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Innovative AV at Horizon Media

PPI brings new solutions to office buildout

High ceilings, oversized windows, panoramic views, and sprawling terraces. Those are the first things you’ll notice on the new floors at Horizon Media’s 75 Varick St. location. The second points of note are the innovative communication and collaboration technologies throughout the space.

In the spring of 2016, Presentation Products, Inc. began a year-long audiovisual consulting process, culminating in a design/build contract for Horizon’s latest office expansion. PPI once again teamed up with architect A+I Architects and client representative VVA to create state-of-the-art collaboration and presentation spaces on Horizon’s 11th and 12th floors.

In addition to standard Huddle Rooms and high-end Boardrooms, PPI had the opportunity to design and install innovative solutions requiring meticulous coordination.

The Garden

The Garden – a theater-style training room – features five displays installed inside of a ceiling mounted pentagon shroud. The unique display solution maximizes the room’s usable area and audience size in a challenging space.

Kyle Balkcom, a Principal at PPI who manages the sales and design team, said the 270 degree audience area required unique video solutions to allow functional lines of sight and viewing angles at all locations.

“We also needed to create an open, free-form area where a speaker could present without the hindrance of screens,” Balkcom said. “Along with frequent partners, A+I Architects, we designed a custom steel structure and millwork piece to seamlessly integrate five displays – each one facing a section of the audience.

Social Distillery

The Social Distillery features a 6×2 video wall with extensive presentation flexibility and advanced control capabilities. This space is used for internal creative sessions, as well as a tool intended to present social media platforms and programs to clients in a large dashboard format, with multiple preset viewing options.

The Local

The Local serves as an employee gathering and town hall space. This multi-purpose event area is designed to accommodate a broad range of uses, including staff meetings and after-hours events.

The Garden, Social Distillery, and The Local are routed and controlled from a centralized AV system, allowing for live event overflow by sharing video content and audio to or from the other spaces. Additionally, the ability to live stream or connect through live video with Horizon’s LA office, other floors in the New York location, or anywhere in the world allows simple communication and collaboration between partners, employees, and clients.

PPI has been Horizon Media’s AV partner since 2014. Jesse DeMarzo, Director of AV, Technology Service and Support at Horizon says the quality of work, the industry knowledge, and the reliability that PPI brings to the table puts him at ease when dealing with major expansions and day-to-day managed services.

“From the inception of this project, Presentation Products has been an outstanding partner; Kyle was in constant contact with us through every step of the discovery and design phase, making it painless even through our many changes,” DeMarzo said. “Once we entered the build phase, it was a seamless transition to our project manager Sean.

“Every technician and engineer on the project was extremely knowledgeable and reliable. Even with our custom spaces and unique buildout, I never felt like they were unable to meet our needs.”

PPI successfully delivered this project in the Summer of 2017. One full-time PPI employee is on call for managed services to assist Horizon with the operation of audiovisual systems on five floors.

From the Portfolio:

Horizon Expansion III

Horizon Expansion II

PPI joins forces with Zoom

The way offices are configured is evolving and has changed dramatically in the last decade. Seventy percent of companies who have repurposed their space have changed to open collaborative spaces, and 50 percent have shifted space so they have more conference rooms. (Source: Herman Miller).

Allowing teams to work in small spaces ignites ideas, engages employees, and gives companies a competitive edge. These spaces need to include systems for video, audio, screen sharing and white boarding for teams working in multiple locations. Meetings are the real work of our age.

With all this in mind, Presentation Products, Inc. is adding one of the fastest growing cloud solutions to our portfolio as a Zoom Reseller Partner.

We know your time is important and your online meetings need to work all of the time, every time.

“Our clients are looking for turnkey solutions. Along with our design and integration services, with Zoom, PPI can now also provide market leading video and web conference services,” said PPI Director of Sales, Kyle Balkcom. “With PPI deploying Zoom in meeting rooms and at the desktop, our clients can have an easy-to-use, consistent conferencing solution, all from one trusted provider.”

Founded in 2011, Zoom is the leader in modern enterprise video communications, with a secure, easy platform for video and audio conferencing, messaging, and webinars across mobile, desktop, and room systems. Zoom Rooms is the original software-based conference room solution used around the world in board, conference, huddle, and training rooms, as well as executive offices and classrooms.

Key Features:

  • High quality video and audio conferencing with up to 200 interactive video participants or 3,000 webinar viewers can join.
  • Supports scheduled and ad-hoc meetings. See your schedule of upcoming meetings and start your meeting with a single touch on your iPad.
  • Integrates with your Google or Microsoft Exchange calendar so you can instantly host or schedule a meeting from your browser.
  • Support for multiple screens and split views
  • Wireless Content Sharing
    • Zoom Rooms is the only solution that allows you to share high-resolution content over Wi-Fi or by direct HDMI connection.
    • Share iOS and Mac devices via AirPlay mirroring
    • You can even share a video clip with audio.
  • Personal room ID
  • Supports BYOD – participants can join from desktops, laptops, mobile devices, telephones, traditional room system and Zoom Rooms.
  • Multi-layer security
  • Admin can easily monitor use and validate ROI.

So clean up your conference room, broaden your reach, and never drop a conference call again. Contact a PPI Account Manager to learn more about the simple versatility of Zoom and happy conferencing!

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Presentation Products, Inc. (PPI) is a full service audiovisual design and integration firm headquartered in mid-town Manhattan. Since 1988, PPI has provided thousands of clients with reliable and cost-efficient technology solutions for their collaboration, presentation, and communication spaces.

 

Changing Technology of the Huddle Room: Our InfoComm Takeaway

Huddle rooms are nothing new, but in the past few years we’ve worked on a ton of office build-outs with a new emphasis and dedication to these little collaborative work spaces. According to research from Gartner, the proportion of video systems purchased for huddle rooms doubled from 10 percent in 2015 to 20 percent in 2016. This same research predicts a 400 percent growth in group video conferencing usage by 2019 (1).

A quick trek around the InfoComm showroom floor confirmed suppliers are stepping up their game in the world of huddle rooms, and there is a lot of new technology for adding high quality, software-based codec video conferencing features to these rooms.

Audio
For high-end audio installation solutions, many small Digital Signal Processors (DSP) are making their way to the market. Here are some products we’re excited about:

Biamp has a new 4in/4out DSP with a broad selection of audio components, routing options, and signal processing. It can handle the open standard Audio Video Bridging (AVB), or Audinate’s proprietary Dante. Plus, it supports Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) and Plain Old Telephone Service (POTS) audio codec – Available October 2017.

Shure has an affordable Dante enabled 8in/4out DSP with Acoustic Echo Cancellation (AEC), made to pair with their ceiling array microphone, or two table array microphones. Shure also has a 4in/4out for soft codecs that supports one table array mic, however, this unit does not have AEC built in.

Application of either of these products allows a broader selection of microphones and speakers for installation, and for precisely tuning a room for the best audio performance. This can create a no-compromise professional audio experience in huddle spaces as they become a larger part of the day-to-day work experience.

The Biamp and Shure products operate as standalone DSP deployments. Meanwhile, QSC Audio Products is encouraging integrators to centralize DSP resources and allocate portions of large DSP servers to support several rooms, which may be more cost effective in certain deployments.

For mid-range installations, products like Biamp’s Devio and Sennheiser’s TeamConnect are designed to add quality audio into Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) spaces with minimal fuss by reducing connection requirements to a simple USB cable.

Finally, for quick, simple integrations, products like the Yamaha CS-700 and the Logitech Meetup integrate cameras, speakers, and beamforming mic arrays into a soundbar-like USB device that mounts below the display.

Video
On the video side, Atlona showed their new small presentation switchers for huddle rooms. Crestron and Extron are well established in this space, but Atlona is a new player, bringing an interesting perspective to the fold.

Atlona’s HDVS-300 incorporates a USB hub to allow BYOD equipment shared access to installed webcams and other USB hardware — a feature that’s typically anchored to a fixed PC. It also eliminates the need for a separate USB extender in more conventional builds. Additionally, Atlona’s UHD-SW-510W attempts to remove the need for wires entirely by incorporating AirPlay, Google Cast, and Miracast into one device; this allows wireless display mirroring without the need to install an extra application or driver. The unit is also one of the first – if not the first – to feature a powered USB-C port, which can be used to charge laptops, tablets, and smartphones.

Solutions for huddle rooms should be easy to install and cost effective. As always, Presentation Products is here to help you wade through the changing trends in AV conferencing. Contact a PPI Account Manager to take the conversation about your business’s huddle room implementation and strategy to the next level.

PPI Huddle Room Portfolio Examples
BuzzFeed
Horizon Media
Viacom
Dropbox

Related articles
An Analysis and Comparison of Software-Based Codecs Against the Landscape of Video Conferencing 

 

(1)     Gartner, “The Rise of the Video-enabled Huddle Room in the Digital Workplace,” December 2015

Considerations for Successfully Deploying The Lync Room System

My last post focused on what the Lync Room System is, and is not. Now that we have a basic understanding of what its intended use is, we can discuss a successful end to end implementation of this technology for an interested organization.

Over the last few months, we have had many technology officers come to us wanting to understand more about how a Lync Room System would fit into their overall Unified Communications strategy. From organizations with remote workers looking to more easily connect outside of the office, to global corporations and institutions with multiple campuses who are in need of a more seamless distance collaboration experience, all of these interested groups are looking for ways to build meeting spaces and communication infrastructure that keeps better pace with the demands and opportunities of the 21st century workplace. As an audiovisual technology integrator, this is where we come in to help clients successfully deploy and adopt a new technology.

In the case of the Lync Room System, a good first step for many of our clients has been to launch a Pilot or Proof of Concept test in order to evaluate the solution and determine its worth to the organization. This approach is only going to be worthwhile however, if all aspects of the integration are taken into account. Successfully deploying the Lync Room System requires an understanding of both the unit as a standalone technology as well as its ability to join the network and connect users without ugly delays and difficulties. The experience needs to be optimized not only for the participants in the meeting room, but also for remote attendees joining in virtually. Whether you are implementing a recently purchased product or are carrying out a Proof of Concept test, here are some Pre and Post Installation tips to consider when deploying a Lync Room System.

Lync-room

Pre-Installation Considerations

The Network
Just as with any other new technology deployment, a network readiness assessment should be carried out before making any moves to install new components.  Lync 2013 and the Lync Room System offers a tremendous meeting room experience delivering HD video, conference room audio and real time voice and data collaboration, but it is imperative that the solution’s demands on your network infrastructure are taken into account.  Lack of network resources can result in poor performance and will detract from the overall user experience.  There are several ways to ensure your network is ready for a new Room System.  Microsoft has tools and bandwidth calculators that can be used by experienced and qualified in-house staff to measure capacities, or experienced UC Deployment Partners can be engaged to ensure the environment is ready upfront.

The Space
Another Pre-Installation consideration is space. When picking the location for the hardware, you have to be aware of how the setting will affect the meeting experience. Factors such as room location within the building or campus, lighting or lack thereof, and potential background noise need to be taken note of and considered deeply. Even when deploying a Pilot System, choosing the wrong room will result in poor test results and therefore a wasted opportunity. We’ve seen firsthand Pilots being deployed in unused conference rooms which were chosen for the test without considering the reasons these rooms are underutilized in the first place! Without an appropriate setting, Proof of Concept tests with these systems will be useless. An upfront room survey and walk-through can help identify potential impacts to the quality of the experience and steps that can be taken to create a more optimal meeting room environment.

Post-Installation Considerations

Training
After a system is installed, many organizations are faced with the “now what” moment.  While the room system provides a familiar and intuitive Lync Interface to users, it is still a new technology that will not invite adoption without some training. You want employees in your organization to feel encouraged and inspired by a new technology in the office, rather than intimidated and perplexed.  For both existing and new Lync users, the learning curve on these systems is small, but like any new technology there can be fear in learning and using something different. It’s important to plan for a series of interactive, instructor led training on system usage and best practices for managers and key employees who will be using the Lync Room System.  One of the key benefits of the system is that it replaces the legacies of difficult and hard to use meeting room technologies.  But don’t let this blind you to the benefits of a well-planned and interactive training program. For those in the technology field, it’s easy to assume that everyone will get the ease and simplicity of the system out-of-the-box; more times than not though, this isn’t the case.  It is important to work with employees after the fact so that the average information worker has the confidence to use the system.

Utilizing System Metrics
After the initial adoption training, it is important to implement longer term performance monitoring.  Both SMART and CRESTRON supplied room systems have the ability to provide usage metrics for their Lync Room Systems. Implementing and utilizing these tools provide another way to measure your technology investment. By providing and monitoring this data, organizations can design processes to keep the knowledge base of its users up to date and identify particular rooms or systems that may be underperforming or underutilized, thereby maximizing the overall return on investment in Lync.

All of these factors should be considered both when deciding on a solution and when choosing the right technology integrator for the job. As a design and integration firm with years of experience in system integration for the business environment, Presentation Products offers full service support from consulting to system programming, commissioning, training and maintenance. When you are ready, contact us to learn more about Piloting a system and setting up an initial room survey.

 

Technical Brief: Lync 2013 Integration with Cisco Video Conferencing using Cisco Infrastructure

VTC Classroom

Virtual Field Trips? Guest lecturers from France? International debates hosted in your classroom? It is no secret that audio visual technology has long been seen as a cornerstone in helping to run a 21st century school. But beyond PA systems and overhead projectors there is the world of much more far reaching technologies that will enrich learning experiences and help better prepare students for opportunities that arise later in life. This month, Presentation Products shines the spotlight on Video Tele Conference systems (VTC) and shows how they are being used in New York City Classrooms today.

Access to technology has become a right more than a privilege in today’s classrooms, and in our schools, students suffer when they are not exposed to the latest forms of communication and education technology. Organizations like Global Nomads Group, a New York based non-profit which helps schools build curriculums that incorporate the far reaches of the virtual classroom into the school day have been pushing for the use of this technology in our schools for years. In the 15 years since their birth, GNG has helped to connect more than one million students around the globe through the use of video conferencing technology. GNG primarily works to set up platforms for students to discuss global issues across national borders. Weeks after the devastating 2010 earthquake in Haiti, they linked a classroom in Port-au-Prince with a high school in New Orleans to discuss frightening times and the poetics of hope together.

Video conferencing is effective because when integrated into the classroom correctly, it provides schools with access to an endless source of professionals and collaborators who can help to engage students in ongoing lessons and assignments. Typical systems consist of an HD camera and connection to the internet through either a dedicated VTC server or a secure hosting application. Video-conferencing can be an exciting solution for your school! Contact our Account Managers today about designing a custom system for you!

 

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