Highlights from 2018’s Reflex Tech Day

With over 250 audiovisual professionals from the corporate, education and consultancy markets coming together on Thursday 15th March 2018 at The Business Design Centre for this year’s TD18, it truly was a day that captured imaginations.

The atmosphere was buzzing as visitors browsed more than 50 of manufacturer hosted stands with all their latest equipment on show – allowing them to see the best that the audiovisual world has to offer.

TD18 gave users a rare opportunity to speak directly to the manufacturers of the products, compare cutting-edge technologies and to see first-hand the newest technology straight from their launch at 2018’s ISE.

Once again our seminars were one of the stand out features of the show,

Click here to see TD18 in all its glory

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Nureva HDL300

Inaudible participants on conference calls is a frustrating, time-wasting problem that is all too common in the corporate world. The substantial growth of the number of remote workers has sparked anincrease in conference calls involving multiple workers in disparate locations. The confusion caused by not being able to hear a participant or convey your message easily is one of the great meeting disruptors. There’s a demand for a vastly improved audio experience to allow all employees to communicate and collaborate effectively, that delivers:-

  • The ability for workforces to collaborate effectively regardless of their location
  • Remote meeting participants feeling like they’re right there with their team
  • Every attendee able to contribute equally and be heard clearly
  • Improved collaboration and meeting room performance

The Nureva HDL300 system has the power to simultaneously process every audio source in a room and deliver a more natural sense of communication. Optimised for small to mid-sized meeting and collaboration spaces, at the core of the HDL300 is Nureva’s Microphone Mist technology which fills a room with 8,192 virtual microphones.

Calibration for the HDL300 system is automatic – change the room layout or seating arrangements and it adjusts accordingly. And installation couldn’t be easier. Hang the HDL300 on the wall with two screws in less than 30 minutes. Then simply use with your preferred conferencing platform, with no need for any driver installation.

The result is a system that simultaneously processes sound from all virtual microphones to provide both every participants, whether in the room or remotely based, with the highest quality listening experience.

New System Configuration and Witness Testing Facility

In January 2018 Reflex took over the lease on Unit 4 Bennet Court, a 4,500 square foot facility principally for pre-testing of equipment racks and lecterns prior to delivery to site.

This flexible area is equipped with installed audio systems and a variety of screens for testing purposes, together with network and test sources.

For client witness testing, systems are usually connected in a temporary manner using the actual equipment to be installed on site if alternative equivalents are not available. Testing is conducted by Reflex staff prior to the systems being offered to the client.

A tale of disaster and recovery – Paul Stevens’ Clipper Adventure

Regular readers may remember that earlier in the year we reported on our Senior Project Manager Paul Stevens’ mammoth undertaking to spend 23 days at sea in the World Clipper Race.

Due to the huge amount of interest in the story, we thought it was time for an update on Paul’s progress – and what a story so far!

Things didn’t begin quite as Paul hoped, in fact, there was a disastrous start to his voyage.  Having left Cape Town on the Team Greenings yacht on 1st November, Paul thought his dreams were to be shattered when the boat ran aground on a reef after just a day.  When we interviewed Paul about his thoughts back in June, this was his worst fear, that something would happen to the yacht and end his adventure.

The accident occurred just off the western side of the Cape Peninsula in South Africa and necessitated a dramatic rescue of the crew by the South African Emergency Response Team.  Unfortunately, that was the end of the journey for Team Greenings.

 However, as often happens in life, when one door shuts, another opens.  On Sunday 5th November another team, HotelPlanner, had to divert to Port Elizabeth to drop off an injured crew member with a suspected fractured arm.  This gave an opportunity for Paul and a further five of the Greenings crew to join them and so be able to complete Leg 3 of the race.

You can see the crew are currently in last place because of the diversion.  However, they steadily gained ground – or should that be ocean – over the last week of the race, and they won the Elliot Brown Ocean Sprint, a race between two lines of latitude. The great news is that Paul is back in the race and can complete the dream that he has spent two and half years training for.

You can read Paul’s blog post here.

 Currently resting in Freemantle, Australia, it looks like Paul might be joining Team Great Britain for Leg 4 of the race, after the sad loss of one of their team. It has also been announced that all of the original Greenings crew will be offered places across the remaining teams, so everyone will be able to complete this Leg if they want to. Whilst the rest of us are eating up leftover turkey on Boxing Day, Paul will be setting off from Sydney to Hobart.

January update:

Paul is currently in the race 6 of leg 4 sailing with Team Great Britain. This is the final section which is from Hobart, Tasmania to Airlie Beach, Queensland, Australia. They departed Hobart on 5th Jan and are currently lying in 5th place with 1216NM to go. Their anticipated arrival window is Sat 13th Jan to Monday 15th Jan.

The website can be found at https://www.clipperroundtheworld.com/

Leg 4 Information link: https://www.clipperroundtheworld.com/race/leg/leg-4

Any readers interested in following the race on Twitter can do so at @ClipperRace.

A noisy solution to problems with noise

A different type of demonstration for a clever system designed to hide background noise in meeting rooms and stop sensitive conversations being overheard.

A noisy solutionAbout a month ago the pre-sales technical team here at Reflex made our way into the training room to hear about a new system from Sound Directions, an existing partner specialising in directional speakers.

The product we were there to see was their Cambridge Sound Management system, which uses pink noise to eliminate distractions in meeting rooms caused by outside noises.  Sound Directions talked us through the hardware they had laid out on the floor – of course, in practice it would be in the ceiling. After the explanation, they said the demonstration would start. Everyone expected them to switch the system on – but were all rather surprised when they turned it off!

It turns out the system had been emitting the pink noise throughout their pitch without any of us noticing.  However, when turned off, the difference was immediately obvious.  Suddenly we could hear all the usual noises of printers running and people moving about and talking in the office outside the room. It was a highly effective way of demonstrating the benefits of this system, which can be used within any space affected by distracting noises, effectively masking them and helping attendees’ concentration.

Perhaps of even greater benefit, it can be used in corridors outside meeting rooms to cloak the sound coming from within, making it impossible to overhear sensitive conversations.

Needless to say, we were all impressed and would recommend that anyone with requirements for soundproofing around meeting rooms arranges a demonstration.

Reflex installs the largest ‘WyreStorm’ AV streaming system in the world

London Metropolitan University’s Superlab, one of Europe’s largest and most advanced teaching laboratories, has invested  £600,000 with Reflex to deliver a new AV streaming solution.  The new system allows up to 12 lectures to be delivered simultaneously and received by any of 268 students all in one enormous working laboratory!

The huge ‘Superlab’ accommodates up to 268 students

Based in Holloway, Islington, London Metropolitan University’s Science Centre, known to students and staff as the ‘Superlab’, is one of the largest teaching labs in Europe. It was opened in 2007 at a cost of £30m. Following a recent installation carried out by Reflex, it now boasts the largest ‘Wyrestorm’ system in the world, enabling 268 students to work in the lab at one time while engaging with any one of up to 12 different lectures running simultaneously.

Students receive the audio for their chosen lecture via their own headphones connected to portable receivers worn in their lab coat pockets and pre-set to the correct lecture channels. The associated video material is shown on a display mounted above the assorted scientific equipment on their work desks; these same displays double as their local PC monitors.

Each lecturer station has the same set up as above but with the addition of a table top visualizer and a PTZ camera, mounted above the display. The lecturer has a simple membrane keypad on the desktop to select what is broadcast to the students at any point in the lecture; the options are 2 pre-set camera positions, the visualiser and the lecturer’s PC screen; each can be shown full-screen or the camera image can be shown as a picture-in-picture. Each lecture can be recorded onto a removable USB memory stick and the lecturer can control start and stop functions on the same keypad.

With up to 40 different channels being used at any one time, the system provides clear sound and vision to enable students to follow procedures and conduct experiments safely.

Commenting on the completed facility, Professor John Raftery, vice chancellor of the university, said: “We are extremely proud of our Superlab and the role it plays in training the scientists of tomorrow. This new technology will greatly enrich the student experience and highlights the investment we are making in our students’ learning and teaching.”

Challenges faced and met

The original challenge for this project was to find the most cost efficient way of delivering 12 different sets of high-quality audio/video content simultaneously to so many students spread over such large distances.

Video – The video challenge was met by a design centred around a Wyrestorm streaming system pulling in the lecturers’ video feeds and transmitting them in 4k resolution to each student workspace across the Superlab’s existing Cat5E cable infrastructure. The use of the existing Cat5 infrastructure was fundamental to the cost-saving achieved but necessitated a complex cable-route testing plan and the specification of specialist network switches capable of processing the high-speed switching required due to the volume of data in the system.

Audio – The need for each student to be able to tune into multiple different audio channels was elegantly met by use of a Televic IR distribution system and portable receivers that are worn in the lab coat pockets. However, the sheer distances involved due to the size of the Superlab introduced more challenges in terms of making sure that every student position could clearly receive the signals and that the timing of the audio heard was synchronised with the video pictures on their displays. The result was achieved through careful positioning of the IR radiators and precise set up of latency adjustments with the system.

Control – It was important for the lecturers’ controls to be extremely quick and simple to use so as not to interrupt the lectures. Reflex designed and commissioned small desk-mounted membrane button panels that are perfect for the application and resistant to harmful chemicals which are used within the lab.

It was also critical for a technician to be able to configure the system quickly before each lecture session to define which student positions would receive which lecturer’s AV feeds. This was achieved through an Extron controller which allows wireless control via iPads and also two static touch panels.

Florence Onwumere, students’ union officer for Human Sciences at London Met, said; “Coming from the School of Human Sciences, it’s a huge deal to see the University continuously invest in technology and resources required for research and in STEM degree programmes.”

Installation – The installation was obviously complex due to the sheer volume of tasks and working restrictions as the lab was regularly in use.  Nevertheless, it all went smoothly thanks to very detailed planning and scheduling. Sam Barter, Reflex’ project manager explained some of the challenges: “A major element of the project was the removal of old equipment including 280 heavy glass-fronted monitors, a process that took several weeks. The re-use of existing cable infrastructure also made it necessary to carry out extensive testing of all network ports before working bench by bench to install new equipment. All high level work had to be carried out when the lab was free of staff and students, on just one day each week. Even so, we managed to keep ahead of the original schedule right through to completion.”

Dr Trushar Adatia, head of school, Human Sciences, enthuses “We are thrilled with the high quality, innovative system design that Reflex has delivered for us that through using our existing cabling, has also proved to be highly cost effective.  The user experience is fantastic and the system is incredibly easy to use.”

Meanwhile, Stuart Leader, director of Wyrestorm distributor Polar Audio believes “Reflex is undoubtedly one of the leading and most experienced integrators working with AV streaming systems.”

The Outcome

The new system has now been in use since the end of September; according to Andrew Kennedy, Project Manager for the University, the students got to grips with the system immediately, the technicians and lecturers were a little nervous to start with but gained confidence within a few days and soon became fully comfortable with it.

William Jepps, md of Reflex summarised, “Superlab has been an exciting challenge for us; we worked closely with Wyrestorm and Polar Audio to come up with an extremely elegant and cost-effective design solution. The project ran smoothly and we’re very happy with the end result, the flexibility and efficiency of this teaching space is now truly fantastic. We have a great relationship with LMU and are extremely proud to have been part of this illustrious project.”

Simple ways of bringing Skype for Business into the meeting room

Skype For BusinessWith the rapid growth of soft codecs such as Skype for Business, more and more people are accessing video conferencing at their desktop. This ubiquity presents organisations with a challenge: how do they offer their users the same call experience and facilities in meeting spaces and group calls as they have at their desks?

This challenge is being met by an array of new, low cost, and simple to install products that can add high quality video call facilities to almost any meeting space.

We are seeing two main approaches emerging:

  1. Bring your own device (BYOD) approach

In these calls, one participant normally brings their own laptop into the meeting room. With a single USB connection they can access an installed AV system comprising a high quality camera, multiple microphones, loudspeakers and one or two displays. They can also bring their own contacts list and content to the meeting.

  1. Fixed Facilities

A resident PC can be loaded with a soft client codec and connected to the same high quality cameras and audio systems. This approach ensures that a device is always available in the room and still has access to content on the network.

With USB switching it’s even possible to enable both approaches in the same space, giving users the choice to work exactly as they prefer.

Reflex has extensive experience providing bespoke solutions to enable video conferencing in all types of meeting rooms and integrating them within simple control systems; however we are always looking for ways to simplify this process and to reduce the associated costs.

Here are a couple of examples of some great new products that are helping to simplify both BYOD and resident PC options:

Small Rooms – Yamaha CS-700

Yamaha CS-700

The Yamaha CS-700 gives instant access for BYOD users

This unique new product integrates a wide-angle camera, beamforming microphone array and soundbar, presenting a single USB connection to the user. This is a great solution for meeting rooms up to 3m x 3m, giving the BYOD user instant access to an excellent camera and audio system in a very compact and affordable package.

More details.

Medium Rooms – Biamp Devio

The Biamp Devio offers simple, seamless access to high quality camer and mics

In any medium-sized meeting room, the Devio provides a really simple way to offer seamless access to a high quality camera and mics, presented to users through a single USB connection. The system can be used with any USB camera and is provided with the option of high quality, 360-degree coverage desktop or ceiling mics. Simple to install, it can normally be mounted under the meeting table.

More details.

Larger Spaces

Reflex can integrate soft codecs into much larger spaces, all the way up to auditoriums. Solutions for these spaces are entirely bespoke, often comprising multiple cameras and flexible audio and control systems.

If you’d like further details on either of the products shown, or advice on how to integrate VC into any of your meeting spaces , please call us on 0118 9313611 or email sales@reflex.co.uk.

 

Reflex takes the prize with another AV Award

Reflex - AV Awards winnersExcitement ran high at the AV Awards at Grosvenor House Hotel last month as we waited with baited breath to learn who had won the prestigious Education Project of the Year. We were thrilled to take the award with our installation for the new Science Building at the University of Hertfordshire, which won against stiff competition from some of the most respected integrators in the country.

Our solution provided an innovative tender response comprising video and audio distribution using an AV over IP delivery solution based around WyreStorm Network HD. This solution delivered a level of flexibility and functionality within the system well beyond what could have been achieved within the budget using a more traditional distribution approach. We also provided the detailed design work and supplied and installed all equipment for each room and the general building AV systems.

Clearly a science and research building was the ideal environment to think out different ways to deliver a solution and it was certainly this that captured the judges’ attention. The award was collected by Adam Harvey and Stephen Bell from the university, Daniel Lee of Hewshott, and our very own Yag Depala, who commented “relationships with the university, the manufacturers and the consultants were key to the success of this project.”

 

Introducing Tim Harrison

Joining the Reflex team as a Technical Design Manager, Tim Harrison will be concentrating on supporting commercial clients by developing technical AV solutions.

With a career spanning two decades within global organisations, his experience includes pre-sales technical roles within distribution and manufacturers such as Yamaha Commercial Audio, and most recently Extron Electronics. With wide technical experience covering video, audio, control and networking, as well as an interest in unified communications and collaboration solutions, Tim boasts impressive project experience in corporate, education, public sector, leisure, and many other areas.

On the reasons for his move to Reflex, Tim says “My first role in AV was working for an integrator, and I loved being close to the market, having the ability to offer clients the best solutions fully appropriate to their needs. I learned a lot working for manufacturers and distributors, and wanted to use that experience directly for the client’s benefit. Talking to industry colleagues, Reflex came up again and again as being the most respected AV systems integrator in its field, with the values it embraces in line with my own.”

 

Join us at WORKTECH17 London – and save 20% on your ticket

WORKTECH17 London on 14/15th November is the forum for all those involved in the future of work and the workplace as well as real estate, technology and innovation. It will bring together some truly inspiring and innovative thinkers to divulge the latest thinking on this important topic.

As we are sponsors of the event, we are delighted to offer you an opportunity to access a discounted ticket to attend. At 20% off, this ticket enables full access to the two day conference, exhibition and networking drinks. Book now to join 300+ senior workplace professionals and thought leaders examining all aspects of the future of work and the workplace. We hope you can join us.

You can view the final programme here but here are a few highlights:

Fluid Organisations & Networks

Chris Fussell, former Navy SEAL Officer and New York Times Bestselling Author of Team of Teams will share how technology, human behaviour and pace of disruption has changed so much that organisations now need to be networked, flexible and resilient – creating a team of teams to adapt to an ever-changing problem set.

The World’s Most Innovative New Buildings

WORKTECH explore the journey behind 2 of the most exciting new and connected workplaces – the new Ampere building in La Defense, Paris and Accenture’s living, breathing eco-system in Dublin – and look at the platforms transforming the way we work.

Play At Work

Aaron Taylor Harvey, Director of Environments at Airbnb, will share how a lexicon of space making strategies can provide the kind of adventure and delight that is at the same time a highly functional work-focused environment.

Technology Futures

Anton Andrews, Director of Office Envisioning at Microsoft, will be attending to outline Microsoft’s latest thinking on the new ways of working together which will foster creative collaboration and advance innovation. As organisations and teams become more diverse, projects faster paced and more fluid, we need better ways of working. Anton shares Microsoft’s Office Envisioning’s new prototypes, collaborative workstyles that bring people together in ways that enhance innovation and creativity. Additionally, Ryan Fuller, GM Workplace Analytics, Microsoft will examine how Workplace Analytics will enable the Future of Work.

Innovation

Ben Waber was at MIT Media Lab, where he helped create incredible new technology for the workplace. See how his people analytics at Humanyze help understand how communication impacts delivery, engagement and productivity. Hear early case studies from companies in North America.

Digital Workplace

WORKTECH examine platforms transforming the way we work with a look at trends including ‘workplace as a service’, the sharing economy and look at 3 groundbreaking new ideas and marketplaces for workspace.

HR

Lucy Adams, Author of best-selling HR Disrupted and ex-HR Director at the BBC, explores how we need to lead, manage, engage and support our employees differently in this increasingly volatile and disrupted world offering a new vision for people and organisations.

Mindless Workplaces

Andre Spicer, Author and Professor of Organisational Behaviour, Cass Business School will explore Functional Stupidity at Work, what makes a workplace mindless and how to challenge thoughtless conformity to enhance effectiveness.

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