Appreciating the Small Things: A Quick Glance at New Products from Revolabs and Listen Tech

leonard-cardiod-0514Summer is coming, and with it, new product releases. I’ve been lucky enough to get a few sneak peeks at new products due for release this InfoComm. I’ve not seen anything quite earth shattering or revolutionary as of yet, but a string of reminders as to how small, thoughtful decisions can create significant improvements. There are things which don’t always show up  on a spec sheet, but that make a difference in what it is like to live with a product. I’ll give two examples, from two manufacturers.

First up, Revolabs. After announcing their next-generation of wireless boundary microphones at InfoComm last year, they are finally ready to debut this InfoComm. We at SMW were fortunate enough to get our hands on a beta set for some experimentation and evaluation. I’ll leave comparative  performance for another day, but wanted to remark now on the sleek, modern form factor. They are a bit larger than the old Executive HD mics, but have a great advantage in shape. The omnidirectional mics are squares, with soft-buttons for mute on each side. The cardiods are also square, but with one edge lifted up in a wedge shape to give a clear indication of the mic’s directionality. The same square base is promised for the upcoming wireless goosenecks, and hard-wired microphones might be on their roadmap. This is a great idea in, for example, a divisible space with a portable “leaf” between fixed conference tables. One might want to use hardwired mics for the permanent tables and wireless mics for the portable furniture. If so, it would create a more unified experience to have the wireless and hardwired mics all the same size and shape, and have that shape be something appealing. Again, not a product I’ve thoroughly evaluated as of yet, but one which is, at the very least, interesting.

leonard-listentech-0514The good people at Listen Tech are also in New York showing off their new hardware, including a demo of the Televic delegate systems with whom they are partnered (a demo which I succeeded in briefly crashing, but which did recover nicely). Long-time readers of this blog should know that I’m familiar with Listen Tech, having been through their Level 2 hearing loop training last year. They aren’t showing any big improvements to their assistive listening lines at present, but have some nice incremental improvements which I was delighted to see. The receivers are now smaller, have audio jacks on both sides into which you can very comfortably plug a neck loop. In an even niftier twist, the neck-loop itself has an 3.5-millimeter audio jack, naturally falling around collarbone-level. This allows the use of very short headphone wires, eliminating tangles. They also have new pendant-style IR receivers with the option of standard headphones as well as the “stethoscope” style. ListenTech’s VP of global sales, Cory Schaeffer, took the time to travel here to New York to give some of us here a sneak peek. Her time – and the chance to bend her ear about the rest of my wish-list (Energy-star certified loop amplifiers, Dante connectivity, etc.) was much appreciated.

This is one reason I like to look at technology in person, hold it in my hands, and play with it. Sometimes we need to look beyond the spec sheets, at what technology is like to live with and how thoughtful manufacturers have been in designing them.