LED Technology: How It Applies To You

LED Blog  Image 1

 

 

 

By: Carol Emmens

LED, which stands for light emitting diode, is a technology used in scores of products and is well-known for its use in specialty IT and audiovisual equipment as well as everyday products such as light bulbs. LED displays are used in a wide variety of ways and their popularity is exploding. But note that home flat screen televisions, often described as LED’s, are actually LCD (Liquid Crystal Display) televisions with LED back lights. Large format LED displays (video walls) are made up of modular tiles which are locked together so that they are seamless. They are extremely versatile:

  • They can be any size.
  • They can be curved.
  • They can be flown.
  • They can be on stands.
  • They can be used indoors.
  • They can be used outdoors.

Because of their versatility, LED’s are extremely popular for these video walls. Whether they are used as a wall or as individual displays, they are seen at live events ranging from commencements to concerts to corporate meetings. Typically LED displays are specified as indoor or outdoor displays. Indoor models are generally higher in resolution but less bright. But keep in mind the resolution is not comparable to a flat screen television or projector since they are designed to be viewed from a distance.

Unlike LCD’s, outdoor LED displays can be seen even in the sunlight and they are weather resistant; the level of weather resistance is measured as an Ingress Protection (IP) number. LED displays are universal; they are used on stage, in stadiums, educational institutions, and corporations. Given the dramatic impact they make, LED displays are very cost effective for advertisers, entertainers, and exhibiters.

Lights

LED lights, like LED displays, are widely used for audiovisual effects and are used both indoors and outdoors. They range from small stand- alone lights to complex systems of multiple lights that perform multiple functions in multiple locations. LED lights can be used in numerous ways:

  • To highlight or pin spot an area.
  • To flood an entire wall of a façade or stage.
  • To create a light show.
  • To highlight a landmark or a work of art.

Because LED lights can change colors or create a scene, they are a cost effective way to transform a space. LED lights are used to set the mood for special social occasions such as weddings, bar mitzvahs or holiday parties and they are used to light up dance floors in trendy nightclubs. They are a “must have” for DJ’s.

LED Blog  Image 2

LED lights help corporations brand their products and display their logos. They are often a critical component of marketing campaigns and can be customized for important clients. Compared to the neon signs of yesteryear, LED lighting is more energy efficient, is longer lasting, and is better for the environment. Plus, it is appreciably more reliable. Consequently, LED lighting has become the standard for signs and exhibits, providing unsurpassed colors and mixing to create all types of images.

LED lights or “drapes” can be triggered or controlled to change the brightness, the color, and the content. They can display built-in patterns and/or they can fade.  LED lights can be pre-programmed for an event, presentation or show whether it’s a rock performance or a theatrical play. It can be spectacular – or it can be calming and serene.

Your imagination is the only limit to what LED displays or LED lights can do for you. For help in assessing your needs for LED lighting, with rentals or installation, call Zeo Systems; let our experience guide you to the right LED solution(s) for you.

Uses and Impact of Video Walls on Your Business

By: Carol Emmons

SONY DSC

A video wall is an example of digital signage.  A video wall consists of multiple monitors, cubes, projectors or panels that are tiled together. Most often they are tiled tightly together to form one large image, but they are sometimes tiled loosely or into several separate sections for multiple images and messages or unique results, especially for performances.

Typically, video wall displays have detailed, high resolution content which makes them engaging and powerful and they receive a lot of attention. Because of the impact and increasing affordability of video walls, they are growing in popularity and they are used in a wide variety of ways:

A flexible tool, video walls can help brand a product, encourage collaboration and interactivity in venues ranging from lobbies, museums, and zoos, to sports and entertainment arenas and shopping malls  – to name a few. They are placed in high traffic areas to attract the most attention.  A video wall can be used indoors or out; it can be flat or curved, and it can be designed for permanent or temporary displays. In short, their uses are almost limitless and your video wall can be as complex and creative as you want.

A very important step when you decide to utilize or install a video wall is to define your goals.  All successful audiovisual systems require a clear set plan of action and results desired. A complete video wall system requires a number of components with a wide range of options available for each, starting with the selection of the type of display. An enormous range of technologies, resolutions and sizes are available on the market today and can make selecting one bewildering. A video wall can be designed with LCD’s, LED’s, cubes or projectors.  Each has its own unique characteristics, advantages, and disadvantages so you need to understand the inherent strengths and weaknesses of each. What is an ideal type of display for one environment is often a disaster in others.

Do you want one image, called a blending, over all the screens? If so, the image has to be as close to seamless as possible and a very narrow bezel (frame) is vital to avoid lines running through the image or text. High resolution keeps the image sharp. Does your video wall require a touch screen to engage the viewer or to provide information? How many touch points are desired? The number can range from one to 32.  Do you want to allow multiple users to simultaneously interact with video wall without affecting other users?

There are applications that call for 3D video walls such as molecular modeling, engineering, and simulations. Is your display compatible with the graphics cards you want to use? For video walls the software is as critical to the design as the hardware.  All video walls are software based; many have software built in that can fulfill your needs but others require a network based software controller.

Installation presents its own series of challenges in mounting, power, and cooling. Video walls can also be subject to heating problems. Does the video wall have heat sensors and cooling fans that come on automatically when needed? Where the video wall will be installed impacts your decision making as well. Is the infrastructure in place  to hold the weight?  Is the installation hardware integrated as it is for the Chauvet® MVP models (which our Production division has in inventory for rent) or do you need to buy it separately?

ChesterFest (57 of 182)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Is a mission critical 24/7 application that requires a redundant power supply module that provides continuous operation even in the event of a power failure required?.Even the number of power outlets and their locations comes into play. There are video walls that do not require the power to be behind the display and that can handle multiple devices. That reduces the rack space and the number of outlets needed and helps reduce the costs.
A video wall is an excellent way to communicate, enhance your presentation and make an impact, but it takes a sufficient budget and level of commitment to the project. We have alerted you to only a few of the questions that need to be answered before you install one. Zeo Systems expert technicians are  capable of designing, installing and servicing your video wall or if your needs are for a single event, our Production division can provide a rental from our in house inventory as an alternative. Give us a call.

Is Your House of Worship Ready to Make the AV Leap?

Church AV Blog Image2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

By: Carol R. Emmens

Mega-churches, those having 2000 seats or more, have been in the forefront of using audiovisual systems for dramatic effect in their services. Their music systems rival those of performing arts centers and rock tours, featuring state of the art projectors, multiple large screens and stage lighting. But now smaller churches, especially “satellite” churches, synagogues and numerous houses of worship (HOW) of all sizes are utilizing AV to inform and engage their congregants. Is your house of worship ready to add AV systems or to upgrade the ones you have?

State of the art AV/IT is important because houses of worship are trying to attract congregants especially the millennials. Attracting and keeping congregants is a multi-fold, ongoing project. For example, the younger generations often view an organ as old-fashioned. Planning to implement a more contemporary slant to your worship service? If so, the electric guitars, synthesizers and drums require speakers that can handle the more ‘rock’ type sounds that will be incorporated. There are also congregants who prefer a more traditional service. Does your audio system handle that as well?

And they are not the only audio issues; high cathedral ceilings often make intelligibility an issue. The congregants want to hear and understand the sermons, prayers, and announcements; consequently a house of worship needs several types of microphones.  And even though not required by law as in other public buildings, having assistive listening devices available for your older congregants may be a worthwhile investment.

Does your house of worship have a website? With the astounding proliferation of social media, it is the best and most cost effective way to post events whether it’s a potluck dinner, Bible study, or discussion of the Torah. Often a website is less expensive than print media and more accessible. Before attending a service the vast majority of people “visit” the house of worship online and they expect to find clear, concise information about the style(s) of worship, children’s programs, and schedules.

But people want much more when they visit a website – they are accustomed to the “wow” factors of social media. Do you have the ability to post video? Do you have a link to Facebook? Do you have a YouTube™ account? Who will produce the video and what equipment do you own? It is not enough to use your smartphone or iPad camera to record a video; the congregants do not expect the quality of a high-definition Hollywood movie, neither to they want to see a choppy, poorly lit video that screams “amateur.”

Once the congregants arrive at the house of worship they want the same AV technology they have in their offices, educational institutions and homes. They want to read the words to a hymn on a large screen, and sometimes they will need to see and hear the service or wedding ceremony in an overflow room. Hundreds, even thousands, of handicapped and senior congregants who cannot attend the house of worship want to see what they are missing on their flat screen televisions or tablets in the comfort of their living rooms while they sip a cup of coffee.

To achieve all the AV/IT goals of today, the systems are complex and intertwined; for example, the camera lights cannot wash out the screen(s); the speakers cannot transmit feedback – and these are only two potential problems.  All components must work together as a whole to complete the desired presentation.

The first step to incorporating audiovisual technology is to define your goals for each aspect of the project and determine the budget. In addition, it is typically difficult to install audiovisual equipment in a house of worship. It is possible an engineer will need to provide an analysis of the structural integrity of the facility, e.g. is it possible to hang heavy speakers from the beams or do they need to be reinforced? There are many factors to take into account: Is the electricity adequate? Is the network up to par? Is there storage space for components that don’t need to be seen?

The cost of audiovisual equipment has declined and manufacturers have brought new products into the market to address the needs of the house of worship clients. But generally a HOW relies on volunteers for everything from baking cookies to maintaining the website to operating the AV/IT systems. That places an emphasis on installing systems that are easy to use and easy to control. Controls range from pushing a button to amplify a microphone to handheld remotes to iPad systems that control all the equipment with a few clicks.

The components of an audiovisual systemaudio, display, lighting, recording – need to be robust, flexible and seamlessly integrated. That takes working with an experienced audiovisual company at every stage of the project. Call on Zeo Systems for a free consultation to help you set your goals and meet them.

Fewer and Fewer Frequencies

FCC - Wireless Blog Image

 

 

 

 

 

By: Carol R. Emmens

Last December Times Square was packed with people waiting to hear the World AIDS Day concert. But the organizers were worried; they were not sure the microphones were going to work  – the airwaves were as jammed as the Square – they needed open frequencies. True, frequency congestion is at its worst in New York City but it is a nationwide problem and we have all heard the results: buzzing, signal drop out or static.

Radio frequency interference (RFI) is generally caused by a device “listening” for one signal at a specific frequency and “hearing”, and therefore transmitting, a different one. The growing use of wireless microphones and the proliferation of wireless devices has caused already congested airwave channels to become overloaded. As a result, RFI and intermodulation distortion (IMD) occur because the signals cross when there are too many devises in a limited spectrum. And the problems are only going to get worse.

In 2010 the Federal Communications Commission prohibited the operation of wireless microphones and similar devises on the 700 MHz Band and now it is planning to auction or “repurpose” a portion of the TV band spectrum – the 600 MHz Band, possibly the upper 500 MHz band and two ENG channels (channels used exclusively for electronic news gathering). As the space decreases for wireless microphone users, congestion on the remaining UHF TV band will increase as early as 2016. The transition to fewer frequencies will continue until mid-2019.  It is possible that using your current frequency will be illegal in the future.

Microphone operation is classified as licensed and unlicensed; typically professional sports and entertainment producers are licensed and corporations, theaters, houses of worship, and educational institutions are unlicensed. The one bright note (no pun intended) is that the FCC is going to allow more licenses for professionals who regularly use 50 or more devices at major events or productions. If you qualify, begin the application process now.  To do so, visit the FCC website at this link:

Most wireless users will have to deal with the interference on their own and that can waste a lot of time and effort.  To ensure that your wireless audio and video systems will be as reliable as possible, it is necessary to analyze your environment using a diagnostic tool designed to find usable frequencies in your location such as RF Venue’s Clear Waves software.

Clear Waves helps you detect the presence of the RF transmissions that are the source of interference. It offers RF spectrum analysis, intermodulation analysis and automatic charting of open RF frequencies known as white space. It can be used to adjust wireless microphones, in-ear monitors, security, access control and more.  It is sometimes possible to eliminate the source of the “noise”.  More often it will be best to simply change the wireless frequency.

The software Clear Waves runs on a Signal Hound or RF Explorer which connects to a PC via a USB cable and displays graphs showing the optimal channel assignments in your area.  Clear Waves performs the RF spectrum scan and intermodulation analysis in real time; you can specify up to 160 different frequencies to monitor to allow users to coordinate channel assignments for wireless transmitters and troubleshoot RF interference. It is necessary for frequency coordination to be accurate and fast, so in short, it can save your performance or speech.

No computer at the live event? Combine Clear Waves with the RF Explorer RackPRO, which has a front panel LCD and rotary marker. For live applications, it goes wherever a portable rack goes. It can also be integrated in installed audiovisual equipment racks or sound booths.

Now is the time to review your wireless systems and their use. It is necessary to budget and to prepare, to identify current or potential problems.  If you decide to purchase new wireless microphones, purchase those that use frequencies below 600 MHz.

Wireless audio and video systems are often subject to additional problems such as signal drop out, poor choice of equipment and/or its location; for example, the antenna is top quality but it is not installed in the best location.  For a full analysis of your systems and recommendations or a professional installation of your audiovisual or audio systems, rely on Zeo Systems.  Zeo has just launched a partnership with RF Venue for access to the full line of their products. So, whether you have a temporary or permanent wireless need, Zeo Systems or their sister division Zeo Rental/Retail can assist you in solving it.

Wondering how that concert came out? It was a success. Bruce Springsteen and Chris Martin filled in for Bono, who was seriously injured in a bike accident in Central Park and the audio crew worked feverishly throughout the concert to find available frequencies to use in real-time.

Flipped Classrooms: Wave of the Future.. or Present?

Flipped Classroom Image

 

 

 

 

By: Carol Emmens

Lecture hall seats are often empty now as college and universities increase or initiate “flipped learning” or “inverted” classrooms.  In a flipped classroom what is normally done in class e.g. lectures and what is normally done as homework are switched or flipped. In a flipped classroom, students read materials or listen to audio and view video podcasts before coming to class.

Using capture systems and video conferencing, lectures and PowerPoint presentations are stored remotely in a “cloud” and made available online, generally through the Internet. Homework such as problem solving and essay writing is done in class with both professors and peers guiding the students.

Now scores of classrooms resemble corporate huddle rooms or medical and scientific labs. Class time is reserved for hands on learning, discussions in small groups and collaboration instead of note taking. Flipped classrooms provide an opportunity for students to ask questions and to apply what they learned in the online lecture. It also provides students with more time to use scientific equipment in class and to utilize healthcare simulation labs which prepare them for real life health problems and emergencies.

There are two aspects to the “flipped classroom:” online learning and classrooms with the audiovisual equipment to allow content sharing and analysis. Professors usually create their own video lectures.  Although it takes time and skill to do a video, it is becoming easier as manufacturers bring new equipment for video capture and dissemination to the market.  The equipment is becoming easier to use and numerous, affordable storage solutions are readily available. In addition to their own videos, videos by publishers, and professional use apps;  course materials are often posted to YouTube or managements systems like Blackboard.

Flipped Classroom Image2Retrofitting classrooms for the digital world is likewise becoming easier. There are products that make it possible to connect devices with different signals and connectors, multiple control options, and interactive flat screen devices and whiteboards.

Video podcasts or video courses are audiovisual files distributed via the Internet. They are not the sole source of instruction and differ from MOOCs or massive open online courses. MOOC’s such as those offered by MIT are often open to anyone not just enrolled students.

Because clouds based storage makes it easy to store and share information, many universities are members of consortiums such as Unizen which includes the University of Michigan, Indiana University, Colorado State University, Penn State, the University of Florida and others. They share lectures, lesson plans and research and make course materials and information available from the best minds in education, organizations and corporations. The authorships are noted.

The Open Cloud Consortium (OCC), which is one of many worldwide, operates a cloud to support scientific, medical and health care research; it members include the University of California (Berkeley),  Florida International University, Johns Hopkins, NASA,  international universities and organization such as AIST (National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology).  OCC, in turn, has joined Matter, a workspace in Chicago with all types of rooms and AV/IT resources. Matter is a partner with the American Medical Association, and shares the same goal: to bring entrepreneurs and physicians together to “collaborate and test new technologies, services and products.”  Research universities are among those that benefit the most from flipped classrooms.

Technology, used effectively, is not a mindless way to teach but a way to open minds and to create paths to success. When flipped classrooms are introduced, both professors and students are often skeptical but not for long. They often flip their opinions on flipped classrooms once they have experienced the positive results:  grades and attendance go up, retention increases, team skills improve and applications of the course materials are discussed, analyzed and demonstrated.

Zeo Systems expertly trained technicians can assist you in determining the equipment you need to adjust today’s classroom to today’s technology. Flat panel displays, video and projection systems, microphone and voice systems, or complete control systems; No matter if we are integrating new technology to an existing system or building a new one from scratch, you can count on Zeo Systems to help you capture or record lectures and to design the audiovisual systems needed for your institution to successfully implement flipped classrooms.

 

Escape – To A Huddle Room

AKHUDDLE1

By: Carol Emmens

Open space floor plans are now the norm in corporations. According to the International Management Facility Association, approximately 70% of all employees in the U.S. work in open offices, which were popularized by hi-tech companies such as Google. Open spaces are viewed as a way for the employees to interact and to innovate.

In practice, open spaces often buzz like a beehive and make it difficult to concentrate or to collaborate with a team. Consequently, architects and facility managers are designing and constructing small rooms for team work. The rooms are often called huddle rooms and they are in use in almost every industry ranging from finance to technology to healthcare and they are also use in universities and colleges. They create an atmosphere for collaboration and for brainstorming, which help teams deliver (in theory) better performance in sales, marketing, research and productivity.

Typically huddle rooms are small to encourage everyone, even those who are normally less vocal, to participate in collaboration. Technology is the key to making a huddle room popular with employees; a highly used huddle room has the audiovisual equipment and IT access which makes collaboration easy by allowing information within the room and outside the room to be shared and displayed. Both audiovisual companies and IT companies were quick to develop equipment for use in huddle rooms

The majority of huddle rooms are equipped with only the basics: A 42” or 50” flat panel screen with an overlay to encourage annotation or a short-throw projector and a whiteboard. But that is only the first step. For employees using a wide variety of devices, a huddle rooms requires a wide range of connectors (HDMI, DVI, and VGA). Employees use iPhones, laptops, and tablets daily at home so they bring them into the work place. They expect to use their own devices as well as company computers; BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) is commonplace.

The employees’ device cameras are used to connect to colleagues and industry leaders located elsewhere for impromptu FaceTime or Skype. For most rooms, however, higher quality wall mounted speakers and cameras are needed to create an atmosphere of eye to eye contact and collaboration.

To minimize the plugging and unplugging of devices from the display, high speed switchers allow the participants to hook up all at once and to switch easily from laptops, tablets or Smartphones. A high resolution switcher/scaler allows multiple images to be displayed on one screen or multiple screens.

Content sharing including information online is the number one objective and huddle rooms often have Wi-Fi. It is often necessary to connect to information on the network or in a cloud based storage system such as Drop Box. Wi-Fi is sometimes slow or unstable; a router or a bridge in the huddle room provide the teams with faster and more reliable way to access information and to provide more security, which is a priority to protect confidential information. A top notch huddle room requires the audiovisual team and the IT department to work together and to understand what each is doing to avoid blocking a network set up for the room.

Frequently corporations require multiple huddle rooms which are earmarked for specific activities such as videoconferencing (check our February blog for more information) or project meetings. On occasion a room is used for one team of experts drawn from cross cultural fields to work together on one project from start to finish. These have been dubbed “scrum” rooms and they serve as the primary work space for the members of the team.

There is no typical huddle room, and no typical budget. The budget needs to be based on the number of rooms desired and the objectives of each. A modest budget of $3-4,000 is the norm for the vast majority of the rooms and it is usually sufficient as the costs for technology continue to drop.
Whatever the cost, users agree that huddle rooms are necessary and that benefits are enormous in terms of generating innovation, critical thinking and problem solving. Forget the water cooler – the huddle room is where the action is.
To learn more information click here to download the ‘Tech Managers Guide to Huddle Rooms’ from AV Technology by New Bay Media.

Common Core State Standards

AV and Common Core Educational Standards

by: Carol Emmens

We at Zeo Systems pride ourselves on being at the forefront of changes in the AV world. At the start of the 2014-2015 academic year, new educational standards known as Common Core State Standards (CCSS) were launched nationwide. Because of the wide discrepancies in educational standards from state to state, educators across the country established Common Core as a national set of standards and testing for math, science, and English for grades K-12. Pennsylvania is one of 44 states to voluntarily adopt the standards.

Common Core’s main objectives for students set the bar high:

  1. To Be Prepared for College or Work
  2. To Succeed in a Global Economy
  3. To Develop Critical Thinking
  4. To Solve Problems

To achieve those goals, schools everywhere are instituting new methods of teaching or “blended learning”, which involves using technology including the Internet effectively. Technology, at its best, enables students to use information to compare, contrast, and analyze data to help develop lifelong skills.

Continue reading