“It’s just…..” by Ross McLee, Senior AV Consultant

Illustrations by Phill Burrows www.phillburrows.co.uk

I often chuckle to myself whenever I hear those three little words at the start of a sentence. They are bandied around so often with little thought to what has actually occurred to make it appear that way.

Often, in reality, it is NOT ‘just’ or ‘only’, in fact it is far more complicated than that. After my little chuckle usually comes a knowing smile.

What am I on about? … Let me give you an example.

Last year I was in a meeting with a team of architects, building services engineers, interior designers and our client. We were discussing the meeting rooms for our client’s new office building. The topic of acoustics and AV came up – Our turn to speak!

Before we had a chance to present our thoughts and ideas the general consensus around the room was that it was just a big screen hung on the wall in a glass walled room. Nothing to see here. Move on.

We then started asking a few questions to the design team and the client and what was otherwise just a simple job, became just a little bit more involved.

It transpired that the client often runs workshop sessions with multiple presenters, who like to connect their laptops to the main screen and present their ideas. Some have laptops some have iPads but those with iPads in the past have never been able to use them. In fact the IT group would be rolling out a whole raft of new tablets in that year to 40% of all staff.

Some meetings involve the sales team out on the road who dial into the room via a conference bridge. They have complained repeatedly in the past that those meetings are unbearable. Not because of the content matter but they struggle to hear what was being said – making the whole thing a waste of time.

The HR team had been experimenting with desktop video interviewing with some success, but have been looking to improve the experience by involving more people during a call.

The meeting room was also divisible by a movable partition wall which would allow it to be opened up into a much bigger space for large group presentations to 50 or more people.

 

So….  “just hanging a screen on the wall” was just NOT going to cut it!

 

We left the meeting with a defined set of requirements and usage scenarios.

Shortly after, we developed and presented a fully costed design. The design package included a bill of materials, a tender specification, system schematics along with architect and building services coordinated layouts and elevation drawings

As an end result, the AV systems were installed as part of the whole office fit out.

A professional audio-visual systems installer was appointed who completed the works to specification.

The meeting rooms had a screens sized correctly and positioned on the wall for the expected audiences to see clearly. The screen was even recessed into the wall for a more professional and clean look, thanks to the coordination efforts with the architect.

Cameras were provided to support web-based conferencing. They were mounted at the correct height and position to achieve more natural eye-to-eye communication with the far end parties.

Microphones and loudspeakers were correctly provisioned to get the best audio experience for those in the room and those at the end of the conference call, but this was just half the solution.  The room finishes were designed to reduce the reverberation time and external noises were eliminated or reduced making audio and video calls more bearable.

Users had the correct wired connectivity along with power and data integrated into the meeting table. There was no more diving under the table to find spare plug socket or unravelling a rat’s nest of cables.

A wireless presentation system was selected that allowed laptop, tablet, a smart phone users to present wirelessly too.

 

So why the smile…?

When you enter any of the new meeting rooms today it is easy to say “it’s just a meeting room” because it has been properly designed and installed to make everything seamless and it just works.

Just how it should be.

 

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