Issue 217 / January 2019
AV INTEGRATION IN A NETWORKED WORLD
Bridging the gap
Digital signage connects online and offline worlds
Key findings from AVIXA's IOTA report
'An incredible reality'
Theatre takes visitors inside apple storage facility
AHEAD OF THE CURVE Professional development plays a vital role for both integrators and manufacturers
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The world of forecasts
he difficulty with forecasts is you’re making predictions about the future, based on past and present data mixed with a lot of unknowns. It’s a balancing act and, depending on the circumstances, the outcome can look reasoned and calculated or like slightly misinformed guesstimates. The process has become incredibly sophisticated, but forecasts are only ever one significant event or decision away from being out of date and mostly irrelevant. It would be interesting to know what proportion of the Brexit farce readers think has been carefully weighed and has its roots in sound forecasting. I bring this up now, not just because of its general topicality, but Duncan Proctor, Acting Editor also as in this issue I talk to AVIXA’s Sean Wargo (page 10) about firstname.lastname@example.org the association’s latest Industry Outlook and Trends Analysis (IOTA) @install8ion report which, to hazard a guess, has probably been done with a jot more rigour than the aforementioned omnishambles. During my conversation with Wargo, he spoke of how Brexit has been factored into forecasts for how the European AV market will perform over the next four years. However, as predictions are closely aligned to GDP, it only takes one big event or period of further uncertainty, such as what we have seen since Theresa May returned with a Brexit deal that did not universally delight (to put it mildly), and this can send shockwaves through the economy and make prior forecasts some way off prevailing conditions.
ISSN number: 2050-6104
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‘As the industry has grown, it cannot help but be more closely tied to global economic performance’
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One thing to offer a crumb of comfort is that when economies are rocked by situations like Brexit, forecasts tend to err on the side of caution which, after the initial panic, can result in an uplift once deals begin to be made again. In relation to AV, as the industry has grown, it cannot help but be more closely tied to global economic performance, which is a signal of its prosperity, but also means that when the global economy is experiencing turbulence, the same is likely to follow in AV. Without treading on the toes of the AVIXA interview too much, the positive to emerge from this is it uncovers secondary markets and new technologies that are actually outperforming sectors traditionally thought of as the major engines of growth in the industry. Elsewhere in the issue, the main theme considers professional development, with one feature looking at how it is approached by those providing training and those in attendance. Motives vary and the role it fills differs from situation to situation, but its importance shouldn’t be underestimated and it’s one area of the industry that should grow for the foreseeable future.
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10 Special Report: Professional development 16 Driving industry success
Long regarded as one of those things that had to be done, training is now acknowledged to be a vital contributor to business. We look at it from both the perspective of the manufacturer providing the training and the integrator attending
22 Building pathways
As the AV industry has grown and become fundamental to more and more sectors, proper training and career progression have become increasingly important. We find out what is being done to clear the way for current and future workforces
Contributors: Mike Clark, Chris Jaynes, Rob Lane, William MacDonald, Ian
28 Melinda Golden Theatre, Trentino
Rob Lane highlights acoustics as a critical and overlooked part of unified communications William MacDonald on the impact of the cloud on workplace communications
Solutions The Melinda apple consortium recently inaugurated Melinda Golden Theatre, which takes visitors on a high-impact 4D virtual visit to the company’s cold storage warehouses
30 Raspberry Pi Foundation, Cambridge
AVIXA’s Sean Wargo contextualises the association’s key findings from its latest IOTA report and discusses emerging sectors and technologies
This multi-purpose space has been designed to facilitate teamwork and collaboration with a range of AV kit specified to deliver a clutter-free environment
42 Last Word
32 Solutions in Brief
Christopher Jaynes assesses what makes an effective meeting and the new model for collaboration
14 Industry Events
Including the world’s largest command and control LED display; a waterfront connected lighting project; and an exclusive Finnish cinema experience
Show preview: ISE 2019
McMurray, Steve Montgomery
26 Digital signage
35 New Products
Special thanks: Holly Mercer, Krystle Murphy, Peter van der Sluijs
Cover Image: CEDIA training
We look at how digital signage can be used to bridge the gap between the online and offline retail worlds and attract shoppers in-store
Including Atlona, Leyard, Lutron and QSC
06 OPINION: ON THE AGENDA
Acoustically challenging Acoustics is an often neglected area of unified communications
coustics is perhaps the most disregarded aspect of pro audio – particularly in unified communications. Budgetary constraints often mean that integrators and their clients don’t instruct dedicated acoustical consultants, either choosing to do the work themselves or ignoring it completely. This is a mistake. Acoustics is hugely important. Yes, it takes effort and understanding – particularly when it comes to architectural and construction issues in modern working environment room design – but the rewards of getting the best acoustics are worth all the effort and expense, even if room aesthetics have to be compromised for physics. Yes, today’s microphones and digital sound processing can cover over some acoustical cracks. According to AV consultant Emma Bigg, director of Octavius RE: “Meyer Constellation in Bloomberg HQ is an example of where acoustics were so important they used advanced processing technology to fake it.”
Broader selection However, the better that rooms are treated acoustically, the easier it is to get the system integration right, with a broader selection of audio solutions available. These modern-day audio bells and whistles are even more effective if a room’s acoustics are right in the first place. It’s true that audio algorithms can be employed to mitigate background noise on conference calls, but further improvements can be made if a room’s acoustics are optimised first. With background noise creating significant, ongoing distractions within meeting spaces – for both in-room and remote participants – acoustics are all-important.
Today’s open plan or flexible working spaces continue to acoustically challenge end users, designers, architects and consultants. However, the growth in popularity of enclosed huddle spaces present their own acoustic challenges. Often designed with highly reflective surfaces such as glass, the eradication of sound echoes and background noises is key. Here technology probably trumps acoustic treatments – unless treatments are applied at the design stage of the huddle space.
‘The better that rooms are treated acoustically, the easier it is to get the system integration right’
“In the modern office environments, we often see huddle spaces that are enclosed in highly reflective surfaces such as glass which still require advanced signal processing to address,” Shaun Robinson, VP of customers solutions, Harman Professional Solutions, told me.
Audio push The rise in remote working and expansion in global comms has, of course, added to the push for better audio in corporate environments There’s now an inherent understanding that good microphones, good speaker system design and good acoustics play an important part – although the latter remains a neglected area. “Collaboration technology makes it possible to connect a global workforce in today’s workplace. Audio is an essential part of that exchange. When
the spoken word is intelligible and coverage is uniform, meeting participants remain engaged from wherever they are located,” explained Marc Happes, product manager for conferencing and unified communications at Bose Professional. But when it comes to acoustics, it doesn’t matter whether comms are remote or localised: the issues are all very similar. According to acoustics expert Chris Adair, of Adair Acoustics, the main problem is that designing a good acoustic in a relatively small room requires a whole different set of priorities. “Rooms often look fantastic – particularly in today’s corporations – but these rooms often have such poor acoustics that even two people speaking at once creates a problem, and videoconferencing can become a nightmare.” Larger, open plan office spaces and restaurants offer different challenges, of course, with the visual and practical needs – and, often, reflective surfaces – restricting acoustic treatment choices. “There are many good products that look great and are practical,” said Adair. “An example is the Artnovian range of products, many boasting a real wood veneered finish.” Crucially, according to Adair, you cannot transform a room’s acoustics with a small amount of acoustic treatment – it will take up space, usually 10-20% of surfaces. This is perhaps another reason, alongside cost, why acoustics is pushed to the back of the audio queue when it should be at the front. However, treatments don’t have to be ugly: there are loads of aesthetically appealing options, and they don’t even have to be obviously acoustic in design. Bigger Boat PR owner/director Rob Lane has been writing about AV technology since 1995.
08 OPINION: ON THE AGENDA
William MacDonald Cloud control
The future of workplace communications and what this means for integrators
usinesses rely on effective communication and collaboration, regardless of the location of their employees, to collapse decision-making cycles and develop business strategies. Until relatively recently, videoconferencing services were only within the grasp of the largest enterprises with the budgets and resources to deploy and maintain on-premise infrastructure. Businesses often needed to gather senior staff to make decisions and while videoconferencing was the most effective way of doing this, the expense and complexity of on-premise videoconferencing systems was prohibitive.
Cloud is shaping videoconferencing sector The rise of next-generation technologies, particularly cloud services, has reduced the cost and complexity of deploying advanced VC platforms. With cloud-based videoconferencing services, there is no on-premise infrastructure to install and maintain, reducing the burden on IT staff and requiring a lower capital investment. In addition to reducing the complexity and costs associated with deploying VC platforms, cloud technology can also vastly improve the user experience. Cloud-powered videoconferencing services can offer instant messaging, voice and video calling and content sharing, as well as meeting room reservations, all in one place – ensuring an integrated user experience, replicated over desktop, mobile and meeting room technology. The user experience of videoconferencing services is critical, staff should not have to be trained how to use a meeting room solution. The integration of cloud in videoconferencing services is providing businesses with much needed
control of, and insight into, their facilities, enabling control privileges for administrators, simple and straightforward provisioning and room setup. Firmware updates can be delivered automatically to every device connected to the cloud, which is crucial for global businesses that may have hundreds or even thousands of meeting rooms.
AI – an emerging trend Despite the slightly blue sky thinking around AI, it is going to have a real impact on UC platforms. Incorporating AI solutions into cloud-based videoconferencing services could further enhance the insight that management platforms can provide. While at present, management platforms are primarily focused on providing insight into how
‘Removing the complexities of commissioning and installing on-premise infrastructure has made the lives of integrators easier’
a business’s videoconferencing service is used, AI-powered platforms could take this information and optimise the utilisation of meeting spaces and company resources. AI solutions can also recognise if a meeting is scheduled but does not start at the allocated time, telling the organiser that it will be cancelled, and the room made available if the meeting does not start within a specified time. If a meeting finishes early, AI could notify the facilities management team so that the room can be cleaned before the next meeting. AI could also bring facial recognition
into meeting rooms, starting a meeting when the camera recognises the face of the organiser, or focusing the camera on the person speaking.
Where does this leave AV integrators? Technological innovation is transforming the UC sector, and the role of AV integrators could also change significantly. Cloud services are already enabling integrators to deploy meeting room solutions with greater speed and ease, and also to bring collaboration technology into smaller meeting spaces such as huddle rooms. Removing the complexities of commissioning and installing on-premise infrastructure has made the lives of integrators easier and helped them to make better margins on UC projects. Businesses often want more than just a VC solution, they want a fully integrated meeting room, with controllable lighting and blinds, concierge services and other features that help to deliver a user experience that meets the needs of a global enterprise. The advances in AV means integrators must upskill in order to keep abreast of changing trends. With AI delivering more in-depth insights to businesses, it is the job of the integrator to keep on top of the latest developments in data analytics and management platforms. With this in mind, integrators will see their roles change to that of a consultant, delivering a seamless collaboration environment from mobile to desktop to meeting room and providing detailed analytics on usage and optimisation. William MacDonald is CTO at StarLeaf
10 INTERVIEW: SEAN WARGO, AVIXA
Following the release of AVIXA’s Industry Outlook and Trends Analysis (IOTA) Duncan Proctor talks to Sean Wargo, the association’s senior director of market intelligence, about some of the key findings from the research Firstly, can you outline how the report was put together? This is our second year with this methodology. We went through a major revision last year and now are refining that as we go forward. I would say overall we kept pretty consistent
with some of the findings in terms of per cent growth. We’re tending to look like GDP, that’s one of the key indicators for this market as you would expect since pro AV is implemented in pretty much every different vertical. So the industry tends to look like the world economies in total.
We also keep an eye on things like construction, corporate profits, etc. as leading indicators for what we might see in our market. But overall pretty consistent with GDP globally around four to five per cent compound annual growth now until 2023. That leads us to almost a $230 billion dollar industry as we go out to 2023, from more than $180 billion in 2018. One of the big categories that everybody focuses on is corporate in this space – outfitting corporate headquarters with collaboration technologies, digital signage that’s still a big chunk of this market, but where we’re seeing more of the growth is in some newer or less traditional markets. A good example of that would be healthcare, which has really come up as a big growth area for integrators and end users. Thanks as we all know to aging populations and we all continue to get sick and that keeps that market fairly vibrant. And so I think what you’re finally seeing is some investments in technologies to support, enable, and facilitate better care. Whether it’s waiting rooms all the way into patient care, surgery, operation, operating facilities, lots of AV technologies kind of percolating that market so that’s a big growth area – double what the total market is growing at. Another big one that’s somewhat surprising to me is Direct View LED, which is a technology a lot of people have been watching. We have seen it in stadiums where there is the appetite and the ability to invest significantly in those screens, but as those costs have come down and the supply chain has improved, it is starting to become more viable, whether for digital signage installation or in cinema as a potential upgrade for primary displays. Cinema itself is now one of our expected fastest growing markets as we go out to the outer ranges, both because of Direct View being a potential upgrade path for theatres as well as digital signage facilitating investment in the lobby areas and the food and beverage areas of cinemas. Those combined things are pushing cinema into a top growing vertical market with 8.6% CAGR from 2018 to 2023.
INTERVIEW: SEAN WARGO, AVIXA
Those sectors have surprised you or the rate of growth has? Yes I think because the industry tends to be very, very focused on the traditional categories – higher ed and corporate. I would say highlighting something like healthcare is surprising to parts of the market – those that are not yet capitalising on those opportunities because it is a challenge to get into something like healthcare. There are specific requirements, specific technologies – in the United States we have HIPAA regulations that protect patient information. Data security has to be a big piece of what you’re providing. That is a surprise to the market, though, you talk to some and they’re like “oh yeah of course we’ve been seeing this for awhile.” Cinema because it is a smaller sector and had already gone through an upgrade path within the last three, four, five years as we went to digital cinema, that’s more of a surprise I think to people. That is good news for some of the sectors and for integrator-installers who were involved in that space too. Surprises – I frame that in terms of information that’s new and different and unexpected to the market as a whole. Moving onto IP-based distribution (as that is mentioned as a disruptive technology), what ways do you see it being disruptive and in what sectors? It is a new requirement, and this is where AV and IT collide. The networking infrastructure has been built out, has matured and AV is viewed as potentially another node on that. As an AV integrator, you now have to consider how to utilise that back-end structure, whether it’s optimised for your needs as an AV integrator/installer. Knowing that doing things like distributing
video content to those hungry digital signs, that we are now installing everywhere, requires a significant amount of bandwidth. Integrators across many installation areas are having to build out that capability, hire new staff or train existing staff how to work with IP-based distribution over a network. That was a big theme at InfoComm. If you talk to people that were at the show, a lot of them were saying “yeah I’m here to get basic training in IP-based distribution. I need to know how to do that in order to better serve my clients and handle requirements.” That was a big theme that we’re seeing, pretty much across the board. It has historically been the case in unified communications. That was already how calls were being made on the back of voice-over-IPbased products, so it was a little more mature there, but it is now cutting into more traditional AV areas like audio and video distribution. It is quickly becoming an across the board phenomenon and you have to be working within that infrastructure, those requirements to be able to serve the client better.
they’ve had to collaborate in order to ensure exceptional experience across all these different application areas, whether it is the digital sign or a conference and collaboration solution. They’re having to work together. In some cases, you look at an industry like retail or even sports venues – who the integrator is dealing with can be a little bit different and there is perhaps some desire to move upmarket to a bigger decision-maker, but the reality is in a lot of cases you’re back to the IT department to try to work together on the end solution that’s being provided. Collaboration I would view as the current way of describing that [relationship].
And in terms the relationship between the IT department and the integrator, is that becoming one of increased co-operation or is it more competitive? I think it has almost had to become more collaborative. In some cases it can feel a little bit competitive because the IT department in many cases is involved in scoping, sourcing the solution and that can feel like it’s very focused on costs. Cost of hardware, cost of software so that it gets very nuts and bolts. Whereas the AV integrator is thinking about the solution that they’re trying to provide and making sure it’s a quality experience. But the reality is
Around collaboration technology, the industry has been shifting from hardware to software and cloud-based solutions over the last few years. It has certainly been a disruption, particularly for a hardware-based industry used to selling boxes, products, hardware components. With software services and cloud services coming in, it leaves integrators wondering ‘how do I get a piece of that pie?’, especially if somebody is using let’s say a Skype service for their collaboration, how does an integrator come into the mix? The space itself often has to be optimised – it is not as simple as buy and install and you are done. I think the quality of that experience
‘It can feel a little bit competitive because the IT department in many cases is involved in scoping, sourcing the solution and that can feel like it is very focused on costs’
is pushing some people to look bigger picture: ‘well is my room set up so that noise is not an issue? What about the mic placement, the screen placement, the speaker placement – is that all optimised to ensure that everybody has a good experience when they’re in that space?’ Leaving aside the individual offices for a moment, just the number of huddle spaces and larger conference rooms that are still out there, that’s where the integrator’s strength lies in. Taking that experience beyond just a simple cloud-based or simple bundled hardware package to something higher quality – that opportunity still exists. The cloud-based services are coming out with these packaged bundles, which I think serves some of the market, but there’s still this opportunity out there for integrators to take it to another level. That’s what you’re hearing, how they can fully integrate to make that a bit better experience for the user. That is definitely a part of the challenge these days – how to work with a cloud service as an integrator. Where are we with LED and LCD display technologies? Is LED at a point where it can compete on a like-for-like basis yet or is it still based on application? I think we are still in that market of application and it bifurcates a little bit, and actually the third technology you could add into that discussion is projection since there’s a scale of different opportunities that exist. You’ve got smaller conference rooms or even food and beverage areas where a less than 50 or 60in display is okay. And clearly the price point for LCD on that is most conducive to those applications. Wherever you need display proliferation for lots of different purposes, in some cases even videowalls, where you’re showing lots of different information, an LCD type of technology is going to be the most cost effective. However, you get up to a certain size, most say it is above 100in, and that’s where LED can shine or projection becomes the more cost effective. It is still the case in most instances – a projector with a screen is going to be cheaper and easier to install than LED. It is getting better, and I think you get up to really big displays, especially in situations where light is harder to control like a stadium then that is where LED has really shined against projector technology. But that is a debate that still happens like in cinema – do we go to LED technology, which offers a really nice resolution now since pixel pitch has become so small? As costs come down, that becomes a viable alternative to projection technology. Where we’re seeing more of the interplay and competition is between LED and projection, since LCD really is a smaller
INTERVIEW: SEAN WARGO, AVIXA format – it does really well at that less than 100in types of installation and is still very cost effective there. As for more specialised media players, are you predicting that they will be phased out and generic IT servers will replace that technology? It has become a big question. It has also become a question of the more that it goes to generic white box sorts of server technologies – does it make it harder for the AV integrator to stay in that space? So far what we’ve seen is there is still specific need for those media servers if there is a heavy task, lots of distribution, a focus on a set of displays or certain requirements. Crestron, AMX, all the others − they are still very active. They have got products that all work seamlessly together. They handle those tasks really well. That is staying a part of the market even as the generic boxes come in. I think if anything, what has happened so far is while specialised media players may have given up some ground, I think the net has actually been an increased market size so that there’s areas where the white label, the generic servers can play and expand out opportunities for an integrator/installer in the market. So it has not fully replaced, nor do we expect that it will; there is a chunk of this market, even if it is say 30 to 40 per cent that specific media players maintain as this market grows. Servers are becoming more and more required to handle all the various tasks from control of lighting, distribution, content and interactivity at the point of the display. There are a lot of purposes there that have to be served by these products, so it keeps an opportunity going for both as we go forward.
‘That is definitely a part of the challenge these days - how to work with a cloud service as an integrator’
Another area highlighted in the report is voice control. By 2023 do you think voice control will have made serious inroads into a number of technology areas? Where we are expecting the most is hospitality and in-room experience. That is where voice is making its first foray in a big way. You’re seeing some hotels experimenting with that. It is starting to happen a little bit in conference rooms, but as we look at the forecast range out to 2023, I would expect this story to have evolved. But I think, given the user complexities
of the conference room and data security privacy etc., I do not expect it to become the lion’s share of control systems within conference rooms during that timeframe. I think it is going to be more of a niche percentage – around 9/10 per cent as we go to 2023. You also predict that Asia will overtake North America as the largest pro AV market. I would return to where we started with GDP. Looking at straight GDP and the growth that is happening in Asia, albeit slowing somewhat of late. Everybody seems to be very concerned about the 2021 timeframe as far as a slowdown globally for macroeconomics and that may force us to revise a bit. I don’t know that that would change Asia’s story or China’s story, I think as we go out, that compound annual growth rate really starts to have its effect. North America is chugging along at two to four per cent depending on the forecasts and models. China is double that and at a certain point that economy starts to exceed the US and North America. That is really what it’s about − the maturing of their economy, the sectors building out. All that presents great opportunity for pro AV. Do you have any predictions regarding the fallout from Brexit? It’s one of those things like the stock market they often talked about things being baked in to the expectation. That [Brexit] has been largely accounted for in the forecasts and is why Europe’s forecast for growth is more muted. I think forecasters have expected that that was a headwind and at a certain point, that perhaps relaxes as deals are struck and we’re already starting to see that happen. I would not expect it to be any worse than what is already forecast. If anything, what we should start seeing is some upside as things start coming together – that it becomes a more known commodity. How is the removal going to work? From a practical and logistics standpoint. How do countries and economies account for that? Versus assumptions and guesswork, which it has largely been. Typically what happens in these forecasting cycles is people skew more conservative and pessimistic and then the reality starts to set in. Sometimes it can be worse than expected but more often you start to see a return to a bit more positivity, more specific estimates so that the problems, the negative forecast becomes isolated to specific areas. In short, I think that has already been baked into that EMEA and Europe story by and large.
14 SHOW PREVIEW: ISE 2019
Can ISE 2019 build on its previous attendance figures for yet another record-breaking show?
Looking forward ISE is almost upon us once again. Ian McMurray looks at what the 2019 event has in store – and where ISE is headed in the future
ot so much a trade show, perhaps, as an annual pilgrimage – one that the faithful have been making to Amsterdam for a decade or so. They won’t be for much longer, as 2019 will see the penultimate ISE at the RAI, with its new location from 2021 having been announced as the Gran Via, part of the Fira de Barcelona exhibition complex. Simply: as vast as the RAI might seem, it is no longer big enough to fulfil the ISE organisers’ ambitions for the event. Last year, almost 81,000 visited close to 1,300 exhibitors, setting yet another year-on-year record. That’s huge, compared with the 3,500
who visited the first ISE in Geneva in 2004. In 2009, 25,000 AV professionals came to the show; by 2012, that had risen to 40,000; and 2016 saw 65,000 visitors. So: what can this year’s visitors look forward to – other than the usual vast array of bright, shiny, new objects to drool over? ISE is, of course, an opportunity taken by many exhibitors to announce their latest and greatest – and much of that will be being demonstrated. (Tip: to stay abreast of those announcements, be sure to pick up a copy of the ISE Daily, which is published every day throughout the show.)
Must-see What trends, though, will those new products illustrate? If you’re a displays person, the new generations of screens based on LED technology will be a must-see. Few think they’ll replace LCD in its single panel guise – but videowalls will be a different matter. In fact, what will be most interesting is whether any of the companies you may have previously considered to be 100% LCD-centric will announce that they’re complementing their offering with LED-based solutions. The reality is: if they don’t, their videowall business will almost certainly go away. From that point of view: don’t expect to see
SHOW PREVIEW: ISE 2019
What? ISE 2019 Where? RAI Amsterdam When? Conferences: 4-8 February Exhibition: 5-8 February any LCD display manufacturers announce even slimmer bezels… For those with an interest in projection, it will be fascinating to see whether the industry has given up on talking about solid state illumination. It’s just not the differentiator it was. Everyone knows what it is and why it’s better: it’s time to move on. But: what will the new points of competitive advantage be? Given that projection image quality and brightness are now everything anyone could want them to be, innovations are likely to be around ease of use, ease of deployment, ease of integration. The huddle room phenomenon looks unlikely to go away any time soon – so expect to see more solutions offered for the ‘let’s have a meeting right here, right now’ market. Here, the emphasis is likely to be on ‘it just works’, with increasingly simple plug-and-play product offerings.
Holy grail Digital signage is likely to be a significant user of LED-based displays – but at ISE, the focus is likely to be less on the display, and more on what’s behind it. Built-in players, for sure – but expect to see innovations in technologies that can improve engagement, the holy grail of digital signage users. Digital signage has already become an early adopter of AI, and further developments in that direction look likely. And speaking of AI: savvy visitors will be keeping a lookout for cool uses of VR and AR. They’ve been much hyped, but the ‘killer app’ still seems to be elusive. It will come. The ISE opening address, to be delivered by Ambarish Mitra, co-founder and CEO of augmented reality technology company Blippar, may give us some clues. He’ll discuss how augmented reality and artificial intelligence are disrupting market sectors served by the pro AV industry, and what future developments are likely to bring. Those interested in sound rather than vision will be looking to see – or, more likely, hear – the latest developments in two directions: immersive audio and networked audio. In the case of the former: expect to see more implementations, with some clever speaker designs to enable the new paradigm. In the case of the latter: it will be interesting to see the latest developments in AVB, and whether support for the AES67 interoperability standard for IP-based audio is growing.
There will be a packed, wideranging events programme both at the RAI and the nearby Okura Hotel
Recent innovation Away from the showfloor, however there is, as always, much to do and see. A recent innovation – a result, perhaps, of the increasing space constraints imposed by the RAI – are the offsite events hosted at the Okura Hotel, close by the RAI. It will stage a wide-ranging conference programme, including the XR Summit; Digital Signage Summit; Digital Cinema Summit; HTNG (Hospitality Technology Next Generation) Insight Summit; and AttractionsTECH by blooloop, which will explore the latest technologies, solutions and business strategies for the theme park and attractions business. There’s also the Smart Buildings Conference to look forward to, which takes place the day before ISE opens. It’s a twin track event that explores the latest technologies, business strategies, market research and workflow case studies through presentations from the world’s leading smart building experts and thought leaders. Education and training have always been key ISE themes, and a reason in their own right to visit the show. As ever, AVIXA and CEDIA will be offering comprehensive programmes. No less comprehensive are the Special Interest Groups that have become a feature of ISE over the years. They provide an opportunity for exhibitors to meet leading groups of end users, with some offering a specially-curated ISE experience. ISE 2019 also sees the return of the popular Future AV Professionals Programme, which provides young people thinking about possible careers with the best possible opportunity to find out what the AV industry is all about.
Huge value There is, of course, a risk in ISE’s plan to
relocate. Amsterdam is a popular location, not only because it is an attractive destination in its own right, but because of its easy accessibility from most of Europe – and, in fact, from the rest of the world, from which increasing numbers of ISE visitors come. Barcelona is no less attractive as a destination – but perhaps less accessible. (Schiphol handles 68 million passengers/year, and is the world’s 11th busiest airport; Barcelona’s El Prat handled 47 million in 2017, and is ranked 28th.) There must also be huge value to ISE in the relationship it has built with the RAI over the past 10 years: the two organisations know each other very well by now – an invaluable asset in putting together the logistics of such an enormous undertaking. On the other hand: Barcelona is likely to be warmer: its average low temperature in February is higher than Amsterdam’s average high… But: thus far, ISE’s organisers have not made a mis-step, which now enables them to proudly proclaim ISE to be the biggest audiovisual show in the world – and the move to Gran Via will give them the room to grow still further, with access to almost twice as much floorspace (200,000sqm) as the RAI could offer. That ISE has achieved that position of pre-eminence is in no small way due to how its organisers have gone beyond simply refining a tried and trusted formula by continuously keeping it fresh, reinventing it to reflect the changing reality of the AV world. 2019 promises to be more of the same. You can bet, though, that Mike Blackman – managing director of Integrated Systems Events – and his team will be looking for even more of us to make that pilgrimage.
16 SPECIAL REPORT: PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT
As part of its ProDesign service, Optoma runs technical training for installers on complex projection techniques as well as the installation of LED displays
Driving industry success Long regarded as one of those things that had to be done, training is now acknowledged to be a vital contributor to business. Ian McMurray finds out what makes or breaks successful programmes
ack in pre-history – well, the mid-1970s anyway – anyone joining one of the bigger computer companies as an account representative was likely to start his (it was rarely a ‘her’) career with intensive training. It was likely to be a twintrack path: sales training on the one hand, and product training on the other. Sales training taught you about qualifying prospects, about features and benefits, about asking closing questions. At the heart of product training was the entirely reasonable premise that, if you didn’t understand how the product worked, you weren’t best-placed to sell it. The end of each course – they were always classroombased – was marked by a demonstration to your instructor, pretending to be a customer, in which you got to show off your product knowledge and sales skills – or not. Passing the course depended on you ‘making the sale’. Fast forward almost 40 years. The products we work with are significantly more complex. There are many more of them. And, unlike the days of mainframe computers, new products come along every three months – not every
three years. How is the AV industry responding when it comes to training? “We provide our partners with training that encompasses sales, technical and solutions,” notes Jason Cremins, CEO of Signagelive. “Our objective is to ensure our channel partners have the confidence to engage with customers with the appropriate knowledge to know how Signagelive can meet their digital signage requirements.” As part of its ProDesign service, Optoma runs technical training for installers on complex projection techniques such as edge blending, warping around domes and mapping but also for the installation of LED displays.
Expanding the offering “This covers what’s involved in specifying an LED display, the pitfalls to avoid, how the resolution and aspect ratio impact content creation but also hands-on practical sessions installing LED displays,” explains Ross Noonan, technical product specialist at Optoma. “One installer, who recently attended our edge blending training, told me he had turned
Key Points n Manufacturers are providing, and integrators are valuing, extensive education and training on a range of topics n Training is seen as a potential source of competitive advantage – especially where formal accreditation is provided n There is resistance on both sides to the idea of mandatory training – not least because opportunities are widely taken up n Enhanced business relationships are seen as a vital by-product of regular training down a job last month because he didn’t know how to do it. Now, he is trained and tendering for complex blending jobs. It is expanding what he can offer to his customers.” “In each country, we offer technical training for Bose loudspeaker products, as well as electronics and software such as Bose ControlSpace Designer and Bose Modeler,” says Daniel Buss, team lead, product and technical support at Bose EMEA. “We also provide training on how to use Audinate´s Dante protocol with Bose products.” “Our training is specifically designed to meet our partners’ best interests, educating them on how to identify new customers, find new
opportunities with existing customers and advise on where they can provide a competitive advantage through Logitech’s products,” notes Patrick Crowley, head of channel programs at Logitech EAMEA. “In short, it’s empowering our partners by educating them on how they can best leverage Logitech’s value proposition.” Barco has taken the concept of training even further with the creation of the Barco University. “The Barco University offers a broad range of training,” says Piet Vandenheede, who is director of global product training, Barco University. “Part of that offering covers general personal development and wellbeing of Barco staff, while the other part is focused on the solutions/ technology we bring into the market. This is targeted at both our own sales and service staff as well as at our partners and channels.”
Effort appreciated? It’s clear that manufacturers are taking the provision of training seriously – but is that effort appreciated by their customers? “It’s imperative that manufacturers invest in their products by providing strong support and training to our teams, so that we are able to integrate their products correctly,” believes Iffat
SPECIAL REPORT: PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT Chaudhry, bid manager at CDEC. “Yes,” echoes Stuart Davidson, who is technical services director at AVMI, “it’s
‘Where manufacturers stipulate that training is mandatory in order to sell a product, this is not always conducive’ Iffat Chaudhry, CDEC
important for our partners to provide structured training covering sales and technical aspects of products. Sales training should allow our sales team to identify when a product is the right product for an opportunity, and allow them to talk confidently to a customer about how the technology will meet their objective. Technical training should ensure our design and deployment teams have all they need to successfully implement the technology.”
Colin Etchells, who is group technical director at Visavvi, the newly-created AV services arm of Saville Group, would, if anything, like to see things taken a step further. “We actively welcome and encourage formal certification programmes that require integrators to undertake in-depth product, technical and support training, especially in association with practical demonstration capabilities,” he says. “Having tiers of accreditation really does help differentiate the commitment integrators have in truly understanding the solutions they are recommending to clients. As a business, we hold senior accreditation levels with all the key manufacturers within the industry. “We have an enormous appetite for being at the leading edge of the industry, and we can only achieve this with the knowledge, qualifications and training of our teams.”
Mandatory training So far, so good. Manufacturers are offering the training that their channels want Should committing to training therefore be mandatory for a reseller to be appointed by a manufacturer? For the most part, it seems to be something manufacturers want to
18 SPECIAL REPORT: PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT avoid – which is just as well, as the channel is reticent about the idea. Both largely believe that the benefits of training are sufficiently self-evident that making training compulsory should be unnecessary. “We don’t make any of our training mandatory,” says Crowley, “but the benefits offered through undertaking our training mean we see very high engagement rates. We also offer incentives for those partners who participate in various levels of training, making it worth far beyond a partner’s time to engage with us.” “Training is a vital part of the go-to-market of our solutions,” adds Vandenheede. “We want to ensure that our channel understands the full customer value proposition and is able to integrate, service and troubleshoot our solutions right first time. Hence, we expect our business partners and resellers to invest in training so both they and Barco are successful.” “To a point, yes, compulsory training would really depend on the product, our team’s skillset and also if it was a complex solution,” notes Chaudhry. “Some manufacturer training is much better organised than others. Where manufacturers stipulate that training is mandatory in order to sell a product, this is not always conducive, especially if the integrator then is not interacting with the product until the point of sale.” Visavvi’s Etchells wonders, however, whether mandatory training might be of benefit to the industry and, perhaps more importantly, its customers. “A recurring problem is integrators who complete installations with little, if any expertise and as a result the manufacturer’s brand and the credibility of the AV industry is damaged,” he claims. “Many manufacturers have tried to implement minimum standards, but we still see evidence of integrators taking on projects that they simply cannot support. Compulsory training would be a positive step in addressing this issue.”
Relationships Training does, however, achieve more than the simple transfer of knowledge – a point made by many. “From my perspective it’s absolutely mandatory to provide training to keep resellers and partners up to date,” says Buss. “A training session will also build relationships between Bose employees and Bose resellers. A good relationship can also be a part of successful selling. We actively promote training as an integral part of becoming a Bose reseller, so being part of the Bose ‘family’ is appreciated by many resellers and cements those relationships.” “Most manufacturers offer a broader
Optoma offers clear direction Training is often part of a manufacturer’s integrated reseller support programme. Optoma’s ProDesign programme swung into action when integrator Clear VC won the contract to install a four metre-wide LED wall at the headquarters of Serif, developers of Affinity photo editing and graphic design software. “We worked closely with the team at Clear VC on this installation to provide training, technical support and expertise,” explains Optoma technical support specialist Ross Noonan. “Not all AV experts have experience in the installation of LED displays, which is why we offer our ProDesign service to dealers and installers. On this project, we supported Clear VC right from the start with the site survey and specifying the LED display, through to training their installers, calibration, commissioning and even being on hand at the launch event.’ www.optoma.com approach to training,” states Chaudhry. “They are usually happy to come into our offices and run familiarisation sessions with our staff, to join us at client meetings, and to support client demonstrations of their products. All of these activities support the development of a strong, positive working relationship, and by default lend themselves to incidental training opportunities.”
‘By training customers with our products they are more likely to spec these into future projects’ Ross Noonan, Optoma
“By supporting our partners and customers with training, it builds relationships,” says Noonan. “Also by training customers with our products they are more likely to spec these into future projects.” Building relationships is, of course, vital in any manufacturer/reseller partnership, and training provides an important vehicle for consolidating them. But, as Noonan implies, training also
provides the opportunity for competitive advantage: if you understand a product well, and where it fits, you have greater confidence in proposing it.
Competitive advantage “If we are to be successful with our partners, we need to ensure they have the confidence to explore new opportunities with customers and see Signagelive as their partner to deliver a successful digital signage solution,” believes Cremins. “Without an appropriate level of training, we would be nothing more than a SKU on a price list.” “Having the knowledge is key,” says Vandenheede. “You have a competitive advantage if you can prove you are fully confident and competent with the Barco offering. We issue certification after the successful completion of training to confirm this strength.” “Training absolutely delivers a competitive advantage,” adds Davidson. “We never underestimate the value of continuous training. In addition to the commercial benefits that can be gained by achieving accreditations, it is essential we remain at the leading edge of technology and market trends in order to provide our customers with the best possible advice, and the most successful projects.”
Training: how it impacts business results For its launch of the company’s meeting room solution ClickShare, Barco organised two-day classroom training sessions at its headquarters in Kortrijk, Belgium. However, the company wanted to extend not only the geographic reach, but also to reach the channel beyond its distributors. This saw it offer online interactive training, videos for the Barco YouTube channel, and a ‘train the trainer’ programme principle so that classroom training could be organised in other countries in local languages. This saw the amount of training delivered soar to more than 1,000 registrations per year. Barco also enlisted the support of distributors in running training sessions.
20 SPECIAL REPORT: PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT “Being accredited in particular areas has undoubtedly been a factor in securing contracts,” echoes Etchells. And, increasingly for resellers, it’s not just about staying ahead of the competition – it’s also about staying ahead of end users, who are becoming increasingly tech-savvy. “Our training is designed to educate our resellers on what products are most suitable for which applications,” explains Noonan. “Often, end users will request products that are not actually what is needed for a given application. Our training ensures our channel sells the products that end users need – rather than what they might ask for.”
Barco uses the Kirkpatrick model of training effectiveness, which includes four levels - reaction, learning, behaviour and results
Holistic thinking Helping end users arrive at the right solution is also at the heart of Logitech’s training. “One of our USPs is that our products are very easy to deploy, so in most cases deep dive product training isn’t necessary,” says Crowley. “What our training does focus on, however, is advising the best product to suit a customer’s different meeting spaces. Our aim is to equip every meeting with the right solution, from smaller huddle rooms to larger meeting rooms and boardrooms. We accordingly train our partners to approach a customer’s needs with holistic thinking, suggesting a product that will make the whole room work, considering everything from the windows to the light levels and acoustics.” Whatever it comprises, the acid test with training, of course, is whether it is effective – but what’s the most effective way of measuring its effectiveness? How should it be measured? Buss notes that Bose routinely asks for participant feedback immediately after a session. Barco uses the widely-accepted Kirkpatrick model of training effectiveness, in which level one checks the experience itself via an end of class survey (‘reaction’), and level two assesses the degree of learning via an examination that leads to certification (’learning’). Level three attempts to establish how well what was learned has been applied (‘behaviour’) – and level four establishes whether the training has led to better business outcomes (‘results’). “We’ve implemented the first two levels,” notes Vandenheede, “and level three is performed on an ad hoc basis. We haven’t yet implemented level four.” The latter is, of course, the ultimate test. “Success is ultimately measured in commercial success with the partner,” says Cremins. “However, the quality of the opportunities and depth of discovery from the channel partners provides us with a good indication as to whether the training has been successful
and where we need to improve or increase the training required.” “Providing we can see successful completion of projects, and of course project wins, we will continue to invest in training,” answers AVMI’s Davidson.
its success. Yes, manufacturers would like to offer more of it, and have more of the channel attend it. The channel unquestionably values what manufacturers provide – but it has limited resource, and time spent on training is time not spent selling or installing.
Room for more
Any discussion of training inevitably leads to its wider significance to the industry. While the channel clearly values what manufacturers offer, and manufacturers play a key role not only in training but also in education – there is still, Visavvi believes, room for more. “We encourage and actively support AVIXA training for our people, combined with substantial manufacturer training,” says Etchells, “but we think that may not be enough. That’s resulted in Visavvi having initial discussions around setting up a dedicated training academy to encourage new recruits into the industry. There are no real dedicated courses or technical apprenticeships in audiovisual technologies available – and, increasingly, companies are having to try to entice applicants from the IT or electrical sector. This isn’t ideal. We feel there’s enough demand for technicians in the integration industry to consider the development of a more formal qualification, like the one embraced by the live events sector. If the industry is to grow and thrive, we need to develop strategies that are going to engage and encourage Generation X and Z to become part of it.” With that caveat in mind, it becomes apparent that training is at the heart of the industry, and is making a substantial contribution to
Its value goes beyond simple learning, with training providing a forum for deepened – and thus enhanced – relationships, as well as being a vital element within the ongoing manufacturer support continuum. The best training, it seems, includes elements that are not manufacturerspecific, on topics such as AVoIP and Dante – and also provides sales context in terms of prospect qualification, features/benefits and competitive advantages. In respect of the latter, what seems to be particularly valued is official manufacturer certification as a differentiator against a competing integrator who cannot formally demonstrate the same level of knowledge and understanding. Training has become both more imperative – and far more challenging. For manufacturers and integrators alike, it’s fundamental to their business success. Just as it was to those young computer salesmen all those years ago.
www.avmi.com www.barco.com www.bose.com www.cdec.co.uk www.logitech.com www.optoma.com www.signagelive.com www.visavvi.com
22 SPECIAL REPORT: PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT
Courses should include a mix of teaching and practical, hands-on learning
Building pathways With the AV industry bigger than ever, expanding across multiple sectors, professional development has never been more important. Rob Lane discusses training and career progression with industry bodies AVIXA and CEDIA
rofessional development has always been an essential component of AV: something the industry has always taken very seriously. But in recent years with the growth of AV, professional development has had to step up a notch or three, with the two main industry bodies, CEDIA and AVIXA, working hard to ensure AV professionals have the skillsets required to deliver on all levels. AVIXA’s efforts to build a skilled AV workforce begin with its charitable arm, the AVIXA Foundation. To date, the Foundation has been active in awarding scholarships to college students studying AV-related disciplines with an eye toward a career in AV. The Foundation also runs a grant programme for sponsoring internships at AV industry companies. Interns learn valuable AV industry skills, while sponsoring companies mentor and train potential, future employees.
efforts in developing a workforce pipeline for the AV industry,” explains Brad Grimes, AVIXA senior director of communications. “That includes programmes to increase awareness of AV as a career path, turnkey programmes that education institutions and community partners can use to support and develop entry-level AV skills, and engagement in career-planning efforts and job fairs to connect students and trained workers with AV industry employers.” After the AVIXA Foundation has helped enable this career pipeline, the AVIXA association – with its established and respected training and certification – takes the baton and ensures that the AV workforce continues to evolve, develop, and deliver high-quality, professional solutions to customers around the world. As part of its three-year strategy, CEDIA is focused on securing the long-term health of the home technology industry, which it firmly believes depends upon a well-trained and professional workforce. “It is CEDIA’s
responsibility to deliver educational pathways that support this goal,” says Matt Nimmons, managing director, CEDIA EMEA. “In 2018, we
“Recently, the AVIXA Foundation Board ratified an ambitious new strategic plan to redouble its
Key Points n Maintaining professional development ensures delegates can keep up with tech advancements n AVIXA has been enhancing its training offering by breaking down large bodies of knowledge into smaller parts n Training is not just about new technologies, design and integration skills, it also encapsulates business training further expanded the internal leadership and staff resources dedicated to the education department. Tom Darling, senior vice president of education and certification joined the team in May of 2018 and Samantha Ventura, senior director of education joined in March of 2018. Both Darling and Ventura have a deep understanding of post-secondary educational programming and online education formats.”
Aggressive plan Under the leadership of Darling and Ventura,
CEDIA has developed an aggressive education plan that includes significant revisions and additions to its online training programme. By the start of 2019, a new learning management system (LMS) will be fully implemented, offering a more streamlined user experience for those taking online training. Then, in January, CEDIA will launch 13 new online courses with 70 available by the end of 2019. “The courses are set up to guide a user through an education pathway that prepares individuals for CEDIA Certification,” explains Nimmons. “The CEDIA education team has spent a lot of time developing these career pathways, working with the PDAC (Professional Development Advisory Council) and benchmarking against industry data to align them to education, experience level, and job type. CEDIA launched the globally revised ESC-T Exam in 2018 and a global revision of the ESC-D Exam is due to be ready by January of 2019.” In-person training also represents a large portion of the CEDIA education programming for the next year as exemplified by ISE, which of course provides an excellent opportunity for visitors across EMEA to access ‘full, varied, and high-class’ CEDIA training tailored to satisfy industry requirements. “Our four-day education schedule at ISE is supported by Samsung and will cover a wide diversity of core curriculum, new technologies, and business improvement topics at ISE 2019,” says Nimmons. “CEDIA is especially excited about a completely revamped full-day Home Cinema Design Masterclass that visitors can take on Monday 4th February, the day before the showfloor opens.”
SPECIAL REPORT: PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT 23 in turn leads to consistent, successful client outcomes. “Continued professional development ensures that delegates are equipped for technological advancements and the evolution of the industry,” says Nimmons. “Without sufficient training, it’s impossible to stay ahead of the game and provide clients with solutions that are ready for the requirements of today, and tomorrow. “CEDIA’s Certification programme is recognised throughout the industry to promote to consumers that companies with CEDIA Certified employees offer uncompromising quality and expertise.” Introduced in 2003, CEDIA Certification establishes clear, objective standards for knowledge within the home technology industry. This includes three certification levels with recommended education pathways for each, including ESC-T (technician), ESC-N (networking specialist), and ESC-D (designer). Nimmons adds: “As part of the continuing drive for higher standards within the home technology industry, CEDIA encourages its members to attain CEDIA Certification, and as such promotes any company employing CEDIA Certified Staff on the CEDIA Member ‘Finder Service’ at cedia.org.” “It’s impossible for anyone in our industry to develop or innovate new solutions without formal, informal or social learning,” explains Beckner. “Also important is developing and evolving the foundational skills that ensure high-quality solutions around the globe. AVIXA’s certification programme provides a recognisable baseline of professional development for customers and companies.”
Targeted training One way that AVIXA has been enhancing its training is by the breaking down of large bodies of knowledge into smaller parts. “When an AV professional is working on a project and needs to learn something new – or simply brush up on something he or she has already learned – we want him or her to be able to find targeted training on a subject without needing to take an entire course on a broad subject,” comments Amanda Beckner, CTS, AVIXA vice president of learning. “What’s more, we are beginning to reframe technical topics in terms of the solutions AV customers require. While it’s important for the AV technician to understand subjects like potential acoustic gain (PAG), it’s equally important to understand and communicate the real-world experience that a system’s PAG means for users.” The continued development of training and education is, of course, crucial to the growth of AV, and the fast-moving nature of technology makes it especially important to ensure that the highest level of expertise is offered – which
‘It’s impossible for anyone in our industry to develop or innovate new solutions without formal, informal or social learning’ Amanda Beckner, AVIXA
Fuelling growth As the AV industry has expanded, the technology available across both pro and residential has evolved as to be almost unrecognisable from a few years ago – fuelling the growth of the industry further. This, in turn, has created further challenges for professional development and the training required. “With the AV market continually evolving, it’s important for professional development to reflect this and stay ahead of developments,” explains Nimmons. “We are always seeking to better understand product roadmaps and
how CEDIA education can advance awareness, understanding, and implementation of these new technologies.” When new technologies and requirements arise, CEDIA integrates them into its education offering. “Our training is not just about new technologies, design and integration skills. We also offer comprehensive business training to ensure that our members can grow their companies successfully in the market. Our CEDIA education team is structured to balance the programme, to meet the needs of the market and our members.” According to Beckner, AVIXA doesn’t overstate the effect changes in technology have upon their offer, or get intimidated by them. “Meaningful professional development that leads to better processes, designs, installations, and quality customer experiences isn’t necessarily dependent on technology. Sightlines are still sightlines. Acoustics are still acoustics. If technology change means that the work changes, then the curriculum evolves. “For example, when the industry shifted to network-based systems, we had to include professional development that related longpracticed, decision-making paradigms in systems design to slightly different paradigms for networked systems design. Along those lines, curriculum changes when new efficiencies are developed into product sets making parts of existing processes irrelevant.” Beckner says that many changes to how AV professionals work don’t occur when the technology changes, but instead when industry standards are developed. “For example, for decades, AV system designers used a best practice known as the 4, 6, 8 rule to determine screen size and viewing distance. While that practice worked for 4:3 displays, it does not hold true for 16:9. AVIXA’s Display Image Size for 2D Content in Audiovisual Systems standard offers a tested and validated strategy for today’s systems.” For courses to be successful, there should be a mix of expert teaching and practical, handson learning, allowing integrators to take the most away from training sessions. “The content needs to be relevant and allow attendees to build on the foundation of knowledge that they already have,” states Nimmons. “We want all delegates to walk away feeling better equipped than when they arrived, and enriched by the training experience.” CEDIA courses are developed by a global council of subject matter experts to provide delegates with the knowledge and skills to succeed in the industry. From newcomers looking for an entry point, to seasoned industry professionals looking to increase their skills, it’s important to have something for everyone
24 SPECIAL REPORT: PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT
As part of its three-year strategy, CEDIA is focused on securing the long-term health of the home technology industry by contributing to a well-trained workforce
when it comes to professional development. “From concept through execution, the content needs to be about the work of the AV professional – scoped by AV professionals who do the work, and reviewed and validated by them,” says Beckner. “We’re finding that it’s important to build in opportunities for the learner to personalise the training experience, and to engage in peerto-peer learning, which not only broadens the perspective of all learners, but also fosters community in the industry.”
New recruits When it comes to recruiting talent, both industry bodies recognise its importance in terms of the growth of the AV sector as a whole, with talent recruitment gaining a much sharper focus in recent years. “Creating a pipeline of new talent is essential if our industry is to grow,” states Nimmons. “To this end, CEDIA is committed to raising awareness of our industry as a career opportunity among jobseekers. This is another priority identified in the CEDIA three-year strategy.” CEDIA is developing the Smart Home Technician Apprenticeship standard, to encourage young professionals into the industry. This standard is intended to put more control into the hands of employers, ensuring that apprentices are qualifying with the right skills and knowledge, and to address skills shortages facing the industry – as well as attracting new prospective professionals. In 2018, this standard was approved by the Institute of Apprenticeships, and CEDIA is now hard at work identifying appropriate training
partners for the programme, with a view to launching the scheme in 2019. In addition, CEDIA’s Smart Home Technician and Smart Home Designer tracks are accredited by City & Guilds. City & Guilds evaluates externally accredited training against a comprehensive benchmark that has been developed from over 130 years of experience in managing quality systems and training courses. This gives CEDIA introductory training both heightened visibility and credibility among new entrants.
‘The content needs to be relevant and allow attendees to build on the foundation of knowledge that they already have’ Matt Nimmons, CEDIA
“There is always more work that can be done when it comes to recruiting new talent into our sector,” adds Nimmons. “However, with the continuing development of CEDIA’s education programme and the work we’re putting in now, we’re confident that we can create more opportunities and a rewarding career path for the employees of tomorrow.” Grimes adds: “The fact that programmes like those run by the AVIXA Foundation exist is recognition that talent recruitment has gained the focus it requires to move the industry forward. “There is still work to be done – it’s never actually finished. According to all of AVIXA’s
market intelligence, this is a growing, dynamic industry, and we often hear from members that workforce development remains an important challenge. We run programmes for young people interested in technology careers at several of our trade shows. We continue to work with colleges and vocational schools to implement AV curricula. We’ve seen a lot of success to date. “With the AVIXA Foundation’s new plan in place, we believe we’ll be successful in creating more opportunities for tomorrow’s workers to discover the AV industry, and for AV companies to find creative, talented workers.” It’s often the case that busy integrators don’t have sufficient time to take out of their working day to attend traditional classroombased training courses. However, the broadening expectations of AV as a professional industry to sit alongside IT – perhaps even rivalling it one day – particularly within corporate or enterprise AV, has meant that training is something that integrators have to increasingly make time for. At the same time, as the key professional bodies have grown in stature, the quality and quantity of essential training courses is now such that only the most uncommitted of AV professionals can afford to ignore them. With the continued uncertainty of Brexit – in the UK at least – and wider global economic and political upheaval, professional development and the additional skillsets it brings, is more important than ever.
26 TECHNOLOGY FEATURE: DIGITAL SIGNAGE
Robinsons department store in Dubai features digital signage powered by BrightSign
Attention seekers One of the largest deployment areas for flat panel displays is in retail and outdoor digital signage. Steve Montgomery investigates how digital displays are being used to bridge the gap between online and offline retail worlds and attract shoppers in-store
ver the 20 or so years since large format LCD displays were first commercially available at an economic price their use has expanded massively. The first advertising and information screens were introduced into the retail sector in the early 2000s. These first generation panels were little more than rolling advertising displays running video content from a local computer or media player. A major development occurred when wide bandwidth networks become more readily available. The ability to connect a large estate of screens over a wide area and have them all updated from a central point became very appealing to brand owners, retail chains and shopping centre managers. Screens in shops have flourished and are now commonplace in the retail environment, to the point that shoppers often take little interest in their content. Brand owners and display network operators continually search for new techniques to attract the attention of the shopper; and keep them engaged while they receive messaging on products and services; all with the objective of enticing them to spend money. At the same time, bricks-and-mortar shopping is under threat from the internet and shop owners have to find ways to increase footfall; to enable them to compete for customers from what is often a disadvantageous economic position.
equipment providers have responded with new ideas, communication techniques and technology. One approach is to create an exciting visual experience by means of large screens and visual effects that make people want to visit. “If designed in a meaningful, relevant, and creative way, digital media can be used to create something unique in a real store that is impossible to recreate online,” explains Emily Webster, head of media architecture at ESI Design. “The best of these experiences offer a bridge between the digital and physical worlds, an idea that was used as a guiding principle for the recent renovation of Chicago’s 900 North Michigan Shops. The showcase is a 190ft-long LED art installation that spans the ceiling of the seven-level shopping centre.” That technique can be extended to act as a customer engagement centre, employing touchscreens for customers to learn about products. Webster cites the installation at Comcast’s Studio Xfinity: “The flagship space is both a store and lab, featuring 800sqft of LED screens, large-scale media installations, tablets and touchscreen surfaces. Customers play single- or multi-player games and participate in live demos. Demonstration towers show guests how to use Xfinity products.” The gap between online and offline stores is
experience. Customers enjoy the experience of going shopping in the same way as they enjoy going to the cinema. They like to get out, to meet and interact with people including knowledgeable retail assistants. They love being able to see and handle the product before purchase. Central to recovering footfall in retail is the experience provided. “This experience can be created simply by delivering a ‘wow’ factor or encouraging customers to interact with the technology that’s available in-store, but both online and offline branding should remain the same.” He believes that the two domains need to be combined into a single entity in order to fully attract the would-be purchaser. “The online
another area being addressed. Jeff Hastings, CEO at BrightSign believes that: “Customers go online just to purchase items, but go shopping for the
and offline brand identity should create the same impression. In addition, the in-store experience should offer online options for purchasing items that
To counter these adverse effects, service and
n To counter the threat from online shopping, service and equipment providers have responded with new ideas, communication techniques and technology for the offline world n Combining the online and offline domains is seen as a viable way of attracting the would-be purchaser n Digital signage is no longer thought of as a one-way experience, people expect a greater degree of interactivity and communication
are not physically available in-store, so as not to disappoint the visiting shopper.”
Multi-channel experts Helen Kenniff, product marketing manager at Sedao Digital Signage agrees: “In a digital world where almost anything can be purchased through the touch of a button on a smartphone, bricks and mortar retailers are becoming multi-channel experts empowering customers with the researchonline-buy-offline theory, which continues to bring traffic in-store. Store retailers are integrating digital technologies with traditional sales tools to connect to customers and meet their ever-changing demands and expectations. In short, retailers are digitising the in-store environment.” It is not simply a matter of animating the local message to promote goods to customers, as was the case in the pre-internet, pre-Amazon, era. Physical shoppers expect more from their chosen retailer, as Trey Hicks, chief sales officer at Visix, explains. “Retailers are working to make the in-store experience just as convenient as online shopping. However, they also realise that people can shop for basic products online so the in-store experience has to offer something special to bring in customers.” Retail digital signage systems today are no longer one-way experiences. People everywhere, and especially the younger and more affluent generations, expect a far greater level of interactivity, always-connected instant satisfaction than ever before. “Millennials form the highest proportion of shoppers and have the highest level of disposable income, together with the desire to experience retail transactions,” says Eddie Bance retail consultant at Centrepoint AV. “They constantly interact with technology that responds to their wishes, desires and moods and anticipates their next moves. Retail signage is no longer just a screen in a shop. It has to inform, engage, communicate and pre-empt shoppers’ desires.” The process does not happen just while we are in a shop. As Keith Dutch, managing director – EMEA, Peerless-AV, explains: “Retailers can offer shoppers the opportunity to interact with brands anywhere, at any time of day. A constant stream of fresh content on-demand is now expected by retail customers. It’s up to the industry to deliver that experience through innovation; before they leave their homes, whilst they are in-store and after they return home again. All in a single unified experience.”
Driving engagement In-store digital signage is clearly a large element of that experience. New techniques are appearing regularly to drive that customer engagement. One of the most noticeable is the trend toward larger, higher resolution displays as Dutch points out: “Large-format displays are also changing the retail landscape. Customers no longer have to wonder how something will look on them. Large panels allow
FEATURE: DIGITAL SIGNAGE shoppers to look at clothing on life-size models in never-before seen clarity on 4K screens.” Identifying the right location is crucial in implementing effective digital signage in a retail space. Retailers look for locations that are high in traffic and where they congregate for extended periods of time. Dutch: “Checkout lines are great spots for signage: customers are stationary and digital signage can be a distraction to reduce perceived wait time, as well as share information on sales. The areas inside and outside store entrances are ideal for large screens that attract passers-by and those entering the shop. When installed in windows, large screens allow retail stores to give up the lengthy process of changing window displays and can quickly be updated with new sales or models’ clothing and changed instantly to match prevailing current weather conditions. “The industry has responded to these requirements by creating displays and mounting systems that suit the retail environment; with low profile, bezel-less screens, floor-to-ceiling mount and cable management systems.” Messaging has to communicate instantly, with
‘Bricks and mortar retailers are becoming multi-channel experts empowering customers with the research-onlinebuy-offline theory’ Helen Kenniff, Sedao Digital Signage
very little effort from the viewer. “It’s all about the delivery and presentation of relevant content,” comments Serge Konter, product management, Navori. “The shopper’s time is precious, and they will not stand for long in front of a sign to digest a complete playlist. As a shopper walks by, delivering a relevant message in the moment that informs or entertains is what will ultimately invoke a meaningful engagement.” Once a shopper’s attention has been gained visually, interactive technology can take over to keep it. “The most productive advances in in-store technology allow the shopper to manipulate their experience, engage them and change what appears on-screen depending upon what they touch, scan or by their gender, age or mood,” says James Keen, group marketing manager for Tripleplay. “There are many technologies available including facial recognition such as AdMobilize, RFID solutions, NFC and lift-and-learn platforms that enhance signage.” Social media engagement is often a good way to draw customers in and encourage them to interact. “Interactivity, through the screen itself or via the
customer’s own device, is the most effective way to drive engagement,” believes Hastings. “Beacon technology, like Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE), allows users to control digital signage playback from their mobile device so that promotions can be directly and locally targeted.”
Personalisation Kenniff also believes in this approach: “Personalising the experience has been shown to immediately resonate with a customer and create a sense of engagement. It can be achieved by trigger features such as QR codes, physical and virtual buttons that give customers the ability to interact directly with in-store screens to play out content.” Understanding the customer, their preferences, interaction and habits is essential. There are two elements: Firstly, it allows datadriven content to be presented so that adverts and messages can be displayed, based on real-time information. Instead of showing generic adverts, the CMS can trigger special messages and offers on screen. Hicks adds: “By reacting to buyer behaviour and preferences instead of just pushing out information, digital signs serve to engage customers in the store with more relevant communications.” Secondly, by understanding the audience through viewer monitoring and data analytics, retailers can deliver targeted content that is appropriate to the viewer far more effectively. Hicks continues: “A better understanding of shopper behaviour ultimately allows content creators to capture attention in the aisles more effectively. Retailers who look at digital signage as a shopper engagement platform versus a self-promotional tool are more likely to inspire return visits and drive customer loyalty, which is what ultimately increases brick and mortar foot traffic.” Despite the trend to deploy ever-larger displays and greater interactivity, it is as yet unclear how effective these techniques are. Kenniff believes that: “It is too early to determine if there has been an increase in footfall as deployment of these types of solutions are still in their infancy. However, I do believe retailers using research online buy offline multi-channel marketing campaigns will be the ultimate winners.” Similarly Keen is unsure, but less optimistic: “With difficult trading conditions on the high street it makes any investment a risk and many of the technologies that could be adopted are not. Technology, unless it can prove an active ROI is not being deployed as widely as some might like.”
www.brightsign.biz www.centrepointav.com www.esidesign.com www.navori.com www.peerless-av.com www.sedaosignage.com www.tripleplay.tv www.visix.xom
28 SOLUTIONS: MELINDA GOLDEN THEATRE, TRENTINO
The theatre cost roughly €150,000 and is the result of a collaboration between Melinda, Val di Non tourist board and the Association of Apple and Flavour Routes of the Noce Valleys Picture: DrawLight
PROJECT OF THE MONTH
Core business Italy’s Melinda consortium has opened a multimedia theatre promoting its unique apple storage facilities. Mike Clark reports
he Melinda apple consortium recently inaugurated Melinda Golden Theatre – a multimedia venue that takes visitors on a high-impact 4D virtual visit to the company’s cold storage apple warehouses in the northern Italian mountains. The system integrator and producer of the theatre’s AV content was Senso Immersive. The integrator adhered to a brief that was two-fold: highlighting the combination of agriculture and tourism, strategic mainstays of the area, and increasing awareness of the sustainable processes involved in the harvest and storage of the company’s apples, fully respecting the environment. The continually evolving story of the 4,000 families forming the Melinda consortium is rooted in hundreds of years of history dating back to fruit cultivation at the end of the 17th century in northern Italy’s Non Valley. Apples, introduced after WWI, became the valley’s most important agricultural activity and the first co-operatives were founded in the 70s. The market grew, quality rose and in 1989 the Consortium for the Enhancement of the Val di Non Apple and the Melinda brand were created. In 2003, Mela della Val di Non became a Protected Designation of Origin product. The Golden, Red and Renetta Canada varieties – about 95% of Melinda’s production – were awarded Protected Designation of Origin classification by the European Community.
Development and diversification Continuing its on-going development, product diversification and promotion of brand awareness, Melinda recently inaugurated Melinda Golden Theatre (named after one of the most popular apples), a multimedia experience highlighting one of the company’s high-profile projects: its huge underground cold storage facilities. To be enjoyed all year round, apples must be stored correctly, so Melinda’s idea was simple – storing apples underground instead of building above ground facilities. Built at a cost of approximately €16 million in the Rio Maggiore mine, the 34 underground cells form the world’s first and only underground fruit cold storage in controlled atmosphere conditions, with a capacity of 200 million apples. Each cell, approximately 900ft below the roots of the trees on which the apples grow, is 25m-long, 11m-high and 12m-wide and can contain approximately 2,800 300kg bins, (900,000kg). An eco-friendly alternative where peak energy saving reaches as much as 80%, water arrives from the surrounding soil, no artificial insulating is used, thanks to the Dolomitic rock’s natural insulation characteristics, and there is no impact on the surrounding landscape. A small ‘sustainable’ revolution that continues to receive positive feedback from the international scientific world, thanks to its distinctive characteristics,
Installed Audio n K-Array Tornado KT2 loudspeakers n K-Array KU210 subwoofer n K-Array KA14 amplifier
Video n Epson EB-L1100U 6000 al laser projectors (with 4K Enhancement) n Epson ELPLX01 ultra short-throw lenses n BrightSign XD233 players
Lighting n Egoluce Pix RGB LED spotlights
About the installer n Senso Immersive Experience was founded by Mick Odelli in 2015 in the Italian province of Padua n The company is a spin-off of DrawLight, another Odelli company, specialising in the creation of artistic installations, and a key name in the Italian video mapping and immersive media market n The team, made up of 15 young visual creatives, storytellers, digital artists, multimedia architects, neuroscience consultants and marketing strategists, handles custom AV content the project has met with worldwide recognition and awards such as the Good Energy Award and Sodalitas Social Award, assigned to initiatives generating sustainable corporate growth.
SOLUTIONS: MELINDA GOLDEN THEATRE, TRENTINO 29
Golden Theatre The theatre, in the park in front of the MondoMelinda visitor centre in Mollaro di Predaia cost roughly €150,000 and was inaugurated in August 2018. The project is the result of a collaboration between Melinda, Val di Non tourist board and the Association of Apple and Flavour Routes of the Noce Valleys, and Melinda’s desire to attract adults’ and children’s attention to the grottos excavated in the rock of the Rio Maggiore mine to host the apple storage facilities. Inside the theatre, two large virtual doors (reproducing an industrial-style goods elevator) open on to an underground track in semidarkness. Spectators’ simulated trip speeds along the track until roots of the apple trees are seen hanging all around, then runs across a reservoir of water filtering through the rocks and continues through caves filled with huge crystals, symbolising the formation of the local Dolomite rock through thousands of years. Four huge rock drills are used to bore holes for the explosives placed to remove the last diaphragm of rock and, when the dust clears, visitors enter the huge cold store, passing between countless stacked apple bins. A
short documentary of the apple chain from the harvest to the packaging follows, then the travellers fly upwards to ground level and higher, soaring over the apple trees and the spectacular countryside.
Tech deployment Realistically producing the journey on the walls in front of and alongside the visitors, three Epson 6,000-lumen WUXGA laser projectors featuring 4K Enhancement, ensure the exceptional sharpness and clarity of the images. Their builtin cameras give accurate image calibration and ultra-short lenses allow the projectors to be installed inches from the screen, but still give clear, crisp projection. Three BrightSign players offer powerful 4K video engines capable of dual decoding two full-HD videos simultaneously and an advanced HTML5 engine. Sound is reproduced courtesy of four K-Array Tornado miniature aluminium enclosures and a KU210 subwoofer. The single 1,000W (2RU) K-Array KA14 amplifier features two GPIO for external analogue controls, integrated DSP with processing, matrix and delays, on-board touchscreen and Mic In and 48V option on all inputs for mixer applications.
An incredible reality “The theatre’s 16 DMX-controlled Egoluce LED spots are recessed in the ceiling, in a 4x4 format,” explains Senso Immersive’s technical director Marco Chinello. “As well as reproducing the AV content, by exploiting the GPIO and UDP controls, the venue’s BrightSign players are able to interface and sync the theatre’s other equipment (spotlights, solenoid valves controlling the jets of compressed air used to create the sense of speed in some of the video’s scenes, DMX lighting control, show start button and a remote control panel for the choice of commentary language. The show is launched by spectators pressing a button to ‘call’ the elevator.” After recently visiting the underground storage facilities, Italy’s deputy prime minister Matteo Salvini was one of the many visitors who have flocked to theatre since its inauguration and congratulated Melinda on what he called “an incredible reality.”
www.brightsign.biz www.egoluce.com www.epson.eu www.k-array.com www.sensoimmersive.com
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30 SOLUTIONS: RASPBERRY PI FOUNDATION, CAMBRIDGE UNITED KINGDOM
The space can be used as one large collaboration area but is also divisible into two spaces when required for small groups or to run programmes concurrently
Installed Audio n Audio-Technica ATW-1322 wireless microphone system n Crestron AMP-2100-100 power amplifier n Crestron AMP-2100 power amplifiers n QSC AC-S6T-WH two-way surface speakers n Shure MXA910W ceiling array microphones n TOA TOAF2322C ceiling speakers
Jam sessions This multi-purpose space has been designed to facilitate teamwork and collaboration with extra emphasis on delivering a clutter-free environment. Duncan Proctor reports
he Raspberry Pi Foundation is a UK-based charity that promotes the study of basic computer science in schools and aims to reverse the decline in the number of students applying for computer science courses at university. The Raspberry Pi Foundation’s HQ is home to a multi-purpose divisible space, designed and developed for teamwork and collaboration, for corporate functions as well Foundation initiatives. The Foundation also supports Raspberry Jam sessions – social events held all over the world where people can come together to share their knowledge, learn new things and meet other Pi fans. Code Club is a global network of volunteers and educators who run free coding clubs for children aged 9-13 at the HQ.
Simple and robust On the brief for the project, Steve Royans, sales director at Snelling, explains: “The brief required us to provide secure, virtual
collaboration infrastructure for one large space, which is divisible into two spaces when required for small groups or to run concurrent programmes simultaneously. “The primary use of the space is for Code Club and Raspberry Jam attended by children, which demands a simple yet robust solution. One end can be used as a boardroom for general meetings using Google Hangout hardware. Excellent audio quality was one of the prime expectations. “The whole space functions as one large liveconferencing venue for large gatherings and allstaff meetings connecting UK and international Raspberry Pi Foundation sites.” Additional considerations that needed to be taken into account included making sure workspaces were clean and clutter-free. “The client was specific about ensuring their workspaces are devoid of any clutter – cables, AV equipment and racks must be out of view,” says Royans. “This required us to explore new
n Barco ClickShare CSE-200 n Crestron TSW-760-B-S touchscreens n Sony FW-75BZ35F 4K display
Connectivity n Cisco SG300-28MP-K9-UK smart switch n Crestron CP3 3-Series control system n Crestron DM-TX-4K-100-C-1G-B-T wall plate 4K transmitters n Crestron DM-MD16X16 switchers n Crestron DMC-4K-C-HDCP2 4K input card n Crestron DMC-4K-HD-HDCP2 4K HDMI input cards n Crestron DMC-4K-CO-HD-HDCP2 two-channel 4K output cards n Crestron DMC-HDO two-Channel HDMI output card n Crestron DM-RMC-4K-SCALER-C 4K receivers and room controllers n Crestron USB-EXT-2 USB pair extenders n Crestron DM-RPP-K24 keystone patch panel n Extron SW4 USB Plus switchers n Icron Raven 3104 USB over Cat6 extenders n QSC Core 110f processor n Shure X2U signal adapter
Accessories n Crestron RMK-IFE-1U rack mount kit n Penn Elcom R1269/1UK/16 rack panel n Unicol CP8W Twin Static Ceiling Plates n Unicol 500 and 1000 columns n Unicol PS123030 twin column mounts n Unicol CP1W ceiling plate n Unicol MSS1W socket adapter n Unicol PZX1 universal screen mount
SOLUTIONS: RASPBERRY PI FOUNDATION, CAMBRIDGE
The custom screen mounts used for the 75in 4K displays provide a flush, floating appearance across the alcoves
About the installer n Snelling is an international supplier of integrated AV systems, environments and communications technology n The company delivers all aspects of AV integration from consultancy and design to the supply, installation and ongoing maintenance n Based in London and Norwich, Snelling’s portfolio covers major projects for clients across higher education, corporate, healthcare, public sector, retail and specialist niche projects options to find solutions for the challenges this posed to us. For example, two bespoke frameworks were developed for the main displays at the divisible space. We cut into walls and fixed back into the brickwork, which allowed us to conceal all cables and fixings behind the displays and deliver a clean ‘floating’ finish.”
AV infrastructure The divisible room is equipped to function as one large space or two independently operable spaces as required. The AV infrastructure includes four 75in Sony 4K UHD large format displays with video scaling for non-HD or 4K devices. There are custom screen and camera mounts to provide a flush, floating appearance across the alcoves. “The client placed special emphasis on audio – the whole space functions as one large live- conferencing venue for large gatherings
and all-staff meetings connecting UK and international Raspberry Pi Foundation sites,” says Royans. The audio element features separate systems for more natural sound – wall speakers for presentation sound, and ultra-wide dispersion speakers for audio conferencing. This includes two Shure MXA910W ceiling array microphones with Intellimix DSP; a QSC Q-SYS Core 110f unified services core processor; two Crestron AMP-2100 dual-channel modular power amplifiers; four TOA full range ceiling speakers; a QSC 6.5in two-way surface speaker and amplifier system; and an Audio-Technica digital wireless microphone system. Royans explains: “The infrastructure was expected to provide secure, virtual collaboration facilities.” For the conferencing, Google Hangout NUCs with cameras and controllers are used for audio and video capture as well as two Barco ClickShare wireless presentation systems and two Logitech PTZ controllers. Royans adds: “In keeping with the client’s requirement for spaces devoid of hardware clutter, the resident PC and NUCs couldn’t be located within the space itself for using Google Hangouts. In order to overcome the limitations of USB3 and to avoid a compromise on the client’s requirement, the Icron Raven USB over CAT6 extenders were deployed within the divisible space.” To handle switching, distribution and control, Snelling specified a range of Crestron processors, switchers and transmitters as well as two branded touchscreens.
Wide audience “The new premises welcome a wide audience
including children aged 9-13 years,” says Royans. “This required us to develop a system that ‘works quietly behind the scenes.’ Walk into the new premises and you are instantly engrossed by an inspiring learning and live events space, that is minimalistic in design and yet equipped with the latest audio, visual and live conferencing facilities made available at one tap. The systems were designed to keep complexity of the AV infrastructure out of the end-user interface. Kamila Hughes, IT manager Raspberry Pi Foundation, comments: “The service we received from Snelling was simply first class. From establishing their understanding of our requirements to the design and installation, their entire process was a testament to their experience and in-depth knowledge. “At every stage, the exceptional staff delivered support that went above and beyond and made us feel that they were as concerned about achieving a successful outcome as we were.”
www.audio-technica.com www.barco.com www.cisco.com www.crestron.eu www.extron.com www.icron.com www.penn-elcom.com www.qsc.com www.raspberrypi.org www.shure.com www.snellingbiz.com https://pro.sony www.toaelectronics.com www.unicol.com
32 SOLUTIONS IN BRIEF
World’s largest command and control LED display A new Sydney Trains Rail Operations Centre (ROC), now nearing completion, includes a central control room featuring what is believed to be the world’s largest command and control LED display. The giant 32m curved NanoLumens display has been deployed to monitor the entire Sydney trains system. This display, which includes the largest number of pixels, blends with the new centre’s futuristic interior design, and is integral in enabling train controllers to monitor the entire rail system, controlling the trains, tunnels and platforms at all 178 stations. Located near the Green Square Station in Alexandria (an inner-city suburb of Sydney), the NanoLumens 1.6mm Performance Series LED display measures 32m x 3.6m and
contains 41 million pixels and the largest number of processors ever installed in an LED display.
Olympic Stadium gets world-first install The Berlin Olympiastadion has been equipped with Dynacord IPX amplifiers – the debut install for the amp series. In addition, the stadium’s existing 171 Electro-Voice XLC loudspeakers have been upgraded to the DVX version for more powerful sound and increased intelligibility. With an overall ambition of reducing the total cost of system ownership, the new solution had to feature IP connectivity, Dante audio and green credentials. Fulfilling these requirements are 64 Dynacord IPX10:4 Class-D amplifiers with up to 10,000W per amp, providing ample headroom while handling all DSP processing. Two Electro-Voice N8000 NetMax controllers handle audio distribution and interface with the emergency evac system.
Crystal LED provides ‘ultra real’ visuals at new HQ EDGE Technologies, a real estate technology company that specialises in smart buildings, is one of the first customers in Europe to install Sony’s Crystal LED technology at its landmark office at the EDGE Olympic coworking space in Amsterdam. As part of the development of its new HQ, EDGE Technologies has invested in a Sony bigscreen solution to create a next-generation office environment. Taking centre stage in its Tech Board Room, a
giant 3.2m x 1.8m Crystal LED display with 2,560 x 1,440 resolution creates a spectacular canvas for showcasing the firm’s creative work and immersing customers and prospects with large-scale visual presentations. The display is made up of 32 ZRD-1 Display Units, tiled together using Sony’s borderless design.
SOLUTIONS IN BRIEF 33
DENMARK Picture: Nalle Vikström
Balanced audio scaled up for café project Copenhagen-based Prime Production has installed Meyer Sound IntelligentDC reinforcement systems at Café Vivaldi for recorded music playback and live music presentations. Work has been completed at nine Café Vivaldi locations, with more planned for the future. The largest Meyer Sound installation in any Danish restaurant was at the new Café Vivaldi location in Odense. The complete system comprises 40 MM-4XP and 14 UP-4XP compact self-powered loudspeakers along with seven MM-10XP compact self-powered subwoofers. All 68 loudspeakers incorporate Meyer Sound’s IntelligentDC technology, combining the performance advantages of self-powered systems with the installation efficiency of
Class 2 wiring. A single five conductor cable routes DC power and balanced audio signal to the loudspeakers from seven rack-mount MPS-
488HP power supply and signal distribution units. System optimisation is handled by a Galileo 616 loudspeaker processor.
Connected lighting at Shanghai waterfront Signify has completed a dramatic lighting project in Shanghai’s financial and economic centre. The project involves lighting the waterfront, three bridges and over 40 buildings in the financial and tourist districts. Signify is aiming to help Chinese cities develop more eco-friendly business and tourist landmarks by using connected LED lighting to lower energy use. The new lighting is expected to save the city 50-70% of its annual lighting costs. As part of the regeneration of these Shanghai districts, Signify has installed more than 50,000 Philips luminaires. These illuminate buildings along the waterfront as well as the Yangpu, Nanpu and Xupu bridges.
Top of the line speakers at exclusive cinema experience Finnkino has opted for a Genelec loudspeaker system in its Lounge Premium cinema, a boutique suite that forms part of the company’s seven-screen complex in the Iso Omena shopping centre in Espoo. The Lounge offers customers a unique cinema experience. The audio system needed to be of the same high standard, which led to the choice of Genelec speakers. A total of eight speakers were used to deliver premium audio with precise imaging for a 7.1 audio experience.
Finnkino Lounge uses three 1234AC three-way active speakers positioned horizontally above the screen to deliver precise imaging. Four 1238AC speakers are positioned at the sides and the back of the auditorium. Rounding off the installation is a Genelec 7073A subwoofer – featuring four 12in drivers, 19Hz lower cut-off frequency.
Kit you need to know about
PRODUCT OF Lifesize THE MONTH Icon 700
It’s… a new conference room solution and cloud service architecture
What’s new? The Lifesize Icon 700 system combined with the company’s global cloud service architecture creates a complete videoconferencing solution. Details: Revealed as the flagship technology in a new line of next generation Lifesize offerings, the Icon 700 offers a level of collaboration said to be superior to in-person meetings. The solution offers full-motion 4K content sharing and premium audio clarity for a high quality videoconferencing experience and futureproof solution. “Today’s businesses and their employees rely on videoconferencing for their missioncritical communications,” said Craig Malloy, CEO of Lifesize. “Our goal with our next generation of Lifesize solutions was to challenge the status quo of ‘good enough’ quality and create a better-than-in-person meeting experience that eliminates the stress, time and money waste associated with commuting to and from meetings. Whether connecting face-to-face with your customers, making an introductory call with a new client or strengthening your internal global communication culture, these new offerings will help people present their absolute best selves in every conversation.”
Highlights of the Icon 700 conference room solution and 4K global cloud service architecture include: · 4K videoconferencing with full-motion content sharing in 4K · Native integration with cloud service designed for live 4K video · Ultra-wideband Opus audio for audio clarity optimised for human speech · Claimed to have the industry’s highest quality for multi-party calls and recordings “The company that introduced the first HD-capable videoconferencing system is now taking things to the next level,” commented Ira
M. Weinstein, managing partner at analyst firm Recon Research. “At a time when many solutions are sacrificing quality of experience in favour of cost, Lifesize is taking the opposite tact by providing full-motion 4K video and content sharing. The combination of these latest offerings and the company’s field-proven cloud service will pave the way for new use cases where the combination of ease of use and high resolution are a must.”
36 TECHNOLOGY: NEW PRODUCTS n Panasonic TH-98SQ1 and TH-86SQ1 Two premium large format panels have been added to Panasonic’s newly launched range of 4K professional displays in 86 and 98in models. Due for release this month, the slim, lightweight SQ1 range (TH-98SQ1 and TH-86SQ1) supports HDR and provides 4K high quality images at 500 cd/sqm, ensuring crisp images and stylish digital signage installations. Capable of both portrait and landscape display including a tilt installation of up to 20°, the range features several connectivity and set up options for simple installation. https://business.panasonic.co.uk n Audio Performance DLA3 The DLA3 Compact Micro Line Array loudspeaker and MX Series amplifiers provide sound reinforcement for fixed installation and rental applications. The DLA3 consists of two 3in full range cone drivers and can reach down to 150Hz with a flat frequency response of up to 18kHz+/- 3dB. Its compact size makes it versatile, and it can be used to provide discreet audio support in a number of environments. www.audio-performance.com n tvONE 1T-SX-654 This auto switcher includes four HDMI video inputs and one HDMI output. It supports video resolution up to 4K x 2K@60Hz 4:4:4: HDR and provides 18Gbps of high bandwidth. In addition, audio functionality includes multi-channel support, de-embedded digital stereo audio to provide an analogue output, or an audio return channel (ARC) for transmitting audio back to the HDMI input from the connected display. The 1T-SX-654 includes an auto-switch control mode and additional control options including control via the front panel source button, RS-232 or IR (remote control included). www.tvone.com n Yamaha YAI-1 Available now, the YAI-1 wireless microphone conference bundle is aimed at boardrooms and large conference rooms utilising UC applications. The ready-to-install professional audio system comprises an eight-channel Executive Elite wireless microphone package, two VXL1-16P Power over Ethernet, Danteenabled speaker arrays with wall volume controller, a preconfigured digital signal processor, a five-port PoE switch, Dante AVIO USB adapter, and cabling. Once set up, the YAI-1 C is ready to connect to an organisation’s chosen UC platform through a single USB cable. www.uc.yamaha.com
Windows Collaboration Display It’s… a next generation interactive display What’s new? The company’s first Windows Collaboration Display (WCD) combines Sharp’s touch technology and sensors that can work with Microsoft Azure Digital Twins to monitor collaboration spaces. Details: This 70in 4K model is designed to support and improve teamwork in enterprise and SMB offices. It features an IoT sensor unit to help monitor meeting environments, which can feed data back to the Azure Digital Twins platform to help facilities managers monitor meeting occupancy, air quality levels, ambient light, temperature and humidity. These advanced features are part of Microsoft’s vision to bring the power of the intelligent cloud into the workplace, using a mix of AI, IoT, and productivity tools to create a more productive and collaborative environment.
Businesses will be able to use this data to improve the management of heating, cooling and room booking systems based on how the space is really used. As well as the IoT solutions, the Sharp WCD has been designed to work with the familiar Microsoft tools like Office 365. The WCD display also features Sharp’s Penon-Paper experience, an accurate writing feel close to using a real pen on writing paper. The 30-Point Projected Capacitive Touch and fourbutton active pen help to create an intuitive touch experience, which means users feel more confident when presenting.
Available: Spring 2019 www.sharp.co.uk
Instreamer ICE It’s… a specialised encoder What’s new? The Instreamer ICE encoder is designed to maximise receiver compatibility for broader, HTTP-based audio distribution over the internet or internal networks to any browser or mobile device. Details: A specialised model from Barix’s Instreamer family that is tailored for Icecastbased streaming applications such as internet radio, intranet audio delivery, background music and multi-site audio distribution where latency is less critical. The company is looking to highlight practical, cost-effective audio delivery solutions with mobile emphasis for the evolving AV landscape. Bandwidth-efficient AAC+ streams encoded by Instreamer ICE can be sent to an external Icecast system for unlimited propagation or distributed directly to listeners via the unit’s built-in Icecast server for smaller-audience applications. The latest firmware update doubles to 100 the number of simultaneous client devices that can be served directly from each unit, forming an allin-one, simple-to-deploy audio streaming solution
for moderate-scale use cases. Additionally, at ISE 2019 Barix will also be showcasing its AudioPoint 3.0 audio-tomobile platform, which enables streaming to 250 simultaneous mobile listeners with the lowest possible latency. Combining powerful new hardware with free iOS and Android apps, AudioPoint 3.0 streams audio to smartphones and mobile devices over local WiFi in, what is said to be, near-perfect synchronisation with associated displays. Reducing the solution’s latency to tighten lip sync even further, the latest version amplifies AudioPoint’s benefits for enhancing digital signage while enabling new live translation and presentation support use cases in corporate, worship and educational settings.
Available: Q2 2019 www.barix.com
38 TECHNOLOGY: NEW PRODUCTS n Zytronic Hybrid Touch At ISE, Zytronic will demo a new Hybrid Touch technology that enables full integration of physical controls within an active touchscreen. Hybrid Touch allows mechanical buttons and dials to be incorporated in the active area of PCAP touchscreens, which can be used in videowalls, touch tables and kiosks. Supporting up to 80 simultaneous touches, the ZXY500 controller allows touch sensors to be designed with a narrow inactive border. The increased speed of the controller updates touch coordinates in just 1ms at the controller output. www.zytronic.co.uk n Datapath VisionSC-UHD2 Datapath has launched a new dual 4K capture card ahead of ISE 2019 – the most powerful 4K card in the company’s portfolio. Vision SC-UHD2 provides two HDMI 2.0 capture channels with HDCP 2.2 at 4K 60p and full 4:4:4 chroma sampling. With a full 10-bit processing pipeline, the VisionSC-UHD2 is suitable for the full spectrum of high quality displays, from command and control rooms to creative, high-end corporate applications. www.datapath.co.uk n Peerless-AV Xtreme High Bright Display Currently available in 43in, 49in and 55in, the 65in Xtreme High Bright Display will be launched at ISE 2019. Offering the highest environmental rating in its class, the widest operating temperature range (-35°C to 60°C), a high TNI panel, IK10 rated impact resistant safety glass, optical bonding and 2,500 nits of brightness, the Xtreme High Bright performs in sports venues, theme parks, transportation, retail, education, hospitality, and more. www.peerless-av.com
4K5020Z and LX-MH502Z It’s… two 4K laser projectors What’s new? The 4K5020Z (pictured) is said to be the world’s most compact and lightweight native 4K projector. Details: While the 4K5020Z is the world’s most compact and lightweight chassis, the LX-MH502Z is an affordable, DLP laser projector, using pixel shifting technology to achieve 4K UHD resolution. Both models enable a range of projection possibilities, particularly in small or awkward installation environments. The 4K5020Z is equipped with a motorised lens to simplify planning requirements; while the laser diode and yellow phosphor light source in both projectors allow them to be used in any 360° orientation for ultimate versatility. Additionally, portrait projection is possible to meet the needs for digital signage applications. A first for Canon, the LX-MH502Z uses pixel shift technology to create 4K UHD resolution in 3,840 x 2,160, with minimal financial and
This compact narrow subwoofer provides forceful low-frequency reproduction in a slender form factor that is suited to space-restricted installs or very small performance stages. The USW-210P has an operating frequency range of 30Hz to 140Hz with a conservatively rated linear peak SPL of 126dB free field at 1m using pink noise. The long, slender bass reflex cabinet employs the same port design as Meyer Sound’s flagship 1100-LFC low frequency control element for high efficiency and low port distortion. www.meyersound.com
technological demands. Comparatively, the 4K5020Z produces incredible 4,096 x 2,160 native 4K resolution, to futureproof projector investments. Delivering sharp images, crisp text and smooth graphics, both the 4K5020Z and LX-MH502Z are fitted with two HDMI inputs, offering 4K/60p using a single HDMI cable, plus HDR and 4K at both 60p and 30p respectively. Canon’s high-quality image processors support a multitude of media formats to attain accurate image projection and video playback. Using a blue laser diode light source and yellow phosphor wheel, the new projectors produce 5,000 lumens for powerful projection with vivid colour and detail, even in well-lit venues.
Available: Now www.canon-europe.com
d&b audiotechnik KSL System
It’s… the latest addition to the SL-Series, on show at NAMM from 24 January.
What’s new? The KSL is the smaller sibling to the GSL System, designed for mobile or installed sound reinforcement. Details: It includes full range broadband
n Meyer Sound USW-210P
directivity, extended LF response and advanced rigging options in an accessible size and performance package. Its functionality extends to use in large scale arenas, stadiums and festivals as well as medium scale applications such as clubs, theatres, houses of worship and performing arts venues. The KSL8 and KSL12 loudspeakers, with 80˚ and 120˚ horizontal dispersion respectively, provide consistent pattern control down to the lowest frequencies. The geometry of two front facing 10in drivers and two side firing 8in drivers couple and apply cardioid techniques, creating precise broadband directivity with significantly extended low
frequency headroom towards the audience. This low frequency extension and headroom is so effective that it negates the need for subwoofers flown behind or alongside the main hangs in many applications. The SL-SUB/SL-GSUB subwoofers complement the low end with two forward facing 21in drivers and a single, rear facing 21in driver delivering the cardioid dispersion. It extends the response down to 30Hz with exceptional dispersion control, impressive low frequency headroom and efficiency. The SL-SUB can be flown, while the SL-GSUB is designed for ground stacked applications.
Available: Q2 2019 www.dbaudio.com
40 TECHNOLOGY: SHOWCASE
Microphones These solutions include ever-wider degrees of coverage and ease of integration for modern, less formal conferencing and collaboration environments
Audio-Technica provides 360° coverage Audio-Technica’s ES954 is a hanging microphone array providing 360° coverage via four capsules, through virtual hypercardioid or cardioid outputs, which can be steered horizontally and tilted vertically. Launched in autumn 2018, the ES954 is intended primarily for videoconferencing applications, such as huddle rooms, conference rooms and other meeting spaces. The array partners with Audio-Technica’s
ATDM-0604 Digital SmartMixer, allowing control of the width and orientation of each virtual polar pattern, which can be steered in 30° increments, with a tilt function accommodating different ceiling heights or users that are sitting/standing. Audio-Technica’s UniGuard RFIshielding technology is also built in, rejecting radio frequency interference. The package includes a Plenum-rated AT8554 ceiling mount with RJ45 connectors and push-type wire
Audix delivers ‘swivoting’ option The M65 installed sound microphone from Audix is a tabletop unit with a socket swivel mount. It is an alternative to a standard gooseneck microphone for government, courtroom, boardroom and video teleconferencing applications. The company calls this ‘swivoting’ technology and says it gives the M65 a fluid, quiet, and consistent 240° rotation and a 40° pivot, while retaining the crisp lines of individually-machined, brass solid-tube construction. The socket swivel also ensures a uniform mic position for a more consistent gain structure when multiple M65s are in use and lets the M65 lie flat for an unobstructed view when not in use.
Sound quality is delivered with the Micros circuitry and all electronics are fully integrated preamp circuitry with high sensitivity and low noise. Signal output is balanced to eliminate RF interference caused by mobile devices. Installing the M65 only requires drilling one 1 1/4in hole and three 1/8in holes into a surface, with no additional tools needed. The M65’s mounting hardware secures the microphone in place. All M65 mics are finished in black nickel plating and come with an 8ft cable terminating in terminal block connectors.
terminals for secure installation. The ES954 connects to the mixer over a pair of standard Cat5 cables. Two RJ45 breakout cables are provided to input the four channels, plus an LED tally, into the mixer. An integral, logiccontrolled 360° red/green LED ring provides clear indication of the array’s mute status.
Omni-directional audio from Sennheiser Launched last June and available from Q2, the TeamConnect Ceiling 2 microphone is ideal for mid to large meeting rooms and can be installed virtually invisibly into the ceiling to allow for flexible usage of a space. It can be used for presentations, collaborations and meetings – in fixed rooms or ad-hoc meeting rooms. It is particularly suitable for meeting rooms and tables where cables are not required. It delivers high quality audio making use of 28 omni-directional microphone capsules integrated within the discrete ceiling array. This enhances the conference experience for remote participants through clear speech, which ensures stress-free listening and interaction for more productive meetings. The automatic beamforming technology, allows for all the messages to be clearly transmitted to external
meeting participants from anywhere in the meeting room. Integration into existing infrastructure is made easier thanks to support for Dante, which builds on existing IP and Ethernet networking technology. With both an analogue audio output and two digital Dante audio outputs that support redundancy mode,
Yamaha supports huddle room scalability The CS-700 Video Sound Collaboration System is an all-in-one, integrated product that offers optimal sound for huddle rooms. The product serves this market as it offers quick-start, intuitive usability, which suits huddle room users who are often short of time and need reliable audio. The Yamaha CS-700 is said to be the first solution that optimises audio, video, and collaboration capabilities in a wall-mounted system. This ensures an intuitive collaboration and integration experience. It features an adaptive beamforming microphone array, which guarantees that every word is captured and delivered to the far end. Four Yamaha speaker elements provide a high degree of audio intelligibility, and a wide-angle HD camera
captures every meeting participant in clear detail. It’s engineered for fast and easy installs so integrators can scale to a large number of huddle spaces and make the most of their time on site. The system is built with a remote manageability function. The integrated network management system supports remote monitoring and troubleshooting, mass deployments and bulk upgrades making it easy for IT staff to manage multiple rooms easily. Available only through professional distribution channels, the CS-700 is designed to deliver the highest audio quality available upon installation.
TeamConnect Ceiling 2 offers connectivity with any conferencing system and with digital audio networks. Support for the Power over Ethernet standard via the Ethernet port adds to the ease of integration and installation.
Shure presents evolved conference capability Microflex Complete Wireless (MXCW) is now available, along with Microflex Complete and Management Meeting Software, which enables the end user to configure, manage and personalise all aspects of a conference. MXCW is ideal for small local legislatures, rental companies, and hotel convention centres. The system was the evolution of installed Danish Interpretation Systems (DIS), which Shure acquired a few years ago, merging Shure’s own expertise with DIS’s market heritage and knowledge. A point of difference with the MXCW is the battery management – not only does it indicate how long left in the charger, the number of cycles that have been completed can also be identified, enabling the user to calculate the life expectancy of this and the impact due to degradation. The screen on the MXCW device is clear and very intuitive to use, and the system can be run side by side (2,3,4,5 systems) if necessary and with sufficient spectrum space, switching between them when used in multi-functional room configurations.
42 LAST WORD: CHRISTOPHER JAYNES, MERSIVE
Face-to-face Cross-functional teams drive a new collaborative paradigm
ace-to-face meetings are valuable. Small business owners, ever sensitive to the bottom line, know it. According to a study by the Meetings mean Business website, more than two thirds of small business owners (77%) say in-person meetings yield a healthy return on investment. Among those who specialise in technology, that number is noticeably higher, at 95%. So what makes an effective meeting? Google, with Project Aristotle, has performed probably the most detailed study into effective teams, documented by the New York Times. It reports: ‘As the researchers studied the groups, however, they noticed two behaviours that all the good teams generally shared. First, on the good teams, members spoke in roughly the same proportion, a phenomenon the researchers referred to as ‘‘equality in distribution of conversational turn-taking.’’ On some teams, everyone spoke during each task; on others, leadership shifted among teammates from assignment to assignment. But in each case, by the end of the day, everyone had spoken roughly the same amount. ‘‘As long as everyone got a chance to talk, the team did well. But if only one person or a small group spoke all the time, the collective intelligence declined.’’’
The changing collaboration model The key therefore to effective teams and meetings is to prioritise gathering in-person and provide the tools and technology that enable true collaborative working. Teams need to share information continuously to ensure that the viewpoint of every professional on the team is fully captured and encompassed in the final outcome. The challenge is that different individuals will use different platforms to collate and analyse information. Their preferences
‘The technology deployed in these spaces must be flexible enough to match the needs of the space and the discussion type’
are often a function of their professional specialisation. For example, a geophysicist may use a 3D visualisation application on an Android tablet, the team accountant will be comfortable with spreadsheets on a laptop, and business analysts have their own business intelligence backbones in the cloud, maybe accessed from an iPad. It is essential that collaboration tools are fully flexible allowing information from any application on any device to be seamlessly shared with the whole team. This is where the old paradigm of the single presenter, single video cable breaks down. Collaboration means multiple people freely sharing thoughts, ideas, and content through a single screen which commands the attention of all participants. Freely sharing content from multiple devices, from multiple team members, from anywhere regardless of application or data type, can only be achieved with wireless connectivity.
Where are collaborative meetings taking place? These collaborative meetings are taking place in an increasing variety of spaces, even areas not designed for meetings in the first place. The architecture, furniture and technology provided in and outside meeting rooms needs to support the type of interactions that are taking place.
A creative ‘blue sky’ meeting might be held in a space surrounded by whiteboards and other tools to support out of the box free thinking. A decision-making meeting might take place in a space to encourage more linear thinking with a moderated discussion. The technology deployed in these spaces must be flexible enough to match the needs of the space and the discussion type. To support conversations in transitional or shared spaces any screen in the building needs to become available for collaboration. Google is an exception: in the main, corporates don’t fully know how effective meetings are and how well the technology that they install to support them works. We need more data. To be helpful, management solutions need to go beyond defect notification to provide live data on how the technology is being used. What proportion of meeting participants are actively using the technology to place information on the screen and what proportion are watching passively? Were remote users brought into the meeting and to what extent did they interact? How do participants rate the value of the meeting and the collaboration?
The future of collaboration I see two major emerging trends going forward. The first is to be more inclusive of remote participants and allow them the same information access and sharing capabilities as in-room participants. Video teleconferencing products evolved from telephony – it’s time that these technologies embrace the ease of use and collaborative features enjoyed by in-room meetings such as multiple users sharing content at the same time or highlighting content simultaneously to emphasise key parts of a discussion. The second is allowing more flexible use of screens in a building outside designated meeting spaces for collaboration and meeting space displays to show signage content. Christopher Jaynes is founder and CTO at Mersive
AV integration in a networked world