Volume 1, Issue 7 — November 17, 2015
|The Collaboration Conundrum|
By Max Kopsho
With so many products available out there for collaboration and huddle spaces that could be considered “off the shelf” one would have to ask themselves why a consultant and/or design engineer needs to be in the mix at all. In this blog I will discuss some of the considerations a design engineer and consultant take when working together so solve the collaboration conundrum for their customers.
When looking at a potential collaborative communications space a designer must understand first how the space is intended to be used and how it is currently used. This is sometimes best done with a covert study (watching the user when they don’t know they are being watched). Since we know about the Hawthorne Effect (anything studied changes its behavior) it is best to do the study when the subject does not know it is being studied so as to not affect the outcome. The next step is to gather data and provide analysis on how the space is intended to be used. This includes facilitated discussions and stakeholder meetings. It also includes a complete understanding of the business. AV/IT design consultants need to be a hybrid of business professionals and technologists. A lot of times it is best to have these types of specification and analysis done by a third party who can delineate between what is needed and what is wanted.
So what does this have to do with using an AV/IT design consultant? Well, an AV/IT design consultant knows more about Human Factors than a standard IT integrator. Having an IT integrator simply hang an interactive display on the wall and running wires is already taking them outside their comfort zone and it is not all there is to creating a collaborative environment. A consultant and design engineer look at the usage models and determine the proper viewing angles to make sure every participants will see the screen from every seat. With a proper design, the least favorable seat in the room and the closest seat in the room will be able to view the content in a comfortable way without creating viewer fatigue.
There are many considerations taken when designing a full collaborative space when human factors are accounted for. True AV and Technology consultants look at the type of content and the way it is used to determine closest and farthest viewer, the resolution and the type of display. Display size and mounting location are also determined based on these factors as well as whether or not the display is interactive or not and whether or not the one user or all of the meeting participants are standing or seated (how many meetings have you been in where you are forced to look at the presenters butt because of poor space design?). Consultants and design engineers work together to look at the entire usage model and match the usage to the space considerations. They then look at the physical attributes of the human body and its capabilities and limitations to help design the system, but you must read next week’s blog to get even a slight glimpse into the other considerations that are taken into collaborative space design.
Next week’s blog will start down the path of what is included in the details of how an AV collaborative system comes together. We will discuss the steps that an AV/IT designer uses to build a complete collaborative and unified communications system.
AV/IT design consultant considerations in collaborative systems:
- Ambient light and sound
- Shared content viewing angles
- Sound system coverage and pick-up
- Cameras and stage presence
- Physical environment
Acknowledgement / voting / interactivity:
- Network collaboration and network architecture
- Remote connectivity
- Data sharing
Social aspect of collaboration:
- Social, executive, policy support
- Key advantages
Hope to “see you” next week.
-MaxLeave a Comment
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|iOS 9: A Digital Sign|
By Scott Tiner
My brother had an odd experience last Saturday evening. He got into his car and before even starting it, his iPhone spoke up and told him that he was 10 minutes from his destination. The funny thing, he had not asked for directions anywhere, or in anyway indicated where he was going. The freaky thing, the iPhone was right in the location it had guessed he was going. This can sometimes weird you out, and sometimes amaze you. The technology in iOS 9 can determine patterns and habits and make suggestions based on those. In my brother’s case, he was headed over to our parents’ house for dinner. This is a typical thing for him on a Saturday evening, and iOS had figured out the behavior. The Suggested Apps feature, as Apple calls it, first appeared in iOS 8, but has become more mature and useful in the latest version. You may notice icons in the lower left corner of your phone’s lock screen at what seems like odd times. Walk around Target, for example, and you will see the Target app appear.
The possibilities for this technology are endless. For years, I have wondered about how we could get digital signage all over a store. The infrastructure costs seemed to be huge. Also, the maintenance and upkeep of the signs would get so expensive, it would be difficult to show a return on investment. Of course the problem was that I was not thinking outside of the box. Finally, iOS 9 allowed me to do that and ask: What if people brought their own digital signs and allowed us to use them for our purposes? Suddenly, we have excellent access to customers, at very little upfront cost to ourselves.
Apple has already put the technology into the phone to determine locations and habits of customers. Now we need to develop apps that allow us to take advantage of the technology. If an app is installed on a customer’s phone, then we already have some information on that customer, as they have created an account with the app. We should be tracking information about their purchases and habits. By installing access points in our stores we can get a good idea of where in the store the customer is. We can use all this information to direct customers to products we are trying to sell.
Imagine that a customer is walking through your grocery store. Apple takes care of offering the app for the customer. Your app can then send a notification letting the customer know that using the app will be beneficial for them. The customer walks into the wine aisle, and based on your wireless access points, the app knows where the customer is. Based on your data, you also know that the customer usually purchases a bottle of red wine every week. You can now direct that customer to a specific type of red wine that you are looking to sell. You have the option of offering a special price, or simply giving them information about the specific wine you want them to purchase. The possibilities are enormous once you start to think creatively. We know that brands already pay for shelf space and location. Why would they not be willing to pay to show up on a customer’s phone when they are near the product?
As technology changes, integrators need to be aware and be creative in how they put them to use. If you read what I just described, and your first thought is that the iPhone is going to be a threat to your business, you are not adapting quickly enough. Rather, you need to look at this as an amazing opportunity. Almost everything I just described is service-based rather than product-based. And service is the only place integrators can be making money; product sales are not going to provide the type of margins needed to stay in business. Hopefully, these changes in technology excite you and get you thinking of new ways to provide value to your customers. Just don’t get complacent — because not only are the customers bringing their own digital signs in their pockets, but with the launch of the Apple Watch, they may also soon be wearing them on their wrists as well.Leave a Comment
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|On Single-Source AV Systems and How We Get There|
By Leonard Suskin
Pixel and Ink-Stained Wretch
Last summer, I discussed the tension between selecting “best in breed” components from a single manufacturer and locking oneself into a single ecosystem. As time passes, the industry is certainly moving in a direction in which a single ecosystem is not only increasingly possible, but increasingly desirable as well. We’ve all heard horror stories about brilliant designs on paper involving sophisticated solutions selected from several separate sources that created countless technician-hours of headache and heartache to bring to life. This should be obvious, but for some it isn’t: Successful technical design is only successful if it can be successfully implemented, and saving money on equipment to turn around and spend it in time and labor is no bargain.
For a recent example, I was working in an AV design for a client who already had investment in Crestron’s building-management ecosystem. It was a centralized suite of rooms for which, after much discussion, we’d decided on a centralized infrastructure with minimal equipment in local spaces. It was a situation for which I could have advised the use of either HDBaseT or IP-distribution with a strong argument to be made for either, with the latter having a slight technical edge. At the end of the day (and after discussion with the client), the decision was made that the benefits in scalability and flexibility in an IP solution did not sufficiently offset the risk of having competing vendors supply AV control and transport. Could it have worked? Quite likely. Could it have been a disaster? Also possible. What we did know is this: If, on day two, after the installation, someone hits a touch panel button and nothing happens, they know which vendor to call. They know they won’t have the AV control vendor saying that it’s a transport problem and the AV transport vendor saying that it’s a control problem. There’s a clear responsibility for a working system and, hopefully, components which fit together.
The Route There: Buy What You Don’t Have
One big piece of news in this arena — a bigger story than it is being treated as — comes from Harman, which is no longer treating itself as a holding company but rather as a single entity with several divisions. One can build a strictly Harman single-source AV system:
- AMX Architectural interfaces
- AMX Control
- AMX local video transport (HDBaseT)
- SVSI IP video transport
- BSS Audio processing
- Crown audio amplification
- JBL Loudspeakers
All managed, of course, by AMX’s Resource Management Suite.
End to end it’s all Harman, and they got there with one acquisition after the next. In the short term this is an easier “sell” for us in the AV industry; these are all familiar and well-respected brands in their respective parts of the industry. Harman doesn’t have to convince us that they know how to make audio amplifiers, for example, because we’ve been using Crown amps for years.
The weakness to this approach is that, at least thus far, they’ve been very separate entities with little to no tangible synergy. AMX and BSS and SVSI are all part of the Harman umbrella, but there’s not only a lack of native interconnectivity, but I could also argue that SVSI has better synergy with QSC’s QSYS than it does with BSS Soundweb London. QSYS can directly inject and extract digital audio streams from SVSI’s IP transport, eliminating the need for analog inputs and outputs. BSS does not, at present, have that capability. I have heard talk about AMX adding SVSI’s IP streaming to its Enova DGX line; this would be a real benefit but it will take time. The acquisition is a starting point, not an end-point; until product development cycles run their course we’re left with what are, de-facto, many separate brands with one label. This does afford users the organizational benefits of a single-vendor solution, but the technical benefits may be years coming — if we’re lucky. If we aren’t lucky, the separate sub-brands will continue to operate autonomously and the company will remain unified in name only.
Another Path — If You Build it, Will We Come?
The other big players in our space — Crestron and Extron — have taken a different approach. Extron started making loudspeakers, audio amplifiers and DSP products years ago. The line is slowly growing with the recent introduction of Dante-enabled amplifiers and I/O wallplates, to take one example. Crestron as well has moved into the loudspeaker market, adding acoustic echo cancellation to its DMPS line, and has hired some very industry-respected talent in the audio processing realm.
Look at an all Extron system:
- Extron architectural connectivity
- Extron switching and control
- Extron video streaming
- Extron DMP-series audio processing
- Extron XTA/MPA amplifiers
- Extron loudspeakers.
That’s entirely possible. Were Crestron to introduce more amplifiers and a DSP (as I said, they already have AEC; I’d be surprised if they were TOO many years away), they’d be able to do the same. Getting to this point not only took Extron quite a few years with products slowly introduced over that time, but there’s been a challenge in leading people to accept them as, say, an audio manufacturer. Extron’s amplifiers have become accepted in the industry (justifiably so), but it took some time (and, to be fair, the line isn’t broad enough for quite all applications).
This process also takes quite a long time. On the positive side, once it’s don,e it’s done and everything is as much a single, integrated ecosystem as the manufacturer wants it to be; one doesn’t get that middle period between the acquisition and the hard work of tying things together.
Where Do We End Up?
I have no idea of the future path belongs to those creating from the ground up, those acquiring the best in the industry, or something between. What I do know is that this is the direction. The one part I’ve not spoken of here — but I have many times in the past — is the disappearance of the AV appliance. DSP, control, and asset management are all software. I can see a time in the very near future when instead of installing an AV control processor one will simply download an AV control application onto a general purpose server, and that this application will have various available modules and add-ons for audio processing, streaming, recording and content management.
We’re almost there, at a more hardware-free converged world. I see myself designing more and more systems without the familiar half-sized credenza racks full of gear under the flat panel. We’ll see which companies are there in the future, and what our world looks like.Leave a Comment
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|Mackie Launches Reach All-In-One Pro-Grade PA
Mackie today announced a new professional-grade PA system called Mackie Reach. Featuring Bluetooth music streaming, a six-channel digital mixer, and a control app for iOS and Android, Reach is a self-contained PA system. Integrated with a new ARC array, which they say provides “clearer” sound in large-audience environments, and EarShot — personal monitoring system, the six-channel digital mixer (controlled via the Mackie Connect app) allows the user to control everything from levels, EQ and FX to sound-enhancing tools.
The ARC (Amplified Radial Curve) high frequency array technology in Reach utilizes three horizontally angled high-frequency drivers paired with dual vertically spaced high-output low-frequency drivers, providing 150 degrees of coverage for optimal sound quality, even for audiences spread over a wide or deep area. Combined with the EarShot personal monitoring system, you get a total of 250 degrees of room coverage for ultimate versatility.
The Mackie Reach Professional PA System will be available worldwide beginning December, 2015 and will list for $1,249. Here’s more information.Leave a Comment
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|PreSonus Intros R65 and R80 Active AMT MonitorsPreSonus’ new R80 active studio monitor speakers offer a custom Air Motion Transformer (AMT) tweeter, which delivers fast transient response to provide exceptionally detailed resolution. These biamped monitors feature Class D power amplifiers, with 100W RMS driving the woofer and 50W RMS driving the AMT tweeter, making them some of the most powerful monitor speakers in their category. As with all PreSonus studio monitors, both models are equipped with the company’s lauded Acoustic Tuning controls.
Both the R65 and R80 employ a 6.8-square-inch AMT tweeter that responds to the subtlest waveforms and high frequencies, making them an ideal choice for hearing ultra-highs that add “air” and a sense of space. PreSonus R-series monitors offer wide lateral dispersion for a broad “sweet spot,” along with very narrow vertical dispersion, which helps reduce ceiling reflections that can muddy the sound. This helps to minimize room anomaly interference, providing a more consistent sound in different listening environments.
The R65 employs a 6.5-inch, coated Kevlar woofer, while the R80 sports an 8-inch woofer. This design results in cohesive, less time-smeared audio with minimal coloration and extremely punchy bass.
The Acoustic Space switch controls a second-order, low shelving filter that helps to compensate for the boundary bass boost that occurs when the monitor is placed near a wall or corner. An HF-driver level control is also provided to help mitigate room problems. An onboard, four-position highpass filter makes it easy to integrate a subwoofer into your monitoring setup Balanced XLR and ¼” TRS and unbalanced RCA input connections make hookup quick and easy. Safety features include RF shielding, current-output limiting, over-temperature protection, and subsonic protection. Frequency response is rated at 50 Hz to 25 kHz for the R65 and 45 Hz to 25 kHz for the R80.
The PreSonus R65 and R80 are available immediately at PreSonus and list for $399.95 and $499.95, respectively. For more information about the R series, go here. For more about the entire PreSonus studio monitor line, go here.Leave a Comment
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|Comprehensive Connectivity Introduces New Pro AV/IT Lightning CablesComprehensive Connectivity has debuted a new line of Pro AV/IT Lightning Cables with what they say is professional grade construction.
Unlike ordinary consumer cables, Comprehensive Pro AV/IT Lightning cables feature a heavier, more durable overall construction as well as dedicated strain relief where the cabling meets the connector to prevent the cable from coming apart. These cables also feature Comprehensive’s exclusive Surelength indicators that clearly indicate the length of each cable right on the connector mold making them perfect for all Pro AV/IT applications where Apple products are used.
Comprehensive’s Pro AV/IT Lightning Cables are MFI certified and can connect an iPhone, iPad or iPod to a computer’s USB port for syncing and charging or to the Apple USB Power Adapter for convenient charging from a wall outlet.
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- Lightning male to USB A male
- Surelength indicators on the connector heads
- Compatible with all Lightning devices
- Apple MFi certified
- RoHS compliant
- UL Rated cable
- Available in 3-foot, 6-foot and 10-foot lengths
- Lifetime warranty
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|Hitachi Aims New PTZ Cameras at Houses of WorshipHitachi America’s Digital Media Division, Security Solutions Group has launched a new series of PTZ cameras that it says are designed for churches of all sizes. The PTZ Series cameras support video conferencing, video recording and net broadcasting.
The PTZ Series includes six models: the VZ-HD3600A, VZ-HD3650A, VZ-HD3700A, VZHD3780A, VZ-HD4000A and VZ-HD4900A. The 3600/3700 Series cameras feature a 10X optical zoom lens with Full HD, while the VZ-HD4000A and VZ-HD4900A models use a 25x optical zoom lens – all are 1080p native cameras. For large worship spaces and low-light shooting, the PTZ Series also offers adaptive noise reduction and up to seven cameras can be-daisy-chained together to eliminate the need for multiple-control cables.
The PTZ Series also offers 32 preset memories for pan/tilt/zoom and other settings using the remote control unit, and up to 127 presets using external control via RS-232C or RS-422. Various digital video interfaces are available, including 3G-SDI, HD-SDI and DVI-I. Here’s more information.Leave a Comment
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|Epson Adds Two Portable Projectors to Its EX-SeriesEpson today introduced the EX5250 Pro and the EX5240 portable projectors — both aimed at small- to medium-sized businesses. The EX5250 Pro projector is an XGA resolution (1024×768) at 3,600 lumens, includes wireless connectivity while the EX5240 also XGA but is specified at 3,200 lumens. Both projectors include VGA and HDMI connectivity. Of course, they are both 3LCD projectors. The EX5250 Pro and EX5240 both support HDMI and the EX5250 Pro features wireless connectivity with Epson’s quick connect on-screen QR code, allowing users easy access to content from smartphones and tablets using Epson’s iProjection app to scan the on-screen QR code and instantly project content from an iOS or Android device.
The EX-Series offers features including image adjustment tools such as automatic vertical correction and Epson’s “Easy-Slide” horizontal image correction. The Epson EX5240 ($549) and EX5250 Pro ($599) are already shipping. Here is more information.Leave a Comment
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|CASIO Adds 3K-Lumen Laser/LED Projector to EcoLite Line|
Casio America announced today that it will expand its EcoLite lineup of LampFree projectors with a new 3000-lumen laser/LED EcoLite XJ-V2.
CASIO says the XJ-V2 will be introduced at a price that is lower than the cost of a conventional mercury lamp projector of an equivalent brightness plus one replacement lamp. Furthermore, the Casio SSI light source — which uses both a laser and a LED — in the XJ-V2 has a lifespan of up to 20,000 hours, eliminating the need for lamp replacements, and is spec’d to offer electricity consumption that is approximately half that of a mercury lamp projector.
Casio also says they have improved the dust resistance of the XJ-V2 by structuring the internal components into three blocks to shield the optical block from dust. This helps ensure that dust does not lower projection brightness, enabling the XJ-V2 to operate dependably for a long time.
Additionally, the new EcoLite reaches maximum brightness in as fast as five seconds from the time the power is switched on. It can immediately power off with just a touch of the button and then be used again right away when powered back on without the need for a cool-down period. The XJ-V2 can project a 100” image from 10.1 ft to 11.2 ft away using a 1.54 – 1.71 lens.
Detailed specs will be here.Leave a Comment
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|Listen Technologies Adds to iDSP Offerings With 216 MHz ReceiverListen Technologies has a new model in its iDSP (Intelligent Digital Signal Processing) family with the new iDSP 216 MHz Receiver. The iDSP line is focused on the assistive listening market.
The 216 MHz receiver is designed for larger venues such as stadiums and convention centers, with a range of up to 3,000 feet (914.4 meters). Two versions of the new 216 MHz iDSP receiver are available: LR-4200-216 Intelligent DSP RF Receiver (216 MHz) and LR-5200-216 Advanced Intelligent DSP RF Receiver (216 MHz). The LR-5200 Advanced Receiver features the ability for end users to select multiple channels for applications such as language interpretation.
LR-4200-216 and LR-5200-216 receiver features include:
- A display for customized channel name, volume level, battery level, and inventory management
- Integrated neck loop/lanyard, incorporating an advanced DSP loop driver
- Advanced lithium-ion battery and battery management
- Dual headphone jacks to accommodate neck loop/lanyard or two sets of headphones
- Convenient USB port, making it easy to set up with free iDSP software and apply firmware updates
Here are the detailed specs.Leave a Comment
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|Extron Ships New Cable Cubby EnclosureExtron is shipping the Cable Cubby 100, part of the Cable Cubby Series/2 line of furniture-mountable cable access enclosures. The Cable Cubby 100 is a compact, round enclosure for AV connectivity and USB power that is ideal for applications where a single user access point is required. Its round design eliminates the need to measure or use a routing template, making installation quick and easy using a standard four inch (102 mm) hole saw.
The Cable Cubby 100 features two connectivity openings for up to four single-space Mini Architectural Adapter Plates – MAAPs or two single-space MAAPs and three AV cables. Its modular design allows cables and MAAPs to be serviced from the top of the enclosure after it is installed. The Cable Cubby 100 is also available with two USB power outlets for charging mobile devices. The Cable Cubby 100 Switch Kit is available for “Show Me,” push to talk, or mute mic applications. A cover plate conceals mounting screws giving a refined appearance. The Cable Cubby 100 is available in a black finish.
All the specs on the Cable Cubby 100 are here.Leave a Comment
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|Aurora Debuts HD and 4K Tuner for Commercial InstallsAurora’s new V-Tune Pro 4K is a worldwide compatible tuner for any integrated system which requires IPTV, ATSC, QAM and NTSC. The tuner is capable of decoding MPEG2, MPEG4, VC-1, H.264 and H.265 with resolutions up to 4096×2160 @ 60Hz via RF and LAN. There is also an on-board 4K scaler for viewing 1080P HD content on 4K displays.
The V-Tune Pro 4K can be controlled via IR, RS-232 and IP and has the ability to program any channel for OTA/Broadcast or streaming content from the LAN.
- 4K professional tuner (up to 4096×2016 @60Hz) with 4K up scaling for non 4K content
- QAM/ATSC Tuner with built-in IPTV Streaming decoder (H.264/H.265)
- RS232 display control over IP
- USB/IP cloning for ease of setup of multiple units
- Rack mounts included for ease of install
- Decodes up to 4K digital content (web cam/digital signage/educational material, etc.) streaming on network direct to individual channels same as QAM modulated content
Here are the tech specs.Leave a Comment
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For all you REGULAR readers of rAVe AVBuyers.Club out there, hopefully you enjoyed another opinion-packed issue!
For those of you NEW to rAVe, you just read how we are — we are 100 percent opinionated. We not only report the news and new product stories of the ProAV and HomeAV industries, but we stuff the articles full of our opinions. That may include (but is not limited to) whether or not the product is even worth looking at, challenging the manufacturers on their specifications, calling a marketing-spec bluff and suggesting ways integrators market their products better. But, one thing is for sure, we are NOT a trade publication that gets paid for running editorial or product stories. Traditional trade publications get paid to run product stories — that’s why you see what you see in most of the pubs out there. We are different: we run what we want to run and NO ONE is going to pay us to write or say anything good (or bad).
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A little about me: I graduated from Journalism School at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (where I am adjunct faculty). I’ve been in the AV industry since 1987 where I started with Extron and eventually moved to AMX. So, I guess I am an industry veteran (although I don’t think I am that old). I have been an opinionated columnist for a number of industry publications and in the late 1990s I started the widely read KNews eNewsletter (the first in the AV market) and also created the model for and was co-founder of AV Avenue, which is now known as InfoComm IQ. rAVe [Publications] has been around since 2003, when we launched our original newsletter, rAVe ProAV Edition.
rAVe ProAV Edition is our flagship newsletter with what we believe is a reach of virtually everyone in the ProAV market. rAVe HomeAV Edition, co-published with CEDIA and launched in February 2004, is, by far, the largest ePub in the HomeAV market. We added rAVe Rental [and Staging] in November 2007, rAVe ED [Education] in May 2008 and then rAVe DS [Digital Signage] in January 2009. We added rAVe GHGav [Green, Healthcare & Government AV] in August 2010 and rAVe HOW [House of Worship] in July 2012. rAVe Radio, our podcast network, was launched in 2012. AVBuyers.Club, our first publications targeted at end users, launched in May 2015. You can subscribe to any of those publication or see ALL our archives by going to: http://www.ravepubs.com
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