AV integration in a networked world
Bright future What elements are driving the evolution of the smart home?
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Strange days If you thought ISE was a mind-bending experience, that suddenly seems pretty run-ofthe-mill compared to where we find ourselves now. It’s been a shock seeing how quickly we’ve arrived at this point. From feeling slightly uneasy, but not directly under threat, to the current situation. As we are only at the beginning of the new norm (for most of us) of working from home, hopefully most of you won’t quite be at your wits' end yet, but no doubt we’ll all be facing extremely challenging times sooner or later. This will throw up a number of issues and truly test the capabilities of unified comms services. We’ve already seen news of Microsoft Teams struggling to cope with the surge in usage and Netflix being told to reduce streaming quality to free up bandwidth for all the extra remote workers. In this issue we reintroduce our readers to residential AV, a topic we haven’t really covered very much over the last few years, but are now placing a focus on moving forward. And, seeing as we are all set to be indoors a lot more in the weeks to come, our timing has proved impeccable. This dovetails with our new multi-channel approach, where our print issue themes will be mirrored online, so expect a plethora of residential content coming your way throughout April – keep an eye on www.installation-international.com for all the latest news and views. Enjoy. And more importantly – stay safe.
The nEXt revolution in RJ45 connector design The world’s most advanced pass-through shielded RJ45 connectors
For PoE and PoE+ installations
Plastic load bar supports conductors and shears off for a perfectly flush trim every time
Making Connections EZ for Over 20 Years firstname.lastname@example.org
14 Contributors: David Davies Henning Kaltheuner William MacDonald Steve May Ian McMurray Keziah Newlove
Special thanks: Melissa Baker Alexandra Gil
Special Report: Residential 14 Brave new reality We consider how the smart home market has evolved over the last few years, and look ahead with the industry enthusiastic for what the future holds 20 Smooth crossover? The temptation for commercial integrators to move into residential CI is strong, but just how close are these installation stablemates?
Cover Image: The DJ Room Credit: Life Emotions
Incorporating low-carbon construction methods and operational processes, Forest Green Rovers’s Eco Park stadium is set to mark a new milestone for ecofriendly sports venues
36 ODEON Kino A leading European cinema chain has installed 100 displays inside Norway’s newest and most state-ofthe-art entertainment complex
40 London Business School New active learning space at one of the world’s leading business schools offers students expanded connectivity and a variety of collaboration options
42 Solutions in Brief
Henning Kaltheuner offers an update on the Milan protocol’s current status and looks at where it’s heading in the future Keziah Newlove presents the differences between invisible and conventional sound technologies
Including a Lisbon restaurant’s zoned sound system, a milestone DOOH ad project in Seville, and advanced learning at the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine
10 Interview Barco’s Bram Dieryckx explains the market changes that are hastening the switch to LED
26 Feature: Developing workflows The concept of the digital workplace has been a hot industry topic for years. Now it’s gaining fresh impetus from the need for more remote working
32 Eco Park stadium
47 Products Featuring Martin Audio’s newly launched cardioid subs
48 Showcase A selection of the latest microphone options for conferencing applications
50 Last word William MacDonald on the key factors driving working via video in 2020
Easier for all Henning Kaltheuner offers an update on the Milan protocol’s current status and looks at where it’s heading in the future First announced at InfoComm 2018, the Milan protocol, created by leading pro-AV manufacturers under the umbrella of Avnu Alliance, has continued to grow and expand. From Milan-ready products in the market and under development, new members contributing to Milan, and plans for finalising certification and streamlining membership, it is clear that there is still plenty of growth and new opportunities to come for Milan. Our goal at the end of the day is to make Milan easier for manufacturers to implement and for end users to deploy, and we’re excited to see that manifest in 2020. Recently, we released a whitepaper on Milan’s current value proposition and the direction we hope to see it take shape in 2020 and beyond. Below are a few key takeaways from the paper:
Networking is the enabling technology that allows us to deliver rich experiences for live sound and other commercial AV applications The future of AV and IT is that, eventually, everything will be networked as data and network connections are growing rapidly. At the same time, the expectations for audio and video continue to grow and evolve, demanding more from audio/video networks – including connecting more devices. With AV increasingly residing on the network, it becomes part of the larger IT ecosystem. The network, which provides connectivity for individual components to work together, becomes the grid that defines system 6
architectures. At the same time, interoperability between devices is also a necessary and important part of connectivity success – but what does this mean for manufacturers and integrators working with these devices? Audio and systems engineers expect more. They should be able to realise the functionalities in their system; their network should always work – it should be easy, reliable and future-proof. What’s more, as consumer technology continues to advance, audiences expect a richer experience for live sound and other commercial AV applications. The network must now become part of the value proposition for manufacturers; it must be open for creativity to enable bringing truly valuable products to market. For this to happen, manufacturers must work together with others like them, openly sharing information on technology and products, and together defining the requirements for greater network interoperability. This vision for networking should encompass the ease of the analogue XLR connector and transform it into full media and data interoperability.
The industry needs to refocus on delivering a future-proof audio solution that can scale When it comes to networked audio platforms, the professional media industry has two major requirements. At the most basic level, it requires guaranteed delivery of high-quality audio, not subject to dropouts, phase shifts, or comb filter effects on line arrays. However, the industry needs to solve this with a long-term, stable and viable platform that evolves with the market’s requirements. When making decisions on networking infrastructure, end users need to be confident that they’ve chosen an enduring standard and a network that can provide support as their media and data needs scale – today, tomorrow and even years from now. Many of today’s solutions have been knit together using proprietary networking solutions, requiring extensive design, installation and support work from industry professionals and creating risky propositions that are not guaranteed for long-term viability. As the network has evolved and continues to scale, so has the opportunity for the industry. The network should not be a competitive market on its own or a bottleneck for innovation.
Milan is always evolving, as we’re still working on ways to make it easier to implement and a better solution for end users”
multiple markets, making it an enduring standard that both AV and IT departments will embrace. With an open standard foundation, Milan enables increased flexibility and reduces the total cost of ownership by bringing an economy of scale, minimising deployment and maintenance time. And the open nature of Milan allows manufacturers to build their systems while having ownership over the network. With Milan, we’re aiming to achieve ease-of-use around networking for end users, ensuring it just works and keeps working, as well as be a system architecture for manufacturers, providing them the right tools to build their system platforms on, to make that vision happen.
What’s next for Milan? Milan is not just enabling network connectivity; it is the grid to build on for the future Created by, and chosen by, live sound leaders in Avnu Alliance, Milan is the manufacturer’s network; the technical and business decision for the top leaders in the market. As manufacturers, we are in direct competition with one another, but we have chosen to come together to collectively take the driver’s seat in creating and advocating for the change we want to see in the pro-audio market. Through this process we brought to life a vision for a complete media network – one that is easy-to-use, future-proof, open for creativity, scalable across market, and delivers a convergence between audio, video and control with IT on one network.
What is Milan’s impact on network systems and technologies? Live sound audio engineering is one of the most challenging jobs in pro AV; this market has the highest requirements for audio stability combined with the necessity for fast deployment. There can’t be any guesswork when there is so much on the line. There could be thousands of people in the audience during any given performance and the systems must be robust so there is no degradation of sound, but also must be easy enough to set up and configure in a time crunch. As creators of Milan, we come from this live sound production market and were forced to creatively develop solutions that do that job and do it in a reliable way. As a layer two technology built on a deterministic networking standard, Milan was created first as a network for live production and events. Milan is also built on an open standard, which means it has broad market appeal, is supported by IT and is interoperable with the entire stack of standards technology in
At ISE 2020, Avnu member and Milan supporter, Neutrik announced that a Milan audio module was in development. The Milan audio modules from Neutrik will allow manufacturers in the pro audio market to quickly and easily build a wide range of Milan audio products, from single loudspeakers and microphones to complex multichannel mixing desks and multi-port conferencing systems. Neutrik is making it easier for professional audio networking manufacturers to add Milan to product lines, which will in turn expand the Milan-certified ecosystem of devices. We already have a Milan module certification programme developed, therefore if a manufacturer implements a Milancertified module into their device, they can submit it for certification without having to go through certification testing. This should help speed the adoption and growth of certified product availability. There are future plans for a streamlined product certification programme so that it’s quicker for all Milan devices to go through the certification process, while still ensuring interoperability. Milan is always evolving, as we’re still working on ways to make it easier to implement and a better solution for end users, but you can bet, Milan will be better because it has to meet the high expectations of our customers. As both manufacturers and Milan members, we’ve agreed to own the network as the foundation for our own company value proposition. In doing so, we’ve created a collaborative, deterministic network standard for the industry, by the industry, that when certified for interoperability, can meet the challenging requirements of pro AV and can adapt to meet future requirements as network capacity and demand scale. Henning Kaltheuner is head of business development and market intelligence at d&b audiotechnik www.avnu.org/Milan
Blanket of sound The differences between invisible and conventional sound technologies are marked and should be celebrated, writes Keziah Newlove Invisible speaker technology has no doubt come of age and while its development and application will continue to evolve, companies embarking on the provision of invisible audio solutions for clients need to think outside the conventional speaker box. There are many ways to create sound, however when it comes to invisible solutions, the ‘conventional’ rules don’t apply. It is not enough to adapt a conventional speaker and force it to do something it was never designed to do. Consumers want more. They want a product that creates a blanket of sound, with clarity rather than a compromise. To find their way in achieving this, manufacturers have adopted various technologies. Some have created variants on OEM arrangements or attempted to copy other’s fundamental designs, with varying degrees of success. However, generally, the technology adopted is either a full DML structure, or a part DML structure in the upper ranges, supported by conventional bass drivers that set up an
One of the key things to keep in mind is that you cannot be restricted by the rules that conventional speaker design dictates” 8
air pump under a panel surface to get it to move more to generate lower frequencies. While DML is the much newer audio technology, it actually derives from a much older place – a musical instrument. Before sound reproduction existed, musical instruments were the sole way to listen to music. The natural musical instrument concept forms the basis of DML, which along with thousands of hours of R&D, testing and feedback, is creating literal waves across the invisible speaker market. It’s a different sound, an immersive blanket, and its benefits and purposes are as valuable as those creating standalone conventional technology. Everyone is different, and this difference is important in creating new and interesting movements within the audio industry.
Constant improvement Over the past 20 years the creation and evolution of the invisible speaker market has created a drive for constant improvement and strive for excellence among suppliers. With any new technology, adjustments in specification have to be made. That’s true with DML technology, but like lots of emerging technologies, DML offers a number of advantages over the traditional. One of the key things to keep in mind is that you cannot be restricted by the rules that conventional speaker design dictates. DML invisible speakers allow for a much broader placement selection, as symmetry is not required. It is imperative to remember the purpose of the product. Invisible speakers are not used as critical listening devices, but rather to create a listening environment that allows the listener to move freely while still maintaining amplitude and full frequency response anywhere in the room. Spread source (DML) devices reach further, interact much less negatively in acoustically challenging spaces compared to conventional ceiling or wall speakers, and generally require less overall power. They also radiate 360 x 180°, a half-sphere, covering a much larger space allowing fewer devices to be specified. AV specifiers, unfamiliar with the physics of this type of product technology and its immersive reproduction capabilities, tend to over-specify the product. Some simply replace the same number of conventional speakers they might have specified in the past, with DML devices. In practice, and depending on room geometry, the reality is that far fewer DML devices, perhaps four times fewer, can be specified, while still retaining a smoother overall SPL level within the space. Although such DML devices can individually be more expensive than a conventional speaker, the overall system costs, with not just a reduced number of speakers, but reduced wiring and reduced amplification requirements, can actually be far lower.
With ‘invisible’ being critical to the overall visual look and finish of the space, installers do need to take responsibility for working with and supervising on site tradespeople. They are the ones both preparing the infrastructure correctly and finishing the decoration. Both are important to get right. If a metal frame ceiling structure is badly constructed many audio devices may set up spurious ceiling noises, not just integrated DML devices. The quality of the overall room aesthetic at handover to the client will very much be determined by the quality of the plastering effort ensuring levels are all correct across the installation surface.
Challenges One of the challenges for invisible technology is that the uninitiated often have a perception that “invisible speakers cannot create sound properly”, and sound is muffled because they have no grill. How does sound travel through plaster? The actual opposite is true of DML speakers. As sound is only created by exciting air molecules, the conventional loudspeaker converts electrical energy into sound by moving the surface area of the ‘loudspeaker cone’ back and forth, creating a point-source. DML speakers use the same electrical energy via transducers to create resonant pockets of sound, just like the soundboard of a natural musical instrument, to create a truly immersive sound quality while ensuring a clutter-free and flexible environment. Why is it that a violin can cover a room corner to corner, very evenly and without room reflections destroying the original timbre of the instrument, and multiple guitars or pianos can sum together without interfering with each other? That is because these instruments are based on the principles of
sympathetic resonance, creating amplitude through the sum of tens to thousands of tiny pockets of sympathetic vibrations from a soundboard. The sound source is spread out over a larger space, a ‘spread source’, and enters the room as multiple individual sound sources, spreading out in all directions to fill the room making it non-directional. Creating a forum where people can understand that invisible technology is different, and should be celebrated as such, is key to overcoming misunderstanding. The acoustic performance (frequency response, tonality, clarity, etc) of the best products on the market today can indeed match those of very good conventional loudspeakers. What a lot of people don’t understand though is the dramatic advantages DML technology can provide over conventional speakers. It creates a new sound, an immersive output that enhances the whole house audio experience beyond conventional cone speakers. This is a ‘speaker-less’ solution that can be installed behind not just plaster, but in a way that gives aesthetic and design freedom with a myriad of finishes, while always filling a space with very even sound. The product itself isn’t blended into the wall, it becomes the wall. It changes with décor, never falling out of style. It becomes mirrors, a marble media wall, a beautiful piece of furniture, a conference room ceiling tile or indeed an elegant room by day and a highly capable cinema by night. A product capable of being used for the lifetime of a building and not just a few years, giving it great environmental credentials. Keziah Newlove is marketing manager at Amina Technologies https://uk.aminasound.com
Bram Dieryckx, Barco
A bright future , vice president, LED and image processing division, at global technology company Barco, explains the market changes that are hastening the switch to LED What are the spaces that LED technology is moving into that were traditionally occupied by LCD or projection, and why? The LED market has undergone a significant transformation in the past two years, moving into spaces that were traditionally associated with LCD and projection. This is due, in part, to technological advancements making it possible to build more reliable finer pitch LED displays and an overall increase in manufacturing volume. These factors are driving down costs and stimulating a growth in demand. In certain market segments, the transition to LED is almost complete. For instance, in broadcast studios the adoption of LED has been faster for visual backdrops because it offers a wider variety of 10
creative options, has a superior visual performance and is increasingly cost competitive. Other segments are still playing catch up. In the corporate space, LCD has been the preferred technology in meeting rooms for a number of years. In company lobby spaces, both LCD and LED technologies are being installed. However, we are seeing a gradual shift towards the adoption of LED in more corporate spaces. What upgrades have been made to LED display technology to enable it to move into these new spaces? As LED package size reduces, it opens up an array of new product applications. In the future, as microLED matures, it is likely that LED display technology will
Bram Dieryckx, Barco
be present in many more products, such as smartwatches and smartphones. In recent years, one of the biggest evolutions has been Chip on Board. It has enabled the cost of the LED technology to come down and allowed for the production of finer pitch products. There are still some technology and cost limitations that need to be solved before we see wider adoption. As a manufacturer of different types of display solutions, is Barco prioritising one technology over another or are you just seeing what the demand is? Barco has the advantage of offering customers a choice of display technologies, from projection to LCD and LED, rather than focusing on a single solution. So, we can play a consultative role, delivering the best performing, cost-effective solution for a particular need and application. As costs come down and technologies evolve, we can further advise our customers on more advanced solutions and help them make that transition to LED. Did ISE 2020 uncover any new trends in displays? At present, the industry is seeing an evolution of existing technologies. Chip-on-Board LED technology was the last big breakthrough several years ago. However, despite numerous companies
The industry needs to explore ways to simplify LED installation and maintenance which will, in turn, bring down costs” jumping on the bandwagon, manufacturers are still trying to find ways to make mass adoption viable. What are Barco's goals around LED going forward? Last year Barco announced a strategic partnership with Chinese LED manufacturer Unilumin. That move confirms our strategy to have LED technology as a central offering within our screen display portfolio. The collaboration enables us to combine Barco’s expertise in LED and deep market knowledge with Unilumin’s scale. This will help us broaden our penetration into the LED visualisation solutions market, both in hardware and software.
ABOVE: Barco is experiencing particularly high take up of LED in broadcast studios
Bram Dieryckx, Barco
Is ease of installation still an issue with LED displays? LED display installation requires skilled configuration during the set-up phase, particularly as customer demands become more complex. The industry needs to explore ways to simplify LED installation and maintenance which will, in turn, bring down costs. Barco’s UniSee product, which is LCD, has a dedicated mechanical mounting system simplifying the installation and replacement of panels which then automatically calibrate. This is something that could be brought to LED. Do LED display installs require a greater level of design and integration than other technologies? It depends on the type of application. For instance, a projector in a meeting room may not present a complex installation challenge but blending multiple projectors on a curved screen is a complicated proposition. LCD installation is initially less complex as it is a flat or partially curved videowall, but these screens can be easily damaged and need to be carefully calibrated which present other challenges. The same applies to LED, some installations are more complex than others.
Barco’s solutions have been designed to remove that complexity of installation and servicing. How does the competitive landscape differ on the LED side of displays compared to LCD? The LED landscape is more fragmented than LCD. There are over 400 LED manufacturers, mostly located in China. There are far fewer players making LCD screens and displays. The two landscapes are very different, but both the LED and LCD display markets are competitive spaces where price and quality are key. What are the LED display installations Barco has been involved in that you are most proud of? We have a lot of premium installations across the globe – examples are TV studios, control rooms and installations in large corporations. Customers buy our products because they know that they are state of the art and they deliver the outcome that customers expect with the performance that they can trust. www.barco.com
Leading the way At ISE 2020, in an industry first, Crestron provided a glimpse at what it has in store for the future. Ranjan Singh, EVP, product and technology talks about what motivated the company to create the Future Innovation area of its stand, and discusses the technologies that will lead the way In planning the company’s ISE stand, Randy Klein, Crestron president and CEO, wanted show attendees to gain insight into what’s next for the AV industry in a way that’s never been done before. Because innovation has always been Crestron’s driving force, the company thought about how auto manufacturers showcase concept cars and decided that approach could work here as well. Daniel Jackson, head of digital workplace products, led the concept to realisation in conjunction with the product and marketing teams. A lot of companies offer glimpses into what they’re working on or have their customers sign an NDA, but as an industry leader, Crestron didn’t want to take that route. The company was excited by the prospect of sharing with customers what was being working on today, and what will likely be working on in the future. Some of the products that were on display in the Future Innovations hub will be launched later this year, some in two years. And then some might never come to market. While Crestron is investing in many products that will impact the industry landscape, several have already proved themselves as game-changers. One of them is the DM-NVX-D80, a network decoder created with Intel that slips neatly into a display’s Open Pluggable Specification slot. The D80 instantly transforms displays from the world’s largest manufacturers into native DM NVX AV-over-IP endpoints to deliver flawless 4K video and audio across any size network.
Another high-impact development is the partnership with Logitech, announced at ISE 2020, which will enable Crestron to offer Crestron Flex UC solutions for every possible space. As a company, Crestron is proud of where it’s headed with Crestron Flex and believe it’s revolutionising the industry. Its continued evolution will include several more value-add software-based products. One of the goals with the Future Innovations area, along with the rest of the stand, was to demonstrate that legacy Crestron products don’t become irrelevant. Crestron believes it owes it to customers to increase the value and improve the functionality of products in which they’ve made large investments. Through software upgrades, these products get better over time. Technology evolves, but that doesn’t mean that customers have to buy new products with every update. Crestron will continue to add value. One example of this is the DM-NVX-E760, which will enable customers to enhance their existing Crestron DigitalMedia HDBaseT solutions with AV-over-IP, as needed. Also on the near horizon, by employing a third-party gateway interface, customers will be able to use the Crestron XiO Cloud IoT-based service to provision and manage third-party products, in addition to Crestron products. Looking further down the road, Crestron is focused on several areas: End user experience: Historically,
simplified user experiences, such as one-touch join with room controls, were the domain of boardrooms. Crestron’s intent is to deliver those experiences in rooms of all sizes. Operationally scalable solutions: Because no large organisation can afford to send a tech to every room to perform updates, Crestron is investing in operationally scalable solutions. The company wants to deliver efficiency by enabling organisations to deploy a product, connect it to the network, and then walk away from it because it can be managed and upgraded remotely. Automation: Automation is the key to drive efficiency. To that end, Crestron is focused on creating APIs that customers can script and build into their processes. Commercial models: Last but not least, Crestron is looking at enabling commercial models, such as Software as a Service and AV as a Service. Large and medium-sized organisations want to outsource everything, and direct customers, dealers and installers are excited to jump in. Crestron’s goal is to empower them to do that. While Crestron is steadfast in its commitment to lead the way in innovation for the industry, it is also rooted in providing integrators and organisations with the solutions they need to be successful right now. The future is bright, and so is the present. www.crestron.com/ise
Brave new reality It’s only just over 100 years since electricity started to appear in the homes of the very rich, laying the foundations – if not entirely intentionally – for smart homes. Ian McMurray finds an industry brimming with enthusiasm for what the future holds
ou have Philips Hue lighting installed in various rooms. You have TP-Link smart plugs dotted around the house. You use Alexa to control it all, and to do various mundane tasks like telling you the time, or the weather forecast – or to turn on your electric blanket. You have a Ring doorbell, so that you can tell people you’re not at home all the way from your beach in Crete. You leave the office, and use your mobile phone to tell your Nest thermostat to turn on the heating ready for your arrival. It’s all clever stuff, and you could reasonably claim that your home is now a whole lot smarter than it was a few years ago. But: is your home really smart? What will a truly smart home look like? And what will it take to get there? 14
ABOVE: Homeplay is seeing much less demand for TVs – and more demand for larger, higher quality screens
Single step The eminently quotable ancient Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu famously noted that “a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step” – and, perhaps surprisingly, the smart home industry isn’t as dismissive of those off-the-shelf smart home devices as might be expected. That’s largely because they represent that single step: they’ve both opened potential customers’ eyes to the possibilities, while leaving them frustrated about how to move forward. “They’re increasing demand – homeowners are realising that these devices are not the panacea they were hoping for,” says James Ratcliffe, managing director, Homeplay, whose company is a CEDIA Member of Excellence. “They don’t want a bunch of disparate products that need constant attention; they want a curated, simple system that someone else looks after for them. Gadget fatigue is becoming a thing: consumers want the benefit that tech can bring to their lives, but they also want simplicity.” “These types of DIY-installed products have built the path for the professional smart home system,” echoes Charlie Kindel, chief product and technology
As consumers adopt more and more connected devices to their systems, they are realising that installing, updating, and managing them is not simplifying their lives, but instead complicating them” Charlie Kindel, SnapAV
officer at SnapAV, who merged with Control4 last year. “As consumers adopt more and more connected devices to their systems, they are realising that installing, updating and managing them is not simplifying their lives, but instead complicating them.”
Positive Steve Detmer, residential product manager at Lutron, is similarly positive about what he sees. “Off-the-shelf solutions are a good way for homeowners to dip their toes into the smart home ocean,” he believes. “They’re inexpensive, fun and easy to set up. They also offer installers a world of opportunities. These smart devices drive consumer awareness of smart home solutions and can work as a great entry point to introduce professional systems such as lighting, security, audio and HVAC.” “The beautiful thing about these devices is that they offer an entry point into the market,” adds Phillip Pini, head of residential sales UK for Technological Innovations Group (TIG), who has been working with Crestron products for over 25 years. “At TIG, we often see that clients start small before
expanding – for example, distributed audio can later be added to a wireless lighting system.” That positive outlook is reflected in research that CEDIA recently conducted for the UK home technology market, which found confidence high among participants. Some 80% expected to continue to grow their revenue over the next 12 months. The volume of projects is also showing steady growth. Sean Miller is electrician channel programme manager at building automation company Schneider Electric. “The smart home industry is growing at an exponential rate, with the market expected to grow by 22% year-on-year,” he notes. “This year, household penetration stands at 25% and is expected to rise to 45% by 2024. Other than long-term trends – namely lower product costs and the increasing demand for convenience – energy efficiency is a significant driver of change. With the UK required to meet its ambitious net-zero commitments over the next few decades, the government and consumers are under pressure to reduce energy bills and become more efficient.”
Proliferation Against that backdrop, and with the proliferation of devices and solutions from the likes of Apple, Amazon and Google at least somewhat responsible for driving the market, there are other factors in play too. “The smart home market is growing, and there are two key factors driving this: wireless technology and lower costs,” says Detmer. “Wireless residential technologies make it possible for existing homes to become smart homes, without the costly and messy remodel that would be required with cabling.
ABOVE: Control4’s OS 3 manages nearly 14,000 devices from hundreds of third-party manufacturers
And hardware is becoming more affordable, as the price of components, processing power and memory decrease.” “TIG is certainly seeing growth in this market, particularly where there is a desire for more unified, simpler integrated systems,” enthuses Pini. “It’s an exciting time for Crestron, with the launch of Crestron Home last year. The Crestron Home operating system allows for flexibility as product and technology continue to evolve. We’re seeing strong demand for this from clients and dealers.” For smart homes to take off, however, will necessitate not just the upgrade of existing properties: it will also be vital that the technology is embraced by new builds. “Smart home is also a selling point for new homes,” points out Mitchell Klein, executive director at the Z-Wave Alliance. “Developers and real estate groups are recognising the draw that smart home brings as it gains popularity, and they’re opting to add smart systems to new home builds or calling it out as a perk in realty listings.” Klein also notes the attraction of smart home technology to developers of, for example, multidwelling units – not only increasing their attractiveness to potential purchasers, but also to property managers with the remote management capability that smart home systems bring.
Wireless So, what’s hot – and what’s not as hot as it once was? Earlier, Detmer noted the transformative effect wireless technology is having on growth in the market – and returns to the theme. “Previously, hundreds of metres of cabling were used to connect all smart home devices, which 16
The smart home market is growing, and there are two key factors driving this: wireless technology and lower costs” Steve Detmer, Lutron would be controlled by specialised touch panels,” he explains. “This technology existed only in large, luxury, new-build homes. Today, most smart home devices are available in wireless formats, and wallmounted control interfaces are replaced by tablets, smartphones and smart speakers. Wireless may not sound brand new, but it is still the ‘hot’ technology driving the market.” Few would disagree that wireless is the future – but for Oz Yildirim, executive vice president and general manager of the Americas Business Unit at managed mesh WiFi company AirTies, there’s still much that can be done that will facilitate a seamless smart home experience. “One of the most significant shifts in the smart home is the role that Internet Service Providers are
Special report LEFT: The Crestron Home operating system, launched in 2019, is designed to allow for flexibility as product and technology continue to evolve
taking to ensure optimal performance of smart home devices,” he believes. “In addition to providing broadband services, many are now offering bundled home security packages and new whole-home, or 'Smart', WiFi services. Generally, these new Smart WiFi services can include upgraded software on the home modem/gateway; mesh extenders to reach every corner of the home; and management software that lets call centres and consumers manage all the devices running on the home network. This evolution means that service providers recognise that it is no longer good enough to bring Internet into the home. They must support a highquality experience throughout the home itself, on both devices they control and devices that consumers purchase for themselves.” What else is changing?
management devices,” he goes on. “Technology used to be siloed and thus have specialised touch points. Today, most smart home solutions are wireless, controllable through a mobile application.” “In terms of specific equipment,” he adds, “we see continued growth within wireless security systems whether they be alarms, CCTV or doorbells – and now we see physical door locks entering the market.” Ratcliffe also notes that his company Homeplay is seeing much less demand for TVs – and more demand for larger, higher quality screens. “Ten years ago,” he continues, “we were installing TVs in every bedroom – often upwards of 10 TVs in a project. Now, even in a very large house, it’s not uncommon to only have three TVs – but they’re bigger, better and augmented by great sound systems.”
And, according to Koen Dekyvere of home automation company Basalte, if you can’t make the technology disappear, the next best thing is to make it unobtrusive. “We’re seeing far more acceptance of iPads and smaller touchscreens in today’s luxury interiors,” he says. “It’s all about reducing wall clutter. Our Ellie touch panel for Basalte Home is an elegant, small yet very multifunctional touchscreen. It eliminates the need for having numerous buttons, indoor doorcom stations and thermostats on the wall, as it’s all combined in this multifunctional device, with no clutter.” Today, it’s clear that consumers are in love with voice as a way of interacting with their smart home devices. The novelty of asking Alexa to turn off the lounge lights still hasn’t worn off. But, if voice is the present – is it also the future? “I’m not even convinced voice control is the
“We’re seeing a lot of growth and a huge appetite for what the CEDIA channel can deliver,” smiles Ratcliffe. “Lighting and shading is a key area for us, as well as making technology invisible – plaster-in speakers, temperature sensors, light fittings, keypads, ventilation grilles, blind pockets, mains sockets – you name it. The more tech that CEDIA members can make disappear, the better it is for everyone.” Miller aligns himself with both Detmer and Ratcliffe. “Two things plummeting in popularity are wires and devices,” he says. “Today, consumers demand products that are easy to install, use and customise. Wireless technology has become ubiquitous across the smart market and will creep into more and more technologies.” “The second trend to disappear is multiple
present,” laughs Ratcliffe. “It’s not reliable or smart enough as it stands. Although companies like Josh.ai are making big steps forward, in my experience it’s just too flaky to be anything more than a toy or something to show off with. It will get better, and in a few years’ time I can see it becoming a key UI – but for the foreseeable future, I don’t think you can beat a thoughtfully engraved keypad or well-designed touch panel.” Others, however, are less certain that voice has much of a future as AI becomes increasingly embedded in how we do things – not least in our homes.
Machine learning “Voice control will become less of a necessity in the future smart home,” believes SnapAV’s Kindel. “In the future smart home, the platform will manage all connected devices within the home by using machine learning algorithms to provide intelligent recommendations and take action to streamline the home experience. The home’s predictive automation can take a wide range of actions based on an understanding of daily routines such as waking up, leaving, returning home and going to bed. For example, the home will begin to recognise the family’s bedtime routine and develop a scene to automatically manage temperature, lighting, audio and security settings based on learned preferences. The home will be able to analyse the data in the home just as a human would analyse the situation before making a decision, freeing up the homeowner from having to maintain the home routine and simplifying their daily task management. Tech companies are trying to get there, but there is still a lot of work to be done.” Detmer is in agreement. “Smart homes will continue to get smarter. Through enhanced algorithms, home automation will become autonomous, making informed decisions on behalf of the homeowner. Occupancy sensors may suggest a resident has left their home, triggering HVAC to reduce and lights to turn off. These systems will selfoptimise, to create the most comfortable, convenient and energy-efficient homes.” TIG’s Pini sees things the same way. “I think voice control has seen its heyday,” he declares, “but it has really helped to introduce home automation to the wider market. The next big thing is undoubtedly AI. I envisage a world where the home control system will learn our habits – it will turn your lights off when you’re sat on the sofa, it will turn the extractor fan on when you start cooking, it will select the TV channel you want to watch… It will be less about gesture and physical touch control, and more about learning patterns until, ultimately, a home is more aware of your daily routine than you are.”
Bright future 18
To date, there are a limited number of new products using WiFi 6, but in the coming years, it will accelerate dramatically” Oz Yildirim, AirTies For this brave new world to become a reality, however, assumes two things. The first is a higher degree of interoperability than is commonly the case today – and the second, even greater network capacity. On the latter point, AirTies’ Yildirim sees a bright future. “IoT in the residential market is still at an early stage,” he says. “In the coming years, more devices and home appliances will rely on internet connectivity. To support this trend, one of the newest innovations is occurring in WiFi, with the introduction of WiFi 6. In addition to increased speed and capacity, WiFi 6 products will be designed to support the growing density of connected devices within the home, delivering lower latency, enhanced battery life to IoT devices and reduced interference from neighbouring WiFi networks. To date, there are a limited number of new products using WiFi 6, but in the coming years, it will accelerate dramatically.” And interoperability? There’s widespread agreement that we’re not yet where we need to be – although huge strides have been made. “Interoperability among smart home products has evolved significantly over the last five years,” notes Kindel. “The presence of a robust and reliable smart home operating system, like Control4 OS 3, significantly boosts the interoperability between products within a home. OS 3 manages nearly 14,000 devices from hundreds of third-party manufacturers.”
Ecosystems “Z-Wave is one of the largest interoperable smart home ecosystems on the market today,” points out Klein, “with over 3,200 certified and interoperable products – and Z-Wave can be found in more than 90% of the home security market. We’ve also taken recent steps to ensure that interoperability continues to be a priority for the smart home: in December 2019, we announced along with Z-Wave silicon provider, Silicon Labs, that we are opening the Z-Wave network
ABOVE: Z-Wave Alliance member Flex Automation provided smart home solutions that substantially increased the saleability of luxury apartments in Brazil
layer and communication protocol for the Z-Wave specification, making it available to new kinds of vendors like the semiconductor and software supplier community.” Basalte too sees the benefit of industry standards in facilitating interoperability. “Our solutions and products are designed and built for larger residential projects,” explains Dekyvere, “founded on a separate home automation network using the KNX standard and an integrated but dedicated audio network for streaming music over the network.” This approach, he points out, also means that impact on the standard home network is minimised. Dekyvere also stresses the effort Basalte puts into ensuring the seamless integration of third-party offerings. “If we’re including new devices in our programming software, it means we’ve thoroughly tested them and we’ve done everything to ensure the solution will work flawlessly and for the long run,” he notes.
Key Points • Smart home devices from Amazon, Apple and Google are encouraging consumers to want more from their smart homes • Wireless is a key enabler in minimising the cost and disruption of installing smart devices • The industry has made strides in interoperability – but it is a work in progress • The smart homes of the future will not be driven by voice: AI will automate many functions
as with network bandwidth, we’ll soon have what we need. Not least, there is agreement that, to make the smart homes of the future a reality, there will be a vital role for skilled integrators.
There is, then, much agreement among the industry that the growth in smart homes is being driven by devices that might otherwise have been seen as a threat. What consumers want from their smart homes is evolving. Many see voice as a short-term fad that will ultimately be replaced by truly smart, AI-based systems that will know what we want before we know it ourselves. Similarly, there is acceptance that, as far as we may have come in terms of interoperability, there is still a distance to travel – but,
www.airties.com www.basalte.be www.cedia.net www.homeplay.tv www.lutron.com www.se.com www.snapaav.com www.tig.eu www.z-wave.com
Smooth crossover? ABOVE: There is now a greater emphasis on interior design for residential installs
The temptation for commercial integrators to move into residential CI is strong, but just how close are these installation stablemates? Steve May talks to those already playing on both sides
oes the residential install market represent an untapped opportunity for commercial integrators looking to diversify? And equally, could CI pros expand their horizon (and bottom line) by taking on commercial projects? To find out, we quizzed those already straddling the divide. The heartbeat of residential install certainly appears strong. Even back in 2018, when trade body CEDIA issued its last Size and Scope market report, high-end home theatre installs recorded 9% revenue
growth Y-o-Y. Multiroom audio was also on an even keel, with wireless growing rapidly. Now, with ongoing advances in UHD OTT services and more ubiquitous high-resolution streaming audio services, both have most likely continued to boom. The TVD Group owns both Nirvana AV, an awardwinning custom install operation, and TVC Technology Solutions, a specialist in commercial install projects. Consequently, Daniel Hill, marketing executive for the group, is well versed in the
Residential integration challenges unique to both environments. Contrary to popular opinion, no one residential project is the same. “It’s always an exciting challenge to truly understand what a customer is looking for,” says Hill. “They obviously have some idea of what they want when we first meet, but once we start discussing the possibilities available to them there’s a lot of excitement in the room.” Seeing a project develop from initial consultation to delivery is the most rewarding part of the job, he says, confirming multiroom audio systems, home security and bespoke home cinemas are very much in vogue. Home automation has followed a similar trajectory to smartphones, he notes. “Once deemed a high-end luxury, it’s now very much part of the mainstream. We don’t expect this trend to slow down.” “Smart home automation is becoming less about functionality and more about lifestyle. We’re seeing quite a few trends driving it – customisation and home security, smart lighting, heating and occupancy simulation. We’re also placing a greater emphasis on interior design…”
Speed of change No surprise then that automated TV lifts and hidden screens behind artwork are becoming extremely popular. “We’re a Control4 Platinum dealer, and this has allowed us to become expert in the capabilities of what that software offers. It allows us to integrate what seems like an endless list of devices, so we’re always able to adapt quickly and offer our customers the latest technology.” One perennial trait of the residential market, is speed of change. The team at Nirvana AV are constantly reviewing new technologies. “We approach each project listening to what our customers want from their home automation and then advise on what we can do.” The key is to have an open conversation, says Hill. One positive aspect impacting residential install is the move to single, ubiquitous control. “We’re now installing systems that allow us to control various aspects of home automation, rather than requiring lots of equipment to control devices separately. New equipment is usually widely compatible with thirdparty control,” he adds. “As a Control4 Platinum dealer, our engineers are fully trained and know the platform inside-out, so once we see a new technology on the horizon, we’re fully prepared to advise our customers should they want to include it in their home automation system.” Systems integrator ProAV also straddles the commercial and residential divide. Mark Roberts, residential sales manager, estimates that the residential sector will account for between 10% and 15% of his company’s annual turnover in 2020. “Our residential department is growing rapidly,” he says.
Comparable challenges Roberts continues: “From a technology mindset, the skillsets are similar, they just require a different approach. Yes, there are unique elements to residential work, but overall the challenges are comparable.” When it comes to trends in residential AV, Roberts confirms that there’s a strong focus on control and automation. “Right now we are seeing lighting/ building management system control becoming an essential part of any resi wishlist.” Other changes to the CI market have centred around the convergence of AV and IT, and the increase of IoT devices connecting to the network. “Consumers are looking for smarter homes ‘out of the box’ solutions to deliver the customisation they want.” So how does the move to fewer, more widereaching residential control systems affect the job of the integrator?
Commercial AV is far more prone to the effects of economic impacts, geopolitical conflicts, and investor confidence” Nic Black, The Pyramid Group “In many ways it’s creating a clear differentiator. Technology will always develop and as a result expand availability of mass-market products that provide similar solutions. In the case of control solutions, it simply means you can either have an offthe-shelf product or a bespoke user interface. We lead with Crestron because it showcases unique user interfaces and the true extent of control possibilities enabled by our programmers.” CEDIA member The Pyramid Group puts its business split at 70/30, in favour of commercial work. “In terms of value, the commercial side is much higher than residential,” says managing director Nic Black. “The crossovers are visible between each sector, in terms of good practice for networking, rack building, installation standards and so on, but generally speaking, approaches differ in respect of products specified and levels of third-party integration.” A commercial installation will generally feature minimal AV hardware integration alongside shading
and lighting but not much more, says Black, whereas residential is all about integration. “The aim is to provide a seamless, easy-to-use lifestyle benefit for the homeowner.” These are two very different approaches and outcomes, he says. Crucial differentiators between the two disciplines could be described as fun and function, suggests Black. “The use of tech in the home should be about making life easier and more enjoyable for the end user. The challenge is to make sure that technology is integrated in the most sympathetic and considered manner.” Aesthetics, reliability and ease of use are key, he says. “We’ve moved away from the days when over complicated and ultimately disappointing systems were the norm. High-end spaces are now about hiding the technology and focusing on the use of beautiful interior design and lighting.” That said, commercial integration is seen as the more volatile of the two specialisms. “Commercial AV is far more prone to the effects of economic impacts, geo-political conflicts and investor confidence,” cautions Black. “Commercial companies will react to these conditions more readily and capital projects can be delayed as a result. We certainly saw that over the past few years as a result of Brexit uncertainty! On the other hand, the high-end residential market has probably never seen the same responses as it tends to be isolated by definition.”
Common thread So just how easy is it to flit between commercial AV and home projects? “The common thread is a need to understand networks and how they function,” explains Garth Lobban, director of marketing for Atlona. “The typical commercial AV integrator has quite a bit of experience by now, but many custom installers are still learning how to manage the 22
networking aspect in a residential system.” Lobban says there’s a compelling new middle ground for what he dubs ‘light commercial’ emerging in the US. These commercial projects typically represent sports bars, restaurants and smaller entertainment venues, but are not dissimilar to residential systems as they carry TV signals, video streams and audio to displays and loudspeakers – only at greater scale. “Light commercial projects are closer to distributed AV systems in homes than what you see in large commercial AV projects for schools, corporations and larger arenas and stadiums,” he says. Generally speaking, the skillsets are different, he insists, and firms rarely go back and forth between the two, “but we are seeing more custom installers gravitating to light commercial work, because that’s increasingly where the business is moving.” So what integration challenges are unique to residential environments? Often it comes down to the basics, suggests Lobban. “The need to work within spaces not designed for cabling infrastructure has historically been our greatest residential challenge. Where can cables be run and hidden from sight?” This isn’t the case in commercial environments, he says. “There’s an understanding that signals need to be transported from one point to another, and wires are the most effective means of transport. We have drop ceilings that allow for hidden cable paths; there’s an acceptance for conduit in plain sight when necessary.” This isn’t the case in residential, he says, where cables need to be out of sight. “Moving to wireless might solve that problem on the surface, but this introduces additional challenges with network coverage, speed and management. That’s why networking knowledge nearly matches cabling infrastructure as the top residential installation challenge!”
ABOVE: The introduction of 4K was an infamous pain point when it came to signal distribution in the home
Driving engagement As for trends driving engagement, they can vary, suggests Lobban. “Security is certainly a primary draw. That said, there are significant opportunities for AV in larger homes with their expanded number of entertainment spaces. A lot of it comes down to the customer base the installer is serving.” The introduction of 4K was an infamous pain point when it came to signal distribution in the home. Now 8K is threatening to do the same again, but the lack of any content means there’s little for the trade to worry about at present, he suggests. “There were some challenges that came with the new technology in terms of constant updates to interface standards, content protection schemes, and successful communication between sources and sinks,” recalls Lobban, “but there was also a lack of 4K content. We are now seeing broader adoption of UHD as older 1080p systems are showing some age. Technology is better implemented and content has caught up to the
capabilities of the displays and sources.” That’s not the case yet with 8K, he adds. “I’m sure the technology will bring amazing images and clarity, an improved visual experience. However, there’s a long way to go before the broadcasters, cable and satellite systems, streaming devices and the media players can support 8K source material. We have an opportunity to treat our customers to a better experience if we let systems evolve organically and not rush them towards the next big thing.” The real onus should be on improving the user experience on the commercial AV side, he says. While AV over IP has traction in the commercial, and those ‘light’ commercial spaces, there remains an emphasis on matrixed solutions to serve HDBaseT and HDMI signals across multiple rooms in the home. MSolutions, supplier of HDBaseT system testers among other AV tools, says demand from residential and commercial customers is split roughly 50/50. CTO Ariel Marcus reports growing interest in its
The need to work within spaces not designed for cabling infrastructure has historically been our greatest residential challenge” Garth Lobban, Atlona
testers from custom installers serving the residential market, eager to identify the capabilities of HDMI cables. “Both sectors are working through many of the same installation challenges and looking to solve many of the same problems,” he says.
Higher demands “The residential sector has higher demands for resolution; it needs 4K HDR for Apple TV, Netflix and Amazon Prime. In commercial AV, up to 4K resolution, FHD is common.” Marcus also identifies infrastructure as an ongoing vexation for residential integrators. “Custom installers must determine if the proper infrastructure is placed to support high-end AV systems. Even if it is, there’s the question of whether it can properly be used. In many residences, especially older buildings, it’s a big challenge to pull and install new cables. Often the installer needs to secure licensing for permission to even do the work.” Conversely on the commercial side, more often
than not an Ethernet-based LAN infrastructure is already in place. “If not, replacing the wiring inside an office, for example, is a fairly standard job,” he shrugs. It’s not just movies and TV driving high-end AV, observes Marcus. “Gaming is a big factor, as platforms like PlayStation and Xbox already use very high, 4K HDR resolution. There’s also strong demand for integrating high-quality, multiroom audio systems within the smart home environment.” As for the future, and 8K, Marcus has little doubt that’s the direction of travel, “but the most important element to consider is network infrastructure capacity. That means more bandwidth in the core. Most AV systems use Cat6 or Cat6a network cabling to carry signals today. Whether they’re using HDBaseT or AV over IP, they should already be considering a migration to Cat7 and higher.”
Further reading We are continuing our residential AV coverage with a series of online features. For more visit: www.installation-international.com
www.atlona.com www.m4sol.com www.proav.com www.thepyramidgroup.co.uk www.tvdgroup.co.uk
Developing workflows The concept of the digital workplace – in which modern technologies are combined seamlessly for faster and more collaborative working – has been a hot industry topic for years. Now it’s gaining fresh impetus from the need for more remote working, writes David Davies 26
s with all umbrella terms, a number of definitions have grown up around ‘digital workplaces’. While some emphasise a level of interconnectedness that enables more effective solo working and collaboration, others focus on the emergence of a new overall computing environment that draws on a greater number of consumer-like devices. But for its allencompassing nature, the description offered by Deloitte’s is hard to beat: “The digital workplace encompasses all the technologies people use to get work done in today’s workplace – both the ones in operation and the ones yet to be implemented. It ranges from
Digital workplaces your HR applications and core business applications to email, instant messaging, enterprise social media tools and virtual meeting tools.” The one element that is underplayed by this description is remote working. Increasingly, many companies need to incorporate remote working into daily working operations as well as various conference and meeting scenarios. Needless to say, the current coronavirus crisis is encouraging many companies to review their remote working capabilities with some urgency – more of which anon. Acknowledging that all firms have at least some degree of digital operation, the picture that emerges is one of a trend gradually – and often systematically – reshaping our working lives. The main issues that tend to be hindering progress are too many organisations using multiple communications platforms, insufficiently early collaboration between AV and IT teams, and a failure to plan adequately for how work patterns might evolve in the future.
Digital dividend So if it’s possible to generalise, how far has the business world progressed towards realising the ideal of the digital workplace? Jim Fitton, head of solutions at AV specialist Electrosonic, says: “Like many organisations moving along the ‘digital workplace’ road, many will have already gone through the process of updating their technology hardware within the business to support a more collaborative workplace. The next step is to fix a single software platform to allow communication with anyone, anywhere, using any device. Some businesses have moved over to Microsoft Teams. However they may be experiencing team members who still want to use Zoom and other platforms as they are more familiar with them. This, therefore, demonstrates the need to offer sufficient training and support to help drive user adoption.” Hence, advice to clients looking to implement trouble-free digital workplaces would be to “make a decision around the [communications] platform and also think about some wider investments in standardising the technology available to individuals. For instance, going down the single cable BYOD meeting room route is only viable if everyone has a device capable of supporting it. There may need to be a more fundamental refresh of users’ devices before a single, unified software solution can be successfully deployed. In larger organisations, software and hardware may not even be managed by the same groups.” It is vital, therefore, “to have those fundamental conversations about software and hardware early on”.
In the future we will also see increasing use of off-the-shelf hardware, so I think AV integrators will have to become more involved in software licensing” Kevin Madeja, Snelling Snelling Business Systems is a UK-based systems integrator for whom corporate projects now account for approximately 50% of its workload. Kevin Madeja, the company’s technical director, says it is increasingly the case that “companies are seeing extensive roll-outs” of technologies aimed at creating upscale digital environments. Invited to outline what now constitutes a ‘state-ofthe-art’ digital workplace, Madeja says there will invariably be “a focus on end-points, including displays, speakers, microphones, cameras and insert points for BYOD, as well as the integration of wireless or wired PCs. Whereas a few years ago there was a tendency to spend big money on [dedicated switches], more and more customers are using existing IP infrastructures. It’s also the case that, in a lot of instances, they are using software to do what hardware used to do, while collaboration is increasingly centred around the use of Microsoft Teams, Zoom or Go To Meeting.” Above all, Madeja stresses that the concept of the digital workplace is evolving to become more about the customer requirements than the actual technology. “With most people now it’s not about the technology so much – it’s about what they need to do and how they wish to work. It’s very much application-driven, so the [chosen AV systems] are regarded in the corporate environment as tools to accomplish primary business goals – whether you are a service provider, in banking or selling cars.”
FAR LEFT: Remote and flexible working are becoming the new normal, according to Poly
Essential planning With the importance of corporate objectives in mind, all contributors to this feature emphasised the make-or-break nature of having a welldeveloped plan in place – including consideration of
ABOVE: Snelling created workspaces geared to support the creativity and collaboration of the 400 staff at gaming company Frontier
how work patterns might develop in the future – from day one. “A company needs to have a firm sense of the workflows it requires, and how the different technologies will come together to support them,” says Madeja, adding that this becomes evermore critical as project size grows – and for Snelling its corporate workload increasingly entails “large deployments of sometimes 35 or 50 spaces, encompassing meeting, collaborative and event rooms.” Fitton emphasises that as well as the choice of equipment and scale of the investment, companies developing digital workplaces should think carefully about “logistics and planning. Management and storage of data is another very important issue, especially if there is going to be [a lot of remote working]. And then once the equipment has been installed, everyone has to feel comfortable with it to get the most out of the investment – and that means having access to the training and support they need.” Several of these aspects become more challenging as additional remote working enters the
picture – something that, for many companies, is currently becoming a significant new priority.
Remote working and BYOD With many European countries in near-total lockdown at the time of writing, there has been a call from the UK government to allow people to work from home as much as possible. In just a few weeks, says Fitton, “we have noticed a change in the nature of customer conversations [about remote working]. It’s gone from being a ‘nice to have’ in some cases to more of a ‘must have’, with companies wanting to support more people working at home, and for longer periods.” A fairly swift and dramatic surge in the amount of work being done from home may pose several fundamental challenges to the digital workplace. “If you suddenly have a majority of people working from home, bandwidth becomes an issue as not all people will be provisioned for it,” says Fitton. “Also, if you have a set-up whereby people are dialling into VPNs, it may be that you don’t have enough concurrent VPN subscriptions. There are
Digital workplaces also implications for the data infrastructures as there may not be sufficient bandwidth there to support lots of remote users accessing files and moving them around. So the big overriding question to ask here is: can my infrastructure actually support this?” The issue of remote workers and data access becomes even more acute in sectors such as legal and financial services. They may find that a thirdparty cloud-based solution is not only undesirable, but actually incompatible with their regulatory framework. More sensitive data types “do provide an argument for having locally hosted storage and management, and for some clients that can really be the only palatable way of having these capabilities. So while they will also definitely want to ensure they have sufficient bandwidth to support everyone dialling into their VMR [and other resources], they can also ensure they have proper ownership of everything within their own walls – and make sure they meet their governance requirements and all the regular checks and balances.” Madeja agrees that many companies are now looking to extend their use of remote working and, as much as possible, have the same capabilities for meeting and collaboration that they enjoy in the office. “Remote working is often a matter of routine, meaning that for instance people want to be able to join a Zoom meeting or work with Microsoft Teams from wherever they are, be it in a meeting room, on a laptop remotely, or using their mobile devices. The job of AV is to provide the systems and services that allow all of this to happen effectively and efficiently.”
Solutions for more flexible working For collaboration-oriented communications company Poly, the remote and BYOD trends are symptomatic of an overall desire for more flexible working. Paul Clark, senior vice president EMEA managing director at Poly, observes that “with only 6% of people in the UK working a traditional 9am to 5pm work day [source: 2018 YouGov survey], remote and flexible working are becoming the new normal. We live at a time where we have come to expect technology to work fast and effectively, and in exactly the way we expect and want it to. Onetouch ordering in our consumer lives has led to the expectation that this convenience should also feature in the workplace. [As a result] organisations are having to adapt to the growing demand for flexible working and employees using their own devices for work.” A major focus of Poly’s R&D, therefore, remains the development of technologies that “allow employees to integrate their own technology devices into enterprise settings. For the mobile
worker, the Poly Elara [mobile phone station] turns your smartphone into a desktop collaboration experience with a headset, built-in speakerphone, handset and dial pad for complete versatility. With no wires beyond a power cable and integration of popular apps like Microsoft Teams, it’s a great solution for hotdesking and shared facilities that prioritises the individual and their productivity in the workspace above all else.”
Key Points • A primary communications platform, standardised devices and high-quality displays and speakers are among the cornerstones of the digital workplace • Coronavirus is encouraging a renewed emphasis on remote working, with many companies looking to put systems in place that render this more routine • Effective data access, management and security are integral to the successful realisation of a digital workplace concept • The integration of BYOD into corporate environments is informing a new wave of R&D as more companies look to work more flexibly
Digital workplaces Newer types of workspace are also informing solutions development. For instance, “with the rise of huddle rooms we’re also seeing the popularity of plug-and-play video bars like the Poly Studio X that don’t require any special apps, tools or software for users to share content wirelessly via their own devices. This enables convenient collaboration for those in the room or attending remotely. There continue to be instances, however, where “enterprise-grade solutions are far superior to BYOD consumer technology. Poly headsets such as the Voyager and the Savi range combine highquality audio with best-of-breed noise-block and acoustic fence technologies to reduce background noise and distractions that many consumer headsets don’t”.
Service and support So what of the future? Several new or emerging technologies – including UHD displays (both 4K and 8K) and VR – seem likely to add to the potential complexity of digital workspaces, especially in areas of business where visualisations and higher resolutions can add significantly to the effectiveness of projects. But increasingly, it is likely
to be service and support where systems integrators and service providers can derive the greatest benefit. Madeja says he is already observing “reduced expenditure on hardware, and where money is being spent it is often in a more concentrated way. In the future we will also see increasing use of offthe-shelf hardware, so I think AV integrators will have to become more involved in software licensing. Then there will be the whole issue of ongoing service and support.” Fitton agrees that there will continue to be significant opportunities in the long-term service and support of digital workplace customers, especially as remote working becomes more habitual. He concludes: “From fault detection and system management to ensuring that people are trained and empowered to be able to use systems in and out of the office, there will be a lot of scope [for ongoing support arrangements] as the digital workplace continues to evolve.” www.electrosonic.com www.poly.com www.snellingbiz.com
Case Study: ‘The main thing is collaboration’ Making it easier for employees to collaborate within a newly combined global HQ in Cambridge was the primary driver behind a major project initiated by life sciences company Abcam. With four previously separate facilities now brought under one roof, the firm was keen to enable ‘agile’ working among teams variously supporting R&D, laboratory, logistics, corporate and commercial functions. Systems integrator Snelling Business Systems was engaged to help deliver the ambitious new facility, which includes no fewer than 37 glass-walled meeting rooms specified to meet the requirements of informal, face-to-face interactions between small and mid-sized groups of between two and eight people. Each room includes NEC displays and speakers for presentation purposes, as well as Crestron room booking screens featuring status illumination and Crestron touchpanels with environmental controls, while there is also integration with lighting PIRs to release the room when an event does not take place as planned. Meanwhile, the audio installations in these rooms include QSC ceiling speakers, Shure table microphones and Crestron amplifiers. The set-ups in the three standardised conference rooms are similarly impressive. Designed for larger groups with more advanced collaboration requirements, the three rooms incorporate audio and video conferencing controlled by Crestron. Each facility also features two 84in NEC Infinity
Boards, supported by 55in NEC FHD displays for breakout, as well as Bose Panaray and QSC speakers, QSC PTZ cameras and Shure ceiling array microphones, among many other items of equipment. A games room, logistics office and cafe/coffee bar were among the other spaces covered by the project, which witnessed a high-level of collaboration between Snelling Business Systems and Abcam. As Ian Smith, IT project manager at Abcam, reflects: “I have no hesitation in stating that this has been the most inspirational development project we have undertaken with AV and look forward to growing the relationship and technology delivery to our other offices. It was a real pleasure to work with such a diligent professional team of individuals.”
Transform your workspace Through a new partnership between AVI-SPL and Igloo Vision, any meeting room or office space can double-up as an immersive workspace – enabling teams of people to engage with a complete range of interactive enterprise applications
A new immersive workspace solution from Igloo Vision enables users to engage with any type of 360°, VR or immersive content. It is a bit like stepping into a giant VR headset and, because entire teams can get inside, it is ideal for collaborative teamwork. Clients such as Accenture, Dell, Microsoft and NTT have installed Igloo systems in their offices and innovation hubs. Through the partnership with AVISPL, it is now possible to retrofit the Igloo technology in any existing room, irrespective of its size, shape, or dimensions. This means that any meeting room or office space can now double-up as an immersive workspace. The solution facilitates the emerging trend for immersive workspaces, which is being discussed by several technology analysts and service providers. For
example, Gartner has named immersive workspaces as a technology CIOs should be actively investigating in 2020, and suggests that “immersive technologies, such as augmented and virtual reality are ready for mainstream businesses for training and immersive conference room services”. Also, in its technology predictions for 2020, NTT talks of immersive, responsive ‘phygital’ spaces, where the physical world blends with the digital. A core component of the offering is the ICE Box, Igloo’s custom-built media server. Whereas systems integrators have traditionally relied on a standard AV server to create immersive installations, the ICE Box offers a wide range of additional Shared VR functionality – for example, integration with game engines and visualisation tools (which you get
from Igloo Realtime), the ability to play content simultaneously in headsets on immersive screens and the Igloo (which you get from Igloo VR Spectator), the ability to interface with a range of VR controllers (which you get with Igloo Interact), and the ability to display web pages and cloud-based content (which you get from Igloo Web). The solution comes with a broad scope of customisation capability as the user can have whatever tools, applications and content they want on the walls thanks to the content-agnostic platform. The solution is also more costeffective than other competitor offerings, further increasing the ROI. And usability has been considered at every point, it’s easy to operate the technology and make and format content (using everyday tools like the Office365, Google and Adobe suites). To deliver the solution commercially, AVI-SPL and Igloo Vision will use a combination of Lidar scanning and artificial intelligence to map a room, create a bespoke projection template, specify the right projectors and projection points, and configure the Igloo ICE Box. This will enable the process of retrofitting an existing space to be largely automated and industrialised, which minimises the cost and speeds up the installation process. For those interested in a bespoke immersive workplace solution, Igloo Vision is offering demos in its offices in the UK, US, Canada and Australia. www.igloovision.com/immersiveworkspaces
A new vision for sustainable stadiums Incorporating low-carbon construction methods and operational processes, Forest Green Rovers’s Eco Park stadium is set to mark a new milestone for eco-friendly sports venues. David Davies finds out more from project masterminds Zaha Hadid Architects
ABOVE: Stadium exterior © Renderby-MIR
ecember 2019 brought the news that the intended new home of League Two football team Forest Green Rovers (FGR) in Gloucestershire, UK, had been granted planning permission. The announcement attracted considerable media attention, and no wonder: not only will the venue be the world’s first stadium made almost entirely out of wood, it will be built using lowcarbon construction processes and form the centrepiece of a broader Eco Park project incorporating sustainably developed commercial offices and light industrial units. In a video interview on the club’s website FGR chairman Dale Vince said he expected the development to take “several years – I think it’s going to take us a year of detailed design work [alone]. The
best case [scenario for the opening date] is three years if we started tomorrow.” While the project is undoubtedly ambitious, its eco-minded nature will come as no surprise to longterm followers of the club. Its primary sponsor is Ecotricity – a locally-based company selling green energy primarily generated using its 87.2 megawatt wind power portfolio – while in 2017 it was officially recognised as the world’s first vegan football club. That decision was taken, it said, “because of the huge environmental and animal welfare impacts of livestock farming, as well as to improve player performance”.
‘A holistic vision’ Masterminding the design of the new venue is Zaha
Eco Park, UK
Hadid Architects (ZHA), the internationally renowned practice established by architect Zaha Hadid, who passed away in 2016. Hadid herself worked on the design before her death in conjunction with Patrik Schumacher. The company’s impressively diverse portfolio includes a number of major sports venues, including the Al Janoub Stadium – which was inaugurated last year and was the first new stadium to be commissioned for the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar – and the Bergisel Ski Jump in Austria. For the FGR stadium ZHA has worked with the club’s owners to establish “a holistic vision for the site to retain its pastoral qualities while adding new facilities for the town. While the stadium will be the centrepiece, the project creates a new public realm
with both recreational and occupational uses, enabling the entire site to contribute to the town – not only on match days, but every day of the year.” Speaking to Installation, ZHA project director for the stadium Jim Heverin said that the project “continues FGR’s ambitions to be an eco-friendly team at the heart of a vibrant community. The design is inspired by the concept of striation – an organic volume sliced into segments creating a ring of narrow structural members that define the overall volume of the building but are lightweight and organic.” Minimising energy consumption and maximising sustainability are integral to the entire development. “As the energy consumption of sports stadiums is dominant, our target was designing the stadium with the lowest CO2 (embodied) of all. Therefore, the
Eco Park, UK
stadium design incorporates lightweight timber materials, it is naturally lit and ventilated, and also designed for reuse.” Elaborating on the construction materials, Heverin says that the roof structure, bowl and seating will be timber procured from sustainable sources. “Timber is durable, recyclable and beautiful, and the fabrication process of timber construction enables the use of unique shapes with little increase in cost,” he observes.
Reducing carbon emissions The use of a lightweight roof membrane as opposed to cladding is projected to save 30% of emissions in construction by reducing the weight required to be supported by the foundations, while the timber structure is set to save an extra 20% of emissions. The benefits will continue long after construction, with Heverin noting that it will be “orientated for best daylight [due to the inclusion of] naturally-vented enclosures with added smart controls and photovoltaic cells. The Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) emission factor of most stadiums is between 360 34
and 1,300kg of CO2e per seat. The LCA emission factor of the new FGR stadium is calculated to be only 200kg of CO2e per seat.” Inside the stadium, Heverin notes that FGR will utilise “smart, self-learning systems to manage all electrical demand” – ensuring that energy is only used when and where it is required. This allencompassing vision also includes a continuation of the club’s long-running commitment to recycling. “For many years FGR has established a comprehensive approach to resource consumption and recycling, including anaerobic digestion of all grass and food waste to generate energy and provide fertiliser and water for on-site growing of vegetables,” says Heverin. “FGR is targeting net zero waste water and anaerobic digestion that includes reedbed waste processing and extensive water monitoring to reduce demand. The stadium’s roof is specially designed to maximise rainwater capture.” Evidently relishing the scale and ambition of the project, Heverin also notes that it is benefiting from deep collaboration with FGR’s leadership. “The club’s chairman, Dale Vince, is also head of Ecotricity and is very engaged with the stadium project,” he confirms. As regular readers of Installation will be aware, the number of stadium projects with strong environmental considerations has risen dramatically during recent times. From the Melbourne Rectangular Stadium – with its reduced reliance on grid electricity and rainwater harvesting system – to the Meadowlands Stadium in the US featuring 40,000 tons of recycled steel and the extensive use of recycled plastic, there have been no shortage of landmark projects blending cutting edge design with long-term concepts for sustainability.
Further reading The subject of green AV is up for discussion throughout the month at www.installationinternational.com, including a look at the steps the industry is taking to be more sustainable and how manufacturers are responding to end user demands for products that have less of an impact on the environment
© Zaha Hadid Architects, Render-by-negativ.com
Eco Park, UK
Thanks not only to its nearly-all-wooden design and low carbon vision, but its role as part of a wider community initiative that could ultimately lead to the creation of as many as 4,000 jobs, the Forest Green Rovers stadium arguably sets a new standard for sustainable venues. It will be fascinating to see FGR and ZHA’s concept become reality over the next few years. www.zaha-hadid.com
A leading European cinema chain has installed 100 displays inside Norwayâ€™s newest and most state-of-the-art entertainment complex. Jo Ruddock finds out more 36
or nearly 100 years, ODEON has been a leading household name among moviegoers in the UK, Ireland and, more recently, Norway (ODEON Kino). From its humble beginnings in the British town of Dudley in the West Midlands, the cinema chain has expanded to cover more than 140 locations, including 122 in the UK, making it one of the largest cinema chains in Europe, showing thousands of movies every day on more than 800 screens. Cutting-edge technology now plays a crucial role in the customer experience in ODEON cinemas, not just inside the auditorium, but in the surrounding
areas too. Whether it’s the main entrance, the waiting areas, on food and beverage stands and even in the restrooms, digital displays are now prominent throughout ODEON cinemas, with digital signage, interactive displays and LED providing an array of different functions. Jon Einar Sivertsen, chief commercial officer at ODEON Kino, comments: “ODEON´s mission is to create entertainment experiences for every guest. The experience is not just about the movie but includes the impression you get from the minute you walk through the doors to the moment you leave.”
ODEON Kino, Oslo
i-Maximum impact As in the UK, Norway is experiencing a continued and substantial rise in demand at the cinema box office, having seen revenues top NEK1.3 billion in 2019 (around £104 million). So, when ODEON – now owned by AMC Theatres – started planning in 2015 to open a brand-new, purpose-built venue in Oslo, housed inside a newly developed section of a large-scale shopping centre and hotel facility, it was important to make an impact and stand out from the usual suspects already operating in the Norwegian capital. In addition to featuring Dolby Atmos audio, 4K resolution and LUXE seating, the new cinema is also Norway’s first commercial iMAX and, with 14 screens, it’s the largest of its kind in the country. With such technical advancements and luxuries throughout the cinema, it was important that every aspect of communication within the premises reflected its premium status.
boosting customer engagement and retention. What’s more the Philips displays also allow for instantly updateable content, including menu offers and promotions, while providing valuable opportunities to create and provide custom content during, for example, corporate events and special movie premiere nights. Furthermore, the entire set-up is fully compatible with ODEON’s existing Scala software, allowing for remote content updates and automated ticketing from a central location. Sivertsen adds: “The cinema is well covered with digital screens that make it easy to keep a fresh communication in everyday business and especially on events and premieres. “A fully digitalised customer communication platform, all gathered in one solution, gives the
Transformers With ODEON regularly updating its cinemas with the latest AV technologies, coupled with opening new venues – the company has an internal AV integration team of experts, who turned to Philips Professional Display Solutions (Philips PDS) to fulfil its stringent digital signage needs. Combining wow-factor entertainment with potentially lucrative marketing messages, ODEON’s requirements included 100 displays being installed to create a consistent, premium digital experience outside its main auditoriums. These included Philips PDS’ Ultra HD U-Line and Full HD Q-Line displays used in a combination of single screen and videowall installs. With sizes up to 98in and designed for 24/7 use, Philips Professional Display Solutions’ connected network of displays were selected due to their size and durability. In place of traditional motionless paper posters, displays were chosen to bring movies to life in highdefinition video and audio, maximising visitor engagement by showing the latest movie trailers, in-house promotions (such as ticket information) and other marketing messages. The displays also remove the need for regular poster changes, ensuring marketing materials are always up to date. Using Philips PDS’ built-in CMND content management and control software, the content on all displays can be created, loaded and monitored entirely remotely, whether it’s on site, or, if desired, from a centralised location.
Raising the bar In ODEON Kino, the upstairs bar was also fitted with digital screens for mood enhancement, displaying a variety of entertainment for customers to enjoy, 38
cinema extraordinary flexibility to adjust the communication linked to the kind of film or corporate event at the cinema. The massive coverage of screens allows the cinema to change profile and adapt to the target audience at every given situation, for that little extra touch. The result makes the experience complete, with no additional staffing cost for rearranging traditional posters and displays.” Philips PDS’ sales manager in Norway, Espen Bjornes, comments: “We’re delighted to have been part of such an exciting project with one of Europe’s, arguably the world’s, most iconic cinema chains in this incredible new venue in a thriving market. “ODEON has built its reputation on providing the highest quality movie experience and we’re proud to have helped ensure that experience continues throughout all customer facing areas.” philips.com/pds.
BELOW: ODEON Kino is Norway’s first commercial iMAX and is the largest of its kind in the country
Wireless L sharing A new active learning space at one of the world’s leading business schools offers students expanded connectivity and a variety of collaboration options. Olivia Brady reports 40
ondon Business School (LBS) is consistently ranked as one of the world’s leading business schools. Focused on postgraduate business education, the school offers MBA, Masters and PhD degrees, as well as a selection of short courses designed for executives. More than 12,000 students and executives from around the globe participate in the school’s degree and executive education programmes each year, with over 45,000 alumni from 155 countries having earned degrees at LBS. Collaboration and innovation are crucial in achieving the school’s goals of helping individuals thrive while having profound impacts on the way the world does business.
Active learning initiative In 2018, LBS started planning a new active learning classroom at its flagship Regent’s Park campus in the heart of London. Co-operating closely with integrator GV Multimedia, the school created a pilot space where they could install and evaluate technologies from multiple vendors. Following months of extensive testing, LBS chose WolfVision’s vSolution MATRIX, an AV over IP-based collaboration solution. vSolution MATRIX uses multiple WolfVision Cynap
London Business School
wired HDMI connections as desired. The main Cynap configuration at the lecturer desk includes two HDMI inputs, but no such interfaces are built into the Cynap Core units at the student workstations. WolfVision recommended Magewell’s plug-andplay USB Capture HDMI external video grabbers to provide the reliable HDMI connectivity LBS sought. Featuring broad signal compatibility and automatic input format detection for ease of use, the Magewell devices enable the vSolution MATRIX system to bring in HDMI sources through the Cynap Core units’ standard USB 3.0 port. Each of LBS’ 32 Cynap Core systems is now equipped with its own USB Capture HDMI device.
and Cynap Core collaboration and wireless presentation devices to stream video and audio between multiple screens over standard network infrastructure. LBS’ vSolution MATRIX installation comprises two Cynap Core units at each of the 16 dual-screen student workstations, together with one main Cynap system for the lecturer and an additional Cynap unit for recording purposes. LBS’ active learning classroom can be used in two different configurations. In classroom mode, the lecturer runs the session for the entire room, and can push digital content out to the left, right or both screens at all student stations in the room. In student mode, students can collaborate locally, using the workstations independently of the main teaching station.
Enabling wired connectivity BYOD is encouraged at LBS, and students use a variety of smartphones, laptops and tablets in the active learning classroom. While the Cynap Core units offer flexible wireless connectivity – including native support for AirPlay, Miracast and Chromecast mirroring protocols – the school also wanted students to be able to connect laptops and other devices via
Hidden inside the student workstations atop the Cynap Core units with only the connected HDMI cable visible to users, the Magewell devices have performed transparently in serving the hundreds of participants that utilise the active learning space each week. “Magewell’s USB Capture HDMI devices have worked seamlessly with WolfVision’s Cynap Core units to enable students to use HDMI sources as an alternative to wireless sharing for interacting with our active learning collaboration platform,” said Wayne Buttigieg, head of infrastructure and media services at LBS. “Our experience with Magewell has been very positive. The devices are simple to use, and we have found them to be extremely reliable.” Most importantly, the collaborative learning system is bringing the desired educational benefits to the school, its faculty and its students. “From the students and faculty I’ve worked with, the feedback has been nothing but positive,” said Michele Asbury, associate director of learning innovation and design, London Business School. “They love what it can do for their lectures, and they are enjoying the feedback they’re getting from students because it is hugely positive – but also for the impact that they’re making.” www.gvmultimedia.com www.magewell.com www.wolfvision.com
Solutions in Brief
Zoned system serves even coverage to Lisbon diners JNcQUOI Asia is defined by grand scale, stunning design and a Genelec sound system designed and installed by Garrett Audiovisuais. It includes a bar, restaurant, sushi bar and outside terrace and garden. Garrett supplied a zoned audio solution throughout with full control via strategically placed wall panels or a mobile phone app. The first space is the luxurious bar; capable of hosting live bands as well as a DJ, it comprises three separate zones: the DJ area which utilises a pair of Genelec G Fives offering active loudspeaker performance but with flexible XLR and RCA connectivity, and a pair of 5041 in-wall subwoofers behind the DJ booth; the main bar area, which is equipped with six 4030 and six of the larger 4040 install speakers plus three 5041 subs hidden in columns; and finally the toilets – where Garrett installed four AIC25 in-ceiling speakers. The challenge for the bar area was to provide sufficient coverage for what is a very open space without sacrificing quality for SPL. For the restaurant, Garrett opted for a total of 14
4040s. The biggest issue here was the acoustics, as the outside wall is mostly glass and there is a huge glass atrium overhead. www.genelec.com
Solstice enables advanced learning at LSTM lab The Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine (LSTM) has implemented Mersive Solstice in an advanced learning and teaching laboratory that enables a fully collaborative teaching style. Designed and implemented by Roche AV, the new LSTM Weston Active Learning Lab brings to reality the school’s vision of enabling students to learn from each other under the guidance of a tutor rather than being taught. Enabling students to share content from their own devices to the displays in the room, where it would be shared with the class, was the key technical challenge. Roche AV ruled out wire-based solutions from the start as wireless sharing was a hard requirement given the BYOD environment supported at the school. To handle the more than 150 inputs, Roche opted for an AV-over-IP system. This allows fast switching between the sources as well as the highest possible performance delivery of HD images and videos. From the touch panel located on the lectern, the teacher can choose from a range of instructional options. One of the goals of the project was to contribute to LSTM’s strategic aim of being the ‘go-to’ institution for 42
training of global health professionals and leaders. The solution implemented has already had a positive impact on this, as the room has been used by health organisations from around the world. www.mersive.com
ABOVE: © Pentagon Designs
Solutions in Brief
Milestone DOOH ad project in Seville LumenAd, a Seville-based advertising company, has recently acquired two Christie Crimson laser projectors to use in its projects with DOOH media, giving them the advantages of unprecedented size, image definition and greater versatility for outdoor advertising. The company is using the two Crimson projectors on the facade of Galia Nervión, a well-known building located in the heart of Seville’s main shopping district. The screen is strategically placed at the crossroads of two of the city’s main avenues. From a technical viewpoint, the installation is an international milestone given its complexity and novelty. There are three buildings involved: two of them host the projectors on their rooftops while the third (Galia Nervión) acts as a screen. The equipment is not visible and does not occupy the public space, which makes its integration into the urban landscape optimum. The result is a “full motion” screen covering 460sqm with a resolution of 3,840 x 1,080 pixels, which covers part of the building’s east and south façades. Together, the two Crimson projectors with WUXGA resolution (1,920 x 1,200) produce 50,000 lumens. The content is only screened at night. It was decided
to forego use during daylight in order to make a bigger impact at night and to ensure that the messages stand out clearly in the urban space. www.christiedigital.com
The O2 becomes immersive ABBA experience Mamma Mia! The Party is the latest edition of the ABBA story – an en masse Greek dining experience and cozy theatrical performance rolled into one. With over 500 covers, this purpose built, supersized taverna has been enjoying its new permanent residence at The O2 in London since September 2019. Set across two floors, complete with fully mobile cast and live band, not to mention a fountain, olive trees and Bougainvillea, the all-singing, all-dancing performers deliver both the food and storyline. Over the course of four hours, fans become an essential part of the drama as the warm and friendly ‘waiters’ encourage diners to get off their seats, join in and be swept away. The sound for such a dynamic production needed careful consideration. From love scenes to full chorus, the audience and cast would require the highest level of audio intelligibility to experience the arena-sized venue as an intimate and highly sensory environment. ABBA’s Bjorn Ulvaeus approached three-time Olivier Award winning sound designer Gareth Owen, who specified d&b audiotechnik for the job. Ultimately the breadth of d&b systems meant Owen could pick and 44
choose exactly the right products to realise his design. d&b is known for the consistent voicing of its systems; all loudspeakers are sonically compatible regardless of size or format. www.dbaudio.com
Solutions in Brief
© Middlesex University
Middlesex University has recently made a significant investment in Sennheiser’s Digital 6000 wireless microphone series to upgrade and future-proof the systems used for its media production courses. The university’s BA Television and Digital Production degree has been developed with industry experts to give students a practical and career-focused television production degree. The programme boasts a high ratio of technicians to students, professional-grade teaching facilities with an equipment catalogue that includes EVS video servers, Sony vision mixers, Allen & Heath dLive mixing consoles and Sennheiser microphones. To remain at the technological edge, the department needed to upgrade and expand its range of mics, replacing its existing stock of Sennheiser G3 500 series equipment. The team decided to mix their stock between digital and analogue solutions, selecting both evolution wireless G4 500 Series and Digital 6000. The new investment was sourced through Stage Electrics. The Sennheiser G4 500 Series and Digital 6000 systems, including the mini bodypack SK 6212, offers students the opportunity to work with a variety of
© Picture Credit
Middlesex Uni upgrades broadcast facility
products, and also teaches them about analogue processes, while learning about new digital technology at the same time. www.sennheiser.com
The Al Shaheed Park in Kuwait City is home to two museums, the Remembrance Museum and the Habitat Museum. While the former focuses on the critical moments that shaped the nation, the latter is more concerned with its natural flora and fauna, containing a number of interactive exhibitions. The museum’s centrepiece boasts a 26m AV projection that displays the beauty of the different habitats of Kuwait by means of spectacular panoramic views. Although this has remained a visitor favourite since its introduction, the museum’s management decided that a projector upgrade was required, and the museum called on integrator SMARTENTITY (SEC) for advice. After hearing about the requirements of the installation, Rayan Soumsom, regional manager for Digital Projection in the Middle East, suggested that Digital Projection’s E-Vision 13000 projectors would be the perfect fit. The museum’s existing backbone dictated that seven E-Vision 13000 projectors were required to cover the 26m screen. The content in the newly upgraded part of the museum was created by Electrosonic.
© Picture Credit
Museums chart the history of Kuwait
Further reading For more detailed versions of these stories and for the latest industry case studies visit: www.installation-international.com/case-studies
Product of the Month
KIT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT Product of the month
Martin Audio SXCF118, SXC115 It’s… a pair of high-performance cardioid subwoofers purpose-designed to partner WPS and WPM line arrays. What’s new? The SXCF118 is a flyable version of the SXC118 released last year and is said to combine maximum low frequency output with exceptional pattern control. It features an 18in (460mm) forward-facing driver and a 14in rearfacing driver. The ground stack SXC115 contains a 15in front-facing driver and 12in rear-facing driver. In both models each
driver is driven independently by separate amplifier channels and DSP. This arrangement produces a cardioid dispersion pattern which maximises the front radiation, while reducing unwanted radiation behind the subwoofer. Details: The SXCF118 is constructed from tour-grade plywood and finished with a hard-wearing textured polyurea coating. It is equipped with four grab handles, while foam-backed perforated steel grilles protect the front and rear drivers. Integral
flying hardware, coupled with the WPSGRIDT touring flying frame, allows the SXHF118 to be incorporated at the top of a WPS array, or flown as a separate array alongside. With both the SXCF118 and SXC115 each driver has its own chamber with optimised bass reflex porting. In front of the SXC115, the output from the two drivers is additive, giving an extra 1dB of output when compared with a conventional 15in subwoofer and 21dB at 43Hz of rear rejection. The SXC115 is designed to accompany the WPM or indeed with a pole mount for Martin Audio point source loudspeakers. Available: The SXCF118 will begin shipping in May; the SXC115 is available from June. www.martin-audio.com
Conferencing microphones Manufacturers provide wide-ranging conferencing capability for a variety of environments
Televic adapts to any meeting need The Confidea FLEX is Televic’s newest wired delegate discussion unit. The wired version is available for purchase now, with wireless coming later this year. It has been designed to be the most versatile tabletop conferencing device on the market, coming with flexible hardware and software options to adapt to the needs of any meeting. These discussion units can be used in
a variety of applications: city government, corporate and education. They’re inherently flexible to meet the needs of any situation where moderated meetings are held. The same unit can be easily provisioned multiple ways. Any unit can be a chairman or a delegate and automatically assume the roles and privileges required by either. Whether a
meeting requires basic discussion, where it’s a simple push to talk, question and answer type discussion or the meeting calls for multiple languages, simultaneous interpretation channels and voting options, Confidea FLEX can fit the situation without any hardware swaps. www.televic-conference.com
Earthworks offers discreet conferencing The IMDL2 is a bidirectional boundary microphone designed for conferencing. The dual-colour LumiComm light ring and touch sensor output found in the IMDL2 models allows integrators to program the mic's function and LED colour, such as assigning a red LED colour for the mic being muted. Building on from the IMDL1, the IMDL2 continues to address the needs of customers, namely with the ability to have a directional mic option for conferencing that is low profile. The IMDL2 is a modification of the IMDL1,
which had the low profile and sound quality people were looking for, but the omnidirectional pattern was problematic for some installations. The IMDL2 provides a mic solution that allows the user to get the directionality and offaxis rejection traditionally found in a gooseneck mic in a
much smaller and more discreet package. There is more gain before feedback, a uniform response on or off-axis, so speakers sound clear and articulate no matter where they are in relation to the mic. The IMDL2 reproduces the speaker's voice with clarity and intelligibility due to the polar pattern across all frequencies. www.earthworksaudio.com
Biamp supplies 360° coverage The TCM-X is a member of the Biamp Parlé microphone family. The mic includes beamtracking technology with four 90° zones, providing full 360° coverage of any meeting space. The TCM-X actively tracks and intelligently mixes conversations from around the table, allowing farend participants to experience the conversation as they would a face-to-face meeting. The TCM-X is well suited for a variety of room types and sizes with 10ft ceilings or lower that require highquality audio solutions and low-profile or unobtrusive microphones. When partnered with other Biamp Tesira devices, the TCM-X provides a solution to the audio challenges inherent in the use of soft codec conferencing solutions in medium and large meeting spaces. The beamtracking technology that actively tracks and intelligently mixes conversations throughout the meeting space without the need for complex and timely on-site commissioning
is the most important aspect of the feature set. When used in partnership with other Biamp Tesira products the TCM-X plays a key part in a complete end-to-end meeting room audio solution, with all devices being connected using standard networking cables (Cat5/6). The leveraging of standardised cable infrastructure throughout every aspect of the solution including loudspeaker outputs is unique to Biamp as a single manufacturer offering. www.biamp.com
Audix delivers plug-and-play functionality The M70WD is a steerable, flush-mount condenser microphone designed for distance miking in a variety of applications, including videoconferencing, distance learning, hospital rooms, surveillance and ambient room miking. The flush-mount configuration and a footprint of only 3in in diameter allow the M70WD to virtually disappear. Dual-colour LEDs can be set via a plugin to indicate mic status. The M70WD capsule is housed within a patented cradle that allows the microphone to be aimed up to an angle of 45°. Other features include a fully integrated preamp and an extremely high sensitivity rating of 38 millivolts. In addition, the M70WD has complete immunity from RF interference caused by cell phones and GSM devices. Installing the M70WD requires just one 2in hole in the ceiling, with no additional tools needed. It is designed exclusively for the Audix Dante | AES67 Integrated Microphone System, which delivers high-quality audio and all microphone functions through a single Cat5 – Cat7 cable with RJ45 connections. This simple configuration eliminates wiring errors, accelerates installation and reduces cost. And like all Audix microphones in the system, the gain
structure is optimised for its intended use, providing quality audio at the DSP. The result is true plug-and-play installation. www.audixusa.com
Looking to the future, we know the number of flexible and remote working arrangements will continue to increase. According to the 2019 UK Working Lives Report, professionals still desire greater autonomy, with 68% looking to work flexibly in a way that is not currently available.
A shift to green Sustainability has become a growing business imperative for many UK organisations, with some pledging to become carbon negative by 2030. For a lot of organisations, business travel is one of their largest sources of carbon emissions. With an increasing need for organisations to demonstrate their green credentials, it’s likely we’ll see more re-evaluating their travel needs and opting for environmentally friendly alternatives, such as video meetings, in 2020.
The Brexit effect
Working patterns From the increase in remote and flexible working to the move towards more sustainable business practices, William MacDonald, chief strategy officer at StarLeaf, explores the ever-growing uptake of video meetings Bloomberg predicts that the videoconferencing market will be worth $6.7 billion by 2025. It has already developed significantly over the past 10 years, into something that can deliver value to almost all employees, improving communication and collaboration and, ultimately, business success. Here are the key factors currently driving the uptake of video meetings:
Flexible and remote working Over the last two decades, flexible and remote working practices have increased five-fold in the UK, with 54% of employees now able to operate out of the office, or outside typical 9-to-5 working hours. However, some organisations fear the result of employees not working in close proximity to one another. Video meetings can ensure good communication and collaboration, allowing employees to meet faceto-face, regardless of where they are in the world. 50
The UK’s recent departure from the EU has sparked many concerns regarding the impact this will have on the country’s skills pool. However, with video capabilities, organisations have the ability to mitigate against this risk, by having the technology in place to recruit outside of their immediate location. Using video to hire and retain employees is an effective way for employers to widen their talent pool. It gives them the opportunity to hire a candidate who is perfectly suited to the job description, rather than having to settle for someone who is not quite as wellsuited to the role but lives within commutable distance.
Coronavirus The seriousness of the COVID-19 pandemic has made remote working a key tool for businesses, helping them to ensure employee safety while at work. This is particularly true since the UK government’s recommendation that employees work remotely where possible. While a lot of organisations will be prepared to support this, for many, this crisis is pushing them into the world of remote working for the first time, at great speed. They will need to ensure the right policies and processes are in place, underpinned by the right technology. A lot of employees will turn to their own personal messaging applications to ensure they can remain in communication. But, in reality, there is a limit to how these can perform, particularly as the scale and length of the outbreak is still to be determined. To help with business continuity during this time, video meeting room providers are opening up their services, to reduce the impact of business disruption by enabling people to communicate and collaborate as closely as possible to before. www.starleaf.com
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