Issue 208 / February 2018
AV INTEGRATION IN A NETWORKED WORLD
to revolution p14 Restructure Fifteen years at the top for ClearOne’s CEO 2018 preview p16 ISE Don’t miss our rundown of what not to miss capture p42 Lecture Delivering the quality that students demand
WHAT’S DRIVING VR/AR? Special report: We examine the technology and market trends – and look inside a new VR CAVE
Editor: Paddy Baker firstname.lastname@example.org +44 (0)20 7354 6034
Content director: James McKeown email@example.com Production manager: Jason Dowie firstname.lastname@example.org +44 (0)20 3829 2617
Senior staff writer: Duncan Proctor email@example.com +44 (0)20 7354 6037
Digital director: Diane Oliver firstname.lastname@example.org
Group sales manager: Gurpreet Purewal email@example.com +44 (0)20 7354 6029 Sales executive: Mark Walsh firstname.lastname@example.org +44 (0)20 3871 7377 US sales – Executive vice president: Adam Goldstein email@example.com Designer: Tom Carpenter firstname.lastname@example.org
Contributors: Mike Clark James Keen James Kirby Rob Lane Ian McMurray Steve Montgomery Andrew Thomas Special thanks: Alexis Lipoff Erica Whittle Cover image: courtesy of BMW
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Get the full beneﬁt of ISE
re you all set for ISE? I know I always say this, but the show will be bigger than ever this year – with more halls and more exhibitors, but also more events to attend away from the showﬂoor. This will be the third year that the ISE showﬂoor has been open for four days. It was a move that the organisers didn’t make lightly, as it necessitates extra spending for exhibitors. But the sheer volume of attendees made the move essential – exhibitors didn’t get the chance to see everyone they wanted to, and the aisles and escalators became rammed at peak hours. Putting an extra day on the end has helped to spread the load over a longer period of time, but for the last two years, attendance on the Friday was signiﬁcantly below the other days. And this Paddy Baker, Editor year, talking to exhibitors’ marketing and PR people about setting firstname.lastname@example.org meetings at the show, I’ve been struck by how many of them are @install8ion leaving before the end. But there’s something of a vicious circle here: fewer people attend the show on the Friday, so exhibitors have fewer people on their stands, so those that do attend don’t always get to see the people they wanted to, and so people get put off from attending on the Friday, and so on… Now it’s understandable that people want to get home in good time for the weekend after a tradeshow. (I leave after the show ends on Friday, but my heart always goes out to the people involved in breaking down stands, who won’t get home to their families for another day or two.) But I wonder if
‘While many other shows are front-loaded, there’s a strong events programme at ISE spread evenly across the week’
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some of this attendance pattern is because of the belief that the ﬁrst day is the ‘best’ day to visit a show. While that’s true for some shows, I really don’t think it applies to ISE any more. While many other shows are front-loaded, there’s a strong events programme at ISE spread evenly across the week. We’re now a long way from the time when all the conferences took place on the Monday before the exhibition opened. Sure, there’s still a busy programme on that day, including AVIXA’s new TIDE conference, AudioForum and that perennial favourite, the Smart Building Conference, which segues neatly into the Opening Address. But this year there are conferences running through the week: the XR Summit on Tuesday, the ISE Digital Signage Summit on Wednesday, the new Sports Venue and Fan Engagement Summit on Thursday and blooloopLIVE on Friday. The last day also sees the awards ceremony for the World Masters of Projection Mapping competition.There are also strong offerings from AVIXA’s and CEDIA’s professional development programmes, and the Show Floor Theatres, during the entirety of the show. So, if you haven’t considered coming to ISE on the Friday, you really should. It’s likely to be a more pleasant experience in the aisles and refreshment queues. And – assuming you don’t have to break down a stand – you can head for home at 4 o’clock with a completely clear conscience!
Viewpoints 06 Regional Voices: Italy 08 Opinion Rob Lane on the open approach essential to ISE’s success James Kirby of Futuresource connects voice control and projection Contacta’s Andrew Thomas reveals how to get large area hearing loops right 14 Interview ClearOne president and CEO Zee Hakimoglu reflects on the company’s remarkable journey
16 Show Preview: ISE 2018
Special Report: VR/AR 28 Virtually real As distinguishing between the real and virtual worlds becomes increasingly difficult, we assess the implications for the AV industry 34 New kinds of technology We consider how VR, AR and MR technologies are evolving as the diversity of applications continues to expand 38 Case study: Reynaers Aluminium HQ, Duffel, Belgium Barco and integrator Nanco came up with a five-sided solution to fulfil an AVALON immersive 3D CAVE concept 40 Interview John Mould of Antycip Simulation discusses the opportunities and challenges for those working in the VR/AR world
Features 42 Lecture capture As the importance of recording classes continues to grow, how have the technology and market developed? 46 Selling on value, not price What can integrators and distributors do to stop the project tendering process becoming no more than a price comparison exercise?
Solutions 50 Costa Pacifica, Costa Magica 52 Royal Academy of Music, London 54 Place Bell, Laval 56 Postal Museum, London 58 Solutions in Brief
Technology 61 New Products 66 Showcase: Microphones 68 Demo of the Month QSC Q-SYS software platform
06 REGIONAL VOICES
ITALY We get opinions from across the country’s installation market to ﬁnd out levels of conﬁdence and the sectors of growth to look out for in the next 12 months
epending on what measure you use, Italy’s position in the league table of eurozone economies varies: if you look at gross national income, it’s in third place, but on gross domestic product, it’s ﬁfth. By any standard, it’s a major economy; and it’s one that, according to the Bank of Italy, shows business conﬁdence levels returning to pre-2008 recession levels.
GDP annual growth (Q4 2017) Source: Trading Economics
As far as the country’s installed AV market is concerned, our survey suggests that conﬁdence is at reasonable levels; the majority of respondents claimed the same level of conﬁdence in the installation sector now compared with six months ago; of the remainder, the majority were more conﬁdent rather than less. It was a similar picture too with respondents’ projections of their own company’s revenue over the next 12 months: most felt that they would either rise modestly (up to 5%) or remain level. Only a small minority forecast a downturn in income. To back up this picture of modest growth and conﬁdence, the overall feeling of our survey was that the number of players in the Italian installed AV market is growing slowly – although no particular reasons were given for this. In terms of vertical markets, digital signage
and, unusually for these surveys, museums and visitor attractions look to be showing the clearest signs of growth, whereas bars, clubs and restaurants, along with the worship sector, are showing no change. When we asked what causes the most concern with regard to their own businesses, we received a very mixed picture, with four different choices from our list highlighted. ‘Poorly qualiﬁed newcomers distorting the market’ was the most popular selection; one manufacturer mentioned “a false promise from a new player regarding lower pricing was hard to clarify to end-users”. Other respondents cited credit terms, falling margins and our old favourite, clients going for lowest price rather than best value. Lastly, respondents commented on what they
Budget surplus (2016) Source: theglobaleconomy.com
would change about the way the installation market works in Italy. The majority of their comments were about training and qualiﬁcations throughout the industry. “Improve the training of technicians involved in design and installation,” said one. “There should be more consideration and skill at all levels – architects, owners, dealers, distributors,” said another. And a third expressed their wish in a very succinct, not to say abrupt manner: “Training mandatory”.
What will be the business trend in the following vertical markets?
INCREASE Digital signage Museums/visitor attractions Corporate Retail Education Performing arts venues Sports venues Bars, clubs, restaurants Worship NO CHANGE
08 OPINION: ON THE AGENDA
Rob Lane Essential enlightened commerce Why ISE and Europe must stay open for business
t’s at this time of the year that I usually choose to ruminate on the latest ISE in this column – how it’s set to break its own records yet again, what we can expect to see there, how the organisers plan to cope with the number of exhibitors and attendees. This year, however, I’ll leave the recordbreaking and capacity speculation to one side: we all know the event will mushroom in size yet again. Instead, let’s celebrate ISE’s inclusivity; its pan-European ethos and its global-facing business broad-mindedness. In my humble opinion, ISE is a success, year on year, as a result of this openness. Those of you who read my pre-ISE column last year will remember my observations of how ISE is the antithesis of Brexit and Trump’s America First trade protectionism. Politics? Perhaps. However, while it is indeed true that I’m no fan of Trump and believe Brexit to be the UK’s biggest faux pas since Suez, politics doesn’t really come in to it – whichever way the UK voted in 2016.
bloc. For me, Brexit, particularly a hard one, is a threat to these freedoms. It’s true that British attendees and exhibitors will still be able to enjoy ISE’s business opportunities after Brexit, just as they will be able to – in some yet-to-be-determined arrangement – continue trading with their EU partners. However, as will almost certainly be the case with the UK’s post-Brexit trade, things won’t be quite as smooth and frictionless at ISE, with blue-passport-carrying Brits losing the privilege of shorter customs queues at Schiphol. (Although, of course, it’s the same for all non-EU ISE visitors.)
‘It’s essential that both the EU and ISE continue to reach out and to ﬂourish’
Oiling the wheels For me it’s all about trade, not politics. ISE, like the EU, was set up to help oil the wheels of business, particularly across continental Europe, and like the EU itself, ISE has in recent years become more globally facing, with an increasing number of exhibitors and attendees from around the world. However, at its heart ISE remains a European event, an opportunity for Europeans to meet and do business, while reaching out to the rest of the world – just as the EU itself allows its members to enjoy tariff-free trade and to make collective deals with countries outside of the
Nationalism and populism Even if things do continue as before – and there are still some who believe Brexit won’t actually happen – what upsets and angers me, as an open, proud Brit and European, is that some of the reasoning that got us to this unsettling (for business, mainly) Brexit state of affairs reeks of nationalism – particularly a thinly veiled antiEuropean stench – intensiﬁed by populism. In the sparkly, warm glow of pre-Christmas I experienced this mentality ﬁrst hand in my local boozer. Returning from the bar, with drinks for a
couple of work acquaintances, I was informed by a stranger that I was “in a four-to-one minority” in this particular corner of the pub, as a Remainer (an assumption made by one of my co-drinkers – not a difficult deduction to be fair!). What offended me was the reasoning behind three of my four co-drinkers (the fourth being too drunk to speak!) for voting Leave: it was proudly xenophobic and anti-European, with one even opining that he’d voted to leave the EU because to remain was a slight against the old soldiers who fought for Britain’s freedom in WWII. (When I interrogated him later it transpired he had seen a number of pro-Brexit adverts on Facebook suggesting that Britain was being run by countries that it had “beaten in the war”, conveniently ignoring the fact that it had been allies for decades or that many EU members were allies in 1939-45 in any case!) One of my many highlights of attending ISE, year after year, is the opportunity to meet with colleagues, friends and attendees from across the continent – as well as further aﬁeld – and it concerns me that they might believe I share these ‘Little Englander’ and ‘Johnny Foreigner’ prejudices. To my mind, it’s essential that both the EU and ISE continue to reach out and to ﬂourish, for our continued prosperity and crossborder, peaceful openness. Let’s not forget, the EU has helped to keep the peace in Europe for decades, following the devastating conﬂicts of the 20th century. Open, ﬂuid cross-border trade has a tendency of doing that. Rob Lane has been writing about AV technology for over 20 years. He looks forward to ISE every year and his views are his own.
10 OPINION: ON THE AGENDA
James Kirby Projection, meet Alexa Voice control may increase the appeal of projection within both consumer and B2B sectors
ver the past three years more than 70 million VPA (virtual personal assistant)enabled smart consumer devices – excluding mobile phones and PCs – have been shipped worldwide. Therefore it came as no surprise that one of the main themes of CES 2018 was voice-controlled assistance. Up until now, projection has been well behind the curve in its adoption of additional consumer features. Nonetheless, in harmony with the show theme, multiple projector vendors announced VPAenabled solutions at CES 2018. Both new and traditional brands released VPAenabled solutions at the show, demonstrating compatibility with Alexa by Amazon. Hisense, a brand relatively young in projection, was the ﬁrst to announce this strategy pre-show, and in the following days, both Acer and Optoma released solutions. When this is combined with recent developments in 4K, HDR and laser, 2018 looks to be an increasingly pivotal year for speciﬁcationdriven demand in home applications.
only has Android, but also native VPA compatibility, bringing the future of home projection into closer alignment with general consumer buying behaviour. The prospect of this type of functionality creates demand on an individual product basis, but also plays part in breaking preconceptions of projectors being a legacy product. This in turn will create awareness for projection outside of the usual dedicated home cinema channel, allowing vendors to expand their target market beyond this point. In terms of the overall CE market, technology in virtual assistance is moving much faster. VPA has shown integration with TVs, speakers, cars, wearables, robots, toys, even fridges, and much more. As well as this, the supporting tech and extent of control is far ahead of what has been released in projection so far. To access this vast
‘VPA compatibility by traditional brands symbolises the potential for rapid technological convergence within the volume areas of the industry’
Convergence potential The introduction of Alexa within Hisense’s lineup didn’t come as a huge surprise, especially considering its substantial investment in smart technology. However, the release of VPA compatibility by traditional brands symbolises the potential for rapid technological convergence within the volume areas of the industry. Acer, releasing support for Alexa in its 4K V6820M/I, demonstrates the potential for an entirely new concept of control for projection, one that could arguably lend itself to the relative complexity of projector usability. The release of Optoma’s UHD51A at CES also marks a promising shift in home projection. It not
market, projector vendors must comply or at least advance further towards the futuristic developments that excite consumers outside the dedicated home cinema market. With Google expected to increase its focus on VPA integration during 2018, the projection industry must continue to follow the trend of these CE giants.
B2B appeal However, it is not in just home applications where
this trend bears relevance. Many B2B end-users are also keen for the efficiencies, convenience, status and other beneﬁts that voice AI can provide. With both Acer and Optoma’s volume businesses located within the B2B market, this projector compatibility with Alexa could somewhat futureproof their production preceding the upcoming tide of VPA in the wider pro AV market. Interestingly, these releases also follow the creation last year of compatibility between Amazon Alexa and Crestron meeting room control, further increasing the temptation to adopt. Despite it being the ﬁrst VPA to projection, Alexa is not the sole driver of pro AV developments. Cisco’s Spark Assistant supplemented by its acquisition of MindMeld, along with Ricoh’s use of IBM Watson, are further demonstrating the application of voice control and AI. Such products not only have a place within corporate applications, but also represent much opportunity for education at all levels. AI software for adaptive learning, smart speakers and even humanoid robots are some of the other key opportunities for development here. However, these represent just a fraction of the VPA capabilities within the entire pro AV space. Moving forward there will be decisions to make in relation to VPA integration and implementation options. However, it is already clear to most of the pro AV industry that voice will soon begin to make fundamental changes to technological requirements across many B2B verticals. James Kirby is an analyst with Futuresource Consulting.
OPINION: ON SITE
Andrew Thomas Hearing loops: bigger isn’t always better How to get it right when choosing and installing large area hearing loops
arge area hearing loops can transform the lives of more than 51 million people with hearing loss in Europe by making education, worship, business, travel and entertainment more accessible. They allow people to hear the sound that really matters to them rather than amplifying all the noise in the room. However, getting it right is about much more than meeting the design speciﬁcations of a builder or architect. There is a common misconception that the only requirement for a large room is an equally large hearing loop. But this simplistic approach can mean that when a user switches their hearing aid to the T position they get annoying interference or no signal at all. Installers need to approach each site as unique, as there are many factors that need to be considered. The ﬁrst step is to carry out a site survey to determine which is the most suitable driver and loop layout for the site. For example, metal is a common cause of loss of current power, so measuring the impact of the construction of the room is essential. Metal loss can reduce driver output performance by up to 12dB, which if not identiﬁed can compromise the complete performance of a system.
Protect conﬁdentiality Another challenge of installing large area loops is the potential overspill into neighbouring rooms, or those above or below. This can be hugely impactful in a council chamber, meeting rooms or courtrooms for example, as it can compromise conﬁdentiality. This is where both knowledge of the products
and professional installation makes the difference. The latest technology offers highly effective phased array loops, which involve a number of smaller loops rather than one large set-up. Phased set-up minimises overspill because the ampliﬁcation needed is much lower. What this approach does require, however, is greater skill in calculating the areas each loop will cover and the corresponding wiring. Eastbourne Theatres, on England’s south-east coast, are a good example of how it pays to engage an expert. The theatre group wanted a solution that would offer hearing aid users the best experience and allow them to hear dialogue clearly no matter where they were sitting. An on-site survey was carried out and phased array loops were recommended as the solution. This was because this set-up could offer the best performance given the sloping nature of the stalls seating and the upper level seating in the circle. The equipment was tested, commissioned and, importantly, is maintained regularly to make sure it continues to meet the needs of audiences. Feedback has been overwhelmingly positive.
Making it work For architects and facilities managers, the key is to choose an installer who understands these issues. While it’s easy to ﬁt products that are compliant with disability legislation or that meet product standards, just being there doesn’t mean they are going to work. And rather than complain, end-users are more likely to vote with their feet and ﬁnd a competitor whose system has been well planned, well researched and meets their needs.
While footfall is of little interest to installers, reputation is, so it’s worth making sure you’ve chosen the right product and installed it correctly, and that includes the type and position of the microphones which are a critical part of the loop system.
‘Rather than complain, end-users are more likely to vote with their feet and ﬁnd a competitor whose system meets their needs’
It’s clear to see that it’s important to get this right at the earliest stage in construction or redevelopment. Once wiring is installed, venues will be less than keen to rip it out if the loop proves to be unable to do the job it was intended for. Ultimately, large area loops are only successful if users know they are there; so make signage and communication aimed at customers, visitors or users part of the scheme, or the perfect installation will go unheard. Andrew Thomas is the market development director of Contacta Systems. He was instrumental in setting up the International Hearing Loop Manufacturers Association, of which he is chair, has worked with hearing loss charities and has sat on British Standards committees.
The IP KVM People
14 INTERVIEW: ZEE HAKIMOGLU, CLEARONE
‘You have to be aware of what is going to happen next’
o say that Zee Hakimoglu’s 15-year tenure at ClearOne has been ‘eventful’ would be to risk a severe understatement. She became president and CEO of the voice and visual communications solutions specialist during arguably the most difficult period in its entire history, and was obliged to spend much of the ensuing decade restructuring the company, restoring its ﬁnancial health, and devising an R&D strategy that could steer it through the fast-changing comms landscape. With a current product range that spans professional audio mixers and microphones, media collaboration, and network media streaming, ClearOne’s latter-day market presence conﬁrms that it is very much a case of ‘job done’ in terms of the company’s global resurgence. Along the way there have been some highproﬁle plaudits for the part played by Hakimoglu, including Frost & Sullivan’s North American Audio Conferencing CEO of the Year in 2007. But far from indicating any sign of laurelresting, Installation’s interview with Hakimoglu revealed an executive who remains extremely excited about the work yet to be done in terms of further response to the ongoing IP revolution, and the steps that can be taken to make the lives of integrators easier as conferencing and collaboration technology evolves. The conversation started, though, with some reﬂections on Hakimoglu’s career path before joining ClearOne in December 2003… Can you tell us about your early career and ﬁrst steps in communications technology? I started out as an engineer in Silicon Valley in 1979. This was the period when it was the ‘true’ Silicon Valley with all the major silicon companies such as Intel and National Semiconductor [now part of Texas Instruments]. During my time working in that area it began to evolve major interests in data communications, so I got involved with that through some engineering jobs that ultimately saw me working on wireless and ﬁbre optic communications. Over time I shifted from a pure engineering focus to roles encompassing more and more management responsibilities. By the time I left Silicon Valley to join ClearOne, the Valley had already experienced
Making communications and collaboration easier and more closely integrated has been the driving principle that has seen ClearOne return to full strength after a challenging early 2000s. President and CEO Zee Hakimoglu reﬂects on this remarkable trajectory to David Davies – and looks to the future… the original dotcom bust and was on its way to pioneering the development of early social media platforms. What prompted the move across to ClearOne’s side of the business, and how quickly did you become aware of the challenges facing the company? It was becoming clear to me that Silicon Valley was going through a transition and that I wanted to extend my scope. To some extent I was aware of the technological changes happening in conferencing and communications, and had heard of some of the leading companies, like
Polycom, but in truth I was not particularly familiar with ClearOne. But when the job came up I found out more about them and it became clear that they had had a good market position and, in particular, some very strong installed audio products. So I came onboard as VP of product line management in 2003 – a time at which, as has been well documented, the company was experiencing some terrible challenges related to the former management and former management’s SEC security violations. The company was delisted shortly after I arrived and
A brief biography Zee Hakimoglu held engineering and management roles at companies including OZ Optics before joining ClearOne in 2003 Having been appointed as vice president of product line management, Hakimoglu was promoted to president and CEO within a year She oversaw the stabilisation of the company’s finances and increased integration of all-in-one conferencing solutions She was named North American Audio Conferencing CEO of the Year by Frost & Sullivan in 2007 it was only six months after I joined that I was appointed – following a series of interviews – to the position of CEO. Therefore there was a really big challenge for me to get everything back on track. We had to restate our entire ﬁnancials for two years; revamp many systems and improve the factory so it could produce the more complex products we were going to be making in the future; write off certain business areas and losses that had to be taken care of; and restore the conﬁdence of demoralised staff, customers and partners. ClearOne was a company they had adored, and yet it had ended up in a very precarious state, so a lot of time and effort was spent on building up the team and developing a roadmap for the future. How did you go about shaping that new roadmap, and what do you perceive ClearOne’s USP to be now? The way I saw it both then and now is that ClearOne’s strategy had to be based upon identifying and reﬂecting changes that are happening to technology, channel applications, consumers and models of consumption. You have to be aware of what is going to happen next or you will miss the boat. So once we had addressed our ﬁnancial situation we started to focus on driving a converged office solution, and we undertook a series of acquisitions to bring the necessary technologies into our portfolio. Having worked in the high tech industry for 25 years, it was clear to me that wireless, VoIP and advanced digital signal processing technologies were coming of age and that there was going to be a lot of convergence between the AV and IT channels. The cloud was also getting to be big, while patterns of usage were also changing. In general, millennials have been inﬂuencing work styles, work tools and also models of consumption, so we placed an emphasis on incorporating the most positive changes in the channel and on developing solutions that really gave our emerging customer base what they wanted.
INTERVIEW: ZEE HAKIMOGLU, CLEARONE Rather than needing to go to different vendors for different toolsets, ClearOne allows customers to pick its own ‘best of breed’ solutions that are plug and play. The result is that they don’t need to spend time and money putting the system together themselves. And for integrators this is great news as they know that everything will work together, the project will be ﬁnished sooner, and they can get paid more quickly! They don’t have to call on the services of separate vendors for different parts of an AV installation such as one vendor for video, another for audio, another for microphones, and so on. ClearOne provides the total solution. What do you see as the core drivers of your business now, and where do you perceive ClearOne in terms of industry ‘tiers’? I think the primary driver for us is still audio. After all, without audio you have no collaboration at all! Data is the second driver and video the third. Bringing these various elements together is AV over IP for streaming that, we believe, is really going to display standard signage and communications for telemedicine, education and other core applications. To get the necessary ﬂexibility for this level of collaboration, it needs to be software-based with links for cloud access. That’s where the industry is going. The issue of tiers is very interesting, particularly these days. I do think that different tiers still exist, but as technology continues to
‘We focused on developing solutions that really gave our customers what they wanted’
develop I suspect that there will ultimately be a few strong vendors that will supply all tiers – and obviously it is our intention that ClearOne be one of them. What do you think will be the primary driver of conferencing technology progress in the next few years? As well as maximising the bandwidth utilisation of the network for the end-user, I believe the most important driver is going to be ease of scalability. Being able to offer ﬂexible systems that allow the user to keep the cost down, and which can be scaled up or down as required while holding bandwidth comsumption as low as possible, is absolutely crucial. And to get that kind of scalability, efficiency and ﬂexibility, you are really
talking about software-based solutions. In addition to evolving in that area, we also want to make sure that all the core elements – the microphones, the mixers, the video, and so on – continue to develop and can be integrated tightly together. That’s the best way to be able to present them to the channel so that the people in the channel can make a proﬁt. Some manufacturers are having a tough time as technologies change, so do you think margins will continue to be under pressure going forward? Margins are always at risk in this industry. At a certain point everyone needs to make money – even the venture capitalists! At ClearOne we don’t over spend the money on over-thetop marketing; rather, our focus is on the development of great products and channel support. If you build the product right – and we know how to do that – then you can work out how to position it in such a way that the manufacturer, distributor and practitioner can all beneﬁt from good margins. Over time I do think that we will see more consolidation in pro AV, not least because of this move towards total solutions. To compare it to the car industry it’s not like you buy hubcaps in one place and the bodyframe in another – you want to be able to get everything from the one outlet. And so I think that tendency will be reﬂected in the AV industry organisationally. Finally, do you think that the pro AV industry has become a better place for women to work over the last few decades? I am glad to say that I have always been blessed with wonderful support internally at ClearOne, as well as a fantastic channel and market that, in my experience, has long accepted women in the AV industry. The Frost & Sullivan award in 2007 was a wonderful recognition of the work I was doing at ClearOne, and throughout my career I have met many ambitious and smart women in AV. Some people think that the AV industry can be a bit of an ‘old boys’ network’, but I’ve not found that. I do think it could be said to be a more progressive industry than some others. Of course, it would be great to see more women in pro AV, and anything that can be done to encourage that is to be welcomed. One point I would query is the actual name ‘pro AV’; I am not sure it is entirely suitable now since there is so much emphasis on networking and software. It’s not a case of simply putting up a display or installing an amp these days, so maybe it’s time for a change of name!
16 SHOW PREVIEW: ISE 2018
Ten things not to miss at ISE 2018 There’s plenty to keep you occupied during ISE 2018 apart from the exhibition itself. Here’s our pick of the top 10 attractions in Amsterdam between Monday 5 and Friday 9 February
10 9 8 7
Show Floor Theatres ISE’s Show Floor Theatres offer free, informative 20-minute sessions that you don’t have to leave the exhibition, or book in advance, to attend. There is a strong programme of 160 presentations in this year’s three theatres. The AVIXA Commercial Solutions Theatre (stand 8-A470) covers the widest range of subject matter; the CEDIA Smart Building Theatre (stand 9-F100) will host presentations on sessions relating to residential technologies as well as smart buildings; and the AVIXA Uniﬁed Communications Solutions Theatre (stand 11-A170) will be dedicated to technologies for improving communication and knowledge sharing in business, education and elsewhere.
Produced by ISE media partner Connessioni, AudioForum returns to ISE on Monday 5 February. The conference is aimed at anyone interested in knowing more about the latest audio technologies and how they interact with, and impact, AV and systems integration. The 2018 conference will focus on three main themes: Digital Audio Transport; Audio Design with Audio over IP; and Digital Audio Protocols. Chiara Benedettini, Connessioni president and editor-in-chief, explains: “Audio networking is both an old and a new topic so we will discuss the history and development of technologies and techniques and how that has led to the present situation, as well as looking more closely at AVB, AES67 and AES70, and Dante.”
AV Technology Europe Awards
Our sister title AV Technology Europe, targeted exclusively at end-users in the AV market, is holding its ﬁrst awards event on the evening of Wednesday 7 February. The venue is the Café-Restaurant Dauphine, just a seven-minute cab ride or a 20-minute walk from the RAI. The event will feature Individual and Team Awards, including AV/IT Manager of the Year and AV Team of the Year; Technology Excellence Awards for the best uses of technology to improve ﬁxed installations; while the past year’s outstanding projects and events will be celebrated with Project Excellence Awards.
Sports Venue and Fan Engagement Summit
For ISE 2018, sports broadcast association SVG Europe is partnering with leading venue publication PanStadia & Arena Management to present the new Sports Venue and Fan Engagement Summit. The half-day conference, on Thursday 8 February, will discuss the rapidly evolving design and applications of the modern sports stadium, while also considering other areas related to the overall visitor experience – in particular those technologies geared towards enhancing fan engagement, including mobile and OTT services.
SHOW PREVIEW: ISE 2018
DSS ISE Wednesday 6 February sees the second Digital Signage Summit at ISE, although its parent event has been taking place for over a decade. “The half-day conference will largely focus on the evolutionary shift in the digital signage value chain. A key question that will be debated is: what are the future roles of systems integrators, software suppliers, display vendors and other ecosystem partners?” says Florian Rotberg, managing director of digital signage research company invidis consulting and a co-organiser of the event, along with ISE. “DSS will deliver exclusive market intelligence and insight to delegates, as well as providing unparalleled networking opportunities.”
blooloopLIVE Night-time events are becoming increasingly popular in the visitor attractions industry as venues seek to increase their offerings, extend their opening hours or even become multi-day destinations. These events can range from simple live performances to complex, multifaceted productions using video mapping, lighting and laser effects. The new blooloopLIVE experiential-themed conference will explore the trends involved in delivering these nocturnal spectaculars. The half-day event, on the morning of Friday 9 February, will explore key examples of successful events and see contributions from both the operators and leading AV players behind their creation.
Smart Building Conference Taking ‘From Smart Building to Smart City’ as its theme, the Smart Building Conference returns to the RAI on Monday 5 February. SBC explores the latest technologies, business strategies, market research and workﬂow case studies – with presentations from leading smart building experts and thought leaders. “This year’s theme looks at how as more layers of digital networks are blanketing urban space, new approaches to commercial and residential built environment are emerging,” explains conference chairman Bob Snyder. The Conference is followed immediately by the ISE Opening Address, given by Professor Carlo Ratti, director of the Senseable City Lab at MIT.
XR Summit and XR Technology Zone XR – a catch-all abbreviation encompassing virtual, augmented and mixed reality – is high on the agenda at ISE this year. On Tuesday 6 February, the ﬁrst ever XR Summit will take place, chaired by Benjamin de Wit, founder and festival director of VR Days Europe. It’s an opportunity to hear from world experts on what’s going on in the XR market, illustrated by case studies from those who have successfully deployed it. And throughout the show in the XR Technology Zone, Holovis will be showcasing an array of emerging XR technology solutions for entertainment and enterprise – including training and simulation, architectural design, collaboration, retail and brand engagement and virtual manufacturing.
TIDE Following its highly successful debut at InfoComm 2017 in Orlando, AVIXA is bringing TIDE (Technology. Innovation. Design. Experience) to ISE 2018. The conference’s mission is to set the wide range of AV technology in a user context. Taking place on Monday 5 February at the Hotel Okura, TIDE’s theme will be ‘Design Thinking for Business’. The opening keynote will be given by Daan Roosegaarde, founder of Amsterdam-based Studio Roosegaarde, which develops projects that explore the relationship between people, technology and space.
6 5 4 3 2
18 SHOW PREVIEW: ISE 2018
World Masters of Projection Mapping
ntegrated Systems Europe’s relationship with the city of Amsterdam goes back to 2005, but for most of that time its activities have been focused on the RAI. This year sees ISE involved in a high-proﬁle event in the centre of the city: the World Masters of Projection Mapping (WMPM) competition – organised jointly by ISE, Amsterdam Light Festival and RAI Amsterdam. The competition will see specially created content from ﬁve international video artists projected onto the EYE Filmmuseum, alongside the river IJ. This is a modern building whose façade is a complicated arrangement of irregular geometric shapes, onto which the video content will be mapped. Each artwork, which runs for six minutes, will begin with projection onto two 40m x 15m water screens in front of the museum. These screens will then be lowered to allow the projection to take place on the museum façade. A number of technical partners have provided equipment or expertise to the competition. Panasonic has supplied 12 projectors: PT-RZ31 and PT-RZ21 models – WUXGA 3-chip DLP laser projectors with 30,000 and 20,000 lumens brightness respectively. These will beam content from a disguise (formerly d3 Technologies) 4x4 Pro media server, with the signals sent over Lightware HDBaseT equipment. Audio, which will accompany the competition entries on 8 and 9 February, will play out over Alcons Audio speakers. There will also be a large infrastructure of power supplies and cabling supplied by local integrator Beam Systems, which is responsible for the competition’s AV installation.
Beam Systems has been involved in projection mapping projects for a dozen years, according to sales manager Jason Malone. There are two aspects that make this project different from most, he says: “Usually when you project on a building, it’s a relatively ﬂat surface, although it might have some shapes and angles. But the shape of the EYE Filmmuseum is kind of faceted – there are no straight surfaces on it, everything is tilted or tipped, and triangular. And it’s next to the water – the water’s edge is only about 30m away, which makes it really challenging. Usually you have plenty of distance from a building, but in this case the projectors need to be extremely close, which has made the system design more challenging. Instead of having an array of beamers from one central point, here we’re having to position them all around the building.”
Thursday evening The projections from the ﬁve shortlisted artists have been shown since 14 January from 7am to 9am and from 5pm to 11pm, with the featured artist changing each day. The judging panel, led by Amsterdam Light Festival creative director Lennart Booij, will convene on the evening of Thursday 8 February, when all ﬁve videos will be shown, with accompanying audio. A choice of hospitality cruise packages for the evening, sailing from the RAI, is available from Artifex – these can be perused via the ISE website. Rembrandt Boswijk of Indyvideo, a specialist supplier to Amsterdam Light Festival and technical project manager for WMPM, comments: “After a helicopter, the best place to see the
projections is from a boat, because you can move around and look from different angles.” Other key vantage points for seeing the projections include the quay near Central station and the Amsterdam Tower, which is very close to the Filmmuseum. Boswijk adds: “An artist needs input from the building before they can create their content, so we looked for 3D drawings of the building. But the existing drawings were not accurate enough, so we’ve scanned the whole building in 3D – which was a pretty interesting process. It generates a point cloud of all the scanning points which is translated into a 3D drawing; this is used for the UV map, which is a type of 3D drawing used specially for video mapping.” Beam Labs, the creative division of Beam Systems, has worked with the artists on the technical implementation of their content into the 3D mapping system. “We are helping them with our knowledge and our artistic ideas to get as close to their ideas as we can, because the shape of the building is so complicated,” says Malone.
Awards ceremony The competition comes to a climax at ISE on Friday 9 February, when the World Masters of Projection Mapping Presentation and Showcase will be held in the Forum at 12:30pm. All ﬁve ﬁnalists will be on stage at the ceremony, and will present their entries to the audience. They will talk about the inspiration behind their artworks and the production techniques they have used. The overall winner will then be announced.
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20 SHOW PREVIEW: ISE 2018
The world’s biggest AV show Mike Blackman, managing director of Integrated Systems Events, looks back over 15 years of Integrated Systems Europe and talks about how the attendee proﬁle has changed during that time
SE managing director Mike Blackman has presided over the show since its inception in 2004, where it occupied a single hall in Geneva. The event was a reasonable success, though not a runaway one: it drew close to 3,500 attendees and 120 exhibitors. “It wasn’t fantastic, but it was good enough for people to see its potential and want to take it further,” he recalls. “We got the support from a lot of companies to go on – just not in Geneva.” Accordingly, the show moved to Amsterdam in 2005, where it has remained, apart from a blip in 2006. It has grown steadily each year: ISE has published graphs of exhibitor and attendee numbers over the years, and the two lines follow each other very closely. There’s an old journalistic adage that “dog bites man” isn’t news, but “man bites dog” would be; in a similar spirit, one could almost argue that “ISE doesn’t achieve record numbers” would be more of a headline than its opposite would be. ISE 2017 saw attendee numbers top 73,000, while exhibitors reached 1,400. A second temporary hall, Hall 15, has been added for 2018, bringing the total exhibition space to 55,000sqm. “Today, ISE is the biggest audiovisual technology show in the world, across all parameters,” he says. “We are also now the biggest show of any kind in Holland – bigger than IBC. The size of the showﬂoor, exhibitors and number of attendees, it really has reached the ultimate position.”
Changing channels In its early days, the show was heavily weighted towards manufacturers, system integrators and distributors – the AV channel. However, ISE couldn’t have maintained its growth trajectory
from the channel alone – it has increasingly targeted an end-user audience. “We have really pushed hard to get endusers to our events and it’s an area which has continued to grow. Before, it used to be something like 90-10, trade versus end-users. Now we are probably 65-35. It’s a huge growth area for us and we work tirelessly to ensure that we cater for everyone who attends, whatever industry they’re from. People take time out from work to attend our events, so it’s essential we ensure they return having learnt something.” Of course, those who don’t work in the AV channel have more pressure on them to justify taking time out of the office to attend an AV trade show. Blackman believes that, with such a broad range of technology on show and learning opportunities available – many of them free of charge – it would be almost impossible for anyone attending the show to not be inspired by what they see. And this is borne out, he says, by the numerous examples he hears after every ISE of people discovering new technology at the show and deploying it in their businesses. “What we try and do is not only inform people, but to inspire them as well,” he says. He recounts an early example of this, involving a temporary digital signage solution that was put in place across the RAI for ISE 2005, to help attendees ﬁnd their way around the centre’s complicated layout. “We worked with Sony to install a temporary system to help people ﬁnd there way around and ultimately improve their experience,” he recalls. “The CEO of the RAI happened to be walking around and was impressed by the technology and how it was helping visitors. He asked me if I felt this was something he should think
about installing permanently – to which I said, deﬁnitely. A year later, the RAI put in a digital signage solution. That’s just a small example of how the show can inspire others to implement and deploy new technologies.”
Solutions sales Blackman also sees a parallel between the growth in end-user attendance of ISE and the rise of the solution sale. As the channel has moved from ‘shifting boxes’ to selling solutions, presenting technology to end-user decisionmakers has increasingly involved collaboration between a number of partners. This has brought manufacturers closer to end-users, and many manufacturers have sought to become their partners, to provide a higher level of service. He points out another reason why manufacturers want to target end-users directly – which is that some integrators may have reasons not to suggest certain brands’ products to their clients. “The danger is that an integrator may have a better relationship with one manufacturer over another, or perhaps they receive a better margin with one over another. Manufacturers fear that and that’s why they want to be able to speak directly to the endusers themselves. ISE provides that.” Fifteen years in, Blackman is still palpably excited about the show he runs. “I’m a huge technology fan,” he says. “Walking around the RAI during ISE for me, is like being a kid in a giant toyshop.” And with that toyshop getting bigger each year, that excitement is unlikely to diminish any time soon.
More art. Less noise. dbaudio.com/moreart-lessnoise
22 SHOW PREVIEW: ISE 2018
What? ISE 2018 Where? Amsterdam RAI When? Conferences: 5-8 February 2018 Exhibition: 6-9 February 2018
Show time On to the products: we’ve scoured the latest launches to present one ﬁnal preview before the show kicks off DISPLAYS AND COLLABORATION Digital Projection is introducing two new products at ISE 2018, where the company will also celebrate 10 years at the show. The manufacturer will preview the INSIGHT Dual Laser 8K, the world’s ﬁrst 8K laser projector. The company will also expand its display solutions with the launch of the Radiance LED videowalls. The INSIGHT Dual Laser 8K projector is set to be the world’s ﬁrst commercially available DLP laser 8K projector. Providing 8K resolution (7680 x 4320) with 33 million pixels through 25,000 ANSI lumens of solid-state laser-phosphor illumination, the new ﬂagship projector is suited to usage in the most elaborate medical, scientiﬁc and immersive visualisation and large venue applications. The company will also launch Radiance LED, a new range of 120Hz and 3D capable narrow pixel pitch (NPP) LED panels, ranging from 1.26mm to 2.53mm. Sharp will launch the 70in 4K BIG PAD (PN-70TH5) – its ﬁrst BIG PAD interactive display with a 4K LCD touchpanel. Sharp’s newest BIG PAD makes it easy to view
large amounts of detailed information, such as technical drawings, maps or spreadsheets. Special features support working with content at UHD resolution: 4K reading is supported by UV2A screen technology for high contrast and image clarity, and 4K writing is supported by a range of features including palm rejection, and a modiﬁed pen with a 2mm tip for precision. ISE 2018 will also see Mitsubishi Electric return with an array of new and updated control room display products. The focal point of the company’s presence will be a full-size control room simulation featuring its newly released NPP direct view LED screen. The NPP control room display at ISE 2018 will be over 11m in width and provide an impressive demonstration of the capabilities of the newest technology to be added to Mitsubishi’s portfolio of professional control room displays. The VS-15NP160 is the company’s ﬁrst direct view LED display to be designed speciﬁcally for the command and control market. Another major launch for ISE 2018 is a new suite of visualisation and management software.
Designed for native IP network-based command and control display architectures, the S-SF software suite enables network-based display systems to operate more efficiently and with greater scalability. Ctouch is showing its new Leddura 2Share, and Leddura 2Meet meeting collaboration solutions. Both are designed to make presentations and sharing of content as easy as possible. Leddura 2Share was specially designed to share digital content wirelessly and securely in meeting rooms. It also brings easy access to a digital whiteboard and annotation functionality. The Leddura 2Meet is a complete meeting room solution that enables the user to create a more collaborative and accessible experience for every meeting room. Designed for lean and agile teams, it was specially designed to help all teams that focus on efficiency as a top priority. ClearOne will exhibit the newly launched COLLABORATE Share 300. It allows up to four presenters to simultaneously share content wirelessly from their laptops, tablets or smartphones on room displays and to collaborate with a built-in interactive whiteboard and annotation drawing tools. Participants can draw over the whiteboard or presentation to share their thoughts directly on the touch display. Users can capture and record their
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24 SHOW PREVIEW: ISE 2018
presentations and whiteboarding for future on-demand access and also to stream content live to remote viewers as well. PROCESSORS AND CONTROLLERS Following its acquisition of Picturall, Analog Way will unveil its own range of premium media servers and showcase its high-end video processing solutions at ISE 2018. Also on show will be several models from the Picturall, LiveCore and Midra series as well as Analog Way’s premium multi-format converter (VIO 4K) and event controllers (Vertige, Control Box2, AW VideoCompositor). The Picturall series of media servers has been designed to provide a robust, heavy-duty platform and deliver optimised uptimes and durability. This new range is based on the Picturall Linux software engine. With resolutions up to 8K, uncompressed playback performance and the ability to drive a large number of 4K@60 projectors or LED processors from a single server unit, the new Analog Way media servers are suited to drive corporate events, live shows, high-end theatre productions or large-scale digital signage projects. tvONE is introducing its CORIOview multiwindow processor as well as new 4K multi-format AV matrix routers and a HDMI four-port output
module for CORIOmaster. CORIOview is said to be the fastest, most intuitive 4K multi-window processor, and includes up to eight sources. The new CORIOmatrix (4RU) and CORIOmatrix mini (1RU), are ﬂexible, modular, multi-format AV matrix routers with 4K capability. Designed for applications with mixed audio and video formats, the CORIO technology is ideal for integrating mixed AV, broadcast, IP and legacy sources at very low latency, allowing any source to be connected to any display with complete ﬂexibility.
Also on the stand will be the new HDMI four-port output module, which supports 1080p60 on each port, providing the 4RU CORIOmaster videowall processor with up to 56 outputs. A new range of multitouch controllers from Zytronic is to be unveiled, enabling touchscreens to have ultra-narrow inactive borders, enhancing videowall designs, and also facilitating the improved integration of contactless peripheral systems such as NFC payment. In response to the growing demand for all-glass fronted narrow touchscreen borders, especially in
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26 SHOW PREVIEW: ISE 2018
transmission card (depending on card model), including ARC, HDMI de-embed from video and separate line-level audio only sources.
videowalls, the new touch controllers allow touch sensors to be designed with substantially reduced non-active borders, namely under 10mm on a 55in screen, less than half of the current industry norm. The new Zytronic controllers are based around a proprietary ASIC and feature a higher noise immunity, allowing technologies such as RFID, NFC and Qi wireless battery charging to be implemented adjacent to or even within the active area without impairing the normal performance of the touchscreen. The Terra line-up of AV over IP products from Christie comprises an expanding series of transmitters, receivers, control hardware and software that enables the design and integration of SDVoE-compliant systems in a ﬂexible and scalable package. Built on standardised SDVoE technology, Christie Terra solutions support video formats up to 4K at 60Hz and provide performance capabilities transporting and processing of uncompressed, zero frame latency, artefact-free video over 10G Ethernet components. RTI will debut a range of signal processing and collaboration products including video distribution solutions, presentation switchers, audio mixer
ISE Daily Installation will once again be running the ISE Daily, the official newspaper of ISE 2018. Written by a team of journalists reporting live from the showfloor, the newspaper is put together in an office at the RAI and printed overnight for distribution at the show, as well as in major Amsterdam hotels and on shuttle buses. The same team is also responsible for the Official ISE Newsletter, sent out before, during and after ISE. For 2018, we will have a significantly larger team reporting at the show, filing more stories each day from the showfloor, conferences, seminars and other show events.
ampliﬁers and interactive displays. The company’s VHD-4 and VHD-8 video matrix switchers are designed for reliable video distribution in conference rooms, classrooms and restaurants. Utilising HDBaseT technology, RTI’s VHD-4 and VHD-8 video matrix switchers extend HDMI, IR, and RS-232 signals up to 70m over a single Cat 5e/6 cable. To meet the video requirements in today’s corporate, education or retail environments, RTI will also introduce the VMX-8 and VMX-16 modular matrix switchers. Its compact VSS-51 presentation scaler/ switcher comes with ﬁve inputs and accepts a variety of input formats, including a microphone for meeting rooms, classrooms and lecture halls. In addition, XP-6s and XP-8v control processors have been upgraded with new i.MX53 chips and more memory, for increased processing power. WyreStorm will exhibit the new H2XC Series of HDBaseT 4K HDR and integrated audio matrix switchers at the show, along with a selection of customisable transmission cards. The switchers, an evolution of the H2X Series, have been engineered to offer more options for the distribution of multi-source 4K UHD with HDR and legacy video formats, as well as multisource audio matrix switching to multiple zones, including SmartTV functions and audio-on-demand products. The modular H2XC features a choice of a 10or 16-way H2X chassis populated by a custom selection of six multi-format transmission cards in any quality or combination. The H2XC features an integrated audio matrix with powerful DSP capable of routing up to three separate audio signals per
AUDIO In the run-up to ISE 2018, Biamp announced the expansion of its Tesira audio and video platform with the addition of new PoE+ ampliﬁer technology and a series of Beamtracking ceiling microphones (Tesira TCM-1, Tesira TCM-1A, Tesira TCM-1EX). The solutions are designed to reduce programming time for integrators and provide cost-effective, clear audio quality to end-users. Providing full 360° room coverage, each of the new Tesira microphones use Biamp’s Beamtracking technology to identify and lock to a signal source – even if the person speaking is moving around. The ceiling mics are said to actively track and intelligently mix conversations from around the table, with minimal set-up. The Tesira AMP-450P is a new four-channel PoE+ conferencing ampliﬁer that can be placed wherever it’s needed, including air-handling spaces. Well-suited for ceiling speakers, programme speakers, and mix-minus systems, it’s capable of operating in a burst mode to handle peak loads, providing up to 50W per channel. Atlona is set to showcase its Gain Series of
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wired and networked ampliﬁers, which is designed to offer a compelling price-to-performance ratio. Available in three models, the Gain 60, Gain 120 and Gain 120NET offer low- and high-impedance outputs, RS-232 and Ethernet control, front panel metering and convection cooling. The availability of dual-impedance operation is signiﬁcant as integrators and designers can manage a simpliﬁed inventory, or quickly specify the proper ampliﬁer optimised for either programme speakers or distributed speaker systems. Debuted by Powersoft last year, the company will extend its Duecanali series of two-channel ampliﬁers with a further two models. The Duecanali 804 and Duecanali 4804 offer the same two-channel ampliﬁer platform with optional DSP and Dante dedicated to the ﬁxed install market. The Duecanali 4804 provides 2 x 2,400W @ 4 Ω, a power output suitable to a wide range of projects, making it an attractive and cost-effective solution for small to medium size installations seeking both pristine and reliable sound. The Duecanali 804 offers 2 x 400W and represents a lower total power solution for high-performance installations in retail,
SHOW PREVIEW: ISE 2018
as well as bars and restaurants where a single two-channel ampliﬁer is the requirement, without the need for additional channels or power. The range is completed by the existing Duecanali 1602, which now sits between the two new products in the Duecanali range. RCF has launched a comprehensive range of EN54-compliant products including four speakers for ceiling/ panel mounting or wall mounting. The company maintains they are especially suitable for broadcasting alarm messages thanks to highly intelligible sound reproduction and inbuilt ﬂame and heat resistance. The PL series are ceiling speakers, designed for recess installation in false ceilings or panels and featuring a ﬂameproof protection dome. The PL 50EN and PLP 50EN are wideband speakers, while the PL 82EN is a two-way coaxial ceiling model. The RCF MR 52EN is a compact two-way loudspeaker, intended for use in both alarm and business music systems. ACCESSORIES Vogel’s is adding a new range of universal videowall solutions to its existing Connect-It System. The company is looking to expand the
applications of LCD videowalls in terms of size, position, mobility and ﬂexibility. In addition, there are also solutions for LED screens, for a futureproof standard. A minimal number of linkable components can be combined to produce a mounting solution for all sizes of videowall. Installation is simple, whether for a ceiling, ﬂoor-to-wall, ﬂoor-to-ceiling, freestanding, back-to-back, ﬁxed or mobile solution. Celebrating its tenth year exhibiting at ISE, Unicol is showcasing a range of mounting options for education, retail and the office. On the stand will be the latest version of the Rhobus Huddle, which is said to enable users to comfortably and efficiently videoconference other teams, or allow for an effective group work/ presentation environment. Recent developments have enabled the Rhobus Huddle to rise or descend smoothly via wireless remote or manual switch. Other presentation mounting solutions from Unicol include the Principal Desk, which is designed for large auditoriums, lecture theatres and conference halls. Unicol Rhobus Huddle
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28 SPECIAL REPORT: VR/AR
Virtually real The lines between the real world and the virtual world are blurring rapidly, such that making a distinction between the two is becoming increasingly challenging. Ian McMurray assesses the implications for the AV industry
f you’ve been asleep for the past couple of years, you probably missed the Pokémon Go craze. Launched in July 2016, it generated 752 million downloads and $1.2 billion in revenues. Somewhat brief-lived – is anyone even still playing it? – it could be said to have brought augmented reality (AR) to the mass market. In a similar vein, virtual reality (VR) has, until now, been largely a consumer market. In fact, for ‘consumer’ read ‘ gamer’. Sony has launched the PlayStation VR, while PC gamers have the HTC Vive. Google has its own offering, and evidence of the perceived potential of the VR market can perhaps be found in Facebook’s acquisition of Oculus VR for a reported $2 billion in March 2014.
‘The big challenge – and opportunity – for AV professionals is to turn VR into a shared experience’ Colin Yellowley, Igloo Vision
Of the two, it seems likely that AR will emerge the clear winner. Researcher Digi-Capital, for example, believes that the VR/AR market will be worth $108 billion by 2021, with AR taking the lion’s share of that at $83 billion. IDC is even
more bullish, forecasting a combined market value of $143.3 billion by 2020. The company notes that the large majority of this will be driven by consumer applications, but believes that the forerunners in commercial applications will be retail, transportation and healthcare. Oh, and: just to confuse the issue, Microsoft now provides Windows Mixed Reality, having dabbled its toes in the AR waters with Hololens. From what anyone can ascertain, mixed reality (MR) falls somewhere between VR and AR.
Shared experiences It’s almost certainly signiﬁcant that this year saw the debut of the new XR Technology Zone at ISE, showcasing the latest in virtual technologies, and the XR Summit ISE B2B strategy conference. What, then, will VR/AR/MR mean to the pro AV community? “Almost by deﬁnition, the AV industry is about delivering shared or collective experiences,” says Colin Yellowley, founder and president, Igloo Vision, which specialises in the creation of immersive technology. “But, up until now, VR/AR/MR has mainly been about individual experiences, so the big challenge – and opportunity – for AV professionals is to turn VR into a shared experience. “This is particularly the case in the enterprise market,” he continues. “Unless the content is sharable, its value is limited. For almost all
Key Points VR, AR and MR are all too easily confused with one another. They are distinct technologies with different applications Training, education, design and simulation are already seeing success as valid applications The application most often mentioned as having the greatest promise for VR, AR and MR is collaboration It’s vital to keep an open mind. The technologies have the potential to be truly transformative in ways we do not yet know commercial VR applications, teams of people need to be able to experience the same thing in the same way.” “There’s huge scope for AV professionals to transform conference rooms, training rooms, collaboration rooms and visitor attractions into immersive spaces,” he concludes. “The opportunities, as I see it, are endless.” Andrew Hug, vice president, systems engineers, EMEA at Polycom, picks up on the theme of collaboration, and is clear. “Advances in VR/AR/MR are making their way into all sorts of areas of our lives, and this will inevitably enter our working lives,” he believes.
SPECIAL REPORT: VR/AR 29
“AR will deﬁnitely play a role in videoconferencing and collaboration going forward as technology evolves; for example, the latest developments in content collaboration already provide for a far more immersive experience.”
Most potential “We believe that collaborative solutions have the most potential in the VR/AR/MR market, simply because it offers the most diverse use case across a range of industry types,” agrees Matthew Bumford, who is head of sales and marketing at mixed reality development studio Kazendi. “From architecture to education, construction to crisis management the ability to use these technologies to engage with colleagues remotely in an expedited and seamless manner will change the scope of work across the board.” Among the shared spaces Yellowley referred to were visitor attractions – a subject on which Ross Magri, managing director of Sarner, is an expert. “VR/AR/MR are slowly making inroads into all areas of leisure entertainment, corporate, museums and educational ﬁelds,” he notes, “but this is still a niche market requiring specialist skills to deliver the media and hardware necessary for such projects.”
As well as visitor attractions, simulation and design also come to mind for Jorma Palo, COO at visual sales solutions company VividWorks. “The key point of these new technologies is to allow visualisation of a virtual item in a real or simulated environment,” he says. “Simulation and visitor attractions will beneﬁt highly. In design applications, lifelike realism brings the opportunity to instantly understand the presented item in the actual target environment. Eliminating the need to build or ship products early in the development cycle can have signiﬁcant beneﬁt in terms of cost and time-to-market.”
Market opportunities Palo has an ally in Anne Lindgren, sales director of interactive glass manufacturer Seloy Live. “I see training rooms and simulation as major market opportunities,” she says. “Using these technologies enables new products to be developed more quickly at a time when product lifecycles are decreasing. Different options can be rapidly evaluated, reducing development costs and manufacturing lead times. There’s also the green element: being able to be trained virtually instead of needing to relocate physically is an environmentally better way of doing things.” Dave Elliott, who is responsible for
Deﬁnitions Just before CES 2017, the Consumer Technology Association announced that its AR/VR Working Group had ﬁnalised a set of industry deﬁnitions to help companies better explain to consumers the spectrum of experiences their technologies deliver: • Virtual Reality (VR) creates a digital environment that replaces the user’s real-world environment • Augmented Reality (AR) overlays digitally created content into the user’s real-world environment • Mixed Reality (MR) is an experience that seamlessly blends the user’s real-world environment and digitally created content, where both environments can coexist and interact with each other enterprise business development at Holovis, picks up the thought. “There is deﬁnitely a bright future for these emerging technologies for training applications,” he believes. “We are seeing early adopters of this in the defence, simulation and manufacturing
30 SPECIAL REPORT: VR/AR markets, where training using virtual reality is speeding up the learning process without needing access to highly sought-after tools or equipment. It also removes the risk of physical harm to the individual, letting them learn in safety at ﬁrst so they can get familiar with tools and environments.” Hugo Stanbury, production manager at holographic systems company Holotronica, also sees training and education as potentially fertile ground. “For me, the most exciting prospect is what is going to happen in the training room, lecture hall and classroom,” he enthuses. “Teachers and lecturers will not have to refer to diagrams or models for visual representations of events or objects. Instead, learners will be invited to visit an historical scene or to view in real time the nerve pathways or circulatory systems of their subject matter. People learn differently, and for many, the best way to learn is to experience something ﬁrst hand. AR, VR and MR will enable that to happen in a controlled, educational environment.”
Perfect ﬁt “There are a select few industries in which we believe that VR, AR and MR will ﬁt perfectly and feel like a natural progression – rather than a shoehorned gimmick,” adds Tom Murray, IT manager at user experience specialist UXG. “Training and control rooms are going to see big beneﬁts in how this technology can change and evolve their workﬂows. Training, for example, allows for simulations in safe environments and can create an elaborate array of scenarios; it can give a small amount of reality or place people into situations that can be expensive to re-create in a safe, controlled environment.” Another signiﬁcant AV market is digital signage. How does Florian Rotberg, founder and managing director of digital signage consultancy invidis consulting, see the new technologies impacting it? “AR is the most promising technology of the three for retail, as it combines the physical store and products with a digital information layer,” he says. “For example, a smartphone with an AR app can give additional information about a product by ‘scanning’ the packaging. VR is a very engaging platform, but because the VR experience is fully independent of the direct environment, it doesn’t add much value to the physical store.”
Upside potential Rotberg believes that the upside potential for AR in digital signage is huge, especially since the recent launch of the latest version of iOS, which means that all Apple devices will become AR-enabled. “We expect a breakthrough for AR in digital signage in the next 18 months,” he adds.
VR helps save lives One of the beneﬁts of using VR for training is that it enables trainees to experience danger – but without being at risk. That’s the thinking behind infrastructure services company Amey’s launch of a virtual reality simulator, designed and delivered with Holovis. It addresses what the UK government has identiﬁed as one of the six primary causes of road accidents: driver fatigue. The thinking behind it is that anyone who has ‘experienced’ the consequences of driving when too tired will make better-informed decisions in future. www.holovis.com Which raises the question: what other breakthroughs are required to see the VR/AR/ MR market take off? What barriers need to be dismantled? First and foremost, believes Polycom’s Hug, it needs to be shown to deliver real beneﬁts. “This type of technology will be driven by application,” he claims. “If it enhances or reduces cost in a business process, then early adopters will start to apply it in their work environments. I believe there’s a responsibility for vendors and resellers to show what’s possible, and liaise with customers and IT decision-makers to create product roadmaps that include technology that makes them even more productive. If that includes AR, VR and MR, then we should explore the possibilities. If the demand is there, the market will be created.”
‘Using these technologies enables new products to be developed more quickly at a time when product lifecycles are decreasing’ Anne Lindgren, Seloy Live
Holovis’s Elliott shares his vision. “These technologies need to be implemented as connected solutions, not just technology for the sake of it,” he says. “We see these emerging technologies being the future of collaboration, with videoconferencing becoming a thing of the past and everyone meeting in virtual environments with big data sets visualised, real eye contact and interaction through gesturebased hand tracking.” Others talk about the necessity to engage
multiple participants; the need for improvements in areas such as lag, resolution and headset comfort; the requirement for affordable, accessible and relevant content; and conﬁdence in the technology.
The spectre of 3D VR is widely perceived as requiring a headset to deliver the fully immersive experience – although there are those who believe this need not necessarily be the case. And: while AR has demonstrated that it can be successfully implemented on, for example, a mobile phone screen, the broad expectation seems to be that, for an optimum AR experience, some kind of glasses will be required. The potential requirement, of course, raises the spectre of the 3D phenomenon. Marco Odasso, director of sales and marketing at real-time graphics software developer Ventuz Technology, has an interesting point of view. “From our perspective, stereo 3D was one step on the same path as VR/AR/MR, which ultimately leads to the full symbiosis of the real and the virtual world,” he explains. “Our experience is that the mixed reality installations that our customers have created have made stereo 3D obsolete for them. Mixed reality opens up a much wider area of possibilities – without the need for glasses. “Ultimately,” he goes on, “the desire for virtual content as an enrichment of the real world is vast and growing. VR, AR and MR are not the ﬁnal instalments, but merely a step on the way. The ﬁnal goal is digital content that feels and behaves like an element of the real world.” The industry is largely in line with his thinking: VR, AR and MR have signiﬁcantly more promise than 3D because they seem to have broader applicability, and because of their superior potential to deliver real, bottom-line beneﬁts.
32 SPECIAL REPORT: VR/AR
Potentially compelling As things stand today, integrators seem to be somewhat bemused. The technologies are potentially compelling – but what are the realworld applications from which they can derive proﬁt? According to those operating in the VR/ AR/MR market, the right thing to do is to keep an open mind. “First,” says Yellowley, “integrators need to avoid the temptation of associating VR/AR/MR solely with headsets. Sure, headsets will always be a part of it, but there are many other ways to immerse your audience in VR content. The aim for integrators should be to envisage and create an environment that’s akin to a giant headset, so that entire groups of people can step inside, and everyone can experience the same thing at the same time.” “Second,” he continues, “there’s a level of misunderstanding and misinformation out there. I recently saw a Reddit discussion thread involving supposedly well-informed people discussing immersive AV environments, and the lack of practical understanding was a real shock. If anyone acted on the advice being shared, they’d have been very disappointed and could have wasted a lot of money. My advice to integrators would be to talk directly to experienced practitioners, and avoid the online forums. Otherwise it’s a case of, at best, the partially sighted leading the blind.”
Keeping on track Lindgren picks up on the subject of knowledge. “It’s vital for integrators to be constantly aware of what’s going on in the industry in general and how it’s developing,” she believes. “Keeping on track with which technologies are evolving and which aren’t, which solutions are safe to add to their portfolio so that they support their total offering. Being well trained by the manufacturers is crucial; the more they know, the better they serve the customer. It’s also about being able to make the right choices between the old and safe and the new and exciting.” “There has to be a want to take this further,” asserts Steve Blyth, founder and managing director of interconnected experiences company Engage Works. “AV companies that are too arm’s length and traditional will be overtaken by more forward-thinking and pioneering adopters, designers and integrators.” “Don’t fear it – embrace it,” he laughs. “It is deﬁnitely not the modern equivalent of Betamax.” It’s all too easy to conﬂate and confuse virtual reality and augmented reality. While both create a higher degree of immersion, one creates an unreal world: the other reﬂects the real world, but enhances our understanding, or enjoyment, of it. There is also an extent to which augmented reality is really nothing new: overlay
any real world image with text or graphics that help increase the usefulness of that image – such as in a control room – and there is an extent to which you have augmented reality.
Killer apps The hardware required for VR/AR to become a reality (sic) pretty much exists, although it is improving – and falling in price – all the time. What are needed are the kind of commercial/industrial ‘killer apps’ that Pokémon Go unquestionably was in the consumer space. Inevitably, this leads to something of a ‘chicken or egg’ conundrum: will VR/AR/MR solutions be developed speculatively and ﬁnd a receptive audience in business – or will development be driven by identiﬁed need? Did the Sony Walkman respond to consumers’ desire to take their music with them anywhere – or did it create that desire? Such is the investment in VR/AR technology, and its potential for transforming the way in which we interact with the world and with each other, it would be a brave person who would conclude that it has no future in the pro-AV market. Today, those working in the space are evangelical about the opportunity: integrators and manufacturers, however, remain to be convinced – perhaps based on a possibly erroneous assumption that ‘VR equals headsets’. There is certainly a belief that a future for VR may eliminate the requirement. After all: Star Trek’s Holodeck didn’t need cumbersome headgear, did it? It seems likely that VR will ﬁnd – is, in fact, already ﬁnding – niches in visitor attractions, training, simulation and design. For it to extend more widely into pro AV’s bigger markets will take some imagination – but that’s long been a strong suit for our industry.
Good chance The fate of MR, given that its premise sees meaningful interaction between the physical world and the virtual world, seems coupled to that of VR. AR, on the other hand, appears to stand a good
chance of becoming signiﬁcant in those larger markets such as education, collaboration, control rooms and digital signage. It looks likely to develop in two directions – with and without special headgear – and both show promise for a broad range of applications. Blyth, for example, believes that in the future, car manufacturers will no longer provide manuals: you’ll just point your phone at a knob or dial, and AR will overlay the image with information about it. The trick appears to be not to dismiss VR/AR/ MR as gimmicks or as passing fads, but to remain open-minded – and to stay informed. Gareth Lloyd’s position seems entirely appropriate. “VR/AR/MR are not markets that we are particularly active in,” notes Lloyd, group communications manager at integrator Saville. “At present, the technologies seem to be focused on engineering, medical and education. But: it’s a fabulously interesting area, especially for the collaboration area, and one that we are keen to embrace going forward.” Ross Magri’s words may turn out to be prescient. “Long term,” he smiles, “once VR, AR and MR have sufficiently matured, we will wonder how we lived without such technologies.” There may be lingering questions about how the role of these technologies will play out in business – but AR’s future in the consumer space seems assured. Niantic Labs’ follow-up to Pokémon Go will be called Harry Potter: Wizards Unite, and is expected to launch some time this year. Let’s see if this one ﬂies.
www.engageworks.com www.holotronica.com www.holovis.com www.igloovision.com www.invidis.de www.kazendi.com www.polycom.com www.sarner.com www.seloylive.com www.uxglobal.co.uk www.ventuz.com www.vividworks.com
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34 SPECIAL REPORT: VR/AR
New kinds of technology VR, AR and mixed reality content demand a variety of content creation software and display equipment. To continue this special report, Steve Montgomery reports on how these technologies are evolving
omputer gaming is by far the largest market for virtual and augmented reality technology, as games enthusiasts seize the opportunity to add greater realism and immersion to their hobby. Sales of the most common form of immersive device, the VR headset, have already reached 10 million units per year and are climbing rapidly. The technology is fully established and seems to be here to stay. Its mass market appeal attracted the attention of industry giants and today companies like Samsung, Google, Microsoft, Sony and HTC are actively developing and promoting headsets
and displays and working closely with content creators to develop applications that now cover a wide spectrum of domestic, leisure, commercial and educational sectors. Several types of headset are available. The simplest is the cardboard enclosure designed to house a user’s smartphone; this is the type used in the UK by BT Sport to show last year’s Champions League Final to viewers at home. Slightly more robust and upmarket versions, including Samsung Gear and Google Daydream, perform the same job, but more stylishly. Then there are dedicated goggles containing integrated displays, like the popular HTC Vive
and Oculus Rift that connect by an ‘umbilical’ wiring loom to a local computer. At the top of the range are fully ﬂedged (and very expensive) wearable headsets that include an inbuilt computer as well, for example the Microsoft Hololens and Daqri industrial headsets.
Headset functions All types of headset perform the same basic function: they detect movement of the viewer’s head or physical location within an active area and send that data to a high-power computer for re-rendering of images fed to single or dual screens in front of the user’s eyes.
SPECIAL REPORT: VR/AR 35
VR brings Modigliani’s ﬁnal studio to life London’s Tate Modern gallery is using virtual reality for the ﬁrst time in a major exhibition on Modigliani, taking visitors deep into the painter’s world. The Ochre Atelier invites visitors to step into the studio where Modigliani lived and worked in the ﬁnal months of his life, vividly enhancing our understanding of one of the early twentieth century’s greatest artists. Using HTC Vive headsets, it recreates elements of early 20th century Paris, drawing on archival material and new research to bring his historical context to life. Visitors can delve into the surroundings that shaped his art, revealing a fresh perspective into Modigliani’s life and inﬂuences. Frances Morris, director, Tate Modern, says: ‘We are thrilled to be working with Vive to bring a new and exciting digital experience to our visitors. We are always looking to push creative boundaries and we think this will be a fantastic opportunity to give the public a different and in-depth understanding of this much-loved artist through new technology.’ In a similar manner to the way that consumer TV sets enabled professional LCD screens to be designed and produced at economic prices, the knock-on effect of the low-cost and widespread availability of headsets is that applications for virtual reality beyond gaming are being found
‘The diversity of applications calls for a wide set of creative tools’ Dave Elliott, Holovis
and LED walls, are now being used along with dedicated headsets, goggles and personal smart devices to create illusionary worlds. These are of particular beneﬁt in large-format architecture and design applications. Large highresolution LED walls and projection systems offer views of products and buildings that could previously only be created using expensive and inﬂexible models. VR gives designers, and their clients, the ability to move around, or through, a future object or building, identify shortcomings and make instant changes.
CAVEs and domes
Key Points Virtual reality hardware and software are well established in the mainstream entertainment market Virtual reality applications on large LED walls and projection screens are attractive to commercial and enterprise users Immersive technologies – virtual, augmented and mixed reality – offer enormous benefits to users in a wide range of commercial and enterprise applications Autodesk, the dominant 2D CAD design tool manufacturer has developed software suites for content creation
and commercialised. Graham Breen of HTC points out: ”Virtual and immersive interaction technology is now being used successfully in retail, healthcare, automotive, training and real estate; as well as in product design and development; primarily architecture, engineering and construction. In most cases consumer virtual reality headsets, controllers, and tracking systems can be used with few modiﬁcations.” That success of immersive applications has stimulated advances in the development of application design tools, high-power graphics engines for the computers that run applications, and, more interestingly to our industry, a new generation of display solutions to present images to single and multiple viewers. Standard AV displays, including LCD screens, projectors
Holovis’ CAVEs and VR domes provide fully immersive environments that are used in many applications: in design, leisure, construction and in training to create environments and situations that would otherwise be too dangerous or costly. Each has speciﬁc requirements and requires unique content. “The diversity of applications calls for a wide set of creative tools. There are several commercially available software design suites and we will select the most appropriate one for the task, sometimes mixing and matching them to get the best result,” says Dave Elliott, enterprise business development manager at Holovis. “Navisworks is great for constructionrelated applications – locating pipeworks and hidden features within buildings; [Autodesk’s] VRED is ideal in automotive applications and car companies will generally have licences for this already, which makes content transferable.
36 SPECIAL REPORT: VR/AR
Unity, which came from the games industry and uses the same concepts and designers, is extremely versatile. We have a large software team that adds enhancements to the core software to create better solutions for individual applications.” Autodesk, the manufacturer of the most popular CAD design tools, has embraced the new technology and released 3D design suites that can be used to create applications for immersive technology. Asif Moghal, senior industry manager for manufacturing business strategy and marketing at Autodesk, explains: “VR/AR is the natural evolution of ﬂat screens. The technology enables engineers to truly experience 3D CAD models so that they can solve problems by visualising what they’re going to see in the physical world. They can walk around a product and even interact with it. It’s something that we’re investing a lot of resource into at Autodesk. We developed VRED (Virtual Reality Editor) to provide engineers with access to immersive design environments. “Previously CAD was only accessible to larger companies but you can now get a free CAD system that will run on a tablet. As a result, companies of all sizes are using CAD. I can see take up of VR/AR solutions going the same way and it has the potential to be used everywhere. I expect it will play an important role in the general manufacturing industry in the future.”
Sense of scale Carsten Astheimer, founder and creative director of design consultancy Astheimer, is an advocate: “The real strength of a virtual reality design system, like Autodesk’s VRED, in the design process is that it provides a sense of scale and reality that you cannot get with ﬂat PC screens.
‘VR is so new and unexplored that it can sometimes be hard to ﬁnd someone with the answers’ Simon Benson, Realised Realities
“It allows a new product to be carefully reviewed and assessed in the virtual world, without having to build expensive prototypes. It is a very powerful working tool, particularly in the early stages of the design process. We will review the design ideas on our VR system throughout the design process, as it is an excellent way of assessing the proportion and detail, allowing people to handle or move around an object – in a virtual sense. It’s particularly good in checking the layout and ergonomics of a product: ensuring that control knobs and buttons are within reach and components can be accessed for maintenance. “Later on, full
product designs can be shown to board directors for review, which we do with our in-house system and can also be done remotely with some of our clients that have the same system. Virtual reality design tools work equally as well with small devices as massive ones; we have used VR to aid the design of everything from smartphones and chocolate bars to tractors and motor coaches – right up to a 55m superyacht.” Simon Benson, CEO of VR consultancy Realised Realities, believes in the potential of the technology, but sounds a note of warning: “Developing a virtual reality experience can present a wide range of new and unusual challenges for businesses and developers. The medium is so new and unexplored that it can sometimes be hard to ﬁnd someone with the answers. However, with the right partners it is possible to create high-quality VR experiences that open up a new world of opportunities. Just as the internet created the information revolution, VR has opened the door to the experience revolution, and a good VR product not only puts the information we need at our ﬁngertips, but transports us to the ideal location to interact with it.”
www.astheimerltd.com www.autodesk.com www.holovis.com www.htc.com/uk/virtual-reality/ www.realisedrealities.com
38 SPECIAL REPORT: AR/VR
King of CAVEs To fulﬁl its AVALON immersive 3D CAVE concept, Reynaers Aluminium asked Barco and Swedish integrator Nanco to come up with a ﬁve-sided solution within tight space constraints. Rob Lane reports
hen Reynaers Aluminium, the global Belgium-headquartered specialist in innovative and sustainable aluminium solutions for windows, doors and conservatories, wanted a high-tech visualisation system for demonstrating its products, it turned to Barco and Swedish integrator Nanco. The intention was to develop a system that would enable the enhancement of communication and collaboration with its partners within its upgraded headquarters in Duffel, Belgium. The system would have to show Reynaers’ CAD models of private homes, large buildings and so on, with large 3D models being available for viewing by several people at a time. Viewers would need to be able to stand outside as well as inside the virtual buildings, and look around and move within them. Reynaers decided on a CAVE (cave automatic virtual environment) solution, where architects, contractors and investors would be able to step in and view, evaluate and change almost any type of 3D model within a virtual reality environment, virtually integrating Reynaers’ building solutions into their own concepts. The CAVE had to facilitate the decision-making process, with easy, real-time ﬁne-tuning of the designs.
Full immersion For the concept to work, full immersion was key, and that meant a ﬁve-sided (4.8m x 3.3m x 2.5m)
CAVE, including ceiling projection – tricky even without the various challenges the space put in the way. Housed within the Reynaers Campus, a high-tech, digitally enabled experience centre, the CAVE required roof imagery so that users could look up at the virtual architectural model or within the model, and ﬂoor projection to create the experience of standing inside or outside the model. The front screen of the CAVE could then be used as a ‘2D powerwall’ for presentation when required. AVALON allows visitors to experience future buildings through a shared virtual reality experience – a 3D evaluation of buildings and solutions – and radically changes the way the design of a building is evaluated and visualised. Based around customised Barco Overview OL-721 LED rear-projection videowall modules, alongside an F35 laser phosphor projector for the ﬂoor projection – the ﬁrst time an F35 had been used in a CAVE installation – the highend projection-based VR room is speciﬁcally conﬁgured for architectural applications for groups of up to eight people. Active 3D glasses create a stereoscopic image and track user movements, generating the 3D illusion but still allowing users to see and interact with other participants. Audio is carried by JBL speakers, in stereo in the ceiling of the CAVE and a 5.2 system in the Audience Room. Nanco customised the Overview rearprojection units by mounting them without
Installed Video Barco F35 series projector Barco Overview OL-721 videowall units Barco coated rear-projection screens Barco MCM-100s image processors Barco Transform ECU-200 image processor TechViz Digital Review software TechViz XL software ARTTRACK System Controller and Flystick ARTTRACK5/C and ARTTRACK5 cameras Dell monitors Volfoni Edge RF Active 3D-glasses Nextron workstations with Nvidia Quadro P6000 graphic cards Kramer 614 R/T digital fibre extenders Nanco AV control systems on iPads
Audio JBL Control 47C/T ceiling speakers JBL Control 29C subwooofers Integra amplifier
their boxes, instead using multiple projectors projecting onto all four sides of the CAVE (leaving the ﬂoor for the F35). So, for example, the front screen utilises nine overlapping projectors with images blending seamlessly together. AVALON’s powerful cluster of computers can handle complex architectural models and
SPECIAL REPORT: AR/VR 39
process the real-time rendering. Files from over 200 commonly used applications can be displayed as high-quality, fully navigable virtual models. While the user navigates through the model with a control stick, the operator can make real-time changes to the design software. The CAVE’s technical challenge here was that there was no cellar below it in which to install the Barco F35 floor projector. Nanco had a solution: instead of projecting from underneath the floor, the ‘from below’ projection would come from above. Easy enough, perhaps, if it hadn’t been for the need for roof projection as well! The solution was a compromise, to create a partial roof projection to allow space for a full ﬂoor projection: a 4.80m x 0.90m roof projection was more than adequate, leaving enough roof space for a full ﬂoor projection. “We set up a ﬂoor projector in the usual way, with a placement in the ceiling projecting the ﬂoor image from above, plus a ceiling image covering the ﬁrst metre out from the front wall,” explains Mats Nilsson, sales manager at Nanco. “With this you get the ﬂoor image you need, plus if you are standing in front of the front screen, you can look up and see very tall buildings, due to the ceiling image.”
Space constraints Another challenge was the available space. Reynaers’ office architects limited the area for the CAVE to a minimum, leaving only a narrow space where multiple projectors, computers and a cooling system had to co-exist. To make matters worse, cooling engineers pointed out that there would be technical problems in effectively cooling down the entire set-up in such a cramped space. As the limited space was needed for the projectors, the computers, racks and the cooling system were located in the basement, situated under the adjacent building. This of course radically increased the distance between computers and the projectors – too long for HDMI cables. Consequently, the only solution was to install ﬁbre optics and signal ampliﬁers between the CAVE and basement. In June 2017 the AVALON CAVE was complete. Utilising the customised Overviews, it comprises 12 side rear-projectors, nine front rear-projectors, two roof rear-projectors and the F35 for ﬂoor projection. The visualisation solution includes a tracking system and 3D glasses to fully immerse the viewer. To manage large 3D architectural models and to reduce the amount of conversions, thus meeting the demand of software ﬂexibility,
TechViz software was installed. The software was customised enabling up to eight different application systems, hand-picked by Reynaers. But overall this was a team effort. “This was a little bit of a special case,” says Nilssen. “Nanco is an integrator that combines all kinds of different hardware and software into a ﬁnal, in many cases turnkey solution. Usually we have a quite high inﬂuence on selected technology, in co-operation with the end customer. “In this case it was a combined effort where Barco was responsible for the display part, and we were responsible for all other parts: computers, signal distribution, tracking system, audio system, control system and software. “In most cases the customers tell us what they want to have (function wise), and we propose a technical solution, in combination with a budget and a discussion with the customer. Before we started [on the AVALON installation] the customer had been visiting several similar [3D CAVE] sites, either together with Barco, with us or in a combination – customer, Barco, Nanco.” Nanco is no stranger to multiple projector installations, and has done similarly challenging large CAVE projects. However, it was the Swedish company’s ﬁrst multi-purpose CAVE, allowing the possibility of using the front screen as a 2D system – other CAVEs are set up to always use all of the sides every time. And, ultimately, the 25-projector system – and the space constraints within AVALON – made this one of the company’s most complex installations.
www.ar-tracking.com www.barco.com www.dell.com www.integrahometheater.com www.jblpro.com www.kramerav.com www.nanco.se www.nextron.no www.reynaers.com www.techviz.net www.volfoni.com
40 SPECIAL REPORT: VR/AR
‘VR has become easy’
To round off this special report, Duncan Proctor talks to Antycip Simulation commercial development manager John Mould to ﬁnd out about the trends, opportunities and challenges for those working in the AR/VR world
ast November saw the opening of Antycip’s new UK demo centre in Oxfordshire, following the launch of a similar centre in Saronno, Italy. Created in partnership with Barco, the facility provides the company with the opportunity to showcase its VR and simulation capabilities and demonstrate the bespoke solutions it can offer to customers. Installation was invited along to see how the integrator’s offering has evolved and to speak to the management team about how Antycip views the state of VR/AR. What sectors do you think offer the greatest opportunities for VR/AR? We have spent a lot of time looking at the automotive space and we’re seeing that there is a lot of active interest there. Traditional design
review, digital mock-up, there are sectors like oil and gas – we sold an oil and gas virtual reality theatre last year to Heriot-Watt University. Retail is another area; I think we see a lot of applications for retail simulation and applications that can be used in VR spaces. And what about higher education? We’re still doing a lot of that work; we’re putting in our theatres and putting in different VR technologies into universities. I think the funding for those seems to be more proliﬁc in France from what I can see; it seems like the French government at the moment are ploughing more money into funding research in universities. Perhaps we don’t see that over here so much, and maybe Brexit is causing people to think, ‘Well, how are our universities going to acquire
European funding in the future?’ So does that mean the universities will suffer by not being able to acquire the funding for that type of high technology? Will our government step in and try to give money then in the UK? How have these technologies evolved over the last few years? I think the biggest thing for us is we need to educate people about how easy it can be getting into VR. In the past, people used to look at VR and say, ‘I’ve got applications and needs that would suit a 3D environment, but the effort in engineering to take my data, my project, and bring that to VR has been too much.’ There’s been a lot of engineering time wasted doing this whole exercise of taking your data from the starting point and then being able to step inside
SPECIAL REPORT: VR/AR
your virtual worlds with your data. What we’ve seen now with people like TechViz, who we represent, is they’re making that easy. VR has become easy suddenly, because we’re doing this open GL video interception, so we’re able to have customers run the applications that they use day-in, day-out. And we can bring their data instantly into VR with no ﬁle export, no translation, no optimisation. So VR is easy now. That’s a big change. How do you see the relationship between the consumer and business sides of VR and AR? There hasn’t been a rush of people coming out to buy those home use devices yet, which is probably not what the manufacturers were expecting. I think it might be a bit like that phase when everyone wanted 3D televisions and people were gaming at home on their Sony PlayStations in 3D. I’ve done it myself – I bought a 3D television, but have I watched it that much since? No I haven’t. I think that died off a little and they haven’t had the boom of the home user… that’s my feeling.
‘Sometimes customers have unrealistic expectations of what VR can do for them’
The business side of it has always been steady, VR theatres we’ve been doing for 15 or so years – for universities, for commercial clients. We’re doing more and more of that especially in our French offices, we’re doing a lot of CAVEs, power walls, things like that, so business certainly sees the advantage of VR at the high end. Is there interest for consumer kit from business customers? Yes, we’re seeing a bit of that, but it’s not an area anyone can really make a lot of money out of. If you’ve got a £600 HTC Vive display, you’re not able to make much money out of selling a display like that to a business. At the end of the day, the margins just aren’t there for an integrator to do that. Where you’ve got to focus is a few steps up from that. It might be an accessory – something to add to a larger system, that might have a place in the world we play in; but at the moment consumer kit is too low-cost and low-end for us to make a business case around, unless we’re able to sell a software package or something that really leverages that technology. Do you think enough integrators know about VR/AR and its potential? There are a lot of people playing within our space, and I see new companies emerging all the time.
Some people focus on tracking systems, some focus on software content, some on display like us. I haven’t met one that’s as unique as we are, in terms of having all the areas covered, but some are focusing more in certain areas than we are. We’re not doing so much in the dark ride technologies and the entertainment realms, but we’re doing more in the commercial space and more in the military space. With its complexities, are there a lot of potential pitfalls for companies looking to get into VR and AR? It always comes down to: who is the customer? What is their objective and focus? What are they trying to achieve? What do they think VR can achieve for them, relevant to their business? And for us, we want to qualify that and understand that and to apply a solution that meets their operational objectives and their price performance. With people like TechViz behind us, the fact that we can leverage over 200 industry-standard applications – it’s a different world to how it used to be. Because we have this ability to easily get into VR, anyone who comes to us, no matter what application they’ve got, there’s probably a route to get into VR very easily and quickly. We just need to understand their objective and what they need to achieve with the VR, but people don’t know that these technologies exist. VR is a lot easier than it ever used to be, but we need to evangelise more as a company and get out that word to organisations so they understand it. You run your application here on your existing PC, we’ll put a network cable in, we’ll drop some software onto your box, we have a render station with a PC and we’re able then to take in the visual content from your application and put that into VR instantly. It’s a different way of looking at the whole paradigm. There are companies competitive
to Antycip who are still doing the traditional thing of making money out of generating an application in-house that they’ll charge you a licence for. It may be cost-effective compared to buying TechViz, but it’s a vehicle that you have to import data to, and you have to be an expert to use it. Where do you see the balance between the supply and demand of VR and AR? I think there is a big hunger and demand for these applications certainly, but sometimes the budgets aren’t there for them to realise what they want to achieve with the technologies or sometimes customers have unrealistic expectations of what VR can do for them. For Antycip as a company, where are you looking to be in the short-to-mid term? Our parent company wants us to continue to grow and we’ve been on a path of growth for the last few years. We’ve been very successful in growing and being proﬁtable, and we’ve seen other companies in our space come and go over the time we’ve been operating. The future for us is to do more and more of these immersive displays and to ﬁnd more and more interesting opportunities. The customer who wants the weird and wonderful immersion experience, the customer who wants something that perhaps hasn’t been done in projection and display before, maybe it’s a technology ﬁrst that they are looking for. We want to do more and more of that sort of work – embrace these bigger projects where it really challenges us to help that customer achieve that goal. There’s some unique work out there that we’ve done – not a lot I can tell you about – but we have done some really special things.
42 TECHNOLOGY FEATURE: LECTURE CAPTURE
Key Points Lecture capture is an essential feature of higher education – students expect and demand it Universities have embraced the technology and initial fears regarding reduced attendance and lecturer job security have abated
Watch and learn
Partnerships between manufacturers have greatly extended the capability of systems Hardware and software solutions, and hybrid combinations, allow economic installation in all sizes of lecture room
Lecture capture has grown quickly to become a signiﬁcant part of the student experience. Steve Montgomery looks at how the technology and the market have developed
oday’s students are intimately connected to the latest technology and gadgets and use them constantly. Their familiarity, combined with an innate and intuitive ability to control it, means that not only do they use video and audio communication for their own social communication but expect it to be present in all aspects of their lives. This expectation extends to the provision of learning services, particularly at higher levels; with the current high cost of educational services, prospective students demand sophisticated and effective use of technology at universities to elevate their education experience. They choose their university on a number of factors, with technology and modern teaching methodologies rating highly in that decision. Universities that fail to meet their expectations are ignored as students vote with their feet and select another establishment. The process of recording classes and other live sessions, generally referred to as lecture capture, features highly on the lists of students’ criteria during that assessment. While still a relatively young technology compared with others in the
AV world, it has rapidly gained acceptance in the academic sector, proving its ability to aid the educational process and rapidly penetrating the industry. “The majority of lecture capture and streaming technology at colleges and universities is currently used to live stream classes online or to record classes that are posted and archived online for later student review,” explains Bryce
‘The student typically has a high level of engagement only when the audio and video that is captured is of a high and constant quality’ Robert de Jong, Vaddio
Button, AJA’s director of product marketing. “College research departments are also increasingly embracing the technology to share live research projects with colleagues across the globe. Furthermore it can be used to stream live video demonstrations, as seen with Macquarie
University’s Surgical Skills Lab [see picture overleaf], to distribute surgical procedures and demonstrations.”
Fears abated Early reticence to deploy and use lecture capture systems has largely abated. Fears that students would skip lectures if there were to be a recording available online later, and lecturers’ concerns over job security once their classes had been recorded, were generally unfounded. Instead the system has stimulated new methods of teaching, including that of ‘ﬂipping’, in which students are required to watch a pre-recorded version of the lecture prior to attending the live presentation. This allows them to concentrate on the delivered speech rather than on note-taking, and has greatly improved understanding. Lecture capture systems are often used in preparing the recordings to be used in lecture ﬂipping. Phil Waterhouse, business development manager for education at Crestron UK, believes: “The market is becoming mature, not necessarily in terms of current installations but certainly with the numbers of universities that
have a plan in place to roll out capture to all rooms. Many universities have a policy of recording all lessons and lectures and it is being implemented widely. Some universities automatically schedule recordings along with the lecture timetable. This presents an easy and reliable method as there is no element of human failure in starting and stopping the recording process.” The use of video capture solutions to record classes as well as enable lecturers to create their own supplemental videos requires robust technology. “Large classrooms in which the lecturer moves around need wide-angle cameras with auto focus and the ability to track the presenter. Classrooms also need a sound system that can record the lecturer’s voice clearly and pick up student discussions,” says Rob Lipps, executive vice president of Sonic Foundry, the maker of Mediasite Video Platform. “The lecture capture system should be automated, allowing faculty or campus IT staff the ability to easily schedule recordings. A lecturer may also want to record a video prior to class in an empty classroom or right from the comfort of his or her home or office.” Any system deployed today should have facilities and solutions to cover both.
Group collaboration These systems are also increasingly used in group collaboration sessions as students work together and present from hubs to the wider class audience, so there is a need for interaction with collaboration systems and on-site audiovisual technology. Simple control of the lecture capture system within the overall AV system is essential. Privacy issues affect the recording of lectures and most installations will be completed with cameras positioned to record the lecturer but not students. This can be mitigated by the use of tracking cameras that follow the lecturer by means of IR tracking technology. “The success of lecture capture is inﬂuenced by the user experience of the student and also by the user experience of the teacher,” points out Robert de Jong, director of product marketing EMEA at Vaddio. “The student typically has
a high level of engagement only when the audio and video that is captured is of a high and constant quality. This requires a camera tracking system that is accurate, precise and reliable even when teachers are mobile when presenting or whilst turning away from the camera and making annotations on the board. For this, intelligent IR tracking systems are required that have a wide selection of cameras and lenses that exactly ﬁt the room size and, in addition, can be combined with presence-sensing trigger systems so the camera automatically zooms in when the teacher is making an annotation on the board.” Handling many simultaneous camera feeds on a network can also present problems. “Some universities are starting to install IP cameras as they are fast coming down in price,” says Mark Rogers, product manager, Datapath. “They are attractive because of the ease of using standard network connections but they also bring technological challenges with network set-ups. There is a need to support IP streaming and discovery protocols, which a dedicated video capture unit like the Seneca Scribe generally takes care of. HLS streaming is popular in lecture capture as it accommodates varied bandwidths and video quality and chopping up of content which can be skipped, rewound and played back on the ﬂy from a server.” “Lecture capture is almost becoming a victim of its own success,” continues Lipps. “Students nowadays are demanding it in all their classes and will often stop a lecturer to point out if the system is not recording. The result is that it is becoming an essential piece of equipment in all active lecture rooms. A large university may have 500 rooms but it is not economically viable to put topof-the-range equipment in all of them. However with the right video platform, there will be hardware and software capture options that make sure lecture capture can be included in as many classrooms as possible.”
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44 FEATURE: LECTURE CAPTURE the lecture room. Most lecture rooms will have a podium PC, although in some cases lecturers will use their own laptops. Panopto’s third generation capture tools record from virtually any video or audio device that can be plugged into a laptop and can capture and play multiple simultaneous video feeds, slides, images and screen recordings. However, the choice of lecture capture software is affected by the selection of hardware, and this can be a problem. As Dean Offord, European sales engineer for Panasonic Business, points out: “At the moment compatibility between software and hardware is not as universal as vendors of either would like. Simple integration is incredibly important within AV. That is why Panasonic ProAV has recently developed the new Virtual USB driver to conﬁgure the Panasonic PTZ line-up with popular lecture capture systems over IP with a single Cat5e or Cat6 for high-deﬁnition capture. This will signiﬁcantly reduce the number of cables and adaptors required for lecture capture content, saving a great amount of time and cost. As well as this, it is now possible to add auto tracking server software to a camera installation to turn a PTZ camera into an automated camera, complete with facial recognition for completely accurate tracking.” Many suppliers are working together to provide complete solutions to educational facilities. Lipps believes: “Single organisations are not able to deliver all components of the complete solution. Partnerships provide a way to deliver overall higher quality by combining bestof-breed devices that are integrated together to work in a complementary way. The additional beneﬁt to manufacturers is that it helps them to extend their exposure to a wider customer base through co-selling opportunities.”
‘At the moment compatibility between software and hardware is not as universal as vendors of either would like’ Dean Offord, Panasonic
This is a point with which Offord agrees: “Collaborations between lecture capture hardware and software companies are a great way to offer a full systems package to educational institutions, giving peace of mind of a reliable and high quality system. Panasonic has collaborated with a number of third-party partners to ensure that our remote camera, switcher and laser projection technology work seamlessly together in a lecture environment.”
The beneﬁt to users lies in simplicity of operation. Says Waterhouse: “Some of the partnerships are working very well; it means installing and programming is not as difficult. Crestron and Panopto, for example, have a partnership that means a simple-to-use interface is readily available. In situations in which hundreds of rooms are being used for capture, this could save a lot of money in the long run.”
Expanded capabilities Collaboration between companies provides radical expansion in the capability of complete solutions and consequent performance that beneﬁts users. An example is given by Lipps: “Collaboration enables solutions in which the sum greatly exceeds the parts. Universities and colleges of higher education are obliged to provide text transcripts of videos for hearingimpaired students. Automated search features are also essential, allowing students to quickly access speciﬁc parts of a lecture. Students will only use a small section of a lecture during revision so it is essential that they can reach the relevant part quickly, without having to scan the whole video. Traditionally, preparation of captions involves people listening to the soundtrack and typing. Advanced speech-totext software automates this process, reducing the cost of production massively – from around $1 per minute to less than two cents.” High-quality audio capture and storage is another essential element, for both direct listening and caption transcription. It is another area in which partnerships provide benefit. For instance audio, streaming and
collaboration specialist ClearOne provides technology that helps remove background noise, such as the shuffling of papers, making the recording more intelligible. There is huge potential for the technology to be able to offer collaborative learning in a way that currently can’t be done due to video transmission latency and limited bandwidth. At the moment universities have successfully deployed lecture capture, storage and playback systems but in the future they are likely to move more towards distributed classrooms, huddle spaces, cross-campus collaboration and more interactivity between remote groups of students and teachers. New techniques for learning are emerging and more platforms are being used to create and absorb content. At the same time, video codecs are becoming more efficient and the use of IP technology linked to cloud distribution and off-site processing is becoming more common. The broadcast industry is at an early stage of adopting IP-based technology, and as this settles it will undoubtedly ﬁlter down to other sectors, like education, which will be able to beneﬁt enormously – allowing them to continue to improve on the delivery of high-quality education to future generations.
www.aja.com www.clearone.com www.crestron.eu www.datapath.co.uk www.panasonic.eu www.panopto.com www.sonicfoundry.com www.vaddio.com
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46 BUSINESS FEATURE: SELLING ON VALUE, NOT PRICE
Healthy competition? As price becomes the differentiating factor in more and more project wins, Duncan Proctor looks at what integrators and distributors can do to stop the tendering process becoming a price comparison exercise at the expense of value
n Installation’s regular surveys of countries’ installed AV communities, a common grievance expressed is that customers often think primarily of the cost of projects rather than assessing the value they are getting. This creates issues with price undercutting and can distort the market with some integrators and distributors believing they have to offer the lowest price option to win a project, which in the long run brings down standards and often results in the system installed being unable to fulﬁl the brief. Competitive pricing and cutting of margins in the pursuit of business is nothing new to the AV industry, but lowering the price of a solution does not correlate to better value to the customer. How does the industry guard against this approach becoming pervasive? “Pricing is and always will be an issue in our marketplace. Cutting margins to win business per se, is all part of the free market economy AV integrators work in and a challenge that those of us who provide high quality, value-rich services to our customers have to face on a regular basis,” says Peter Sutton, managing director at Pure AV.
Flawed process This problem is exacerbated when combined with a ﬂawed tender process that does not allow for bidding companies to demonstrate the extra value they can offer. “This is most often the case when procurement decisions are driven by remote purchasing departments perhaps at main contractor level or taken without consideration of the end-user experience or
‘“Value for money” can be confused with “race to the bottom”’ John Ginty, Sahara
input of the teams on the ground and who will ultimately work alongside the tendering parties on the delivery of the project,” states Sutton. “The whole process of AV project tendering is a mineﬁeld,” conﬁrms Colin Etchells, director and group technical manager at Saville.
Key Points Undercutting risks the long-term health of the industry in exchange for short-term gain The tender process currently prizes cost above important factors that contribute towards the value of a proposal Competent integrators and distributors can still win business, but need to focus on adding value and resist the urge to overstretch its resources “Unfortunately, this can be made worse by tenders, which are clearly issued as price comparison exercises to test the market and others where the procurement process dictates that there should be a minimum number of returns to assess before the contract is awarded. Then there are those that are issued as part of a bigger contract, namely construction projects, where the tender is a small part of an overall proposal.” John Ginty, general sales manager for Sahara, is in agreement: “‘Value for money’ can be
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48 FEATURE: SELLING ON VALUE, NOT PRICE confused with ‘race to the bottom’; everyone needs to ensure they attain value for money when purchasing, but push it too low and you compromise. When undercutting, something has to give to ensure companies are proﬁtable enough to survive. Focusing on price and price alone can lead to frustration post-purchase. Assumptions are made when just comparing on price that all quotes will deliver the same outcome; the truth is this is not generally the case.” This raises the question – what can integrators and distributors do when a competitor quotes a lower price for the same service? “Saville AV made the decision a long time ago that we would employ our own technical staff and ensure they are trained and supported to the highest standard,” comments Etchells. “We may not be successful in all the tenders we apply for, but clients can be conﬁdent in the knowledge that they are procuring a highquality, professional service. “There have been instances where other AV integrators have used unskilled labour from agencies in an attempt to secure business through discounted pricing. While this may be successful with the win, there are numerous cases where clients have had really bad experiences and as a result, the whole industry’s reputation has been tarnished.”
‘We encourage customers to look beyond the ﬁnal price and conduct enough due diligence’ Peter Sutton, Pure AV
For Pure AV, Sutton says that back up and support is provided as part of an allencompassing service. “We encourage customers to look beyond the ﬁnal price and conduct enough due diligence in all bidding companies to know that the service they will be getting will sustain them through from project inception through to handover and ongoing support. Past experience and references from similar customers will aid them in their choice and hopefully, drive their purchasing decisions towards a ‘reputable and capable’ integrator.” Sahara takes a similar approach to Saville, as Ginty explains: “We invest heavily in providing training and developing product knowledge throughout the team. We work very hard with our vendors to ensure all staff have the knowledge or access to someone who does. This enables us to build strong relationships with our customers and their customer, they trust us to give them the expert advice needed to make an informed
decision on their purchases and understand that to survive we need to be competitive.” The relationship an integrator maintains with manufacturers and distributors is also a key factor, as Sutton details: “We have always had strong relationships in this area and continue to work proactively with these partners. These relationships are an essential part of ensuring success in the project bid process as (rightly or wrongly) there is potential for the pricing strategy at manufacturer and distributor level to inﬂuence the capability of the bidding party to compete. Good communication at this level also ensures we can add value to customers with access to early information of new product developments and reliable lead-time management.”
Added value In order to demonstrate the value the customer is getting there are additional services integrators can offer on top of what is expected. “We have a well-developed sales and product manager team, who supported by our vendors and experienced purchasing/admin team enabling us to support customers with pricing and pre-sales support providing the information, support and pricing required for customers to complete tenders that are competitive, correct and delivered to deadlines,” comments Ginty. “Post tender our support team of technical and training professionals give our customers the conﬁdence to ensure that not only is their customer’s budget being met, but the user’s expectations are also realised.” An important element of this is getting to know the client and, as Sutton states, bringing “the mix of real life experience and technical know-how together to provide solutions that deliver long-term beneﬁt; rather than just putting forward a commercially unsustainable price to win a tender.” He continues that an integrator has to have the knowledge and experience of not just the individual piece of equipment but how to bring the technology together in the most effective way. “At Pure AV we devote a lot of time in looking at and investigating the latest technology, testing not just performance of the output but also the ability to control it and how it integrates with other equipment. This will often reveal a more effective way to achieve a desired outcome and help the end-user to avoid costly mistakes or unnecessary expenditure.” In terms of the sectors where undercutting has the biggest effect, education is notorious, as Ginty explains: “The education sector is under great pressure, they have high demand and limited budget, this understandably creates a clouded view between ‘value for money’ and ‘cheapest price’. This clouded view means sometimes product is compromised for price. This I agree does enable more product to be purchased, but if that
product doesn’t meet the current demands, it is unlikely to meet future demands. “If the establishment can’t afford all the tech they want at the same time, we advise it would be better to stage the upgrade or investigate other methods of ﬁnancing to ensure they get exactly what they need.” As Etchells observes, the university and FE sectors generate the largest number of tenders each year, and to complicate things further for prospective integrators and distributors: “Most institutions will have one or two preferred suppliers and the depth of that client relationship is paramount to winning most of the tenders. “It is difficult to place valuable business in the hands of an untried company who perhaps have no experience of working with that institution. While it is understandable that an institution cannot run the risk of the install going wrong, it does mean that the tender process becomes ﬂawed as the likely winning bid can easily be predicted. There are plenty of examples in this sector of failed/ﬂawed or late installations as companies bid for projects that they’d like to win, only to ﬁnd that they have overcommitted and are most likely going to be unable to successfully install in the given time period. An experienced systems integrator being asked to bid for the same project will do the due diligence and then probably ‘no bid’ as the reality of being successful against an incumbent are slight.”
Different model Etchells elaborates on the approach Saville adopts: “Our policy is to work with a limited number of institutions in this sector using a completely different model. As a result, we can plan and map projects over an extended period of time and schedule resources such that a client is conﬁdent from the outset that the installation will happen successfully within the speciﬁed timeframe.” However, as last year showed, the consequences can be severe for an integrator getting the tendering process wrong and cutting its margins too drastically in the pursuit of business. “2017 saw some untenable under-pricing from some AV companies on projects and this has recently resulted in at least one AV integrator going into administration as a result,” warns Etchells. “This type of aggressive and unsustainable activity doesn’t do our industry any favours in the longer term and may well cause this sector bigger issues moving forward. Short-term gain leads to long-term pain for all concerned if this is allowed to continue unchecked.”
www.pureav.co.uk www.saharaav.com www.saville-av.com
50 SOLUTIONS: COSTA PACIFICA, COSTA MAGICA
PROJECT OF THE MONTH ‘Italian excellence’ to keep Costa on top A recent spell in dry dock enabled Costa Cruises to upgrade the technology on board two of its liners before the winter cruising season. Mike Clark reports
s well as being Europe’s largest cruise operator, Costa Cruises has won the award for the top cruise line in the Best Mediterranean Itineraries category in Porthole magazine’s Readers’ Choice Awards for 18 years consecutively. To make major improvements that would further enhance its guests’ cruise experience, including widespread upgrades to their entertainment technology, Costa recently took two of its liners – the Costa Paciﬁca (114,500 gross register tonnage and 1,504 cabins) and the Costa Magica (103,000 GRT, 1,358 cabins) – into dry dock in Marseille. Following the upgrades, the liners returned to active service, heading off to the Caribbean for their scheduled winter cruises. Paolo Campanelli, Costa’s executive technicalartistic specialist for guest experience and on-board services, explains: “In a few words, to improve quality, modernity, power consumption and above all guest experience and comfort on Magica and Paciﬁca, we installed new audio and lighting systems in all the lounges and in the main hall. An LED screen was installed in Magica’s main lounge and on the Paciﬁca a new LED wall was installed at the main pool, and the broadcast room was completely replaced with a new full HD system and a new editing desk.” With the exclusion of the broadcast room and in-cabin TVs, the installation was carried out by specialist ﬁrm Videlio-HMS.
Reduced sound spill On the Costa Magica, K-array sound systems were installed in the Grand Bar and in the Atrium. In the latter, even with a full dance ﬂoor the sound isn’t muffled, with high sound pressure levels on the dance ﬂoor and lower levels all around during the numerous events staged in the area. The Aft Lounge also has a new K-array
system and, as well as sound quality, all three set-ups ensure a great reduction in acoustic pollution in the cabins above and below, thanks to the systems’ design and conﬁguration. As far as lighting is concerned, Campanelli continues: “In the Magica’s theatre, considering the amount of conventional lighting ETC ﬁxtures, all the challenges for the maintenance and the high cost of the lamps, Videlio-HMS developed a RGBW ﬁxture that can ﬁt into the existing ETC module. Sixty were provided for this project and, with some modiﬁcation in the dimmer room, we are getting the old conventional technologies integrated as LED RGBW, and the entire light rig is therefore LED. These units were installed already on Costa Favolosa during its last dry dock, and are fully functional with extremely positive results. Replacing conventional lights with LED ﬁxtures ensures lower power consumption and heat dissipation, there are no more gels and scrollers to change and maintain and light emission is better.” This policy was applied throughout, with LED lighting ﬁxtures deployed in the Grand Bar, Atrium, Disco, Aft Lounge and at the pools. New lighting control went into the Theatre in the form of an MA Lighting grandMA2 console. As well as ensuring consistency with other Costa ships and an easier handover for technicians and operators, this features more functions and is faster to program than its predecessor, and can handle the media server used for the LED screen. The Grand Bar, Atrium, Disco, Pools and Aft Lounge lighting now have new DMXPEN control units.
Video enhancements More key innovations to the Magica are to be found on stage and in the theatre’s FOH booths. These include a 46sqm Huasuny 6.25mm ﬂexible LED screen and a Mosaic Tools media server,
Audio K-array KP102 WI line-array elements K-array KU210, KMT18P subwoofers K-array KA24, KA84 amplifiers K-array KR102 self-powered stereo system K-array KP102 WI, KY102 line array elements K-array KF212 full-range speakers Symetrix EDGE DSP Symetrix analogue input/output cards Symetrix Arc 2E remote controllers RME MADI USB interface Roland MIDI USB interface Motu Midiexpress XT MIDI Interface DirectOut Technologies format converter
Video Huasuny Galaxias 6 flexible LED screen MOSAIC16 media server Panasonic PT-RW630WEJ 6,500-lumen laser projectors Panasonic PT-RW620BEJ 6,200-lumen laser projectors
Control Cisco SG300-10 network switch Blackbox DVI-USB KVM switch Figure 53 Q-LAB3 software AMX NX-3200 integrated controllers
Lighting DTS NICK NRG 1201 & 801 and JED moving head LED fixtures DTS Katana RGBW LED bars DTS 80 FC PAR LED profiles DTS Brick RGBW LED wash lights Highlite PAR 18 MkII fixtures MA Lighting grandMA2 console DMXPEN REC01-232 DMX512/ArtNet recorder/players
SOLUTIONS: COSTA PACIFICA, COSTA MAGICA
About the integrator VIDELIO-HMS is one of the largest providers of AV systems for the global cruise ship market Founded in 1983, it also works on projects in theatres, broadcast and monitoring centres, meeting rooms, hotels and clubs Its parent, the VIDELIO group, employs over 700 people in 30 sites around the world installed to provide enhanced show and TV format quality. Video content is also played out via two new 6,200-lumen Panasonic laser projectors (another 6,500-lumen model was installed in the Gran Bar Salento). The new redundant digital playout system (provided by a pair of 6-core Apple Mac Pros running Digital Performer or QLab3 software) provides improved sound quality, more ﬂexibility and an immediate hot-switch to a back-up system if necessary. Campanelli adds: “We upgraded the room’s audio DSP to a new series by Symetrix. These new units are now in production and fully supported by the manufacturer. AMX and wall control panels are also supported by the new series and can be natively interfaced. Due to the size of the Main Lounge’s DSP rig/rack (six EDGE units), this area required particular attention and all installation activities had to be carefully co-ordinated.”
Upgraded control As well as providing more options and automation facilities, the upgrade of the AMX system with a series of integrated controllers also ensured consistency with other ships. As well as the Theatre, where controllers are in the sound and lighting booths and on stage, the AMX upgrade on the Magica also involved the Aft Lounge, Broadcast Room and Grand Bar. Campanelli comments: “The new generation of AMX controllers make all use of Ethernet communication, which gives us the opportunity to have a much more stable system with complete interaction and compatibility with all the present devices. In addition, future compatibility with new technologies that will hit the market in the next few years is ensured as well. A complete reprogramming of the automation system was also carried out by the technical team.” K-array loudspeaker systems also played a key role in the Paciﬁca’s technical upgrade, with line array elements, subwoofers, full-range speakers and self-powered stereo systems installed in the Grand Bar, Atrium and Aft Lounge. On board the Paciﬁca, apart from a quartet of Highlight LED PAR ﬁxtures, the new lighting installed in the Paciﬁca’s Grand Bar Rhapsody, Aft Lounge and Atrium features a combination of LED ﬁxtures by DTS (moving head units, proﬁles
and bars). Here too, a series of Videleo-HMS custom LED modules converted 48 ETC Source Four ﬁxtures to LED technology. On-board background music required a degree of ingenuity. Campanelli explains: “As we were unable to ﬁnd off-the-shelf software that fully met the requirements for our ships and our guests’ comfort, we designed our own, based on software developed by Luciano Minichiello [the inventor of DMXPEN]. We worked in co-operation and in close collaboration with Costa’s Entertainment department to ensure perfect 24/7 musical entertainment, simple operation, easy connection to LES [the Local Entertainment System] sound systems and a truly ‘cruisegrade’ product. “Regular programme and content updates (provided by Costa) will ensure that soundscapes are always contemporary, fresh, up-to-date and perfectly in harmony with our requirements. Features include full redundancy, constant sound pressure and dynamics, cross-fade between all the songs, and speciﬁc playlists according to time of day. [Also, we can ensure] the same song isn’t repeated before a set time, celebration music can be automatically inserted in playlists, music can continue even
during blackouts and more.” The next release, he adds, will include a capability for GPS-related playlists, where the music varies according to the ship’s geographical location. In conclusion, Campanelli enthuses: “It was a source of pride for us to be able to collaborate for all these projects with Italian companies that represent ‘Italian excellence’ in entertainment, recognised worldwide, such as K-array and DTS.”
www.amx.com www.blackbox.com www.cisco.com www.costacruise.com www.directout.eu www.dmxpen.it https://dts-lighting.it https://figure53.com www.highlite.nl www.huasuny.com www.k-array.com www.malighting.com www.mosaic-tools.com www.motu.com https://panasonic.net www.rme-audio.de www.roland.com http://www.symetrix.co www.videlio.com/videlio-hms.html
52 SOLUTIONS: ROYAL ACADEMY OF MUSIC, LONDON
Music and pictures The UK’s oldest musical conservatoire has embraced video recording in recent years. Thanks to smart equipment choices, students can video their own performances, and the small recording team can punch above its weight in creating professional content for wider audiences. Paddy Baker paid a visit
hese days recording means video just as much as audio,” observes David Gleeson, head of recording at the Royal Academy of Music, London. Founded in 1822, and occupying its current home on London’s Marylebone Road since 1911, the Academy has trained some of the world’s most talented musicians and performers. “We welcome the world’s best to the Academy, in the form of masterclasses, recitals and intimate performances to inspire and educate our student body, so naturally our AV capability has to match the calibre of these musicians,” Gleeson continues. However, recent years have seen changes in how the Academy has approached the creation of video. The recording department did not exist four years ago, but Gleeson now heads a team of ﬁve. “High-quality video production has gone from being non-existent to being a fundamental aspect of the students’ development,” he explains. “As well as content for teaching and practice pieces, many of our students depend on scholarships or bursaries, which now increasingly require video submissions as part of their assessment criteria.” In addition, recording major concerts and competitions for public viewing is becoming increasingly important.
Central control room Bringing this about has required various upgrades to be made to the AV infrastructure and equipment at the Academy. A new central control room manages all audiovisual feeds from each of the building’s performance spaces and has been
designed to be scalable, allowing the team to handle multiple recording requirements, or deliver major performances from the main hall. A full ﬁbre network replaces the previous BNC cable runs, allowing the AV rack and production gallery to be located further away. At the time of Installation’s visit in November 2017, the Academy’s theatre was a construction site, as it is being redeveloped into a new 80-seat performance venue with an enlarged stage, and a 100-seat recital hall directly above it. The brainchild of renowned architect Ian Ritchie, these are both scheduled to open in March. However, we were able to see two performance spaces: the 400-seat Duke’s Hall and the 120-seat David Josefowitz Recital Hall. Both of these spaces are used for concerts and for student recordings. The equipment used in either case is fundamentally the same, although how it is used and controlled is somewhat different. A Smart Videohub 40x40 router and ATEM 2 M/E Production Studio 4K switcher from Blackmagic Design are at the heart of the recording operation. “This upgrade has allowed us to evolve from a very rudimentary AV operation to an extensive, professional, multi-camera production team,” observes Gleeson. Thanks to camera presets and remote control, students can create their own recordings with minimal training. A simple control interface – customised and conﬁgured for the Academy by Mark Gilbert of creative media technology company Gallery – is hosted on a ‘retired’ iPhone and iPad for David Josefowitz and Duke’s
Installed Video Blackmagic Design Smart Videohub 40x40 router Blackmagic Design ATEM 2 M/E Production Studio 4K switcher Blackmagic Design HyperDeck Studio 12G Panasonic AW-HE130 HD cameras respectively. These communicate over WiFi to Blackmagic HyperDeck Studio 12G boxes, which are capable of recording content in Apple ProRes up to UHD; this provides an upgrade route, as the Panasonic cameras (of which there are ﬁve and Duke’s and two in DJ) are currently HD models. “If we frame the shot in advance, students can come in at 10 o’clock at night and make high-quality recordings without the involvement of staff.” All that the students need to do is to press ‘record,’ name their recording and press ‘stop’ at the end of the take. This, says Gleeson, is greatly preferable to the previous system, in which “we experimented with ENG cameras.” Although his team gave the students 20-minute training sessions, things would still sometimes go wrong: “They didn’t necessarily know about setting up tripods, or they might leave the lens cap on, or not plug in the microphone, or not set it to line input. And students do tend to leave these things to the last minute. We’ve had tears…” Since the new system was introduced, student recordings have gone up from “a handful” to over 150 recordings a term.
Masterclasses For live-streamed masterclasses, the team require “absolute accuracy to cut between musical phrases,” explains Gleeson. “This means they need extremely responsive and reliable vision mixing. In fact, using the ATEM software controller to switch Panasonic PTZ cameras was the start of our quest to improve the quality of our audiovisual output.” This slick production requires a certain degree of planning. Recording studio and production co-ordinator Rosanna Goodall explains: “Two weeks beforehand, I get the scores from our librarian and read them to ﬁnd performance highlights, such as solos. Then our video engineer and I will attend the ﬁrst rehearsal and we’ll look at how the orchestra is set out – so I know where everything is. We save a lot of camera presets on the ATEM – we lay them out like an orchestra – and I write the cues in the score.” The video mixing is carried out live, with the score-reader calling out camera cues to the video engineer. The Blackmagic system also enables recordings to be given professional-quality graphics and icons – something that is particularly important when streaming performances around the world. In 2016, the
SOLUTIONS: ROYAL ACADEMY OF MUSIC, LONDON 53 Academy hosted the prestigious Menuhin Violin Competition London, which involved live streaming 10 days of heats. Many of the viewers were proud parents in distant countries, so “it was very important to get the competitors’ names right in the lower-thirds graphics. But if the schedule changed at the
last minute, how could that be communicated to the team?” says Gleeson. The solution was to use a Blackmagic dual-screen display backstage, which showed preview and live feeds. “The preview displayed the competitor’s name – and just before they came on stage, they were told to nod if it was correct. I have to give credit to Darren Gosney [technical sales supervisor] and the team at Blackmagic
Design for helping us to brainstorm that – it worked flawlessly.”
Musical history With the new facilities scheduled to open in March, it looks like Gleeson and his team will be busier than ever. “The new theatre and halls have been designed to be as ﬂexible as possible, so that we can host concerts and recitals, lectures, meetings or student performances, and capture them all with high-quality video and audio,” he comments. As important as these recordings are to help students in their careers and to promote the Academy’s musical programme, capturing the ﬁne detail of performances has another beneﬁt, which will increase in signiﬁcance over time, says Gleeson: “For us, recording and creating a highquality archive of performances from musicians and composers is a crucial element of musical history. In years to come, researchers will come to study techniques and interpretations of classical and contemporary pieces, so high-quality audio and visual evidence has a vital part to play.”
www.blackmagicdesign.com http://business.panasonic.eu www.ram.ac.uk
54 SOLUTIONS: PLACE BELL, LAVAL
A team endeavour An IP-based infrastructure was the only choice for this newly built ice hockey arena, which required the services of two integrators. Christopher James reports
ituated in the Montreal suburb of Laval, Place Bell’s 10,000-seat main arena is the home of the American Hockey League’s Laval Rocket. Opened in 2017, the facility also houses a 2,500-seat rink with Olympic-size ice for professional ﬁgure skating and speed skating and a 500-seat rink for local ice hockey teams. The main arena also hosts concerts and other entertainment events. The venue has been built from the ground up with an IP-centric infrastructure, which carries all the live audio, video, broadcasting and lighting in the venue. Mike Poirier, director of business development at Solotech, which handled integration of the arena’s video systems, LED screens, lighting and intercoms, comments: “Facilities have slowly but surely moved to a networked world; it’s a reality now,” he says. “So AV-centric switches, like those from Luminex, made a lot of sense for Place Bell.” “IP-based systems are no longer a choice: They are the way to go,” agrees Benjamin Wahiche, technical director at TKNL, which was responsible for integrating all the audio and the closed circuit video at Place Bell. “If you want to deliver the ﬂexibility that customers expect, IP-based systems are the solution. Place Bell is the biggest IP-based system we have ever deployed, and one of the largest Luminex networks in the world.”
Fibre backbone The network’s backbone is a mix of ring and mesh topology of single-mode ﬁbre with a failover path for fast recovery. Complete ﬁltering
of all the multicast traffic generated by all the protocols is also featured. System redundancy is key, according to Luc Gelinas, partner and technical services director at project consultant Trizart Alliance. “We need to maintain a primary network and secondary network with a redundant power supply between the two. That’s where Luminex also has an edge.” The audio system integrated by TKNL at Place Bell is comprised of 41 Luminex GigaCore 16Xt PoE ruggedised AV switches with front displays all equipped with RPSU redundant power supplies each supporting two GigaCore 16Xt main PSU and PoE PSU. Two GigaCore 26i PoE AV network switches complement the system. QSC’s Q-SYS Core audio processors, I/O frames and tactile control and paging stations ensure audio distribution throughout the building. Two isolated groups/segments provide support to QSC Q-LAN primary and Q-LAN secondary network protocol. QSC network ampliﬁers and additional touchpanels and paging stations provide audio in the concourse. The main ice loudspeaker system consists of a NEXO loudspeaker and ampliﬁer network, which provides coverage throughout the ice rink. Also on the network are control of the audio mixing system, monitoring, the instant replay system, and wireless microphones. “The secondary audio system has speakers in the concourse, hallways and in the dressing rooms – all on the same network, all communicating with each other and all supported on a Luminex backbone,” says
Installed Video Chainzone Imposa LED displays Navori digital signage player AMX SVSI N2000 series encoders AJA audio and video processor Grass Valley Korona production switcher Ross Video sync, test and reference generator
Audio NEXO loudspeaker and amplifier network QSC Q-SYS Core audio processors Riedel Tango AES67 intercom system Riedel Smart Panel
Connectivity + Control Luminex GigaCore 26i PoE AV network switches Luminex GigaCore 14R PoE AV switches Luminex GigaCore 16Xt PoE AV switches Luminex DMX nodes Crestron touchpanels ETC ION 1000 console
About the project partners Solotech operates from eight locations across Canada and the US and works across permanent installation, rental and touring markets Established over 25 years, TKNL is a Quebec-based company specialising in event making and in the installation of collaborative environments Founded in 1987, Trizart Alliance is a full service theatre and arena design and consulting firm
SOLUTIONS: PLACE BELL, LAVAL 55
Wahiche. “The large number of Luminex switches gives us hardware redundancy; we have two rings of switches on a redundant base.” Place Bell’s IPTV network broadcasts advertising, a cable TV feed and promotional content within the facility. The network is comprised of 23 Luminex GigaCore 26i PoE AV Network switches, each with a 3Gb aggregated link that provides increased bandwidth and redundancy to three main core switches. The system was designed to support up to 24 video sources, including cable TV feeds, local SDI feeds and a Navori player for digital signage and dynamic content, on a complete AMX SVSI system. Destination points number in the hundreds: 24 SVSI 2000 series encoders
are currently used going to more than 180 destinations. Fifty Crestron touchpanels provide in-room control. Solotech integrated the lighting system, consisting of a Luminex GigaCore 14R PoE ruggedised AV switch and a GigaCore 26i PoE AV Network switch. An ETC ION 1000 console is networked with ETC Net 3 and sACN protocols to sensors, relays and Luminex DMX nodes. GigaCore products also support all the LED panels, for which Solotech was responsible. They include the Chainzone Imposa trivision (three-sided) scoreboard on the public plaza; the main arena’s four-sided Imposa scoreboard with a power ring below it; and Imposa LED panels over each exit and the team entry doors.
Control room Solotech also integrated the full HD-compliant control room, for the broadband capture and distribution of events at Place Bell. It features seven cameras, a Grass Valley Korona production switcher, AJA audio and video processor and Ross sync, test and reference generator running on a network consisting of four Luminex GigaCore 26i switches and two GigaCore 16Xt. The complex communications system for the production crew and officials in the penalty box
uses a Riedel Tango AES67 intercom system and Smart Panel. “The system is extremely important since Place Bell does live events,” notes Poirier. “It is linked to the Luminex switches too.” Gelinas notes that Place Bell’s IP-centric infrastructure will serve the arena well now and into the future. “With everything running over IP the challenge is always interoperability with different kinds of equipment. But Luminex is able to handle all the major protocols involved in AV with ease and without requiring the enduser to have a deep knowledge of programming switches,” he says.
www.amx.com www.aja.com www.chainzone.com www.crestron.eu www.etcconnect.com www.grassvalley.com www.luminex.be www.navori.com www.nexo-sa.com www.qsc.com www.riedel.net www.rossvideo.com www.solotech.com www.tknl.com www.trizart-alliance.com
56 SOLUTIONS: POSTAL MUSEUM, LONDON
Experience delivery Immersive projection is playing an important role in a museum that tells the story of a little-known underground railway used by the Royal Mail. James Christopher reports
ondon used to have its own underground railway track dedicated to postal deliveries. But when Mail Rail stopped operating in 2003, a handful of enthusiastic engineers kept it in good condition in case it was ever needed again. Fast forward to 2015, and the Postal Museum took over a section of the line with the idea of turning Mail Rail into a unique attraction, where visitors could take a journey through history. The museum opened in September 2017, and welcomed 15,500 visitors in October 2017 alone. Descending into the former engineering depot of Mail Rail, visitors board a miniature train through the stalactite-ﬁlled tunnels to be transported back in time via a mesmerising 20-minute audiovisual experience.
1930s heyday. Blending archive, motion graphics and character voice performance to create a truly immersive journey, this 18m projection captures Mail Rail’s unique sense of place and personality as well as its story. The projection features a 7,000 x 1,200 resolution, warped and blended image utilising a 7thSense Delta Inﬁnity Server and powered by ﬁve Digital Projection E-Vision Laser 8500 projectors. Visitors then continue their underground time travel on to a second platform, where they can follow the journey of three people’s letters in 1930s London. The 22m, life-size projection features an 8920 x 1200 resolution image displayed by seven Digital Projection E-Vision Laser 8500 projectors. Another Delta Inﬁnity Server manages warping and blending.
Visitors descend deep below Royal Mail’s Mount Pleasant sorting office to discover the original and largely unchanged station platforms. Before boarding the train, they encounter a 4m-wide projection movie introducing the story of Mail Rail, courtesy of a Digital Projection E-Vision Laser 8500 projector. The 240sqm open space is also used as a venue for corporate events, with the projector capable of being linked to additional sources in such instances. Visitors then board the train and are taken on a 15-minute ride through the tunnels, with an on-board commentary explaining the history of Mail Rail as they travel down to the ﬁrst platform, where they are transported back to its
The installation was not without its complexities and challenges, largely down to the underground environment – which meant systems needed to be particularly robust. With the equipment at risk of exposure to dust, humidity and temperature ﬂuctuations, custom environmental housings from VizBox were developed to mitigate this risk, deploying Digital Projection’s previous experience with projector housings for London Underground during the design process. Hardware speciﬁcation was the task of AV integrator DJ Willrich (DJW). Josh Miller, project director at DJW, explains: “Due to the nature of the attraction, minimising maintenance was a key factor in the selection of laser
Installed Video Digital Projection E-Vision Laser 8500 projectors 7thSense Design Delta Infinity servers VizBox projector housings projection. At an early stage we invited Digital Projection to demonstrate its range of laser projectors and following successful testing it was clear that the E-Vision Laser 8500 was the ideal projector for the project in terms of image quality, brightness levels, durability and value for money.” Emma Harper, exhibitions officer at The Postal Museum, comments: “The AV hardware was critical to the success of this project, providing the backbone to the exhibition and ride experiences. Our key aspiration was to connect people through the evolving story of communications past and present, and show that postal heritage is of interest and relevance to everyone. Bringing the Mail Rail platforms to life played an important part in that, particularly as there are a limited number of artefacts available from what was very much a working depot, but 3D projection mapping really helped us to achieve this.”
www.7thsensedesign.com www.digitalprojection.com www.djwillrich.com www.postalmuseum.org www.projector-enclosures.com
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58 SOLUTIONS IN BRIEF
Iconic Chicago offices undergo light art installs The entrances and lobbies of 515 North State and 1 North Dearborn in Chicago have been reimagined with large-scale light and digital art installations by ESI Design. At 515 North State, ESI Design transformed the building’s lobby into an art space creating a 4.3m-wide, 7.0m-tall digital art installation that constantly ‘paints’ new compositions using scenes from Chicago’s River North neighbourhood. The centrepiece of the revived 1 North Dearborn facade is a large-scale infinity effect digital light art installation that spans 22m of street-level windows. The huge department store windows now glow with 52 different light animations and utilise nearly 30,000 LED lights.
Spitﬁre simulator ‘most true-to-life’ Optoma W505 projectors have been utilised for a newly created Spitﬁre ﬂight simulator at Boultbee Flight Academy in Chicester. The simulator needed high-resolution imagery projected onto a spherical dome screen to simulate what a pilot would see and experience when ﬂying a Spitﬁre Mk IX. Seven Optoma W505 projectors were positioned and oriented so the images covered the spherical screen completely. The simulator is said to be the most true-to-life Spitﬁre ﬂight simulator ever built. The team includes Airtech Simulation for overall simulator design of the Spitﬁre fuselage and simulation software; Warpalizer Norway AS for the optical design of the projection systems; Fibresports for the spherical dome screen and Optoma for the projectors.
Hendrix Bridge lighting triggered by crosstown train traffic Philips Lighting has given the Hendrix Bridge in Zagreb, Croatia, a lighting makeover that sees a light show triggered by approaching trains. The 300m-long Zeleni Most (Green Bridge) spans the River Sava in the Croatian capital. Most people in the country are familiar with the bridge’s unofficial title – the ‘Hendrix Bridge,’ ever since graffiti with the surname of the legendary rock guitarist Jimi Hendrix first appeared on the bridge in 1995.
Philips Lighting worked with Croatian lighting designer Dean Skira on the project. At night the bridge is covered with white light showing off its arch, spans and design. However, as a train approaches, it is detected by a sensor and the white light fades to black causing the bridge to seemingly disappear. Then, as the first coach behind the locomotive crosses the bridge, coloured lights come on in sync with the speed of the train crossing the bridge.
SOLUTIONS IN BRIEF 59
Alcons used at ‘ﬂoating-box’ theatre Following redevelopment of the surrounding buildings, Stockholm’s Vasateatern theatre, which first opened in 1887, has been fitted with a new ‘floating-box’ design to solve its long-standing sound leakage issues. The theatre’s interior was carefully dismantled and rebuilt on a slightly smaller scale, making space for a sound-insulating air gap around the rebuilt auditorium. The new ‘floating-box’ Vasateatern features most of the original fittings, but with modern acoustic materials, flexible seating and – installed by Swedish integrator Electrosound – a brand new Alcons LR7 audio system. This includes a main PA of 20 flown LR7, two flown QB363 bass units, four ground-stacked BF302 MK2 subs and a flown centre cluster of three more LR7 micro line-arrays.
Tech ﬁrst for spherical projection theatre The Gwangju National Science Museum has recently opened the Space 360 spherical projection theatre following a 10 month-long construction project. Front Pictures, a Ukrainian creative studio, was responsible for engineering and installing the projection system and software. Space 360, which is 12m in diameter, is located next to Lucerium National Science Museum in Gwangju. To completely cover the 450sqm of the spherical screen, 12 Barco PGWU-62L projectors were used. Front Pictures used its Screenberry media server for video playback and autocalibration. Four Nikon D610 DSLR cameras were used to collect data for the calibration.
German hall gets ﬂexible acoustics The kING Culture and Congress Hall in Ingelheim has been kitted out with new Meyer Sound Constellation and complementary direct reinforcement systems. The systems were designed by the consulting firm Graner + Partner of Bergisch Gladbach with the Frankfurt office of Amptown System Company (ASC) handling commission and installation. The kING Culture and Congress Hall is a
multi-use venue, which offers an array of flexible seating, staging and lighting features for optimising the space to the needs of different conference or artistic performance. The Constellation system comprises more than 180 loudspeakers, including Stella-4C, MM-4XP, UPM-1XP and UP-4XP full-range loudspeakers, plus MM-10XP miniature subwoofers for extending the reverberation envelope into bass octaves.
www.amptown-system.com www.graner-ingenieure.de www.meyersound.com
THE EUROPEAN DESTINATION FOR THE GLOBAL AV INDUSTRY Facilitating High-Tech Conferencing and Collaboration Experience Unified Communications technology and solutions at ISE 2018
Kit you need to know about
PRODUCT OF Christie THE MONTH Christie Velvet Apex 0.9 It’s… the latest model in Christie’s series of high-quality LED videowall modules. What’s new? With its 0.96mm pixel pitch, it extends the Velvet Apex line below the 1.0mm mark.
Details: The smaller pixel pitch of the Apex 0.9 allows images to be scaled to popular resolutions in a smaller square metre area, as well as reducing optimum and minimum viewing distances. Designed for 24/7 operation in critical viewing environments such as corporate spaces, control rooms, digital signage and architectural display applications, the Apex Series offers a proprietary solution of high-quality components that work as a system and are said to provide the highest visual experience and maximise display time. Maximum calibrated brightness is 800 nits and contrast ratio is 5,000:1. Each tile has a 640 x 360 resolution (16:9 aspect ratio), meaning that a 1920 x 1080 array can be built from a 3x3 conﬁguration, with a diagonal measurement of just over 83in. Viewing angles are wide – 160º horizontally, 140º vertically. The quoted LED lifetime is 100,000 hours (to 50% brightness). “We’ve enhanced the popular Christie Apex Series to offer a variety of sizes and conﬁgurations for customers seeking high quality LED videowall performance,” says David Griffiths, director of market development EMEA, Christie. “Christie is committed to LED videowalls that deliver long life, high-quality components and features that reduce total cost of ownership.” Other features of the Apex 0.9 include: • Remote and redundant power supply • Front serviceability • Slim design that is ADA compliant • Advanced monitoring capability (SNMP)
Optional processing and content management technologies can be added to enhance the performance capabilities of the videowall. The company offers the Christie Velvet LED videowall bundle to provide an easier way to integrate a seamless, full HD LED installation. Customers simply need to choose the pixel pitch or size of the required videowall, and then the Christie team takes care of the rest, including making sure all the LED tiles, power supplies, and cabling needed to integrate the videowall into the speciﬁed space are made available quickly and easily. The Velvet Apex range is now available in ultra-ﬁne pixel pitches from 0.96mm to 2.5mm. “Today’s market for videowalls is becoming increasingly broad and noticeably more complex, with a growing number of customers in a wider range of vertical markets looking
for speciﬁc solutions that meet their own unique needs,” says Kevin Kelly, president and COO of distributor Stampede. “Christie has demonstrated time and again its ability to provide solutions that are suited for every individual application. Their success in doing so has made them the leader that they are today. With the launch of the Apex 0.9mm LED videowall, the Christie Velvet Apex Series is enhanced to deliver even more choice and ﬂexibility for a variety of superior quality selections. We’re proud to bring this new line to our reseller network.”
Available: Q2 www.christieEMEA.com
62 TECHNOLOGY: NEW PRODUCTS Datapath Hx4 This standalone display wall controller can run a single 4K HDMI source across four HD outputs in ultra-high definition. A single HDMI1.4 input provides four HDMI1.3 outputs, with the ability to rotate, crop, upscale and mirror content. Each output monitor can take its input from any region of the output image, as all of the cropping, scaling, rotation and frame rate conversion is handled by the Hx4 hardware. Because regions can be spliced and overlapped, any mix of monitor can be catered for. www.datapath.co.uk Extron TeamWork Connect 300
Arista Corporation ARD-1007-A01-TX It’s… an HDBaseT transmitter incorporating a 3 x 1 switcher for HDMI, DVI and VGA video sources.
What’s new? It enables advanced HDMI display devices to be used with legacy VGA sources in conjunction with control signals such as RS-232, USB, and IR. Details: The ARD-1007-A01-TX can transmit
This is a costeffective, pre-configured collaboration system for one analogue and two digital sources. Included are three Show Me cables (two HDMI, one VGA), an HC 404 Meeting Space Collaboration System, and other system cables. The Show Me cables facilitate simple source switching using the Share button at each device. Built-in control capabilities facilitate automatic source switching, display control, and integration with optional occupancy sensors for an easy and intuitive user experience. Low-profile mounting hardware is included, and optional mounting hardware is available. www.extron.eu
analogue and digital video to digital HDMI displays; it’s therefore suitable for installations that feature advanced HDMI display devices working alongside legacy VGA sources. It supports control signals including RS-232, USB and infrared. Inputs from up to three devices can be selected. Arista says the transmitter is suitable for long-distance video transmission in settings such as control rooms, corporate and educational applications. It features HDMI and DVI inputs as well as a VGA input plus a
This wall mount supports two flat-panel LCD or LED screens in videoconference applications. It features a 2,200mm wide rail with two sets of vertical brackets. It fixes to the wall, or can be fitted to Vision’s VFM-F fixed or motorised floor stands. It will support two displays up to 75in if they have a 400mm wide VESA fitting. It is made of heavy-gauge 3mm sheet metal to take the weight of two large displays, but its thin design holds the display close to the wall. Available early March. www.visionaudiovisual.com Gefen EXT-UHD600A-12-DS This 4K Ultra HD 600 MHz 1:2 scaler also incorporates advanced EDID management, and audio de-embedding from HDMI. With independent scalers built into each of its two HDMI outputs, one output can downscale a 4K 600MHz signal to 1080p, while the other can upscale an HD signal to 4K Ultra HD 600MHz. So users can pass the original 4K signal through while gaining a 1080p output for use with downstream devices that are not 4K-capable. WUXGA (1,920 x 1,200 up to 60Hz), 3DTV (1080p) and 12-bit Deep Color are all supported. www.gefen.com
3.5mm audio input connector, and a Power over HDBaseT output. The ARD-1007-A01-TX combines the beneﬁts of a switcher with builtin autoswitching, along with the advantages of long-distance HDBaseT signal extension over a single Cat5e or Cat6 cable. It supports HDMI video signals up to 1080p/60Hz with embedded audio. VGA input signals up to 1,920 x 1,200 resolution can be extended up to 100m.
Available: Now www.goarista.com
DM XiO Director Network Appliance It’s… ‘An AV matrix for the IT age’, available in three different models.
What’s new? It’s a network appliance that virtually emulates the functionality of a traditional hardware-based DigitalMedia matrix switcher. Details: The software tool enables device discovery, domain configuration, endpoint mapping, multicasting management, and status monitoring, routing 4K60 streaming AV signals throughout a room, building, or campus. Three models are available, supporting 80 (DM-XIO-DIR-80), 160 (DM-XIODIR-160) or unlimited (DM-XIO-DIR-ENT) endpoint devices. The DM XiO Director automatically discovers each DM NVX endpoint on the network, and allows each one to be assigned to a ‘domain’ – a logical grouping of endpoints that operate together as a single switching entity – using a simple web-based UI. This allows individual
rooms and other subsystems to be arranged and controlled independently. The DM XiO Director effectively eliminates the need for physical switchers in every room, replacing them with the virtual equivalent running on the AV network. Each domain and endpoint can be designated with a user-friendly name. Navigating the entire system is easy using the search box to quickly find domains, endpoints, inputs, and outputs by name or address. A system overview screen shows the video and audio signal status for every input and output in an easily navigable graphical layout.
Available: Now www.crestron.eu
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64 TECHNOLOGY: NEW PRODUCTS Key Digital KD-AMP220 This compact digital audio amplifier features mic, line level balanced and line level 3.5mm stereo analogue audio inputs; output is a mix of audio from the microphone input and the selected audio input. Each input has variable volume level set and can provide 48V phantom power. Speaker level output can be set to bridge, stereo, or mono mode; left and right channels can be summed to a single speaker in bridge mode. Variable input and output level and muting, bass and treble adjustments can all be controlled via RS-232 and IR. www.keydigital.com TeamMate Totem AV Stand – back to back This floor-mounted dual-screen digital signage solution is suited to a variety of education, commercial and retail spaces where displays and AV/IT equipment need to be stored together securely. It can support screens from 55in to 70in while providing access to a range of integrated equipment. It features cut-outs for AV control panels, input plate and power outlets. The sides of the totem feature 3U 19in rack guides to mount equipment vertically. PC storage is also included as standard with secure access. www.teammateworld.com Mersive Solstice Kepler Solstice is a wireless collaboration that supports BYOD content sharing to screens. The newest addition, Solstice Kepler, is a cloud-based room monitoring and meeting analytics service. The new service facilitates the day-to-day management of Solstice deployments and can inform the organisation’s workplace technology and space planning decisions. It provides alerts, real-time statuses, usage data and other meeting analytics. Kepler is part of Solstice 3.1, which also includes room scheduling via calendar integration and expanded in-product language support. www.mersive.com Allen & Heath SQ6 With its 96kHz XCVI FPGA engine, the SQ6 combines highresolution audio performance with a compact, cost-effective multi-application platform. The SQ6 has 24 preamps, 25 faders, four assignable rotary controls and 16 softkeys. It supports up to 56 input channels via remote expanders and sports a networking card slot. An ecosystem of apps, remote expanders, networking cards and personal mixers increases integration possibilities. The SLink intelligent port allows connection to Allen & Heath’s 96kHz and 48kHz expanders, and can link to SQ, Qu Series or dLive systems. www.allen-heath.com
Touch Innovations XG It’s… an all-glass, multi-touch control display. What’s new? It’s described by Miamibased Touch Innovations as its most luxurious touchscreen system. Details: The XG features a seamless bezelfree design, an all-glass body, and a 39in transparent projective capacitive touch display supporting 10 simultaneous touchpoints. Touch Innovations’ background is in hybrid hardware/software solutions for creative artists, but the XG brings it into the world of digital signage. The display is targeted at anywhere that users might want to impress their customers, such as high-end clubs’ DJ booths, hotel lobbies, mall kiosks, museums, showrooms, gaming events and upmarket restaurants. The Windows-compatible XG is available as two distinct versions. XG PRO has an onboard high-power Intel PC with 500 GB storage, while XG LITE comes without a PC. All components are sited inside the base unit to avoid unsightly cable clutter. The display is claimed to be brighter than any other touchscreen system. Every XG system
ships bundled with Emulator 2, Touch Innovations’ customisable multi-touch controller ﬂagship software for any MIDI application. Users can create a multi-touch experience with sliders, knobs, modulation pads, encoders, buttons and more.
Available: Now https://touchinnovations.com/xg/
Shure IntelliMix P300 It’s… a processor designed to improve the audio quality of video meetings.
What’s new? It features IntelliMix DSP algorithms that have been optimised for audio/video conferencing applications. Details: Originally shown at last year’s ISE, the P300 allows users to create a highly intelligible, collaborative meeting experience in small to medium-sized rooms. It connects up to eight Dante microphone channels to a room video system, USB soft codec, or mobile device. Each channel supports multiple IntelliMix DSP features, including acoustic echo cancellation (AEC), noise reduction, and automatic gain control, plus automatic mixing that is said to be best in class. These features significantly enhance audio quality in video meetings.
The USB connectivity enables the P300 to be used with common soft codec programs such as Skype and BlueJeans, while the 3.5mm connector means that anyone on a mobile phone or tablet can easily bring a remote participant into the conversation. Its compact half-rack footprint enables discreet installation behind a display, under a table, or in a credenza. It operates seamlessly with Shure Microflex Advance and Shure Microflex Wireless microphone solutions. The fixed architecture provides simple and intuitive set-up, resulting in less DSP programming and commissioning time onsite.
Available: Now www.shure.eu
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66 TECHNOLOGY: SHOWCASE
Microphone systems As well as offering excellent sound reproduction, microphones – whether wired or wireless – need to offer ease of use and, increasingly, the ability not to get in the way of the user. Here is a selection of manufacturers’ current offerings
Taiden array can hide away TAIDEN’s HCS-4851 series digital conference microphones hide away discreetly within the table when not in use. A cover plate hides all electronics when the microphone is fully retracted. The HCS-4851D/50 delegate unit is a ﬂushmount device with a retractable line array microphone and mic activation button. The mic array is 20cm long and features a 30º lean angle when in use, offering proximity to the sound source. Its array technology is said to ensure excellent pick-up of the human voice while rejecting ambient noise from above and below. Different talk modes can be selected: pressing the button on the delegate unit can either open the microphone straight away, override the ﬁrst microphone to be opened once the preset limit of open mics has been reached, or issue a request to speak. Alternatively, microphones can be set to activate on speaking without the need to press a button. Similar in appearance to the delegate unit,
the HCS-4851C/50 Chairman Unit includes a microphone priority button. Pressing this causes all currently active delegate microphones to be switched off temporarily or permanently, allowing the chairman to take control of the meeting. The chairman unit can also be used to grant or cancel a request to speak, and to turn off all active microphones.
Revolabs Elite enables wired and wireless to blend Revolabs’ Elite Wired Microphones are intended for use in workspaces such as huddle rooms, boardrooms, conference rooms, or wherever wireless options may not be an optimal ﬁt. They are available as tabletop (directional or omnidirectional) and gooseneck (6in and 12in) designs. They can be used alone or in tandem with wireless microphones, and can be integrated with audio post-processing and mixing appliances in support of any uniﬁed communications application.
Revolabs says that Elite Wired Microphones feature a unique mute capability that completely eliminates the sound coming through the microphone, rather than reducing it to an undetectable level. The microphones feature mute functionality and red/green status LEDs, which can be managed locally on the microphone or via a connected DSP. It is possible to have the same user interface in rooms with wireless mics and rooms with wired mics while keeping the look and functionality of the microphones the same. Three colour options, black, white and brushed nickel, are available. The microphones are optimised for speech out of the box, rather than exhibiting a simple ﬂat response curve – enhancing the intelligibility of speech. For applications that require ﬁxed microphone locations, an optional mounting adapter provides a lockdown capability.
Audio-Technica bridges AV and IT with Dante boundary mic With Dante becoming an increasingly popular networking protocol across a wide variety of application types, Audio-Technica took the opportunity to release what it claims was the ﬁrst wired microphone that transmits audio and control data together over a Dante network. A simple Ethernet cable connection allows Audio-Technica’s ATND971 Cardioid Condenser Boundary Network Microphone to communicate across an existing network of Dante-enabled devices. With the microphone’s programmable user switch, any of those devices can be controlled at the push of a button. So equipment attributes such as video camera pan/tilt, room lighting presets and much more can all be controlled from the microphone. Intended for boardrooms and other meeting spaces, the ATND971 is powered over Ethernet and features Audio-Technica’s UniGuard RFI-shielding technology and UniSteep low-cut ﬁlter, plus a red/green LED status indicator. Mic gain can be controlled locally or remotely. Coverage pattern is half-cardioid, although omnidirectional or hypercardioid patterns can be achieved through the use of interchangeable microphone elements. Sampling rate is 48kHz, frequency response is 30Hz to 20kHz. Audio-Technica describes the sound quality as outstanding. Since Dante can support up to 512 bidirectional audio channels, the microphone offers an easily scalable solution.
TX-RX combo tackles congested RF environments Lectrosonics says that its SSM (Super Slight Micro) transmitter, combined with the Venue 2 Digital Hybrid Wireless receiver, is particularly well suited to the theatre installation marketplace. The ultra-small SSM is easy to conceal on performers. It uses the rugged, industrystandard Lemo 3-pin microphone connector – so existing lavaliere and headworn microphones featuring this connector can be used without an adapter. Different bias voltages and termination impedances can be selected via the transmitter’s menu for optimum performance with a wide range of microphones. Preset values for several microphones are included as menu choices for DPA, Countryman B6/E6, Sanken COS-11, Sennheiser MKE1/MKE2, along with standard dynamic microphones and line-level input sources. An infrared sync port on the SSM allows for quick set-up with compatible receiver systems. The Venue 2 modular receiver is designed to address the challenges of increasingly congested RF environments. Venue 2 tunes across a wide 220MHz range and can house up to six receiver modules in its 1RU frame. Each module covers 75MHz, and employs
IQ dynamic tracking ﬁlters that reject out-of-band RF energy and enable very tight channel spacing. The receiver modules can be operated independently, each with switched diversity reception for a total of six audio channels, or
Shure Microﬂex Advance rejects ambient noise Shure’s Microﬂex Advance is a range of networked ceiling and table array mics, audio interfaces, and control software suited to meeting room and AV conferencing spaces. The MXA910 is a networked array ceiling microphone that captures audio from above the meeting space with Shure proprietary steerable coverage technology, enabling up to eight lobes that are conﬁgurable in three dimensions. It can be ﬂush-mounted in any standard ceiling tile grid, or installed below the ceiling with standard VESA-D and wire hanging mounts. The MXA310 table mic captures high-quality audio and provides ﬂexibility in a variety of AV conferencing environments. Within the onboard IntelliMix DSP Suite, Shure’s steerable coverage technology deploys up to four discrete audio channels around a table and uses a ‘toroid’ ringshaped polar pattern to reject unwanted sound artefacts from overhead, such as HVAC or projector fans. Programmable capacitive-touch mute switches ensure simple user operation with the ability to customise LED colour and shape to indicate microphone status. The mics use the Dante protocol. All control, audio, and power signals are carried through a single standard Ethernet cable connection.
All Microﬂex Advance hardware features built-in control software, providing an intuitive interface to simplify the process of adjusting microphone attributes. Microﬂex Advance products integrate with third-party controllers such as Crestron and AMX.
operated in pairs for more robust diversity reception with one audio channel per module pair.
DPA’s Microphone Base enables aesthetic mic placement No matter how well a microphone performs, it is unlikely to get speciﬁed if it doesn’t ﬁt into its surroundings visually. For instance, no-one would want to drill a hole in an antique boardroom to install a mic; and a conference venue that frequently broadcasts its sessions may prefer to have its mics out of view, mounted on the ceiling. It’s to suit a range of install scenarios such as these that DPA created its Microphone Base, which works in combination with the d:screet SC4098 Podium Microphone. Designed to be placed on a table or podium, or attached to the ceiling or even the wall, the Microphone Base comes with either a MicroDot connector, an XLR connector, or unterminated leads for connections to Phoenix blocks. As well as the versatility of its placement, DPA believes the Microphone Base is particularly suited to the installation market due to its low-proﬁle design and built-in shock mount – which is very effective at isolating handling noise.
68 TECHNOLOGY: DEMO OF THE MONTH
Making integration and programming simpler QSC has expanded its Q-SYS platform control portfolio. Steve Montgomery talked to Martin Barbour, QSC’s product manager for installed systems, to ﬁnd out what these new features offer to AV integrators and to IT professionals
he role of the AV system integrator is to select and combine the most appropriate audiovisual devices and present the user with a simple and intuitive user interface to control it all. Historically this has not been a simple task: each component has its own unique control protocol, and programming a cohesive system requires a high level of understanding and skill. Later addition of devices often requires the return of a programmer. The goal of QSC is to dramatically simplify the integration and programming workﬂow by introducing control capabilities at the software layer that not only enable unseasoned AV programmers to create operational and attractive user interfaces, but facilitate bidirectional communication with the many external devices that exist outside of the Q-SYS ecosystem, in a way that IT professionals recognise and comprehend.
Combined solutions Q-SYS is a software-based platform built around an open IT-friendly ecosystem. It leverages powerful Intel processing, robust reliability of the Linux operating system and the interoperability of IEEE networking standards. This ﬂexible software-deﬁned technology platform allows QSC to offer fully integrated audio DSP, video routing and feature-rich control processing inside the same hardware processor and programming environment. This is a highly efficient way of delivering combined solutions rather than
individual processors that each perform just one job. It also greatly enhances system scalability: common processing elements across multiroom deployments can be managed by one device rather than duplicating multiple hardware processors in every space; reducing the hardware required, the cost and the complexity, while centralising system management. The process of programming the system to control peripheral devices and communicate clearly with users is now easier to develop and deploy. The Q-SYS UCI Editor is an easy-to-use, drag-and-drop design tool that allows users to create custom user control interfaces for native Q-SYS touchscreen controllers, all without the need for any previous programming experience. This streamlined design tool dramatically improves efficiency in the traditional AV control design and commissioning workﬂow. For installations requiring more complex control integration, the Q-SYS Scripting Engine allows control plug-ins and scripts to easily integrate third-party devices with the Q-SYS platform. It also provides the backbone for the new Q-SYS Text Controller component for users to create custom scripts using modern, accessible scripting languages including Lua, an open-source, IT-friendly programming language. The programming process is further enhanced by the new Q-SYS Block Controller component and Q-SYS Scripting Engine and includes a stateof-the-art visual programming tool to bring modern software design techniques to the AV programming industry. This well-established open
source visual programming tool uses interlocking graphical blocks to represent common code programming concepts; an approach that brings simple, rapid code creation while ensuring that the generated code is always syntactically correct.
New controllers At the same time, QSC has introduced four new touchscreen controllers with bright, high-resolution IPS LCDs for convenient, offaxis, wide-angle viewing. They offer native integration within the Q-SYS Platform to give users a more comprehensive selection of controllers with add-in room control. To satisfy the demand for an IT-friendly cloud-based system management solution, QSC is unveiling a technology announcement, the Q-SYS Reﬂect management platform. It will launch with two primary components. Q-SYS Reﬂect Core Manager runs natively on the Q-SYS Core processor and provides a more modern and secure interface for common, IT related tasks on the Q-SYS processor. Q-SYS Reﬂect Enterprise Manager extends that web platform to a cloud hosted solution to monitor and manage multiple Q-SYS systems and peripheral devices. Regardless of whether AV assets are distributed within a single building or across an entire global enterprise, Q-SYS Reﬂect delivers valuable real-time data and insights for monitoring, diagnostics and troubleshooting.
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70 WORDS OF WISDOM
James Keen Visualisation, openness and originality are three of the watchwords for this marketing manager Visualise outcomes
Honest and open
Innovate, don’t imitate
When it comes to managing projects, I’ve always found that a deadline is good to focus the mind. Too often projects are left ﬂuid, but a big red line always ensures things are done on time. Planning software can help, but the main method I use, taught to me by an old boss, is to imagine the ﬁnal product – be that an expo stand, brochure or seminar room. What does that room look like when you ﬁrst walk in? What is on the reception table? What is on the presentation screen? Who is there to greet the delegate? Then write down what you see, discuss what you see. Mental visualisation, as daft as it sounds, is a very obvious way to see the small details.
When it comes to people I like a slow burner. Anybody who instantly comes on too strong and wants to be your best mate is somebody who wants something in return. My best business relationships have always been with people who I have gotten to know over time and have built respect for. I’m the kind of person who walks out of a shop if the assistant asks more than one question – a salesperson’s nightmare. I like simple, polite but to-the-point engagement: if a rapport builds then that’s great; if not, well, you can’t win them all. I’m also a fan of honesty and openness. If you like my product but have no budget, say so; I’ll still be happy to help and answer questions. If you just want a pen or a bag of sweets then that’s ﬁne too.
When it comes to marketing in the wider AV industry, my biggest bugbear is a lack of originality. Too many businesses just try to ‘keep up with the Joneses’ and it really doesn’t do our industry any favours. Often this is down to the use of agencies, who generally don’t understand the tech or industry well enough, or through a lack of budget so marketing is tagged on to another role – copying is often an easy route in those circumstances. It is really important to look at your own business with an outside eye, understand your own strengths, weaknesses and place in the market in order to show others what you are; through imitation, marketers are missing their own USPs, their own value adds and their own place in the AV market. Copying means you short-change yourself and your employer.
Project planning To help us plan our major projects and everyday tasks, we use an online project management tool called Monday.com. We also try to have regular catch-ups and chats; it’s essential to make sure everybody is on the right line and knows what the others are doing. January to April are always crazy months as we return from new year for CabSat, ISE, NAB, IT Partners and various other events, so we need to hit the ground running; having a project task list and an in-person discussion really helps.
Retro tech fan It’s strange to say, as I have worked in technology for 15 years, that I’m really not a techie. I’m certainly no technophobe but I am quite minimal when it comes to personal technology. I have a running watch, smartphone and a laptop for work, but besides that I really don’t have much. I am quite a fan of older technology though, so I still have my VHS, Mini Disc and original GameBoy from my younger days; the MiniDisc player in particular is a great piece of kit, awesome sound quality.
‘The industry has done a terrible job of promoting itself to the wider world’
Recruitment requirements AV isn’t necessarily the industry most marketers dream of when they’re at marketing school; it is often a stepping stone or something people stumble across. The industry has done a terrible job of promoting itself to the wider world, so it is barely on anybody’s radar. So, when recruiting you need to look for a strong individual, somebody with potential for longevity and a chance to learn, as you will struggle to ﬁnd anybody with knowledge of your products and services. AV marketing is a lot of organising, planning and writing; it’s multiskilled; you cannot just be an online marketer, a social media expert or an events person.
Time to explore At trade shows, I hate having too many diarised appointments; I prefer to have a few key meetings lined up but otherwise keeping my options open. This allows me to see where the wind blows and gives me an opportunity to explore. If you turn up to a trade show with your entire day planned, how will you see anything surprising or innovative? The whole point is to learn; if you wander about looking at your map and diary, you might never see the thing you didn’t know you wanted to see. It also frees up more time to share a coffee and chat with colleagues and contacts and use the time for networking and building stronger relationships. James Keen is group marketing manager at Tripleplay.
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AV integration in a networked world