Welcome to the MAY ISSUE OF
4/14/21 5:21 PM
S Y S T E M S
C O N T R A C T O R
N E W S
NINE LEADERS OF TOMORROW
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20 EXECUTIVE Q&A
Hal Truax of Hall Technologies explains how the company is evolving and creating new technologies like HIVE control. By Megan A. Dutta
21 TECH TALES
The data-rich displays that create immersive video wall installations can instead create sensory overload in an operations environment if they’re not installed with best practices in mind. By Ronald Willis, CTS-D
SNAPSHOTS 32 HOW AV TECH WON BIG IN HARRIS COUNTY COURT
Data Projections prepared its client’s office space for a virtual trial, configuring a state-of-the-art conference facility with a sophisticated web of interconnected monitors, interactive displays, control panels, an integrated sound system, and streaming capabilities. By SCN Staff
TECHNOLOGY 34 ADAPTING TO THE HYBRID WORKPLACE
Before the pandemic, companies were eager to integrate flexible conferencing and collaboration-based technology to increase engagement among employees and conduct global meetings more effectively. Now, however, companies are looking for guidance from technology providers to help them create not only a seamless hybrid working environment, but an intuitive one, too. By Jennifer Guhl
36 THE ROLE WIRELESS COMMUNICATION SYSTEMS PLAY IN FUTURE WORKSPACES
In the post-COVID world, interactive displays must be versatile, IoT ready, and supremely easy to use. But that’s just the beginning. Wireless communication systems can help fulfill some of these expectations. By Mary Bakija
24 | THE NINE: LEADERS OF TOMORROW, TODAY
The future will be here before we know it, and these nine young leaders are likely to play a big role in where pro AV is headed.
VIEWPOINT 42 HOW TO BRING EMPLOYEES BACK TO WORK SAFELY
30 | DECENTRALIZING
As vaccination distribution has ramped up, many leaders are counting down the days to when they can bring employees back to the workplace, but how can we do this in a way that keeps everybody safe—including employees, vendors, and customers? By Rick Grimaldi
COMMAND AND CONTROL
An organization’s mission-critical personnel gather in command and control centers to access the real-time data they need to manage situations ranging from normal day-to-day operations to emergencies. But when people must remain distanced from each other because of pandemic precautions, forcing many to work remotely, how can command and control stay relevant? By Jim Beaugez
DEPARTMENTS ASSOCIATION NEWS ������������������������������������������������ 18 PEOPLE NEWS ������������������������������������������������������������ 22 PRODUCTS ������������������������������������������������������������������ 38
Are You Online? So Are We. 34 Vol. 28 No. 5 May 2021 Systems Contractor News (ISSN 1078-4993) is published monthly by Future US, Inc., 11 West 42nd Street, 15th Floor, New York, NY 10036-8002. Periodical postage paid at New York, NY and additional mailing offices. POSTMASTER: send address changes to: SYSTEMS CONTRACTOR NEWS, P.O. Box 1051, Lowell, MA 01853. Subscription rates are US: 1 yr $59, 2 yr $105; Canada: 1 yr $109, 2 yr $205, Foreign: 1 yr $169, 2 yr $325; Single copy price $10. Subscribe online at www.MySCNews.com. Please allow 6-8 weeks for address changes to take effect. ©Copyright 2021 by Future US, Inc. PRINTED IN U.S.A.
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For more on the stories in this issue, visit avnetwork.com.
editorial Equality and Diversity Matter Megan A. Dutta
Follow Me Online firstname.lastname@example.org twitter.com/scnmag twitter.com/meganadutta @scnmagazine
How are you helping to create a more equitable future for #ProAV?
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Diversity matters. Equality matters. We’ve all heard the saying, “If you can see me, you can be me,” but imagine the converse, working in an industry where people in power don’t look like you. (You may not even have to imagine.) Many AV professionals find themselves in that situation today, although there is the potential for great change on the horizon as we strive for diversity of thought, gender, race, abilities, and more. Being an advocate of diversity isn’t just good for your soul—it’s good for your bottom line. According to a 2019 study by Gartner, “75 percent of organizations with frontline decision-making teams reflecting a diverse and inclusive culture will exceed their financial targets.” On top of that, “gender-diverse and inclusive teams outperformed gender-homogeneous, less inclusive teams by 50 percent, on average.” In addition to fostering diverse teams today, aging industries—like the pro AV industry—should be building diverse generational leadership, which can help to create what some call “cognitive di-
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MAY 2021 VOL . 28 NO. 5
versity.” Experience matters—there’s no substitution for years of on-the-job, hands-on experience—but lack of experience can also be an asset if harnessed properly. Younger generations are often fearless. They haven’t been around long enough to make our mistakes … so they’re not afraid to try their “crazy” new idea and fail. Or maybe their innovative thinking will work. Something everyone thought was insane could end up being the million-dollar idea that saves your company. Each year in May, we are proud to highlight up-and-coming innovators in our feature SCN: The Nine, and many of these new leaders are passionate advocates of diversity and inclusion—often from having personally overcome equality issues in the workplace. For more on this year’s class, turn to page 24. My hope for the future is that, one day, I won’t have to write editorial letters about why the industry needs to be more inclusive. I hope I’m able to write about how the industry turned the page and set an example for others. Remember, there’s room for everyone, and when we bring more people into the fold and pass the mic, everybody wins. P.S. I’m proud to say the team at Systems Contractor News has signed the AV Industry Pledge for an Equitable Future. (See page 18 for more info.) We encourage you to join us.
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VP/Content Creation Anthony Savona Content Director Megan A. Dutta, email@example.com Content Manager Katie Makal Contributors Brandy Alvarado-Miranda, Mary Bakija, Jim Beaugez, Mark Grimaldi, Jennifer Guhl, Matt Pruznick, Ronald Willis Group Art Director Nicole Cobban Art Editor Rob Crossland Production Managers Nicole Schilling, Heather Tatrow A DV E R T ISING SA L ES
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News Highlights from SCN Online
Naval Academy Showcases Athletic Success with Christie AV annapolis, md—The
Naval Academy Athletic Association recently opened the Ron Terwilliger ’63 Center for Student-Athletes, a 25,000-square-foot facility that highlights the academy’s tradition and history of physical education and intercollegiate athletics. The center includes the new Akerson Theater, a 180-degree immersive theater that uses a suite of Christie products, including HS Series projectors, Spyder X20, Mystique, and Pandoras Box, to inform visitors, prospective midshipmen, and their families about opportunities at the school.
* Top 5 Online Stories
View them online at avnetwork.com.
5. WAVE Electronics Acquired by Altamont Capital Partners 4. Dealing with Difficult People 3. The Latest Projection Mapping Solutions for Pro AV 2. 5 Things Event Planners Wish AV Techs Really Knew 1. SCN Announces 2021 Stellar Service Award Winners
Blog bits Now on avnetwork.com By Anna Kozel The biggest challenge in control rooms is the increasing amount of data: the “Big Data.” With so much information to process, it is impossible for the human eye to catch it all. That’s where automation comes in. Anything that can be automated should be in order to increase productivity in control rooms.
Now on residentialsystems.com By Anthony Savona Smart home AI requires the use of personal information if it is going to truly enhance the lives of homeowners, but a special burden is placed on companies collecting this sort of sensitive information. User data must be protected from unauthorized access, organizations must be as transparent with clients as possible about the use of personal data, and companies should avoid any kind of tracking that could appear “creepy” to users.
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Now on Installation-International.com By Rob Lane In a year when so many public spaces have been closed and live events cancelled, it would be reasonable to expect 2020 to have been a rather undistinguished period for the pro AV projector market. While it’s unlikely to have been a milestone year sales-wise, it has certainly been an important one in advancing the trend toward more immersive and interactive installations in a variety of key verticals.
SCN Launches New Event, AV3, with AVIXA and AVNation In these uncertain times, we can find ourselves asking, “What’s next for pro AV?” AVNation, AVNetwork, and AVIXA are seeking to answer that question with AV3 , a new event organized by the AVfocused companies that will take place online on Thursday, June 17. The single-day virtual experience—powered by Systems Contractor News—will encapsulate relevant topics like how AV can help teachers and students return to the classroom, how work-from-life impacts pro AV, and the best techniques for live streaming. In addition, the exhibit hall will feature a summer showcase of new products that you won’t find anywhere else. “AVIXA is excited to collaborate with AVNation and AVNetwork to present a day of exploration of what’s next for the world of pro AV,” said AVIXA CEO David Labuskes, CTS, CAE, RCDD. “We’ll examine the
impact of the pandemic and what lasting trends it’s brought us, such as the dramatic adoption of videoconferencing and streaming media. We’re looking forward to gathering AV professionals together to connect and share experiences and new ideas.” “As workplaces and schools begin opening up, the AV industry is looking for the best ways to respond and prepare,” added Tim Albright, founder, AVNation. “AV3 will be a great one-day event where AV pros can see what’s next for the audiovisual industry post-COVID.” “With the shift of InfoComm from June to October, our audience is hungry for new product launches and networking opportunities,” concluded Megan A. Dutta, content director, Systems Contractor News. “Our virtual event platform allows both of those things to happen in a natural way. Plus, attendees can win prizes—ranging from Amazon gift cards to actual pro AV gear—just by checking Visit www.av3event.com to view the event agenda and to register. out the latest technologies in the virtual booths.” AV3 is free to attend for qualified integrators, conSeveral sponsorship opportunities are availsultants, content creators, able at AV3. Contact Adam Goldstein technology managers, and at firstname.lastname@example.org for more the like. information.
Want More Info?
Looking for Leads?
Disney World Tests Facial Recognition BY MEG AN A. D U TTA
Walt Disney World Resort is conducting a 30-day test of facial recognition technology to improve the guest experience. The technology captures an image of a visitor’s face and then converts the image into a unique number that is associated with the form of admission the guest used for park entry. “At Walt Disney World Resort, we’re always looking for innovative and convenient ways to improve our guests’ experience—especially as we navigate the impact of COVID-19. With the future in mind and the MATT STROSHANE/WALT DISNEY WORLD
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shift in focus to more touchless experiences, we’re conducting a limited 30-day test using facial recognition technology,” said a statement on the park’s website. The Disney statement also noted that the facial recognition process is optional and that the length of the test—which, at the time of publication, is scheduled through April 23—is subject to change. Facial capture at Walt Disney World is a three-step process: Step 1: Enter the facial recognition technology test lane. When guests are ready to enter the park, they enter the lane designated for the test program. Step 2: Remove accessories, but keep mask in place. Guests are asked to remove hats, visors, sunglasses, etc. before entering the testing zone. They are required to keep their mask/face covering on the entire time. Step 3: Face the camera. Once in the facial recognition test zone, guests will stand facing the camera and then position their park admission or MagicBand close to the scanner to activate the technology. The technology will capture an image, which will be converted into a unique number that will be associated with their ticket media. Walt Disney World noted that all unique numbers captured during the test will be discarded within 30 days of the test’s conclusion and that the images and unique numbers will not be shared with third parties. The park also stated on its website that “the security, integrity, and confidentiality of your information are extremely important to us. We have implemented technical, administrative, and physical security measures that are designed to protect guest information from unauthorized access, disclosure, use, and modification. Please be aware that, despite our best efforts, no security measures are perfect or impenetrable.”
Spinitar, No. 24 on the 2020 SCN Top 50 list, will host its seventh annual Golf for Hope event Nov. 8 at Yorba Linda Country Club in Orange County, CA. The annual event benefits City of Hope, a leading cancer research hospital that boasts more than 500 clinical trials and offers innovative treatments, cancer support programs, precision-based therapies, and compassionate cancer care. Over the past six years, Spinitar has helped raise $500,000 toward life-saving cancer therapies, diabetes research, and treatment at City of Hope. “What’s immeasurable is the level of commitment and dedication Jeff, Jay, and their entire team has toward our mission and this community,” said Andy Ishii, director of corporate philanthropy at City of Hope. “Spinitar’s indomitable spirit to help those in need and unrelenting drive to surpass all expectations are in full display each year at their annual Golf for Hope tournament. City of Hope could not be more fortunate to have such an inspirational organization like Spinitar support our mission to find the cures.” The Golf for Hope event will bring together Spinitar’s manufacturing partners, friends, and family, and will include a round of golf, dinner and reception, along with a silent auction and raffle opportunities. The goal is to raise more than $100K at this year’s event. “After having to reinvent Spinitar’s annual Golf for Hope event last year with a Virtual Day of Giving, Spinitar is ready to make a big, in-
Spinitar volunteers with City of Hope Staff at a pre-pandemic event.
person return in November,” said Spinitar principal Jeff Irvin. “Please join us as we come together at our first private club event to raise money for City of Hope and their research efforts to fight and cure cancer and other life-threatening illnesses.” To learn more about sponsoring the Golf for Hope event, email email@example.com.
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Spinitar’s Golf for Hope Tees Off Nov. 8
news las vegas, nv—When
Circa Resort & Casino opened, it revolutionized the game-day experience for guests with its big-screen sportsbook and pool venues. Circa bills Circa Sports as “a sportsbook so big we built a casino around it.” With a 1,000-person viewing capacity from stadium seats, a lounge, and private boxes, this sports betting experience features a three-story indoor screen displaying live sports feeds driven by Analog Way’s LivePremier family of multiscreen presentation systems and video wall processors. Guests who prefer to watch their sports outdoors can sun and soak at Stadium Swim (pictured), where six pools on three different levels have views of a giant high-definition screen also powered by Aquilon.
edge to edge TVBU810_wire clip_EMT 6X9.5.qxp_Layout 1 4/8/21 2:53 PM Page 1
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© 2012 Arlington Industries, Inc.
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TVBU810 8X10 TV BOX™
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Premier Mounts has revealed a distinct new look that will align the brand with the identity of parent company Gamber-Johnson. The makeover follows the February announcement of Premier Mounts’ acquisition by Gamber-Johnson, a supplier of rugged mounting systems for fleet and public safety vehicles, forklifts, semi-
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trucks, and other mobility applications. The Premier Mounts rebranding features Gamber-Johnson’s blue color scheme, associating Premier Mounts with GamberJohnson’s overall goals, which include producing products that are rugged, reliable, and responsive. “We at Gamber-Johnson are eager to evolve together with Premier to raise the bar and continue to create the high-quality products that our clients have come to expect,” said Brian Wagner, president, and CEO of Gamber-Johnson. “Premier Mounts’ mission has consistently been to provide high-quality product innovation in mounting designs and engineering paired with a strong customer service experience and response to the rapidly changing audiovisual industry,” said Brent Henderson, general manager at Premier Mounts. “We look forward to building a stronger Premier Mounts led by Gamber-Johnson as we continue to work closely with our partners and customers worldwide.”
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In early April, IP video streaming solutions company VITEC announced plans to acquire Exterity, a provider of integrated IPTV, digital signage, and user engagement technologies. The acquisition signals VITEC’s intention to accelerate growth and strengthen its leadership position, with natural technology and customer synergies between the two companies that will enable VITEC to extend its reach into new geographies, market verticals, and partners. “Exterity is a respected IPTV and digital signage leader around the globe,” said Philippe Wetzel, CEO, VITEC. “They have developed a robust IP video platform for both hardware and software that has been very successful, particularly in the enterprise and accommodation markets across Europe, the Middle East, and Asia-Pacific. Exterity’s engineering excellence, global geographic distribution, and complementary business focus was the primary motivation for VITEC to make this acquisition. The combined entity will be the leading IPTV and digital signage provider for corporate, government, military, venues, hospitality, and broadcast customers,” continued Wetzel. “In bringing together VITEC and Exterity, we will be able to offer a wider range of best-in-class products, solutions, and services to our customers,” added Exterity CEO Colin Farquhar, who will remain a central part of the leadership team in the combined company. “VITEC’s product portfolio, market strength, and company culture are the perfect fit for this next chapter in our IPTV growth, and I have complete confidence that we will be able to grow stronger together as more businesses deploy IP video streaming solutions across their enterprises. Exterity
has established a large and loyal customer and partner base, with a number of organizations specifying solutions for global projects. Bringing together VITEC and Exterity enables us to take advantage of our combined technologies so that our customers will have a broader choice of market-leading IP video solutions to suit their needs.” The combined engineering teams will develop a strategy to migrate the existing IPTV and digital signage portfolio into a converged platform to offer a wider range of solutions to customers. VITEC will now have almost 200 engineers across its global development centers, who will immediately begin working together to leverage the software and hardware expertise of the embedded teams. VITEC is connecting with Exterity’s network of integrators and partners to provide more information about the combined capabilities of the companies and to ensure their continuity of business strategy and deployments. VITEC says it will continue to support Exterity customers without interruption.
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VITEC Acquires Exterity
news Atlona Enhances Its Certification Program
hands-on learning and remote, instructor-led product training. “Remote learning became essential last year as the pandemic unfolded, but the format has long-term advantages for our channel partners even once in-person training is back in full swing,” said Ken Eagle, senior director of global training, Atlona. “Employees’ time is precious, and remote Plas TV Box SCN.qxp_Layout 1 11/10/20 10:50 AM Page 1 training lets learners set their own pace rather than committing to spending several F O R F LU S H -TO -T H E - WA L L M O U N T I N G O F L E D , H I - D E F T V s days at our facility. The self-paced portion of the CAAP program let us organize the curriculum into bite-sized learning activiTM ties that can be completed in pieces, even during evenings and weekends.” Atlona has updated the Atlona Academy certification program for resellers and systems integrators. The newly enhanced Certified Atlona Advantage Partner (CAAP) program combines self-paced online modules on foundational AV concepts and Atlona products with two days of
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Arlington’s PLASTIC TV BOX™ recessed combination power/low voltage boxes offer the secure, easy way to mount TVs flush against a wall. The job looks great. Plugs and connectors stay inside these Listed boxes without extending past the wall. Available in 2-, 3- and 4-gang styles for retrofit or new work. Each offers power and/or low voltage in one or more of the other openings. There’s a box to fit nearly any application!
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The CAAP certification program begins with five online Atlona Academy learning modules: 100-level Foundational AV, 200-level Circuit-Based Solutions, 300-level Velocity Control Training, 400-level Networking for AV, and 500-level OmniStream Setup and Configuration courses. The Velocity Control Training module includes hands-on work using Atlona’s Velocity software on the learner’s own computer, with lab assignments evaluated by an instructor. Upon completion of the self-paced modules, the learner enrolls in hands-on product training and receives a kit of key Altona products. The student then spends up to two days in a live, remote, hands-on training session with an Atlona instructor to master AV and product-specific skills. Learners in the CAAP program earn AVIXA CTS RUs upon successful completion. Certified dealers and integrators qualify for a variety of Atlona sales and marketing benefits, and on the way to earning their CAAP certification can also gain authorization to purchase, resell, and install key product lines including the Velocity System AV control platform and OmniStream AV over IP solutions. The CAAP program is available immediately through the Atlona Training Portal at https://atlona.com/training.
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The Professional Audio Manufacturers Alliance (PAMA) and Shure have established the Mark Brunner Professional Audio Scholarship, which will be offered annually to students worldwide who are pursuing an education in professional audio. Brunner—a longtime Shure executive, PAMA founding member, and leading voice in the audio community who died in October 2020—had an unwavering passion for education and mentorship throughout his career. The $2,000 scholarship is targeted to a recipient enrolled in an accredited audio program. In considering scholarship recipients, PAMA and Shure will specifically be interested to learn how the applicant plans to share their knowledge with others in a manner consistent with Brunner’s legacy. “We established the Mark Brunner Pro Audio Scholarship as our way of paying tribute to one of the leading voices of our industry,” said Chris Regan, chair of the PAMA board of directors. “One of Mark’s tenets was his unwavering desire to educate. Whether he was at the U.S. Congress representing the industry on spectrum allocation issues, on one of the countless industry panels he participated in, or with colleagues at Shure and across the pro audio industry, Mark truly embodied the persona of teacher. He valued his time in his personal studio and shared his wisdom with so many throughout his career with passion. It’s with that same passion that we wish to award an annual scholarship in his name.” “Mark Brunner was a treasured colleague, peer, and friend,” said
Chris Schyvinck, Shure president and CEO. “Our company valued his expertise, whether he was sharing his knowledge with fellow associates, at front of house with a sound engineer, interviewing an endorser, or on the front lines in Washington, D.C.” “In 2003, I appointed Mark to lead our company’s charge in fighting for legislation to protect wireless microphone users, and Mark Brunner we have been sounding the alarm ever since. Like the classic David and Goliath story, our company was up against prominent technology leaders who wanted all of the ‘white spaces’ available for consumer use,” she added. “Because of Mark’s passion, expertise, diligence, and resolve, Shure’s voice was heard. He effectively educated key individuals about the importance of spectrum protection, created important partnerships with user communities, and helped us retain the trust and loyalty of our customers. Mark was a steadfast ambassador for Shure, helping us preserve our legendary reputation with associates, customers, influencers, and the public. I knew Mark for more than three decades, and I dearly miss his presence every day. I know that this scholarship would mean so much to my friend, as it does to our company.” For more information on the Mark Brunner Professional Audio Scholarship, visit www.pamalliance.org/scholarship.
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PAMA and Shure Announce Mark Brunner Professional Audio Scholarship
news AVIXA Announces AV Industry Pledge for an Equitable Future With a promise to help drive positive change in the pro AV industry, AVIXA is introducing the AV Industry Pledge for an Equitable Future. Any individual or company can sign the pledge, indicating their support of measures to advance inclusive behavior across their company and the industry. AVIXA is calling on the entire audiovisual industry to champion equity and full representation across every aspect of the AV world. Diverse ideas and experience—from underrepresented voices including women, veterans, and people who are LGBTQ+, Black, Latino, Asian, Indigenous, or disabled—expands industry knowledge, workplace success, business performance, and innovation, and represents a better future for the AV community. “Together we have an opportunity to create a world in which we embrace individuals from all backgrounds,” said David Labuskes, CTS, CEO of AVIXA. “We recognize there is much work to be done and this commitment is merely the beginning. I am certain that we are laying a cornerstone that can be built upon and change at least a little part of the world for the better. And that is how big changes begin.” The AV Pledge for an Equitable Future is a commitment to: Foster Awareness: Positive change starts with understanding and acknowledging the existence of systemic racism, leaning in to tough conversations, and analyzing how we can contribute to creating a better world. Take Action: Pledge to set measurable goals, follow through on findings, and commit resources toward the goal. Be Accountable: Share your progress with AVIXA and industry peers, both the challenges and successes, so everyone can learn from them. Individuals who sign the pledge are asked to consider joining AVIXA’s Diversity Council and participate in future council events, take part in diversity and inclusion surveys, and participate in future Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) events exploring the industry pledge, toolkit resources, and how this effort has impacted the industry. With a goal of sharing both resources and research, the AVIXA Diversity Council is launching its own DEI survey. This assessment asks for important though sensitive demographic information such as gender identity, race/ethnicity, and sexual orientation and delves into the availability of resources and programs provided by AV employers. The survey was developed by AVIXA’s independent Diversity Council, and when combined with the results of AVIXA’s annual member survey, it will help establish a benchmark for the AV industry to measure future progress. This survey is 100 percent secure and anonymous, according to AVIXA. To access the survey, visit https://avixa.org/av-diversity-survey. “Participation in this pledge will enable data-driven insights and scalable solutions, challenge our thinking, and enhance processes and practices that will ultimately reduce bias, diversify talent pools, and cultivate innovation,” said Charmaine Torruella, Diversity Council chair and GMS account manager for Verrex. For more information about AVIXA’s commitment to diversity and the AV Industry Pledge for an Equitable Future, visit www.avixa.org/about-us/a-culture-of-inclusion.
HFTP Forms Task Force on Secure Data Collection The movement toward high-tech solutions to engage guests and customers has greatly increased in the hospitality industry and has especially accelerated over the past year as hospitality enterprises implemented health safety protocols to address distancing guidelines. As a result, the implementation of property-wide technologies using personal identifiable information (PII) has presented a challenge to hospitality organizations, who must make sure the data is carefully controlled so it can be used to meaningfully improve guest services but remain safe from malicious cyber activity. Hospitality Financial and Technology Professionals (HFTP) has organized the Global Hospitality PII Management (GHPM) Task Force, whose members, all prominent hospitality technology experts, are tasked with thoughtfully examining and developing guidelines for hos-
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HETMA Formalizes Organization, Elects Board The Higher Education Technology Managers Alliance (HETMA) has filed formal articles of incorporation as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization in the state of California. This move positions HETMA to further its mission of advocating for the needs of technology managers and their respective higher education institutions within the greater audiovisual industry. HETMA’s goal is to provide educational and networking opportunities to its members to empower and grow the influence of higher education as an industry vertical. All resources and services provided by HETMA are done so at no charge to their membership. Becoming a 501(c)(3) charitable organization furthers this goal, affording HETMA both legal protections and fundraising capabilities. HETMA’s membership has grown from its initial 10-member steering committee in 2019 to over 700 rostered members in 2021. As its initial formal action, HETMA held an open call of its membership for nominations and voting to elect the first board of directors. Joe Way will serve as chair of the board of directors, and BC Hachett will serve as vice-chair. The board also includes Annie Foster as secretary and Dean Wentworth as treasurer. James King, Erin Maher-Moran, and Tim Van Woeart will all serve as directors at large.
pitality companies to follow as best practice. The information presented will have an international perspective, with participants representing countries across the globe. This is especially important as data privacy regulations vary internationally and will be an essential consideration in the development of the resource. “By the nature of today’s technologies, companies now collect vast amounts of personal data to assist in providing seamless and personalized services to their customers. Artificial intelligence, facial recognition, and other future technologies will change the way the entire world operates,” said HFTP global president Mark Pate Sr., assistant controller and IT director for Highpointe Hotel Corp. Noting that the guidelines are “developed by experts specifically knowledgeable about the hospitality space,” Pate added that their goal for the guidelines and directives “is to stay focused on the data issue and assist with solutions to challenges the industry is facing today and into the future.” The GHPM Task Force, which includes a variety of hospitality professionals from around the world, is chaired by Michael Levie, cofounder of CitizenM Hotels.
Great news from AVIXA’s latest Pro AV Business Index: sales growth is strengthening. At 61.3, the March AV Sales Index (AVI-S) is at its highest level since 2019. Much acceleration and growth are needed to see AV return to its pre-pandemic levels, but this month is a significant move in the right direction. A close reading of the survey data shows room for further acceleration. Though commenters highlighted developments such as approaching returns to in-office activity and increased in-person education rates, the bulk of the comments continued to negatively assess current conditions. While this may seem like a pessimistic finding, AVIXA analysts see it as motivation for optimism. If a 15-month high is possible while so many respondents still feel substantially held back by COVID-19, much higher growth rates must still be achievable. That said, it will take time for such acceleration to take place. Do not be surprised if next month’s growth is modestly slower than this month’s. “On April 11, Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell asserted that we are at an economic inflection point. That’s true for AV, too,” said Peter Hansen, economic analyst, AVIXA. “The recovery is taking hold, and growth is accelerating. Spring is too soon, but we expect to see record highs in AV sales growth rates by the end of the summer.” Somewhat less bright than the AVI-S number was the AV employment index (AVI-E). At 51.8, the March AVI-E now shows slightly
slower growth than February, which itself was only modest growth. This so-so result is not to be ignored, since the slow and deliberate nature of employment decisions gives them greater weight than more volatile sales numbers. That said, slow and deliberate also makes them a lagging indicator, meaning the AVI-E doesn’t yet reflect the latest accelerations in the vaccine rollout. As with the AVI-S, AVIXA analysts are optimistic for future acceleration. That optimism is reinforced by the highly positive U.S. jobs report for March, which revealed that the economy added 916,000 jobs, its strongest performance since August 2020. Our economy remains over 10 million jobs below where it would have been without the pandemic, but the March number is the kind of growth needed to see us avoid a prolonged and painful recovery. The Pro AV Business Index report is derived from a monthly survey of the AVIXA Insights Community, a research community of industry members that tracks business trends in commercial AV. The report comprises two diffusion indexes: the AV Sales Index (AVI-S) and the AV Employment Index (AVI-E). In each case, an index above 50 indicates an increase in sales or employment activity. Visit www.avixa.org/AVindex to access the free monthly Pro AV Business Index reports and learn more about the methodology. For more information about joining the AVIXA Insights Community, visit www. avixa.org/AVIP.
Secure KVM-over-IP Control of Systems over Fiber or CATx
Take control of remote systems by simply moving the cursor to the desired window Standard 1 Gigabit Ethernet (GbE) network
Multi-headed computers supported
Excellent responsiveness over a LAN or WAN
Secure, encrypted transmissions
One-to-one to many-to-many configurations
Single keyboard/mouse for multiple computers
Operator stations with up to four single view or two multiview monitors
Fastest AV Sales Growth Since 2019
BY MEG A N A . D UT T A
Hive Mentality HAL TRUAX SHARES HOW HALL TECHNOLOGIES IS EVOLVING SCN: What is your position, and what does it entail? What are your responsibilities? HAL TRUAX: As the vice president of sales and marketing, I oversee marketing efforts and manage global sales initiatives. We recently finished a complete rebranding where we evolved from Hall Research into Hall Technologies. The rebranding included launching a new website and orchestrating a multi-pronged marketing effort across many different mediums. I also am responsible for increasing our revenue by targeting specific vertical markets, strategic customer acquisition, and channel management. We are aggressively expanding our customer reach and diversifying our customer portfolio. SCN: How long have you been in this position? HT: I was hired in late September 2020, in the midst of some of the biggest changes the company had experienced in its history. I was aware that Hall Research had just appointed Jason Schwartz as CEO and I knew that some realignment was taking place, so I reached out to Jason, and after several interviews, here I am. SCN: How has your background prepared you for your role? HT: I started in this industry as an entrepreneur within a big box retail store, running a CI business with more than 200 employees. There, I learned how to effectively manage a team of associates and how to influence key decision-makers. From there I went to OmniMount, which was my first position with a manufacturer. It was at OmniMount that I learned how to work with retailers, integrators, and the pro AV market. I grew to love the manufacturing side of the business and found I have a talent for looking at opportunities through the eyes of everyone involved, which created long-term strategic relationships. SCN: What are your short- and long-term goals? HT: My short-term goal is to double our revenue by successfully implementing effective marketing campaigns that closely tie to our disruptive sales strategy. Long-term, I’d like to help Hall Technologies become a top-three brand in the pro AV space. Part of that long-term strategy is pushing the industry to adopt our new technologies, which are in areas people don’t expect from us. HIVE Control, our cloud-based AV control platform, is the first example of that. Through our best-in-class support and our focused efforts in innovating full-solution products, I hope that we become the benchmark for pro AV technology. SCN: What is the greatest challenge you face? HT: The greatest challenge, one we all are having to overcome in some form or fashion, is that the COVID-19 pandemic has single-handedly affected so many businesses, large and small. We have changed the way we live, work, eat, and even the way we relax. The face of business may never look the same. Two years ago, this would have seemed like a science fiction novel: people in masks, isolating, not going outside, etc. If we as a society effectively defeat this virus, and if we can return to some sort of normalcy, we all win—not just in business but in life. SCN: Where do you see the pro AV market heading? HT: I see the market trending toward technology that incorporates
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industrial IoT into pro AV designs and using an ecosystem that can be monitored from any location. I see softwareas-a-service becoming more Name: Hal Truax important to pro AV. Many of Position: Vice President of Sales and us, including Hall TechnoloMarketing Company: Hall Technologies gies, have been solely hardOvertime: Truax and his wife are active ware providers for years, but supporters of Fresh Start Surgical Gifts. in today’s world, software is a They take advantage of the benefits of necessary component of sellliving near the beach in Southern ing a user-friendly, remoteCalifornia and enjoy stand-up paddlemanageable system. Software boarding and surfing. gives us access to analytical data by monitoring system performance on an external server. With this data, we can predict when a component in the system needs maintenance before it actually fails. For example, we can create a dashboard that shows overall system health, helping to prevent downtime. A simple illustration of this concept is being able to see the number of hours that a projector lamp has been in operation. By comparing this number with the life expectancy of the lamp, we can replace the lamp before it is likely to fail, thus eliminating downtime from a lamp failure. This is a very simple example of how software can be coupled with industrial IoT to help with system diagnostics.
SCN: Are there new initiatives we are likely to see from Hall Technologies? HT: For 36 years Hall Research has engineered and manufactured great products that are second to none in reliability. Today, Hall Technologies is focused on solving problems by delivering end-to-end solutions. The HIVE suite of products is the first of many that combines the latest in native cloud technology with a node-based architecture. I wish I could tell you what’s coming up next, but all I can say is that this is just the beginning of our products that incorporate disruptive, problem-solving innovation. We have a very elaborate and extremely aggressive product roadmap. SCN: How can systems contractors better position themselves to profit from products and/or services you have to offer? HT: Integrators who are not yet familiar with Hall Technologies can visit our website at www.halltechav.com to find out more about what we are doing. With the huge problems the world is facing right now regarding the efficacy of education, integrators can be part of the solution by getting familiar with HIVE products like the EMCEE200, a seamless multiview presentation switcher that is a key component needed to solve technology shortcomings as they relate to education. This is just one example of how we are working to solve the problems of today. *
Information Display in Operations Environments O
BY RO N A LD W I LLI S, C T S- D
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SHEN MILSOM & WILKE
ne of the quickest ways to engage attention and create impact is to build an immersive experience with video wall technology. Today there are thousands of large display walls deployed around the world. Display technology is used in almost every segment of life, from homes, corporate, retail, and the food service industry to public safety, power generation, government, and military environments. As technology has evolved with laser and direct view LED systems, content engagement is even more impactful because, for example, we can replicate more accurate color rendering. The mullions of video walls are now almost invisible, and curated dynamic syncopated images interwoven with the immediate surroundings can make for wildly rich experiences. The same display technology that creates these immersive environments also supports operations environments, transmission centers, and military missions. However, this data-rich display environment can develop into a sensory overload when it transitions to the workspace. Analysts have a different ergonomic environment: they are trying to react to information from displays that are located Here, at NYISO’s headquarters, Shen Milsom & Wilke evaluated options for the display system and developed a only a foot or two from their immediate line of vi- project plan and approach that resulted in a fully-tested and operational facility. sion and from large-array display walls in the comat all different angles with different levels of brightness and conmand center. trast, color balance, and resolutions. One way to address disparities The user space has gone from dual-display 20-inch screens at the between monitors is by using fewer but larger ones in a workspace. console locations to workspaces with dual stacked 38-inch ultraWe often use ultra-wide screens ranging from 28 to 38 inches up to a widescreen units to workspaces with 16- to 20-inch screens. Also 49-inch unit, which is equivalent to dual 27-inch QHD (2560 x 1440 common are 43- or 50-inch screens at workstations that display a pixels). The format helps enforce correct sight lines and allows the single image or a small video wall of content. workflow needed for individual stations. Sitting at a workstation, sometimes you cannot see past the local Another way to solve visual ergonomics challenges is by examinscreens, especially when sit/stand workspaces are deployed. Thereing content and workflow at the workstation. Technology exists to fore, the new challenge that needs to be addressed is the placement create flexible pixel spaces on the workstation irrespective of the of content on the display walls; content must be viewable in the room monitor setup. That allows the user to leverage peripheral vision for by the team members who need to see it. That imperative brings us dashboarding, and place active working content in the middle of the back to the user workspaces: if you cannot see the content on the pixel space, with flexibility depending on the events of wall, you will invariably add more monitors to your the moment. own workspace, thereby creating your own graphically The Takeaway: A properly designed operation or overpopulated environment. control center starts at the analyst workstation and Operators will spend eight to 12 hours a day working flows throughout the room to the large video wall. and looking at their monitors, and making key decisions based on multiple data sets and graphics. It’s critical to Ronald Willis, CTS-D, has an extensive background in the focus on ergonomics and sight lines in this environment audiovisual industry, including the management, design, inteto ensure the operator’s success. If not designed propgration, and coordination of audiovisual systems in government erly, the workspace could lead to employee discomfort facilities across the globe. His career began in the U.S. Marine in the form of neck pain, muscle fatigue, eye strain, and Corps, where he managed the design, installation, operation, perhaps most importantly, reduced production. Poor and maintenance of the audiovisual systems in various Marine ergonomics and the wrong display type are exactly facilities. He transitioned to civilian life as a senior audiovisual what a lot of the work force is experiencing at home engineer at an information technology firm that supported the now during the COVID-19 pandemic. U.S. Department of Defense. He is an experienced project We are striving to create positive work experiences manager who has supervised technology design on complex at the workstations, and the answer isn’t 12 monitors Ronald Willis command and control centers all over the world.
people DANIELLE MOORE has been hired by JABRA as marketing manager for video. In this position, she will be responsible for promoting and growing Jabra PanaCast video products and Danielle Moore video/collaboration solutions within and through the AV space. Prior to joining Jabra, Moore spent over 20 years at NEC Display (now Sharp NEC Display Solutions), where she last served as senior channel marketing manager. SHURE has promoted four executives. MIKE HADER is now vice president of global software in the product development division. When Hader joined sure in 2019, he already had more than 30 years of experience in planning, executing, and delivering technologydriven solutions. PAT KNOLL has been promoted to vice president of global facilities. A 16-year veteran of Shure, Knoll leads an international team that oversees all Shure properties worldwide. MEG MADISON is now senior vice president of human resources. Since joining Shure in 2005, she has held positions of increasing responsibility in HR. Finally, BRUCE SKOF has been promoted to senior vice president of corporate finance.
ANGAD CHERA has been hired by CISCO as integrated marketing manager for Webex. In this position, he is responsible for crafting dynamic customer journeys, creating audience strategy, and analyzing Angad Chera campaign performances for improvements and optimizations. Prior to joining the company, Chera served in marketing roles at Lenovo, NVIDIA, PPDS, and other companies.
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WALTERS-STORYK DESIGN GROUP (WSDG) has awarded partnerships to project managers ANDREW SWERDLOW and JONATHAN BICKOFF. Swerdlow and Bickoff are the latest to join the ranks of a growing next generation of leadership at WSDG, a move consistent with the transition plan the firm has put into place over the past few years. WSDG says it has been deliberate in
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developing a global team of expert engineers and architectural, acoustical and systems designers from within, ensuring the firm’s longterm stability and future. ELECTROSONIC appointed LORI CROSS as non-executive chair of the board to fast-track the company’s transformation and expansion strategy. Cross has been a Lori Cross board member for more than a decade and has a deep knowledge of the company, its business, and its talent. Electrosonic says she brings “proven expertise and experience in transformative leadership, innovation, strategy formulation, and execution” that will guide the company through the next phase of its 55-plus-year journey. QSC has promoted FRANK WEST to vice president, systems Americas (U.S., Canada, and Latin America). West will play a critical role in maintaining positive sales momentum while Frank West helping QSC realize its vision to become a leading AV software platform company. Industry veteran SATOSHI KANEMURA has been appointed president of FOR-A CORP. OF AMERICA effective April 1. Kanemura joins FOR-A America from Sony ElectronSatoshi Kanemura ics, where he was vice president of professional products and solutions. In turn, former FOR-A America president KEN TRUONG has become chief technology officer. In his new Ken Truong role, Kanemura is tasked with spearheading the company’s growth in new and existing markets including remote and live event production, distance learning, and worship applications. LISTEN TECHNOLOGIES has promoted MICHELINE “MIKEY” SHAFFER to western regional sales manager. Shaffer will lead the team selling Listen Technologies’ suite of solutions to Mikey Shaffer dealers, integrators, consultants, and manufacturer representative firms throughout the Western U.S. Shaffer has been with the company since 2016 and most recently served as vertical market sales manager. USERFUL CORP. has appointed SHANE VEGA director of product marketing and business development. He will be responsible for scaling the product team and managing the
>>>Rep News A.C. PROMEDIA has appointed GOLDSMITH SALES & MARKETING as its sales representative partner. Working with A.C. ProMedia’s regional sales manager Michael Colon and vice president of sales Franck Fabry, Goldsmith Sales & Marketing will cover the Pacific Northwest sales territory.
company’s expanding product suite. With more than two decades of pro AV experience, Vega most recently served as national business development manager within the Advanced Shane Vega Solutions Group at AVI-SPL, No. 1 on the SCN Top 50 list in 2020. VUWALL has hired PIERREYVES DESBIENS as COO/ CFO. Desbiens is replacing CFO Keith Findlay, who will retire at the beginning of May. Desbiens’ responsibilities will include fiPierre-Yves Desbiens nance, accounting, business intelligence, legal, human resources, and overall business operations. FORREST BREESE has joined the sales team at POINT SOURCE AUDIO, where he will serve as account manager for the western United States. A seasoned AV professional, Forrest Breese Breese has previously worked for companies including Renkus-Heinz, Starin Marketing, and IVCi. PK SOUND has appointed ANDREW KING to the role of global senior brand support. King will captain ongoing marketing and communications initiatives while supporting colAndrew King leagues and outside partners as a key part of the company’s brand team. PURO SOUND LABS founder Dave Russell has sold the company to his daughters, ASHLEY WARNICKI, CHRISTINA RUSSELL, and From left, Christina Russell, NICOLE RUSSELL, Ashley Warnicki, Nicole Russell who will continue the company’s legacy of providing safe hearing for all. Puro Sound Labs will continue to work with KultureCity, providing hearing protection in over 150 major entertainment venues via its Sensory Inclusion bags.
NINE LEADERS OF TOMORROW
AMANDA BOYER, AV CHICAGO; GLADYS MARROQUIN, NEWCOMB & BOYD; SARABETH MULLINS, STUDENT; NARIN NARA, AVIXA; PAUL RICHARDS, PTZOPTICS; JESS RHOADES, AVI-SPL; MIKE SLAMER, DISCOVERY INC.; JENNIFER STEINHARDT, AUDIO VISUAL ASSOCIATES; ERICA WILLIAMS, HENDERSON ENGINEERING
Amanda Boyer Title: General Manager Company: AV Chicago Location: Washington, D.C. Twitter: @MandaEbs Overtime: Outside of the office, Boyer enjoys spending time with her husband Brad and her dog Shelby, and volunteering for Habitat for Humanity. She is working on completing an MBA at James Madison University.
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Why You Need to Know Her: Amanda Boyer, 34, is passionate about the business of AV—she’s a whiz at organizing things and turning big ideas into actionable plans. “I love the tech and I love the people,” Boyer said when asked about why she’s attracted to AV. “There is always something new to explore and learn.” The Beginning: Boyer began her professional career at AVIXA, where she worked for more than a decade. She was hired as an account manager, honed her skills in several different positions, and eventually became the organization’s senior director of member services. “At AVIXA, I led an amazing team that helped members get the maximum value out of their membership,” she said. “My team was responsible for growing engagement in all AVIXA councils and all the programs within the mentorship and APEx programs. We were the concierge for members and non-members throughout the organization, and we also worked on expanding membership.” Equality for All: One of Boyer’s favorite responsibilities at AVIXA was working with the various councils—particularly the AVIXA Women’s Council and the AVIXA Diversity Council, which she helped establish. “As the staff liaison to the AVIXA Women’s Council and in helping establish the AVIXA Diversity Council, I had the unique privilege to help bring important industry voices front and center,” she said. “The AVIXA Women’s Council has developed and expanded a global network of women and men who support women in the AV in-
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dustry. This community has done great work in providing a space for women to come together and support each other.” “With diversity, you are able to pull from people’s experiences, creativity, and viewpoints,” Boyer continued. “By being open to ideas and thoughts beyond your own, you allow for a greater opportunity to create new and exciting opportunities.” All In: Boyer, who was laid off during AVIXA’s strategic realignment in August 2020, briefly left the industry to work for a large IT and business consulting firm … but she didn’t stay away for long. “Getting laid off during COVID-19, I had no clue what I wanted to do next, so I took a job outside the industry,” Boyer said. “I quickly realized that my career home is in AV and that I wanted to get back to my community.” Not long after she left AV, the co-owners of AV Chicago—Andrew Brode and Justin Frick—reached out to Boyer to discuss a new position. They were looking for someone who knew AV, knew the players, and had strong organizational skills … and Boyer fit the bill. She jumped at the opportunity and now serves as general manager and helps the co-owners run the company. “I have the privilege to work with a great team. I drive our marketing strategy, lead our sales initiatives, oversee our warehouse, and make sure our customer experience is excellent,” she said. “Yesterday, I was in-studio helping as a stagehand. There is always something fun I get to do. One of our core values is that we are ‘all in,’ so as a team, we do whatever it takes to get the job done.”
Title: Audiovisual Consultant Company: Newcomb & Boyd Location: Atlanta, GA LinkedIn: Gladys Marroquin Overtime: Marroquin enjoys riding bicycles to clear her head. She’s also an avid gamer.
Sarabeth Mullins Title: Doctoral Student Company: Sorbonne Université Location: Paris, France Twitter: @SarabethMullins Overtime: When taking a break from her studies, Mullins enjoys phonography, hiking, researching obscure topics for fun, and composing.
during major events. At the time, she was being mentored by friend and coworker Chester Viray, “I really lucked out with having Chester take me under his wing like he did and in such a kind, patient, judgement-free way,” said Marroquin. These newly acquired skills gave her confidence to take on as many shows as possible and eventually led to her becoming crew chief, a position that often requires formal training. Consulting: After completing college, she received word that Waveguide was looking for field agents. She packed her bags for Atlanta and got her first taste of consulting. Her role at Waveguide sent her across the country to visit job sites and assist with the final phase of projects, which is often when the schedule is most demanding. She eventually moved into the design department and gained experience in the drawing and design side of consulting. Mentorship Matters: After three years at Waveguide, Marroquin transitioned to a new role with Newcomb & Boyd, where she has been ever since. “I am surrounded by colleagues who want to see me succeed and are supportive of what I do,” she said. “I think the moral of the story from my personal experience in AV is that having people around you who are willing to support and encourage you through your career is necessary for women to gain traction in the industry,” said Marroquin. —Jennifer Guhl
Why You Need to Know Her: Sarabeth Mullins, 27, has AV in her DNA. “I got started around the dinner table. My father is Thom Mullins, who was the chair of the AVIXA Standards Committee from 2017 to 2020,” she said. “I grew up hearing him talk about all facets of sound, and I guess it influenced me more than he planned. Musically Inclined: While Mullins studied music theory and composition at Biola University, she rekindled an interest in sound, digital signal processing, and acoustics. “At the time, there was both a practical attraction and a personal one,” she recalled. “On the one hand, it’s hard to find steady work as a composer in the 21st century. On the other hand, the digitization of an analog signal and all that implies was something I wanted to become an expert in. I saw AV as an ideal field to pursue, since it combines so many of my personal interests with challenging and stimulating work.” This interest in sound led Mullins to connect with AVIXA and pursue internships in AV consulting. During college, she spent time interning at Affiliated Engineers Northwest in her hometown of Seattle. Post-college, she interned at Stantec and then spent nine months working there as an acoustic consultant. Always Learning: Shortly after becoming a consultant, Mullins began thinking about continuing her education. “I realized I had more of an interest in the ‘why’ of sound than the ‘how’ of sound,” she said. “I learned a lot about how to set up integrated systems, how to solve problems, but I didn’t really understand
the ‘why’ of ‘Why does sound behave the way it doesIn 2019, Mullins entered the University of Edinburgh’s master’s degree program in Acoustics and Music Technology, where she explored concepts in room acoustics, computer simulation, virtual reality, and interactive sound environments. Ever curious about audio, Mullins continued to pursue a formal audio education and is now a doctoral student at Sorbonne Université in France. Her work in the field of virtual room acoustics takes place with a group of researchers who specialize in experimental virtual archeo-acoustics. “My research focuses on the acoustic heritage of Notre-Dame de Paris, and I am excited by the possibilities of bringing the cathedral’s historic sound to life both for researchers and for the public,” she enthused. What’s Next: As for post-graduation plans, Mullins is unsure what she’ll pursue next, perhaps for the first time in her life. “This is an unusual position for me, since I’ve always been the sort of person with a 50-year plan. I’ve made two of them, in fact. However, the last 24 months have been such a transitional time for me that I’ve abandoned my granular level plans in favor of more abstract values,” she said. “I want my job to include space for curiosity and research. I’d like to continue working at the intersection of audio technology and room acoustics. I’d like my work to be meaningful. And most importantly, I’d like for my work to explore the possibilities and promise within the broader field of sound.” —Megan A. Dutta
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Why You Need to Know Her: Gladys Marroquin, 27, has never shied away from learning something new. She has always rolled up her sleeves, consulted with mentors, and got down to business. She is now an up-and-coming leader in the AV consulting field. Her journey has not always been an easy one, however. For a time, she contemplated leaving the industry following some rough treatment she received based, she believes, on her gender. “Women and other marginalized folks often feel undesired by the industry, for different reasons. When you are trusted, supported, and given more responsibility, it makes a real difference in how you see the industry,” said Marroquin. “It’s the individuals who take the time to get to know you and believe in your success who make the difference and shift the playing field in your favor.” Tech Crew: Marroquin got her start in AV at the University of Florida, inspired by some students with “Tech Crew” uniforms sporting walkie-talkies. She was fresh out of high school, had an interest in technology, and—most importantly—needed a job. “I thought, whoa, that seems cool,” Marroquin recalled. “How do I get into that?” After some apprehension about her interview, she was hired and got her first experience with supporting basic meeting spaces. From there, she sought opportunities to support larger live events and began helping as a stagehand. Before she knew it, she began working toward becoming a crew chief and leading teams
Narin Nara Title: Digital Media Producer Company: AVIXA Location: Bristow, VA Twitter: @narinternet Overtime: In his spare time, Nara is an avid gamer.
Paul Richards Title: Marketing Director, Business Development and Strategic Partnerships Company: PTZOptics and HuddleCamHD Location: Philadelphia, PA Twitter: @SimpleQuaker Overtime: In his free time, Richards enjoys 3D printing and building DIY electronics out of the 3D models he’s created.
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Why You Need to Know Him: While you may not recognize his face, you will definitely recognize Narin Nara’s work. As a digital media producer at AVIXA, Nara, 32, is responsible for a large portion of the association’s social media and video content. Nara, a member of AVIXA’s content delivery team, is focused on supporting the company’s content strategy and working with its technical team to optimize delivery methods through various digital channels. The Beginning: “I’ve always had a fascination for audiovisual tech and learned as much as I could about video production and broadcasting in high school and into college,” said Nara. While looking for a communications position after graduating from George Mason University in 2011, Nara discovered an open position at AVIXA (then InfoComm International). “I engrained myself in the AV world and learned as much as I could about this awesome industry—learning and working until I evolved into a video production-centric position,” he recalled. Behind-the-Scenes Phenom: Nara enjoys his job at AVIXA, where he is part of a three-person team that develops and manages video content for AVIXA’s YouTube account, social channels, and webinars. The team also manages longer-form content such as footage captured from events. “The best part about my job is that I get to work on some really fun projects,” he said. “Video production has always been something I’ve done for fun, and the fact that it’s something I get to do for work is super
awesome. I truly enjoy collaborating with great minds that help bring our concepts to life.” Nara, who considers himself a “100-level introvert,” is working on being better in front of the camera. “Growing up, I struggled with communicating effectively as English was my second language, and that carried into my early professional years,” he said. To overcome this challenge, Nara joined Toastmasters to build his public speaking skills. Now he isn’t afraid to take on opportunities to present at major events and conferences, including SCN ’s Leveling Up: The Esports and Education Conference & Expo, which was held in December 2020. The Social Network: Nara says that as social media continues to dominate the cultural conversation, it has brought about a sizeable amount of grassroots change. “It’s amazing to see people of all ages and backgrounds pick up a camera and essentially become content creators themselves,” he said. “Whether it’s on YouTube or Instagram or TikTok, many are expressing themselves in very fun ways, which paves the way for professional opportunities in video and content.” Nara believes that social media creates communities and points to #AVTweeps on Twitter as an example. “While I tend to lurk most of the time, I always feel a sense of belonging whenever I chip in to a conversation,” he said. “I love seeing the human side of AV professionals come through, and seeing all of the chats and banter within social is always great to see.” —Megan A. Dutta
Why You Need to Know Him: Paul Richards, 33, demonstrates every day how modern marketing can elevate pro AV. Just ask the nearly 27,000 subscribers of PTZOptics’ YouTube channel. “I’m the closest person to a YouTuber that the AV industry has,” he said. “We’re empowering our customers through education. The customers don’t really care about the specs anymore. They want to know how a product will work for them. ” A Word from the Wise: Sometimes it can take a bit of trial and error to find your path. “I graduated college with a business management degree. My first job out of college was business-to-business professional audiovisual sales, which I wasn’t very good at,” Richards said. Working for his family business, Haverford Systems—a “mom and pop” integration firm in the Philadelphia area—he quickly found that AV sales wasn’t for him, so he proposed a change. “It was early in the Amazon days, and we found that there was a big niche in ecommerce,” he said. “We’d put Crestron AirMedia systems on Amazon and we were selling thousands of them.” Thriving in this endeavor, Richards happened to cross paths with a small company by the name of Zoom. “I bumped into [CEO] Eric Yuan when he had one salesperson,” he said. “He was telling me, ‘This industry’s going to be massive. You’ve got to get into it.’” Aware of the burgeoning need for professional video communications and the lack of professional plug-and-play USB PTZ cameras to serve it, Richards took the leap. “I met with our pro AV engineering
team and planned out a solution that we could bring to market within six to nine months.” Shaping an Industry: The two companies—HuddleCamHD, which serves the video communications market, and PTZOptics, which caters to broadcast and streaming—got traction right away. “There was a time when the director of sales at Zoom was telling everybody to buy HuddleCams because there was nothing else out there,” Richards said. “We had a really good connection with Zoom early on, and that helped jump-start the business.” After shepherding the companies into a strong position, he was able to transition from sales to marketing. “I found my flow in the marketing side, hosting live streams,” Richards said. “I would host Zoom webinars in 2014; I was streaming our Zoom webinars in 2016. I think we were way ahead of the curve.” When Zoom became a household name in 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic, he already had more than four years’ worth of YouTube tutorials on streaming and communications techniques, establishing him as an authority on those subjects. Richards is extremely fond of the pro AV and broadcast industries. “Everyone is really nice,” he said. “Even competitors are nice and you can hang out. Everyone has to be so flexible because of how fast things change that everyone is very tapped into what’s going on and what’s current, and that creates a sense of community.” —Matt Pruznick
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Title: Project Manager Company: AVI-SPL Location: Minneapolis–Saint Paul, MN LinkedIn: Jess Rhoades PMP Overtime: In her free time, Rhoades can be found rocking out with her basement jam band. She also upped her plant game during the pandemic, going from five plants to 70 in less than a year.
Mike Slamer, CTS Title: Strategic AV Engineer Company: Discovery Inc. Location: New York/New Jersey Twitter: @MikeSlamer Overtime: Slamer, a selfproclaimed “gadget geek,” channels his love of tech and pop culture into his podcasts We Are Starfleet: A Star Trek Podcast and Gotham University: A Batman Podcast. And in his spare time, he’s recording an album.
pany wanted to benefit from her obvious talent in sales support. “Meanwhile, male co-workers hired after me were being promoted left and right, and my supervisor was receiving sole credit for my ideas in all-staff meetings.” Rhoades loved her work but had to make a change. The Icing on the Cake: Rhoades left AV sales support behind for a new opportunity as a project manager/sales admin with DecoPac, a cake decoration company. “I was specifically recruited for the project management skills I had demonstrated in my bid assembly process, as well as my project coordination post-sales,” said Rhoades. She had a blast in the role, going from working on custom sprinkle mixes one minute to drafting trade compliance documentation the next. The Big Return: After a friend and former colleague joined AVI-SPL, Rhoades saw an opportunity to return to the AV industry as a project manager with AVI-SPL. “My first day at work felt like a reunion because everyone knows each other in AV,” Rhoades said. She is particularly proud of her project management style within the role, one that leads with empathy and focuses on asking questions to ensure her team members can do their best work. “It is easy to misunderstand someone and write off their efforts. The more difficult path is to actually get to know them and find a way to achieve greatness together,” Rhoades concluded. —Jennifer Guhl
Why You Need to Know Him: Mike Slamer’s mission as strategic AV engineer at Discovery Inc. is to help people communicate more effectively. His biggest job challenge is with communications and standards, and how we use technology to connect with a digital handshake. He emphasizes the importance of people being able to clearly hear your message as foundational in creating a great user experience. “I love working with the Discovery Communications team. Their vibe, commitment to social justice, and culture of ‘doing good’ is what I value most,” he said. “The company culture surrounding COVID-19 is one of protection and protocols. Keeping staff safe so they can focus on doing the job is essential, and they make it easy with the measures they’ve put in place.” Early AV Beginnings: From schlepping heavy road cases with sweaty roadies, to stage management, to production for the Discovery Channel, Slamer, 34, has seen his share of live events. Having watched his father perform in smoky jazz clubs from a young age, Slamer has long been fascinated by music and audio. He recalls watching his dad perform on stage and recording as a session musician. Back then, his father
always sat Slamer with the sound guy, where he could keep an eagle eye on him. Seeing the sound board and the stage lights was mesmerizing for Slamer. “Gimme those buttons!” he’d think. The experience led to many hot summers of loading in and out at festivals. Inspired, Slamer eventually started his own band. Leveling Up: Although he only recently obtained his CTS credentials, he thinks of them as just “a couple of letters, but also an equalizer of sorts. It says I can talk the talk and walk the walk in all things AV. I leveled up,” he said. Slamer discovered that math was part a big part of the test, as well as the section on interpreting site drawings. Thankfully, the universe was on his side. He said he had a feeling at the last minute and reviewed that section of the study guides before the exam. The Future: “Find your niche and grow,” Slamer advised. “AV is the future. Just watch an episode of Star Trek with me on your viewscreen and you’ll see. I can totally see holograms and VR/AR use increasing in corporate environments. I’m excited to be a part of this tech wave.” —Brandy Alvarado-Miranda
“Find your niche and grow. AV is the future.” —Mike Slamer av n etwo r k .c o m / / / / M A Y 2 0 2 1 / / / / S C N
Jess Rhoades, PMP, CTS
Why You Need to Know Her: Jess Rhoades, 32, combines her skills in sales support and project management with her penchant for collaboration and active listening to help streamline processes and workflow for companies in and out of the AV sector. This equitable focus helps ensure her projects move forward successfully and exceed profit expectations. “My goal as a project manager is to create an environment of psychological safety in order to foster collaboration and creative problem-solving. We need all of our ideas to weather this industry’s rapid changes,” said Rhoades. Looking for Support in Sales Support: Like many recent graduates, Rhoades left college disillusioned and struggling to pay the bills with a job in retail. She looked forward to finding a permanent position at a company with room for her to grow. After submitting hundreds of applications, she found an entry-level sales support position at an integration firm and jumped at the opportunity to leave retail behind. Rhoades discovered she had an aptitude for sales support, especially on the design-build bids. She was the driving force behind putting the packages together and enjoyed the entire process, from problem-solving to de-escalating conflicts. “Unfortunately, my skill in sales support kept me from internal opportunities despite my gnawing growing pains after five years,” lamented Rhoades. She was kept from open positions, some of which she had been covering for months, because the com-
Jennifer Steinhardt Title: AV Account Manager and Marketing Specialist Company: Audio Visual Associations Location: Denville, NJ Twitter: @NerdyGirlAV Overtime: Steinhardt is an advocate for mental health and diversity. She has a mental health podcast, and is an active member of the AVIXA Diversity Council.
Erica Williams Title: Manager, AV and Collaboration Company: Henderson Engineers Location: Blue Springs, MO Twitter: @haircutfw Overtime: When not working, Williams enjoys smashing the patriarchy and watching films.
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Why You Need to Know Her: Strong, beautiful, brave, candid, and open are words that have been used to describe Jennifer Steinhardt. The 33-yearold hopes to create opportunities for people and make the industry more welcoming for all. Some of you may know her from Twitter, and others may recognize her from her podcast The Mental Mary Show, where she discusses mental health, diversity, and her personal struggles with autism, ADHD, and depression. Her personal motto is “Be kind, be strong, and know you are not alone!” Supporting versus Accommodating: Steinhardt is a proud supporter of the AVIXA Diversity Council, and says the industry is getting better at supporting people with diversities. “Neurodiversity is made for the AV industry because we have the tech to help manage it,” she said. “Accommodations are not what is needed. What’s needed is support for people with diversities. Some roles have been challenging for me, but asking for a shift or alternative solution makes it easier to deal with.” Steinhardt spoke about ways to spread awareness without sharing too much personal information. As an example, she recalled a request for dimmer lighting in an office space. “At the time I did not have an understanding of why,” she said. “It was not until much later on that I had a fuller understanding, and I appreciate that struggle a great deal now. I’m grateful for the AV community and their support. The more we talk about it in a professional environment, the more we can help
others shine!” Band Geek and Sociologist: Like most of us, Steinhardt fell into AV. Her journey began when she made drum major for the marching band her senior year of high school. In that leadership role, she learned about finding ways to creatively teach, connect, and work better together—as well as how to work with different personality styles. That experience led to a master’s degree in sociology, for which her two main areas of concentration were gender identity, and retail relationships between shoppers and staff. She initially intended to use the graduate degree to become a teacher and to advocate for social change, but in a change of plans, the focus on retail relationships gave her insight into marketing and buyer personas that’s invaluable in her current role at New Jersey-based Audio Visual Associates. Fluent in Software: “I speak software very well. Audio is more of a challenge for me,” Steinhardt said. She is grateful to work for a smaller, more agile company that does quality work. “Supporting people is what is important, and tech is the enhancement,” she added. As for the future, Steinhardt plans to earn CTS certification, eventually CTS-D as well, as she sees herself in an engineering or programming function. “Ultimately I’d love to shift into more of an engineering role. That’s the path I see for me!” —Brandy Alvarado-Miranda
Why You Need to Know Her: Erica Williams, 31, is a technical force to be reckoned with … and has been for most of her life. “It was no surprise to anyone when I began working in technology—I’ve always had a knack for it. “Communication is something I’ve always been interested in, and using technology to help people communicate effectively is the best of both worlds,” she added. “When done right, you’re not simply transferring data from Point A to Point B; you’re creating an environment where people have an experience. Getting to help curate that experience drew me in.” AV and IT Collide: Williams began her career on the IT side of the fence as a user support analyst at the University of Missouri. From there, she joined her current employer, Henderson Engineers, as a help desk technician. While working in IT, Williams found herself attracted to the AV side of the business because she saw AV’s power to bring people together. And when Henderson’s AV person left, she jumped at the chance to take on a new challenge. “I was the most curious and willing to step in and help,” she said. When asked what she does in a typical day, Williams replied “Zoom,” which is a pretty accurate answer as she is Henderson’s Zoom account owner and resident expert. “Every day is sprinkled with something different, though,” she added. In addition to her Zoom duties, she provides technical writing for user guides and company
communications, produces and directs live company broadcasts, installs conference room and common area hardware, and other tasks. Tech Support: One of the things Williams enjoys most about her work is helping people. “Whether it’s a conference room system, wireless presentation device, whiteboard in a collaboration area, or a new feature in Zoom or Teams, when people get that ‘aha!’ moment, that sense of them feeling empowered does it for me,” she said with a smile. “Technology changes so quickly these days, and I think it’s important to help people keep up so they don’t get intimidated or afraid to use the technology … especially in this new hybrid future we’re moving into.” Imposter Syndrome: Williams admitted that she has struggled with imposter syndrome. While she hasn’t entirely overcome feelings of doubt about her own abilities, she has improved her confidence by creating what she calls a “council,” which she defines as a group of people with varying opinions and relations to her who can provide different perspectives about professional situations. “This helps calm down the ‘Well, what if...’ thoughts that have so often debilitated me,” she said. Through her work and her council, she has learned that she cannot be afraid to speak up for herself or others. “If you feel like you’re not being heard, speak up,” she advised. “If you discover other people aren’t being heard, speak up. Life is too short, and we should be helping and lifting people up whenever we can.” —Megan A. Dutta
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command and control rooms
BY J I M BEA UG EZ
Decentralizing Command and Control CAN EMERGENCY COMMUNICATIONS HUBS SURVIVE COVID-19?
ommand and control center personnel haven’t had an easy time of it during the pandemic year, and efforts to mitigate virus transmission—the very threat they are attempting to manage—have made their job even more difficult. The threat strikes at the core of their purpose. An organization’s mission-critical personnel gather in command and control centers to access the real-time data they need to monitor and control situations ranging from normal day-to-day operations to emergencies. But when people must remain distanced from each other because of pandemic precautions, forcing many to work remotely, how can command and control stay relevant? Command and control centers have been busier than ever during the pandemic, according to Heather Conover, director of global business development at Constant Technologies. In addition to applications including managing corporate logistics, running E-911 services, and monitoring statuses for utilities, some are now overseeing COVID-19 monitoring, tracking vaccine shipments and organizing food deliveries to homes. “Like any industry, command and control has had to pivot throughout the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Conover. “If anything, these centers have become even more crucial during the pandemic, as everything from public safety to increased cybersecurity risks have been pushed to the forefront. Ultimately these rooms deal with risk management, and the COVID-19 pandemic has been the largest-scale risk management response in recent history.” While the need for command and control is settled science, the pandemic response has challenged how these centers operate. Social distancing protocols reduced the number of people who could work in these centers simultaneously—in some cases, down to 10 percent of their usual capacity, said John Hickey, senior director of R&D and KVM systems at Black Box—causing organizations to pivot quickly to allow staff to work remotely. This trend of de-densification is accomplished in 24/7 centers by rotating personnel
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The Real-Time Intelligence Center in Lee County, FL, monitors public safety data. A centrally located touchscreen allows for collaboration among county assets (land, air and sea) to provide real-time, predictive, modern policing.
between the office and home. COVID-related health safeguards include constructing acrylic partitions between workstations and having operators wear masks. Meanwhile, security measures governing the inflow and outflow of information from command and control rooms are following an opposite trend; the risk of cyberthreats increases as the number of locations increases. “Working from a home site added the need for extra layers of security, as typically the home was not defined as part of the security infrastructure for the control room,” said Hickey. “VPNs and other technologies were added to allow secure access to the normal site, allowing an operator to work securely from home.” Naturally, AV over IP technology is playing a big role in this transition by facilitating remote sharing, so a person working from home or a satellite campus sees the same information as an operator at the command and control center.
“We’re seeing multiple-site setups where people are working from home or at another location, but everything from that central command and control location is shared among everyone,” said Mark Bohs, director of sales for the Americas at Datapath. “With the proliferation of AV over IP technology, we’re seeing more data requirements for the command and control centers, and this allows us to push content to other places outside of the command and control center.” KVM technology solutions are helping solve related issues of remote access. For example, adding a KVM switch to the control room can eliminate the need for multiple keyboards and peripherals by allowing a single keyboard and mouse to control all the computers. “With high-performance KVM over IP systems, the computers can be hundreds or thousands of miles away,” said Hickey. “The user simply selects the target computer from an on-screen menu, which may have hundreds of different targets. Over the last few
command and control rooms
business trends performance KVM over IP and AV over IP solutions, with traditional matrix systems moving into the legacy category,” Hickey predicted. “AV integrators with good IP networking skills will be able to find new ways to design and scale systems for customers. The addition of remote working adds the need for enhanced, secure remote access and data control design to keep data secure.” Bohs added that the overall market has held up well during the COVID-19 pandemic, and integrators who were perhaps more focused on traditional digital signage before the pandemic are seeing the opportunities with command and control. “A lot of the key components that they’re used to—hanging screens, running cables, putting together video walls—a lot of that still applies to command and control; it just brings some other disciplines into the mix,” said Bohs. “Most of the command and control room environments today need to be dynamic and they have to be able to change. There’s lot of collaboration going on, too. A lot of that [uses] skills they’re already using.” Still, integrators who want to move into the market have other factors to consider.
Downtime isn’t an option in command and control, said Conover, and integrations require highly specific expertise. It’s a space where literal life and death decisions are made every day, and it takes skill and a thorough understanding of available and emerging (but proven) technologies to successfully serve the market. “The last year has really highlighted the importance of remote collaboration and the need to share rapidly changing data with key decision makers,” said Conover, “[but] it’s added another layer of complexity to an environment that’s already known for challenging and demanding requirements. The solutions needed for a command and control center are beyond the capabilities of do-it-yourself. The challenges of the last year have, if anything, made the need to have a highly functioning command center more important—and partnerships with skilled integrators are needed to make that happen. “COVID-19 put reaction time and efficiency to the test,” Conover added. “Moving forward, it is clear that organizations with highly functional command and control rooms are best positioned to deal with the unexpected.” *
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years, KVM systems were enhanced to allow these to be virtual machines as well as physical machines. The key trend has been to move these systems—KVM and AV included—to operate over IP networks.” Ongoing AV/IT convergence is the backbone that enables it all, bringing the benefit of real-time collaboration with other operators in the room and with other locations, Conover noted. “While not completely new to the market, technologies like streaming and videoconferencing are seeing growth in the command and control environment, particularly after this last year,” she said. “The real trend that we are looking at is not necessarily exciting new technology so much as ensuring that the fundamental platforms used in these mission-critical systems are deployed with the highest levels of security and functionality.” The pandemic-related disruption of work practices and control room build-outs and retrofits over the last year gives AV integrators an opportunity to enter or strengthen their presence in the command and control room market, Hickey said. “There will be an increasing move to high-
BY SC N ST A FF
How AV Tech Won Big in Harris County Court C
ourt. It’s an in-person, close-up, face-to-face battle about who is right. At least, that’s court as we know it. Serious business is conducted in courtrooms. It’s the way cases have been decided for centuries. When it comes to arguing a dispute on behalf of a corporate client, the attorneys at Smyser, Kaplan & Veselka (SKV), a Texas law firm with seats in Houston and New Orleans, know exactly what setting they’ll encounter during pretrial motions, arguments, and on the day of trial. Sure, a lot of paperwork is shuffled back and forth between parties ahead of time, but the battle is ultimately won—or lost—physically in front of a judge and jury. Then came 2020. And everything changed. Pandemic Times Call for Pandemic Measures When SKV filed suit on behalf of plaintiff Vitol Americas Corp. in the Harris County 80th District Court in late December of 2018, no one could have anticipated the unique hurdles litigants would face just to
bring the dispute to trial. Attorneys worked overtime to build a solid case for their client and anticipated getting their day in court as usual. When the COVID-19 pandemic struck a little over a year later, however, SKV and the client found themselves in a highly unusual situation. Trials were postponed across the board to avoid gathering crowds inside stuffy courtrooms. Social distancing protocols went into effect. Harris County, TX, like many municipalities around the country, entered a partial lockdown that immobilized many businesses and organizations. Cities, counties, and states found themselves suspended in a morass of inertia, unable to make long-term plans because of perpetually changing coronavirus regulations and guidance. Amid the process of depositions, motions, courtroom hearings, and proposed orders, SKV suddenly saw a timely resolution of the Vitol Americas Corp. case slipping from its grasp. But time is money. Confident of a courtroom victory, SKV attorneys knew that indefinitely post-
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virtual court DATA PROJECTIONS
poning a lawsuit with more than $129 million at stake would not serve their client well. In early March 2020, the parties were instructed to begin working toward a trial date, which was later reset for September 2020 in hopes that the pandemic would have stabilized by then. But SKV suggested an alternative option: trial by videoconference. The idea was outright rejected by the defense, which cited due process and the importance of open court to provide the public with access to the proceedings. Meanwhile, SKV argued that the defendant’s legal team had previously consented to a remote trial in federal court in another case, that adequate technological resources were available to both parties, and that the Supreme Court of Texas had recently sanctioned trials by videoconference, even if one of the parties refuses consent. Looking at a possible postponement of an in-person trial until March 2021, SKV fought hard to get a virtual trial date set. Despite the defendant’s objections, the court scheduled trial proceedings to take place in digital format starting Sept. 14, 2020. Bridging the Communication Gap with AV Technology Houston-area integrator Data Projections was selected to assist SKV with its in-house videoconferencing technology. The requirements were
high from the get-go–the firm wanted nothing less than a state-of-theart conference facility with a web of interconnected monitors, interactive displays, control panels, sound integration, and streaming capabilities. When the Harris County 80th District Court launched its videoconference trial, SKV was ready, with a team of professional graphics consultants on standby to address any unanticipated technical challenges that should arise. To bridge the communications gap, it was crucial that the virtual atmosphere resembled a live courtroom as much as possible. Words would have to be clear for documentation purposes, evidentiary images would need to be crisp for examination by all parties, and body language—as well as facial expressions—needed to be clearly visible to help convey intent and purpose accurately. In other words, the impression of live proceedings should be maintained to the greatest degree possible. Virtual Trial, Real-World Success Over the course of the five-week bench trial, Data Projections was instrumental in providing products, support, and consulting services to SKV’s full advantage. By the time the Zoom proceedings concluded, SKV attorneys had examined 18 witnesses live and presented hundreds of exhibits—all using technology installed by Data Projections—to make their case on behalf of Vitol Americas Corp. The proceedings culminated in a major win for SKV on Oct. 15, 2020, with a judgement awarding Vitol Americas Corp. $147 million total in reimbursements and prejudgment interest. In a media release following trial, SKV attributed part of the success to its state-of-the-art conference center, designed and equipped by Data Projections. *
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Data Projections prepared its client’s office space for a virtual trial, configuring a state-of-the-art conference facility with a sophisticated web of interconnected monitors, interactive displays, control panels, an integrated sound system, and streaming capabilities.
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conferencing & collaboration
BY J EN N I FER G UHL
Adapting to the Hybrid Workplace A
Vaddio’s EasyIP TableMIC D microphone delivers professionalquality audio to systems that use Dante networked audio signals. Featuring three unidirectional cardioid microphone elements, a single EasyIP TableMIC D provides 360-degree coverage of a small meeting room.
Atlona has added QR codes into its Velocity touch panels to support touch-free AV control environments. Upon entering a meeting space, users can take over the control system in that room by capturing the QR code on a personal smartphone or tablet.
only because of the weight we may have gained while working from home. Meeting room capacity decreases with social distancing that requires employees to keep a 6-foot buffer around themselves. When updating and designing spaces to support hybrid working, unified communications and collaboration (UCC) technology is vital to ensuring employees have real-time capabilities within meeting rooms and communal areas. “The hybrid office incorporates traditional office technology and the latest tech that connects people around the world,” said Martin Bodley, director and global head of Bose Work. More than ever, remote participants will be just as important as those physically present in the room. With this in mind, companies will accelerate the process of simplifying their meeting spaces, integrating in-room technologies with an accessible control system. Lobban said that the focus today is on touchless tech. “We are integrating technology that allows people to avoid touching the control system. We have integrated QR code capability into our Velocity control system that allows people to take over the control system in a space by capturing the code with their phone or tablet,” he explained. “Where it was once about convenience, it is now about touch-free capability.” With the pandemic far from over, touch-free AV will be crucial and companies will be looking for products that offer that flexibility. Rooms will also need to be configured to support USB-C, a connector standard that was already taking off prior to the pandemic. Lobban added, “Integrators will need to install USB-C devices, which not only carry video, audio, and data but also provide power. Importantly, these devices will also need to be able to manage USB switching from one PC host to another—critical for passing USB mics and cameras from an in-room PC to the BYOM [bring your own meeting] laptop.”
s COVID-19 vaccination campaigns continue to ramp up across the United States, companies are beginning to accept the idea that in-person-only businesses may be on the way out. Traditional presence requirements may be doing more harm than good, limiting opportunity even as they foster a stronger corporate culture. “The office as we know it is changed forever,” said Garth Lobban, director of marketing for Atlona. “At Atlona, we call it Office 2.0. While an increasing number of workers will return to offices, the hybrid office will continue to exist.” Even before the pandemic disrupted the workplace, companies were eager to integrate flexible conferencing and collaboration-based technology to increase engagement among employees and conduct global meetings more effectively. Now, however, companies are looking for guidance from technology providers to help them create not only a seamless hybrid working environment, but an intuitive one, too. Bernadette Pearo, channel marketing manager for Legrand AV, said her company is looking at three main themes when it comes to conferencing. “It’s about the people, spaces, and technology. Based on these three important themes, we think it’s going to be all about flexible meeting spaces, technology for hybrid collaboration, and an enhanced remote user experience.” Before looking at the technology, consider the space in which it will operate. The pandemic has changed the math about how many people can fit in particular meeting room, and not
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V ideoconferencing, which used to take place primarily in boardrooms, is now available to anyone with a laptop or computer camera thanks to the popularity and accessibility of Microsoft Teams, Zoom, and Google Meet. Bodley noted that this technology has growing utility in applications outside the traditional workplace. “We’re seeing it being used in telemedicine—from people having a virtual appointment with their healthcare provider to medical schools using videoconferencing tech to incorporate real-life training. This growth and evolution will continue as collaboration tools leverage AI, continually enhancing the ease of use.” Professional-grade cameras will become standard in offices, and they’ll be installed in more places than just meeting rooms. Companies will look to build them into individual cubicles and offices to ensure that each employee has the ability to interact fully with off-site team members. “Seeing facial expressions or body language is crucial to understanding one another and getting to know your teammates. Teams are scheduling video events for ‘happy hours’ or scheduling ‘coffee breaks’ to fulfill the small talk that is missed when we are no longer going to the office every day,” said Legrand’s Pearo. Along with cameras, carts will have a much larger role in hybrid working environments. “Carts can flexibly move technology around the office for impromptu meetings. It’s costeffective and not a permanent installation of the technology,” added Pearo. “Carts have cable management to keep a clean and easy install, and
conferencing & collaboration
The Bose Videobar VB1 is an all-in-one USB conferencing device that brings premium audio and video to small meeting areas.
fulness, and it’s invisible to the user. It simply works and improves the overall experience.” With the need to connect a larger number of remote employees, the concern of too many participants in meetings will need to be addressed by company IT teams. “Overflow rooms and divisible spaces will become a necessity, and businesses will need to adopt AV over IP products that can extend signals from one meeting space to another over the corporate network,” added Lobban. This will expand the number of places from which employees can participate in meetings, which will help if continued social distancing efforts
are needed. Control systems will have to be able to work across multiple platforms, especially when it comes to room scheduling. “This gives you one system for room control and scheduling that can also be integrated into the corporate scheduling platform such as Google Workspace or Microsoft Office 365,” said Lobban. As companies are working overtime to address issues brought on by the pandemic, it’s important to ensure that you’re asking the right questions before moving forward. Take the time to think about what you really need and select products with flexible applications that will allow your space to grow and evolve as your company does. Pearo suggested, “Think about what the goals are for your team, then work your way outward to understand what you need to accomplish these goals.” The status quo is not meant to last forever. Companies may find that embracing these developments will make for a more productive and engaging work environment, increasing company morale and making them wish they had adapted to a hybrid work environment sooner. *
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to keep users from tampering with the setup.” This option is useful for spaces in which cameras can’t be mounted, such as glass or cube walls. Audio will also need to be given greater consideration to ensure that all participants can be heard and hear everything taking place within the physical meeting room. “For the past 10 years, audio has suffered from ‘good enough’ quality in our conferencing tools,” Bodley observed. Integrators will need to stop thinking of audio as an afterthought and focus on creating a comprehensive audio ecosystem that includes microphones (ceiling, table, and linear), loudspeakers, audio conferencing and processing software, and other accessories to offer an elevated overall meeting experience. Many integrators may look to beamforming microphones and micro-format DSPs for hybrid work environments, both of which are increasing in popularity. Technology like Bose’s PinPoint noise-filtering and -removing software, which is currently in pilot testing, will also see increased usefulness in hybrid work environments; it can be run in the cloud, on a PC, or in firmware on a device. Bodley said, “This is a technology that is rapidly advancing its use-
BY MA RY BA K I J A
Working on Tomorrow THE ROLE OF WIRELESS COMMUNICATION SYSTEMS IN FUTURE WORKSPACES
he audiovisual industry is always looking ahead. What do the technology trends of today suggest about those of tomorrow? And how might social changes in business and personal environments impact those technologies and the ways people interact with them? The past year has illuminated new facets of those questions and revealed some uncertainty about the future of workplaces, learning environments, and other spaces where many people are in close contact for long periods of time. With regard to occupancy and capacity, public spaces might look quite different going forward. “A key question we’re getting from people is what the workplace of tomorrow will be like,” said Lieven Bertier, Barco’s Workplace Segment marketing director. “We all realize we won’t come back to the workplace that we used to know, and most decision-makers anticipate the workplace to be a social one focused on collaboration, creativity, and innovation. How can technology enable this workplace, and how can it reflect the usability and experience we have with consumer tech?” The embrace of wireless technology is one of the most obvious ways that the consumer experience has impacted the professional spaces where people work and learn. “Our home office is by definition wireless. We live in a wireless world, and users already had this expectation before the pandemic,” Bertier added. “But this will be more prominent than ever when they
come back to the office.” Wireless communication systems can help fulfill some of these expectations, but there are still challenges to its implementation and use, including choosing the right hardware and software from the many options available and ensuring users adopt the tools while remaining engaged in a hybrid environment. Easy Does It Balancing connectivity and ease of use is often the first hurdle for integrators and end users, said Matt Kopin, Kramer North America product manager, and for good reason. “If the products are not easy to use and not easy to get connected to, then user adoption slows or disappears altogether—as does the return on investment,” he said. User adoption is aided by familiarity. While many had never used Zoom, Teams, or other collaboration software at the start of the pandemic last spring, there’s virtually no one who’s not familiar with these tools today, having relied on them to keep in touch at work, at school, and in their personal life. A growing field of products are harnessing that familiarity and adding features to improve the user experience. “Wireless collaboration products, including Kramer VIA, have adopted ‘clientless connectivity,’ which essentially means that there are no specialized application downloads or installs that are required to connect and present your screen,” Kopin said. “This has removed a huge barrier and has significantly increased user adoption.” Engagement and collaboration are the primary drivers for products in this area. Kopin said Kramer VIA products fit that bill, pointing to features like View Main Display, which allows connected users to view presented content on their own devices, and whiteboarding, Kramer’s VIA Connect PLUS includes the VIA Versa feature, which allows users to wirelessly connect to the camera and AV systems in their meeting spaces easily and instantly, allowing up to four user screens to show on a single main display.
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WolfVision Cynap Pure Pro supports AirPlay, Miracast, and Chromecast screen mirroring, so no apps, buttons, dongles, or extra software are needed when sharing content from any smartphone, laptop, or tablet.
which allows interactive annotation by anyone connected to the system. “Hybrid meeting spaces are more prevalent now that many users are connecting to meetings remotely by using tools like Zoom, Teams, or Google Meet,” he said. “Our solution is leading the charge when it comes to meeting in hybrid environments. Our VIA Versa feature allows a user to use their own laptop to drive the remote meeting software of their choice, but still take advantage of the professionally installed USB camera, microphone, and speakers in the meeting space wirelessly.” Users can connect to VIA and select its camera, mic, and speakers in the software, and remote meeting attendees see and hear the meeting through the peripherals in the room rather than through the laptop’s camera and microphone. Safe and Secure Keeping virtual collaboration secure involves more than just preventing Zoom bombing. “Anytime a product is introduced to the network, it can create vulnerabilities in the network,” Kopin said. “Products should go through rigorous penetration and security testing by both internal and third-party teams. Documentation needs to be readily available so that IT administrators know the safest and most secure ways to integrate the product into their network.” Of course, every network, and every situation, is different. “There are often multiple networks in a given environment, so it’s critical to keep users and data traffic where it belongs, while at the same time providing access to the equipment that makes presentation technology possible,” said Andrea Mayer, inside sales manager at WolfVision. “Our equipment brings a unique level of flexibility by offering multiple network adapters, so IT managers have choices about how to integrate safely. Also we support standard encryption and authentication standards.”
wireless ClickShare, Barco’s wireless presentation and conferencing technology, provides a flexible user experience with no software needed, no touch panels to control, and no settings to be managed.
The embrace of wireless technology is one of the most obvious ways that the consumer experience has impacted the professional spaces where people work and learn.
integration between in-person collaboration and remote participants. Products like the Cynap Pure Pro, which provide easy access to popular platforms like Zoom and Microsoft Teams, will be key for collaborative environments featuring both in-person and remote colleagues. “Hybrid meeting environments are not going away—in fact, they will only become more popular,” Kopin predicted. “Group sizes within meeting spaces will be smaller, which translates to more remote users.” *
Untouchable The pandemic year has greatly influenced the way we think about touch. At this point, when increasing numbers of Americans have been vaccinated and many or most of us expect to rejoin public life in the coming weeks or months, there’s a strong reluctance to touch common surfaces in an effort to curb potential spread of viruses. Likely this bias will discourage the installation of touch-controlled devices that are meant to be used by more than one person. While many systems embraced touch as a means of control before COVID, the pendulum has swung in the opposite direction post-pandemic. “Reduced touch in common spaces will be important for years to come,” Mayer said. “It has become a necessity for safety, and these types of touchless solutions are what many users will be looking for. As users continue to adopt a hybrid working and learning modality, systems like WolfVision Cynap that are able to provide a consistent user experience for both in-room and remote participants are already playing an important role.” Both end users and AV professionals need to plan for the likelihood that there will be a lasting
A risk with wireless products is requiring network access to share a screen, and while these access points create security issues, that may be the least of the concerns if the network itself has weaknesses, as Barco’s Bertier explained. “Systems are only as strong as their weakest link, meaning that every device on the network needs to be secure, but so does the network as a whole,” he said. “For device manufacturers, this means designing products for security—security can never be an afterthought—but also making sure you have all the tools and processes in place to provide updates if need be.” He said that’s one of the key reasons that Barco ClickShare products ship with access to five years of software updates. “This ensures that customers not only join the best possible security, but also enjoy the latest and greatest functionalities,” Bertier said.
technology Lowell DMR-19 Display Mount The What: Lowell’s DMR-19 is an adjustable mount for flat-panel displays and LCD monitors up to 23.9 inches. Available as a standard model in Lowell’s Rackware line of rack accessories, it can be used with two- or four-post racks in control rooms or AV settings. The What Else: While Lowell had previously developed display mounts to accommodate custom requests, the new mount will be offered as a standard model in the Rackware line. The DMR-19 (19 in. x 5 in. x 4U) features a sturdy steel center plate that can be mounted flush or recessed (up to about 4 inches) on the steel mounting ears. Vertical adjustment slots are sized to fit a 75mm or 100mm VESA mounting hole pattern, while multiple access points allow for easy access to a variety of input/output locations. The Bottom Line: The DMR-19, which features a smooth black powder epoxy finish, is scheduled to begin shipping in May.
Sony XVS-G1 4K Live Production Switcher
The What: Sony’s entry-level XVS-G1 compact live production switcher differentiates itself with a hybrid data processing structure that combines a CPU and GPU with a field-programmable gate array (FPGA) to enable high-speed, low-latency processing of 4K/UHD imagery. The switcher offers an optional clip player and multiple HDR format conversion options. The What Else: The graphics processing engine also includes 3D digital multi-effects, a multiviewer, and multi-layer captions overlay. The switcher is compatible with the Sony SR live workflow. The Bottom Line: Optimized for live production including news, entertainment, and sports, as well as the video requirements of houses of worship, corporations, and educational institutions, the XVS-G1 system suits small to mid-size studios, outside broadcast vehicles, and flypack systems. The XVS-G1 is planned to be available in North America this summer.
Listen Technologies ListenTALK 2.0
The What: The version 2.0 firmware update for Listen Technologies’ ListenTALK portable wireless communication system adds support for simultaneous interpretation and allows up to three people to talk at the same time. The What Else: ListenTALK lets users communicate in any environment while following safe social distancing standards. The system features a small transceiver (combination transmitter/receiver) that users wear on a lanyard around their neck, accompanied by a venue-provided headset with microphone or the user’s own headphones or earbuds with a built-in mic. Users press and hold a button on the transceiver to speak to just the leader or to the entire group. With the firmware update, interpreters can use one ListenTALK unit to hear a presenter’s message in their headset and speak the translated words to their audience using one unit hands-free. Listeners in the interpreter’s group can hear in their preferred language translated from the original source. Listeners can also use the push-to-talk feature to ask the interpreter questions. Interpreters do not need to carry a separate receiver and transmitter or juggle two headsets or a microphone to hear audio from the presenter and listeners and to relay interpretations to listeners.
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ListenTALK also enables relay, or two-deep interpretation, meaning an interpreter can listen to another interpreter translate the main presenter’s words and then translate the words for her own group. The Bottom Line: ListenTALK helps overcome the challenges that distance, background noise, hearing loss, and face coverings pose to communications. Instances where ListenTALK could be used to support simultaneous interpretation include corporate events and meetings, VIP and customer tours at manufacturing plants, campus tours, cultural events and attractions, medical settings, and worship services.
Yamaha UC ADECIA RM-TT Tabletop Mic
The What: Yamaha Unified Communications has added the RM-TT wired tabletop array microphone as a new option to its ADECIA customizable communications solution for meetings and learning spaces. The ADECIA tabletop solution, like the ADECIA Ceiling System, integrates the RM-CR remote conference processor, VXL1-16P Dante/PoEcompatible line array speaker, and Yamaha’s SWR2311P-10G PoE network switch. The What Else: The new offering features the same setup and auto configuration features available through the RM-CR audio processor. Installation of the wired tabletop microphones is done through a LAN cable to the PoE switch. Up to eight microphone pods (four microphones per pod) can be added for scalability. When the RM-CR processor and RM-TT tabletop microphones are combined, the voice tracking function automatically selects the microphone closest to the person speaking for optimal voice capture. In a classroom, the microphones can be set up around the room to capture every student as well as the teacher, who may be presenting lessons from different areas or checking on individual progress or questions. The technology also allows installers to dictate each microphone pod’s directional mode for customized room capture. Available mic options include unidirectional, supercardioid, hypercardioid, omnidirectional, bidirectional, or toroidal. The complete solution automatically detects all components of the system and configures them specific to the room environment, accounting for the location of speakers and microphones, reverberation, and echo behavior. The Bottom Line: The RM-TT features all of Yamaha’s sound technologies, including automatic voice tracking, auto gain control, adaptive echo cancellation, noise reduction, and reverberation suppression in a low-profile form factor. With USB, Bluetooth, Dante, and analog connections, the system is well suited for a variety of enterprise or meeting spaces and classrooms. The ADECIA tabletop model, including RM-TT, will be available this summer. The ADECIA ceiling solution is available now.
Planar MGP Series Fine-Pitch LED Displays
The What: The Planar MGP Series is a new family of fine-pitch LED video wall displays designed as affordable solutions suitable for replacing legacy display technology. The What Else: The Planar MGP Series is available in 1.2, 1.5, and 1.8mm pixel pitches and features a 27-inch diagonal, 16:9 cabinet that supports full front-service, wall-mounted installation. With this new series, the company also introduces Planar MGP Complete, a line of lightweight pre-packaged LED video wall displays offered in 108-, 136-, and 163-inch diagonal Full HD video wall sizes. MGP
Biamp and HP Conferencing Solutions
The What: Biamp is working with HP to provide professional-grade conferencing for a wide range of meeting room sizes, including training rooms and large venues. The new solutions are built around the HP Elite Slice G2 Audio Ready conferencing solutions and Biamp’s Parlé Beamtracking microphones, Desono loudspeakers, and TesiraFORTÉ audio processors. All solutions are designed for use with Microsoft Teams Rooms or Zoom Rooms solutions. The What Else: Together, the conferencing solutions from Biamp and HP offer customers advantages that extend beyond high-quality conferencing audio, according to the companies. Customer IT departments benefit from HP’s expertise in delivering enterprise-grade IT solutions, as well as Biamp and HP’s joint commitment to network device management with high security standards. Installers benefit from automated system deployment and configuration, made possible by the seamless integration of each Biamp component, as well as minimal cable requirements with zero termination, zero network setup, automated room tuning, and more. The Bottom Line: Biamp and HP say the result is a complete collaboration solution with plug-and-play installation that provides significant cost and time savings, as well as customer confidence in clear communication within every meeting space.
AJA Bridge Live v1.11
The What: Bridge Live is a high-performance Ultra HD or multichannel HD encoding, transcoding, decoding, and contribution solution from AJA Video Systems. The v1.11 update introduces new functionalities including HLS input, VBR low latency, E-AC3 input, and numerous user experience upgrades for efficiently managing pipelines. The What Else: Developed in partnership with Comprimato, this turnkey 1RU solution makes it easy to move UltraHD or multichannel HD video between uncompressed baseband SDI to/from a wide range of contribution, delivery, and streaming codecs (H.265, H.264, MPEG-2, and JPEG 2000). Bridge Live v1.11 delivers a host of new features, including HLS input functionality for receiving HLS streams and bringing them into SDI baseband productions. HLS input supports both AVC TS segments for H.264 and the newly emerging fragmented MP4 standard for H.265/H.264. New VBR implementation allows for lower-latency presets with algorithmic intelligence, and a new E-AC3 input supports Dolby Digital workflows. Additionally, pipeline upgrades include co-existence of different time
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bases, more efficient tools for managing presets, and REST API enhancements allowing calls for individually starting and stopping pipelines. The Bottom Line: Bridge Live v1.11 is available now. The latest update comes standard with all newly purchased Bridge Live units; it is also available to existing users with an active maintenance agreement.
Epson LightScene Digital Signage Projectors
The What: The LightScene EV-110 and EV-115 3LCD laser projectors simultaneously illuminate and project on virtually any surface, enabling dynamic, experiential content for digital art, commercial signage and décor applications. Designed to blend in to any setting—from retail, hospitality and event spaces to showrooms and museums—LightScene EV-110 (white) and EV-115 (black) offer a sleek spotlight design, with an array of configuration, mounting and programming options. The What Else: The 2,200-lumen laser projectors offer users extensive signage and messaging capabilities, as well as the ability to create borderless displays, filtered lighting effects, 3D object mapping, and edge blending, which Epson says will make the bezels, frames, and big black boxes of flat-panel displays a thing of the past. The EV-110/115 have built-in media players for cableless content playback, as well as Wi-Fi and LAN connectivity that allows for live content creation and management using the Epson Creative Projection app and Epson Projector Content Manager software. The digital signage projectors may be integrated into existing CMS infrastructure with simple HDMI connectivity. The Bottom Line: The latest models offer a range of new features including GPI motion sensing, which Epson says enables simple and costeffective sensor-based experiences and interactivity. The LightScene products have been designed to make installation easier, with wide throw and zoom range with motorized optics, geometry correction to help ensure the display looks the way it was intended, and a ball-joint mounting design with options for lighting track, ceiling, and floor mounting. 1_3p loop.qxp_WIRE BUSHINGS 1 4 pg 7 09 4/8/21 12:46 PM Page 1
THE LOOP™ Made in USA
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Complete is intended to reduce the complexity of video wall design and installation. The Bottom Line: The Planar MGP Series makes fine-pitch LED an accessible alternative for environments that previously used projection or tiled LCDs including retail settings, classrooms, lecture halls, and houses of worship. It’s also intended as a digital replacement for printed signage such as banner displays and ribbon boards. The Planar MGP Series and Planar MGP Complete will begin shipping in May and will be available through Planar’s global network of authorized resellers.
technology Extron SSP 200 Pro AV Surround Sound Processor The What: SSP 200 is a surround sound processor from Extron designed for pro AV applications in corporate and commercial environments. The What Else: It automatically decodes Dolby and DTS formats from HDMI sources to discrete audio outputs. Providing up to 10 built-in outputs, plus additional outputs via an EXP port, the SSP 200 provides the flexibility needed for multimedia system requirements, including support for the latest immersive formats of Dolby Atmos and DTS:X. An upmix function synthesizes multichannel audio from stereo content. The Bottom Line: Featuring an HDMI input with loop-through and EXP expansion port connection to DMP Series audio DSP processors, the SSP 200 is designed for integration into pro AV installations. The SSP 200 is housed in a 1U, half-rack-width enclosure that is rack‑mountable and occupies a fraction of the space required by a consumer surround processor or AV receiver. It can be controlled and configured using RS‑232 serial control or via a network connection.
EPOS Expand Capture 5 Intelligent Speaker for Teams Rooms
The What: Expand Capture 5 is a smart audio solution for Microsoft Teams Rooms that EPOS says will improve communication for everyone, whether they’re working remotely or in the office. Meeting participants joining from an on-site meeting room gain a high-quality speaker that automates live transcriptions, allowing remote participants to follow what is being said and by whom for optimal collaboration and communication. The What Else: Expand Capture 5 combines advanced audio with communication, AI, and collaboration technology. The speaker’s premium speaker driver and seven-microphone array together enable audio and voice recognition, with the goal of ensuring a natural, lifelike con-
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POWER & LOW VOLTAGE
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versation as if all meeting participants were in the same room. The intelligent speaker is designed for meeting rooms for up to 10 people. It identifies in-room participants by their voice, attributing their remarks to their name in the automatically-generated meeting transcript. The Bottom Line: Expand Capture 5 will launch in North America in April and will be available through EPOS sales channels and a newly established relationship between EPOS and Lenovo. The speaker is expected to launch in EMEA and APAC later this year.
Tekvox 1201-MV Universal Switcher
The What: Tekvox says it is raising the bar for distance engagement in both the educational and corporate markets with the 1201-MV Universal Switcher, which supports 4K x 2K @ 60 Hz 4:4:4 resolutions and six video inputs: five HDMI and one powered USB-C. The What Else: The latest in Tekvox’s line of switchers delivers Bring-Your-Own-Device (BYOD) videoconferencing by eliminating the need for a conventional in-room PC to drive the conference’s technical components. Instead of a dedicated conferencing PC, the 1201-MV switcher features a two-way USB hub at the far end that allows any connected laptop to host meetings from the conference room using the installed technology. The 1201-MV retains the simultaneous HDMI and HDBaseT outputs of its predecessors, and adds 12 flexible multiview configurations for viewing up to four sources at the same time without requiring additional hardware. The switcher uses 6-Play HDBase-T to transport 4K video, digital audio, PoC, RS232, LAN, and USB over a single cable. It also includes a native USB-C input with up to 60W of power charging for a tablet or laptop. The Bottom Line: The 1201-MV features auto-switching and a breakaway HDMI output. It is available now.
Vaddio EasyIP TableMIC D
The What: Vaddio has expanded its audio offerings within the company’s AV-over-IP EasyIP ecosystem with the EasyIP TableMIC D, a microphone that delivers professionalquality audio to systems that use Dante networked audio signals. While one unit will cover a small room, up to four EasyIP TableMIC D microphones can be paired with the EasyIP Mixer and AV Bridge 2x1 products for coverage of a larger collaborative space. The What Else: Featuring three unidirectional cardioid microphone elements, a single EasyIP TableMIC D provides 360-degree coverage of a small classroom or meeting room. Each of the three microphone elements is equipped with integrated echo cancellation and Digital Signal Processing (DSP), including equalization, automatic gain control, and adaptive noise filtering for clear audio. The Bottom Line: To install EasyIP TableMIC D microphones, integrators can connect a standard Cat 5 cable between the EasyIP TableMIC D microphone and their preferred PoE network switch. Power, control and audio are all carried over the single cable. The EasyIP TableMIC D supports cable lengths of up to 328 feet between the microphone and PoE network switch port. Vaddio equipment can be paired through the free Vaddio Deployment Tool, and audio flows can be managed through Audinate’s Dante Controller application.
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viewpoint How to Bring Employees Back to Work Safely B Y RI C K G RI M A L D I
any employees are still working at home as the pandemic continues, but now that vaccination distribution has ramped up, many leaders are counting down the days to when they can bring employees back and once again maximize the rewards of face-to-face collaboration and innovation. The biggest question on their minds: How can we do this in a way that keeps everybody safe—employees, vendors, and customers?
Everybody is eager for things to get back to business as usual. The only way to do that is by planning ahead now and taking all the steps necessary to make your workplace as safe as possible for everyone. Read on for best practices to keep in mind as you reopen. First, decide whether some, most, or all of your employees will stay remote. If you are one of the many organizations that allowed employees to work from home during the pandemic, you and your workforce could be inclined to keep at least some employees remote. After all, some roles are conducive to remote work, and many employees have shown that productivity does not suffer when they work virtually. Next, decide who will come back, and when. Make a plan to stagger schedules and shifts to help workers come back as safely as possible. Make sure your process is fair and consistent for all employees. Comply with established safety guidelines to help workers come back safely. As employees return to the workplace, your main objective should be protecting them from COVID-19. To ensure that you are complying with established safety practices, check out guidelines posted by OSHA and the CDC. Train managers and employees about new protocols. Hold briefings on safety protocols via virtual meetings before employees return to work. Use a team approach so that everyone has a responsibility to ensure continued safety for all. Once workers are back in the workplace, post plenty of signs reminding them of the safety protocols. Also, make sure employees understand that they have a federally protected right to speak up about workplace hazards without fear of retaliation. Supervisors who are knowledgeable about your sanitation processes put employees at ease and instill confidence that the workplace is safe. Conduct daily employee temperature checks. Subject to specific state and local laws and with proper protocols and policies in place, you should conduct temperature checks each day. Many have been doing temperature checks since the beginning of the pandemic when their workers were required to be in the workplace, but privacy and data collection law may require you to adjust your preferred practices. Require employees to stay home if they have COVID symptoms. Tell your workers not to come in if they experience fever or chills, cough, shortness of breath, or any other symptoms of COVID-19. Remember, keeping everyone safe limits your liability risk. Safety should be your first priority, but most employers are still concerned about liability should any employees, vendors, customers, or other visitors contract COVID-19. To the extent there is any exposure to private civil litigation, most jurisdictions use workers’ compensation laws to protect employees and to avoid independent negligence lawsuits that would overly burden employers. While there have been some claims of exposure at work, they are difficult to prove in the context of COVID-19 as exposure could occur almost anywhere. But workers’ comp laws won’t necessarily protect companies from claims brought by those who believe they contracted the virus at your place of business. If you do all the things suggested here, you will be able to defend a claim that you endangered your employees or visitors. Decide whether your company will mandate the vaccine. You can choose to mandate the vaccine as a condition of working as long as you
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honor federal anti-discrimination laws. In fact, many employers have been mandating or incentivizing employees to get the flu vaccine for years. However, not many organizations are taking this route when it comes to the COVID-19 vaccine. According to a Fisher Phillips Flash Survey tallying information from 700 employers, only 9 percent of respondents said they were considering requiring employees to take the vaccine as a condition of their employment. If you do decide to make the vaccine mandatory, you must take into consideration those who object for religious or health reasons. Most employers would prefer to find a way to encourage—rather than mandate—the vaccine. The best way to do this is by educating employees and reducing apprehension caused by misinformation or lack of information. The other option is to incentivize employees (for example, with a cash payment). While this may be an attractive option to many employers, it’s important to understand the risks associated with various possible incentive programs before launching one at your workplace. Before implementing any incentive program, consider, at minimum, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), and, depending on the nature of the incentive, the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). You will also need to consider any related state or local laws that may apply in your jurisdiction. Remember that employees have rights under the Americans with Disabilities Act. Again, to protect yourself from lawsuits, you should always be prepared to engage with medically fragile employees with the goal of finding a reasonable accommodation, if possible, that will allow the employee to perform the essential functions of his or her job. An employee who has a legitimate health or religious objection to getting the vaccine, and is the victim of discrimination, may have a legal cause of action against the employer. All that said, some employees may resist returning to work because they do not feel it is safe. This is a tricky subject. But at some point, just feeling unsafe, assuming your employer is doing everything possible to make the workplace safe, will not win the day for employees. Even if your entire workplace gets vaccinated, do not plan to relax safety practices anytime soon. The CDC’s new guidance permits relaxed safety standards for fully vaccinated people, but you should still exhibit patience. No doubt about it, bringing people back safely is a significant challenge, but it is a challenge you can feel good about facing head on. Your compliance with government recommendations, as well as your transparency, frequent communication, and empathy for what your employees are feeling, reminds them that you are doing everything in your power to keep them comfortable and protect them from COVID-19. And in doing so, you’re not just protecting them. You’re also protecting the lives of everyone in your community Rick Grimaldi is a workplace trends expert and the author of FLEX: A Leader’s Guide to Staying Nimble and Mastering Transformative Change in the American Workplace. His unique perspective comes from his diverse career in high-ranking public service positions, as a human resources and labor relations professional for an international high-tech company, and presently in private practice as a partner with Fisher Phillips LLP