome roof. Guangzhou deployed 53 Martin MAC Axiom hybrid fixtures to provide designers with a versatile, all-in-one fixture capable of creating a variety of looks including tight beams, sharp spots and more. To create soft wash effects with unique and expressive colours, Guangzhou installed 36 Martin MAC Quantum Wash fixtures, which feature the Colorganics system for deep, saturated colours. To provide additional coverage, Guangzhou deployed 15 extra-bright Martin MAC Aura XB wash fixtures. In order to create immersive, sensational lighting effects, Guangzhou selected 10 Martin MAC Viper AirFX fixtures with impressive discharge-based aerial effects. 44

To highlight key performers and scenery, Guangzhou equipped Circus World with Martin MAC Quantum Profile fixtures, which combine top-quality white light with a fast, smooth CMY colour mixing system and crisp gobo projection.

Solutions in Brief

AVMI chooses PeerlessAV for showcase LED videowall Peerless-AV and AVMI have partnered to deliver a 8x4 DvLED videowall in AVMI’s Sunbury-on-Thames, UK headquarters and Network Operations Centre (NOC). The LED wall presents the ideal platform to demonstrate AVMI’s project capabilities from concept to delivery and is a great example of a seamless LED installation using Samsung IF Series Smart LED Signage and a custom DvLED mounting system from Peerless-AV. The LED videowall replaces an ageing LCD display that lacked impact and engagement. The AVMI project team plan to display the original renders, engineering drawings, schematics and elevations for the videowall so that when customers visit, they can now see an example of a best practice installation and the scope of AVMI’s technical capabilities. Samsung IF020H 2mm LED cabinets were fitted in-wall in an 8x4 configuration supported by a Peerless-AV floor-to-ceiling mount solution. The mount substructure and components were laid out in a network infrastructure room behind the wall and built

up in just a day. The pre-determined adaptor rails made for a quick assembly. Once the frame was in situ, the placement and power up of the LED cabinets took just a matter of hours.

Dallas Cowboys expands Electro-Voice install at AT&T Stadium When the Dallas Cowboys opened AT&T Stadium in 2009, it boasted the world’s largest Electro-Voice sound system in a permanent installation, including over 240 line array loudspeakers from the X-Line family. Fast-forward to 2019. Noting that the many touring concert acts coming through the world’s largest domed stadium simply do not carry enough PA to provide adequate coverage for the upper seating areas, the audio team decided to take advantage of EV’s scalability. The Cowboys’ audio team worked with system programmer Richard Bratcher, along with original design and installation partners including Kevin Day of WJHW, head engineer Demetrius Palavos and COO Ted Leamy of Pro Media Audio Video, and the Electro-Voice engineering team. Together, they determined that the 14 XLCi127DVX (compact three-way) delay systems covering the upper level could be scaled up to produce smoother coverage with improved intelligibility. The upgrade includes two added XLC arrays on each side of the stadium, plus the addition of one more speaker element to the 14 existing arrays serving the 400 level, for a total of 54 added boxes. The system is

also bolstered with 20 additional TG series amps, each equipped with RCM-26 remote control DSP modules. One additional NetMax N8000 digital matrix controller was also added. The IRIS-Net platform’s proven stability and scalability was a key factor in the expansion.


Product of the Month



Philips Pro Display Solutions T-Line It’s… a new range of interactive touch displays for education. What’s new? Available in 65, 75 and 86in model variants, the new T-Line range runs on Android and allows up to 64 students to connect their own personal computing device directly to the display at the same time. And work on up to four students’ devices can be shared onto the display at any one time. Details: Using valuable insight from leading educational institutions around the world, the new educational touch range is suitable for all levels of educational learning. It has been designed with usability, functionality and collaboration at its core, with students being able to interact and participate during lessons, whether in the classroom or remotely. Harold Niericker, head of product management for signage, said: “At Philips Professional Display Solutions, we don’t simply enter a market for the sake of participation or to make up the numbers. With our new T-Line specifically for education, we’re offering something truly innovative to the market. A display that has been designed to solve existing problems, and to facilitate and enhance the way teaching is taught and how students are able to collaborate and communicate with each other effortlessly.” Mounted tightly to the wall like a traditional whiteboard or blackboard, the new T-Line actively encourages students to participate and collaborate during lessons. Each display features true

Product of the month

multi-touch interaction, as well as high speed technology and optimised glass coating to deliver a high-class writing experience, allowing multiple students to physically interact with the display simultaneously, using either their hands, or for more accurate detail, a passive pen – included in the box. The displays can also connect with a keyboard and mouse and have the functionality to support Active Pen technology. Supporting all major operating systems, including ChromeOS, macOS, Windows and iOS, students can contribute to lessons – viewing, working with and manipulating a document without leaving their seat. All documents displayed and work carried out can be saved and can then be shared via third-party email apps, or stored in the cloud, ensuring students never miss a thing, while also being kinder to the environment, reducing

paper waste. With additional accessories, such as audio soundbars and cameras, and supporting programs such as Skype, the new T-Line combines all the functionality of a videoconferencing system. Niericker added: “The new T-Line range is designed for all levels of education, from Early Years, infants and juniors, through to senior schools, academies, universities and remote studies. Running on Android, the most used OS on the planet, the fear factor is removed, encouraging students to take part and removing any delays during setup, ensuring classes start on time and the time is maximised.” Available: Q2 2020 professional-displays




Lighting control

Specialist providers are bringing an expanding range of lighting functionality to the smart home with these control solutions

Lutron delivers personalised control RA2 Select is a whole-home lighting and shading system for residential properties. As RA2 Select is a wireless system, it is ideal for retrofit applications. The only wiring required are the in-line dimmers and switches. The Main Repeater is simply plugged into a wall socket for power and connected to the home network for integration. Setup of RA2 Select requires the Lutron RA2 Select app to be downloaded. The homeowner or installer can follow the steps in the app to add each device to the system, pick which room it goes in, give it a name and this smart technology will automatically configure the programming. The system also offers a ‘Smart Away’ feature, which randomly turns lights on and off during the evening when the home

is unoccupied. This can be manually triggered in the app or automatically triggered if the ‘Arriving/Leaving Home’ feature is turned on. RA2 Select puts total control in the hands of the end-user – allowing them to manage and personalise their system in

any way. This makes it an ideal solution for homeowners who want the benefits of a professionally installed smart home system, but also the flexibility and power to make their own changes via the app.

Integrated lighting with Rako QMotion FM Roller and Roman blinds can now be natively integrated into Rako lighting control systems, without the need for special drivers, interfaces or extra programming. This development will increase the market opportunity for integrators, making automated lighting and blind installation quicker and easier to improve project profitability. Both low voltage wired and battery powered versions of QMotion’s FM Blinds are available to integrate natively with Rako lighting control systems via the Rako RK-HUB or WK-HUB. The wireless control protocol is embedded 48

within the HUB, enabling initial setup and operation. Once the blinds are configured, they automatically become part of the Rako system. Installers can operate simple open, stop and close functions alongside four preset park positions as well as set any percentage level of blind opening between fully open and fully closed. Rako ‘Holiday Mode’ integrates automatic activation of lighting and shading for added security when the home is unoccupied. Up to eight QMotion UK blinds can be connected per room. On larger projects and where additional RF range may be

required, then multiple Rako HUBS linked via the LAN can be used, without any limitations. Control is possible via the Rako wired or wireless controller.



Integrated lighting with Rako For luxury residential environments, Vantage has combined its advanced lighting control with the Lumenetix araya5 light engine built into WAC Lighting’s tunable, low-voltage LED lighting fixtures. This is designed to provide integrators with end-to-end, human-centric lighting systems. The Vantage controller is programmed to match the sunrise/ sunset schedule shift throughout the year that best supports people’s natural circadian rhythm, based on the location of each installation. Presets can override programming at any time through a simple button press to match users’ daily tasks. The Vantage platform is compatible with DMX or 0V to 10V protocols, providing single-button control of the LED source. These fixtures replicate natural daylight for optimisation of aesthetics, comfort, and wellness. For integrators, the combined result is an LED lighting solution that is easily installed and energy-efficient.

Savant provides flexibility to the smart home The latest lighting and two-channel energy control modules from Savant have been engineered to deliver control and energy management of lighting as well as other electrical loads such as household appliances throughout the home all from a compact, easy to install form factor. Savant’s modules were designed for easy installation into standard electrical panels, eliminating the need for excessively large, more costly specialty panels. The compact size of each module ensures design application flexibility and ease of installation. Because modules can be used for many individual electrical load applications throughout the home and

are fully compatible with the Savant control ecosystem, technology integrators have a tremendous opportunity to deliver better smart home functionality, critical energy usage data across all electrical load types as well as the foundation for a net-zero compliant home design. Integrators can connect large appliances, outlets, pool pumps and other electrical loads to Savant’s modules and deliver energy consumption data across the whole home to the Savant Pro App, delivering complete, dynamic environmental control of climate, lighting and other

electrical loads. During peak usage times or other electrical events, homeowners can easily see power consumption and make real-time adjustments through the Savant Pro App or rely on their Savant system to make adjustments automatically on their behalf.


Last word

that matches the visual. The size of a meeting space is also a major factor. Larger spaces tend to be more presenter-based meaning the audience’s attention is being drawn to the front of the room and the presenter. Enhanced display technology such as dual screens, LED walls and interactive screens are a powerful way to present to larger audiences. In some cases, videowalls can be used in bigger meeting spaces. Generally, these displays offer better and more accessible connectivity and give presenters interactive and collaborative tools to drive engagement. On the other hand, smaller spaces tend to be more interactive as well as informal – the technology usually reflects this. Touchscreens are more prevalent and it’s worth considering implementing desk mounted microphones so that participants can ‘huddle’ around a presentation that’s central to the room.

Take charge Cinos’ Steve Franklin highlights four key steps to upgrade your meeting room Meeting rooms are where ideas are sparked, decisions are made and business is won, so it’s important that users can come together and collaborate. Without easy-to-use and interactive AV technologies, meetings can become repetitive and uninspiring for attendees. Whatever the size of your room or budget, it’s important to keep the following elements in mind to create spaces that drive real value from start to finish. Consistency and familiarity of solutions Changes to workplace technologies can have a big impact on the productivity of employees. When implementing new meeting room technology, organisations should look for solutions that are easy to use and offer a consistent user experience. It’s important that the transition is seamless, allowing employees to focus on the tasks at hand rather than get distracted by technology challenges. Consider the space you have to work with Meeting rooms are important workspaces, so the room acoustics need to be considered. Echoing and poor sound quality will leave users with frustrating experiences and unproductive meetings. Whether it’s installing acoustic panels or adaptive technologies, a productive space needs to deliver an audio experience 50

Integrated control systems Traditionally, meeting spaces would house a user interface in the form of a tablet, enabling participants to control the room equipment. This interface would often be unique to the room and the look and feel could be dictated by the installer – making training essential and generally impacting on the whole meeting experience. While these types of control units are still in use, meeting rooms are becoming more intelligent and automated than ever before. The key to creating seamless experiences lies in intuitive user interfaces. Manufacturers are integrating more and more ‘intelligence’ into meeting room equipment. This functionality can enhance the user experience and drive real value as well as helping organisations to save money and reduce their carbon footprint. Videoconferencing and UC Videoconferencing and unified comms can turn even small huddle rooms into collaborative workspaces. Ideally, the conferencing solution would be one that users are familiar with such as Microsoft Teams or Skype for Business. The ability to walk into a room and instantly start a session with an interface that users are familiar with not only reduces wasted time but also user frustrations. It’s important that the technology placed in meeting rooms is intuitive and includes automatic setup features. By introducing intelligent and reliable technologies across all types of spaces, organisations can expect to see more productive spaces, allowing them to take charge of their meeting rooms and deliver valuable experiences to employees and customers alike. Steve Franklin is executive director at Cinos