Tag Archives: AV design

LED Technology: How It Applies To You

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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.

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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

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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?

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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.

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

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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

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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.