Date Archives August 2010

Key Points to Know Before Purchasing a Video Conferencing System

“The proper design and integration of a video conferencing (VTC) system requires time, coordination and communication upfront,” notes Fred Grob, design engineer (CTS-D) for AVI-SPL. “Aside from the technology, there are many other parts to the puzzle. It’s important that collaboration takes place between the AV system designer, interior designer and architect on several key points.”

These key points include:

  • Ceiling type and height. There are many reasons that these factors are a primary concern, as they effect: speaker type, possible sound wave reflections problems, VTC light fixtures and placement. These are crucial factors in ensuring the quality of viewed images.
  • Upholstery and lighting. A qualified and experienced AV system designer will be able to communicate with the interior designer and help choose upholstery patterns that the camera can easily pick-up and transmit, or choosing paint colors and scheme that complement the lighting. Recommendations need to be made regarding wall fabrics and decoration, as this will have a very positive or negative effect on the acoustics of the room.
  • Furniture. Aside from the electronics that make up the VTC system, another huge cost is the table. This can often be the most expensive single item in the room. The layout of the table, display(s), and camera(s) has to be such that every participant has an unobstructed site line with the display(s) and camera(s).
  • Microphone positioning. Another factor to discuss regarding the table is microphones and location. For example, is it feasible to have them cut into the table? Or, are ceiling microphones that automatically drop down from the ceiling more appropriate and functional?
  • Ambient noise. This is another important consideration in the room. The biggest culprit of noise pollution is most often the HVAC system. In this case, the AV system designer will need to work with the MEP engineer to help create a quiet HVAC system.

Click here to learn more about videoconferencing. »

Avoid the 3 common pitfalls of expanding your video conference setup beyond the boardroom.

Could Google’s Latest Move Spell Trouble for the Unified Communications Market?

Over the last few years, the battle for the desktop has been intensifying between some of the biggest technology names in the world. It wouldn’t surprise folks to see Microsoft, IBM and Cisco all pitching to convince companies to use their platform and suite of applications across an enterprise.

However, just as the line has blurred between work and play, the traditional “enterprise” players are seeing new entrants join the fray. Frost and Sullivan’s recent article on Google’s acquisition and development of a Unified Communications (UC) and Collaboration suite reveals the heightened interest of traditional consumer-based players, as they try to penetrate the workplace as well. They do have a ways to go to before they can compete with the established, feature-rich solutions provided by the traditional players. However, the brand recognition and “cloud”-based approach Google will most likely take with its UC offerings could enable them to make inroads into the corporate world.

Here at AVI-SPL, we take a neutral approach to technology solutions. We help our customers deploy and leverage UC tools and applications, and are focused on solutions that best fit their requirements and budget. We do not see Google UC gaining a large market share in the enterprise in the near future. In the next few years, however, we expect that Google will be considered a viable option for corporations on a wider scale.

The above is written by Michael Brandofino, executive vice president of VTC and UC, AVI-SPL.

As momentum on this story grows, we’d like to hear from you too. Does Google have what it takes to become a strong contender in such a tightly-established market?

Behind-the-scenes: LA County Fire Department Photo Shoot

LA Fire House Video Wall Installation

We’re giving you a sneak peak at the recent photo shoot for AVI-SPL’s project for the Los Angeles County Fire Department (LACFD) – one of the largest fire departments in the country! With nearly 4,000 dedicated personnel responsible for fire suppression, emergency medical services, lifeguard operations, airlift rescues and additional operations, how does the fire department effectively coordinate all their efforts?

Simple: The Emergency Operations Center (EOC) at the LACFD headquarters in Commerce, Calif.

About 26 operator stations fill the main EOC floor, with each dispatcher supporting designated North, Central and East regions of Los Angeles County. Dispatchers previously relied on the use of 36-inch CRT TVs on carts to relay critical information throughout the EOC. Unfortunately, with this type of arrangement, sharing reports from neighboring regions required personnel to constantly rush between stations, costing valuable time and energy in a larger crisis like wildfires or earthquakes.

LA Fire House AV Installation

AVI-SPL’s solution: A video wall arranged in a 2 x 4 array featuring 70-inch video wall cubes with 16:9 wide-screen capabilities.

What else? To learn more about the advancements made to the LACFD’s Emergency Operations Center, check out the case study and view a complete gallery of photos. Or take a peek at other control room AV installations.

RoomView Connected™ by Crestron: Simple, Standardized Technology for Every Classroom

To bring today’s K-12 classrooms into the 21st century, installing projectors in each classroom and accessing them through the school’s IT network is an affordable, scalable solution. Crestron RoomView Connected™ technology is built into many popular projector brands to deliver direct connectivity and control of AV devices via the IT network – and it’s free.

Projector manufacturers — including Acer, BenQ, Dell, Mitsubishi and Viewsonic — have embedded Crestron RoomView® Express software into their projector models, and the list is growing every day. It gives teachers in the classroom and main office administrators the power and flexibility to completely manage and control all projectors on the network using a simple, easy-to-use interface.

RoomView Connected provides reliable, easy-to-use control of ceiling-mounted projectors directly from any connected laptop. No more hunting for lost remotes or standing on desks to turn on the projector. Teachers can simply use the mouse to point and click an icon on the Web-based control page to turn the projector on or off, select the computer or video source and adjust the volume.

With built-in help desk messaging, teachers just click the “Help” button from the RoomView software screen to instantly send an alert to tech support with any questions or problems related to classroom technology. A member of the support staff can immediately respond and even take control of the classroom device from any remote location. Issues are resolved quickly, and teachers can focus on teaching.

Crestron RoomView

RoomView enables administrators and support staff to perform remote system diagnostics, track projector use and lamp life. Remote capabilities allow efficient scheduling of routine maintenance – such as lamp replacement – and instant notification if devices are disconnected, preventing theft. It even allows AV managers to turn off all the projectors at the end of the day with one mouse click. Functions such as “ALL OFF” may be scheduled, saving energy, money, time and extending lamp life automatically.

RoomView software works with most popular projector brands and models, so no programming is needed to swap out projectors. Simply connect the new projector and Crestron RoomView automatically recognizes the device for immediate, seamless communication and control. You can even integrate previously installed projectors that are not natively RoomView Connected.

Once you take control of classroom projectors with RoomView, you’ll want to monitor, manage and control every device in every room, including DVD players, SMART Boards and document cameras. Easily connect Crestron MPC pushbutton classroom controllers and QuickPacks™ bundled AV systems for additional functionality. If you need to connect more rooms, or want more power and flexibility, you can globally control your school, campus and even an entire district with ease and confidence. Upgrade from RoomView Express to the more advanced RoomView Server Edition.

AV managers can centrally manage rooms in every school throughout the district with RoomView SE. Built-in logging and reporting show device usage for budgeting and procurement decisions. Plug-ins for modules such as Web cameras enable administrators to check in and monitor classroom activity.

Start by simply installing a RoomView Connected device using standard mounts and cables, download the free client executable software from the Crestron website, and enjoy the benefits of network managed and controlled classroom technology. Scalability makes it effortless to adjust to growth and changing needs; ask your AVI-SPL account manager for more information.

Contact an AVI-SPL representative at (866) 559-8197 to learn more about Crestron’s RoomView Connected solution.

Click here for more featured Crestron products. »

Polycom, Microsoft to integrate Unified Communications offerings

Polycom and Microsoft have announced a channel partnership to increase Microsoft’s Unified Communications (UC) offerings. As a part of the multi-year global agreement, Polycom will develop and provide integrated end-to-end UC solutions, including room-based video systems, for Microsoft’s clients. Under this partnership, Polycom becomes a member of Microsoft’s key strategic global alliance.

AVI-SPL Director of Video and UC Project Management John Vitale shared his thoughts about the partnership: “I think this is a good step for both Microsoft and Polycom to take and help accelerate the adoption of Unified Communications. In the past, video has always been the ‘leave it for later’ feature of UC due to its challenges with mass scale deployment in an enterprise. Polycom and Microsoft teaming up to help solve these issues can only help the situation. I’m looking forward to the fruit this partnership will bear.”

For more information about the agreement, click here to read the announcement and watch a brief video featuring Microsoft Corporate Vice President of UC Products and Polycom President and CEO.