NEWS / BLOG

Determining the Proper Display Solution, Part One

Conference room display size

Effective, productive collaboration is dependent upon the participants’ ability to communicate and engage with the shared content. Content must be clearly visible with displayed text legible from every seat in the room. Designing the space with the appropriate display size, type and placement is key in creating an engaging, collaborative environment.

Addressing the space’s technologies early in the planning phase will allow for the most flexibility in design options and provide the best possible outcome. Determining the ideal display will require an analysis of the requirements and goals. Working with the interior designer and project stakeholders to factor in furniture, calculations of the room’s dimensions, viewing distances and angles can be made. Ambient light, available in-ceiling and on-wall mounting locations, control system, budget and the types of content to be viewed will be factored in as well.

Viewing Distance Determines Display Type

Viewing distance is calculated based on the furthest participant and is a key factor in determining display type.  There are various methods of calculation to determine proper viewing distance and screen size. Our commercial AV industry association, AVIXA (Audiovisual and Integrated Experience Association, formerly Infocomm), offers the specification “ANSI/INFOCOMM V202.01:2016, Display Image Size for 2D Content in Audiovisual System. This industry standard uses multiple calculations that factor content, image size, font size, viewer positions from multiple locations, ambient light, off-axis viewing, the human eye’s range of sight at various angles, and more. These standards apply not only to presentation spaces, but to more complex applications as well including auditoriums, multi-purpose spaces and large training venues.

Content Calculations

Calculations using a multiplier factor can provide a close estimation of display size that can help guide the design of small-to-medium size spaces including huddle spaces, board rooms and conference rooms. Screen size and distance calculations are greatly impacted by the content being presented, however, because the type of content dictates the multipliers (or factors) used in the calculation.

For corporate environments where presentations including PowerPoint, Excel, Word or Webpages will be shared, a large image will enhance user engagement by allowing participants to clearly and comfortably read the content. To calculate for this scenario, use a multiplier of 6 times the display’s image height (based on 1920 x 1080P resolution) to determine the furthest seating position. If data-rich content such as CAD drawings, Word or Excel documents or Web pages are to be shared, a factor of 4 should be used for added clarity. In rooms using video conferencing (WebEx, Skype, etc.) a multiplier of 4 is also recommended since it is a mixed-use application with multiple windows within the display image.

Video viewing is more lenient respective to screen size and distance. Smaller screen sizes or longer viewer distances are acceptable. The multiplier used for general video increases to 8 times the display’s image height. For example, if using a 55″ Monitor (27″ high screen height), the maximum seating distance would be 18’ (8 X 27” = 216”).  In a mixed-content environment, such as a conference room, the text-content calculation would be the default. An alternative offering great flexibility without compromising design is installing both a flatpanel display as well as a recessed projection screen which can provide a larger image when required.

The 45° Cone

Viewing angles are an important consideration, especially with rooms that are exceptionally wide or where multiple displays may be needed. For ideal viewing, participants should be within 45 degrees from the center of the screen. The top of the screen should ideally be positioned within 30 degrees above eye level. AVIXA’s standard is more exact, but this general guideline will help set the expectation of screen size and positioning for design purposes.

Aspect Ratio and Scaling

Widescreen aspect ratios of 16:9 and 16:10 are prevalent, with 16:9 becoming the go-to. Laptops have standardized on 16:9, but most new displays and projectors can properly scale a 16:10 image to 16:9 and visa-versa. Any incompatibilities in native resolution can be addressed by the system designer.

Providing a screen that maximizes your content will keep your participants engaged and allow for a successful, productive meeting. Do you have a collaborative space that could benefit from a more engaging video solution? Call us for a complimentary on-site assessment of your space!  We’ll do the math!

Making the Everyday Easy

Why home automation?

It’s simple, really. It’s about making your everyday tasks easier and making the complex simple. Some think home technology is purely luxury. Well, that depends on your definition.

Home automation is exactly that; it automates features in your home. Those features may include your lights, window treatment, smart door locks, climate, garage door, security features and more. It makes them work together as one. Sure, it’s a nice to pull up in front of your home late at night and, right from your phone, be able to activate a welcome scene that lights your path and home’s interior while unlocking the door. But it also helps to keep you safe. And imagine if faced with a fire or medical emergency – first responders could easily identify the home with the flashing entry lights. With this technology available, doesn’t it just make sense?

And let’s consider efficiencies of saving energy, time and money. Imagine occupancy sensors that turn off the lights in an empty room and motorized shades that raise and lower to either take advantage of the sun’s warmth to light and heat your home or block it out when the heat is intense. Lighting control with pre-set scenes of slightly dimmed lights also yield savings, while adding ambiance and convenience.

As a parent, home automation offers peace-of-mind. You can get an alert when your teen makes it home safely or remotely open the door when the need arises. As a caregiver, simple automated features, accessed by voice control, can keep an aging loved one in their home longer while sensors can let you know if they’re out of bed and have opened the medicine cabinet.

In this fast-paced world, why not simplify where it makes sense and make your everyday a little easier? Free up some time to enjoy the true luxuries, like extra time with friends and family. Call us today and let’s explore how we can make your everyday easy.

The Misnomers of Sound Masking

Noise is a critical factor affecting room design but, unlike lighting or climate control, it is often overlooked. Effective control of environmental noises and distracting conversations can significantly increase worker productivity while creating privacy from common areas.  These noise control methods can take different form and accomplish different types of noise control. One such method, sound masking, is an effective way to eliminate the distractions, as well as privacy concerns, of overheard conversations but how it works, is often misunderstood.

The ABCs of Acoustics

The ABC’s of acoustic design, as architects refer to them, are a variety of elements that can be employed to address noise control and speech privacy. These include solutions that absorb, block, or cover sound. In any given space, the right solution may include involve one method or a hybrid off two or all three. Sound masking systems cover noise and fit into the C category.

We’ve learned that acoustic treatments absorb noise.  Sound masking, on the other hand, is the addition of sound.  It is an ambient sound, created by digital generators,  that are specifically engineered to the frequency of human speech to target conversational noise rendering it unintelligible and therefore, less distracting. Sound masking does not eliminate all noise or cancel sound in an environment; it simply reduces how far conversations can be heard and clearly understood.

Sound Masking: What it is Not!

Sound masking is often referred to as “white noise” but its frequency varies significantly. Unlike white noise’s irritating static, sound masking is engineered to match the comfortable frequency range of the human voice. When designed and installed properly, the “whoosh” of sound masking will fade into the background of a workplace while simultaneously making speech more difficult to hear and, more importantly, to clearly understand.

Sound Masking Success

Implementation of a sound masking system will be far more successful if activated when workers are not present. It’s simple, human nature to hear something when it’s first flipped on and be overly aware of it. Instead, if your staff were to walk in while it’s already on, they would be less likely to notice it, if they noticed it at all. Ongoing, systems can be controlled manually or automatically, set to activate and deactivate based on staff scheduling.

Auto Correct

If an environment has widely varying noise levels, an “active volume control” can be added to improve effectiveness. Special microphones (emitters) would be installed to measure the conversational speech levels and adjust the system’s output as the noise levels rise and fall. With the system staying in-sync with the environmental noise, the occupants wouldn’t detect a change.

Often a complement to sound masking, acoustical treatments provide barriers and sound absorption, lessening overall noise levels and reducing reverberation from hard surfaces. What’s the right solution for your space? Call us to request a consultation today.

Entertaining in the Elements

Vancouver summers are meant to be enjoyed… outside! Whether you’re hosting a dinner party poolside, sipping cocktails beneath the pergola, or catching Sunday’s game at your outdoor kitchen, a well-placed TV is a great source of entertainment. But extreme temperatures, moisture, dust and even unwelcome insects, take a toll on the display.  This is why it’s important to use a unit specifically designed to stand up to what British Columbia can dish out.

­­­­­­Weatherproof TV adds to Outdoor EntertainingWeatherproof TVs hit the market a few years ago. While they were sealed from the elements and offered a brighter screen to compensate for sunny conditions, they were somewhat bulky. To overcome the unstylish appearance, we crafted custom enclosures which limited installation options. Well, have things changed! Outdoor LEDs today are sleek and provide optimal image quality that overcomes extreme brightness as well as low light levels. Anti-glare and anti-reflective features also improve the viewing experience. Not only do these weatherproof TVs look sensational, but they’re built to withstand our extreme temperatures, resist moisture and seal out dust, dirt and those pesky insects that could compromise the life of an ordinary indoor unit and void its warranty.

TVs built specifically for outdoor use also offer durability and safety. Unlike indoor units that could pose a greater risk of electrical shock or fire hazard if used outdoors, outdoor TVs are built tough with durable exteriors and tempered safety glass for extended enjoyment, safety and reliability.

Weatherproof TVs are not only perfect for covered porches and sunny patios, but for marine use as well. They can take the punishment of the waterways and, when not in use, can be covered with an attractive dust cover made specifically to keep them clean.

Complementing your weatherproof TV with impressive outdoor audio also offers a variety of choices. Like purpose-built outdoor-rated LEDs, speakers and subwoofers created for outdoor use feature weather-resistant materials. Their cones are made of specialized materials and their electronic components are sealed from moisture, but their sound performance is uncompromised. They are designed for even sound dispersion across expansive areas, some even providing full 360° coverage. And the design choices are endless with speakers created inside elegant planters, made to resemble natural stones or sleek landscape spotlights. Subterranean subwoofers are available for hidden underground installations. Outdoor-rated soundbars are also available and provide a designer-friendly solution. And many weather-resistant accessories are available such as wireless gear, seals for cable cover doors and remote controls.

Ready to make some weather-friendly updates to your outdoor living space? Call La Scala today to request a complimentary consultation. We’d love to show you the latest in outdoor living solutions.

Beyond the Lighting Strike: Why Power Management is So Important

Protect your systems from everyday power spikes for improved performance and longevity

Protect your Vancouver Smart Home with surge protectionWe’ve all heard the catastrophic tales of lightning strikes critically disabling a home’s electronic systems. To add to the frustration and expense, these overwhelming losses are seldom covered under your warranty as the failure was not the fault of the equipment and because additional damage caused to circuits is nearly impossible to detect. And the issues with power extend beyond the occasional lightning strike. “Dirty” power, power abnormalities that include voltage or frequency variations, low power factors and surges, critically impacts your system’s performance and longevity.

Digital Performance

Dirty power creates “noise” across your sensitive audio and video equipment. While the external power source may be partially to blame, so is every appliance, motor-driven and “connected” (Internet of Things) device throughout your home as each are drawing power as they cycle on and off. These drops and spikes across a shared circuit result in poor quality and performance.

It’s what you don’t see

Damage is sometime instantaneous and obvious, but often slight damage can occur and go undetected, weakening the equipment and impacting its performance. Over a period of time, this drain will shorten the unit’s lifespan. The use of inexpensive power strips can lead to this type of failure. Not commonly known, many of these devices are “once and done,” meaning that it may be able to protect the connected equipment against one surge, but not against subsequent spikes. So, what if the homeowner were unaware that the power strip had been “hit”, rendering it useless thereafter?

Back it up!

Control processors and other sensitive equipment will experience an immediate shutdown during power outages. As power restoration is attempted, perhaps repeatedly, the system will attempt to reboot. This can affect the software and firmware, potentially losing stored content. By providing a battery backup, the processor can power down on its own and successfully reboot. Lamp displays and cooling fans can continue to run, preventing lamp burnout and overheating. And for the gamer, unsaved “levels” will not be lost!

So, how do we achieve “clean”, constant power? Starting with a robust network, we follow best practices, installing power filters, professional-grade surge suppression and battery back-up. The results are reliable, safe power that improves your system’s longevity and performance while protecting your investment.