Category Archives: Commercial Applications

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!

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.

Why Technology Needs to be Included in the Construction Plan

Proper planning and implementation of AV & IT will help your business realize the best possible outcomes.

Crestron_Conference_RoomIn today’s hyper-competitive market, AV/IT plays an increasingly important role in our day-to-day operations. Businesses depend on technologies to collaborate and communicate with their customers and internal teams. Technologies integrate our various systems to work as one and connect us to the all-important Internet of Things (IoT). They gather data, and then help us disseminate and act upon it, making our technologies even more effective. They are critical to our daily workflow and operations and key to our business strategy and success. So why are they are often overlooked in the design and planning phase of a project?

The primary goal of your AV systems is to create a collaborative environment enabling effective, productive meetings for faster decision-making. To maximize its potential, it must be easy-to-use and provide the right mix of technologies along with simple connectivity to those technologies. It will likely include an interactive display or projection system, a collaborative platform with wireless connectivity, intuitive touch panel control for room scheduling and meeting control, access to power and to the internet. Depending on the considerations made at the onset of the room’s design, the outcome of this space can be remarkably different.

Ergonomics and Design Aesthetics

Successful design outcomes begin with the user, focusing on their comfort and accessibility to the room’s features. Users should be able to sit at a conference table or in a huddle space, conveniently plug in to a power source, connect to the room’s collaborative devices, comfortably view a screen and easily start a meeting. Without proper planning however, users may have power cords strewn across pathways to access outlets, fumble to connect to the room’s technologies and struggle to view shared content due to improper display size or placement. By determining placement in the design phase, AV & IT infrastructure, power, display or projector and screen and touch panels can be properly located and aesthetically incorporated into the room. This phase also presents an ideal opportunity to review technology strategies and plan connectivity for future growth.

Not only will planning at this phase produce the most comfortable and visually appealingly results which promotes adoption but will provide the best options available while saving potentially costly retrofits and change orders. For example, based on the room’s size and desired projection area, the projector would need to be positioned 12 feet from the screen. If that calculation is not factored in at the onset of the project and a custom, coffered ceiling is designed that dictates the projector be relocated a few feet in either direction, either the size of the viewing area will be compromised, or a specialized lens may be required to accommodate the change, potentially adding cost to the project. Either result is not optimal for the client.

Technology and Interior Design Pros in Partnership for Optimal Outcomes

Working in partnership with design professionals for equipment placement, integrated motorized shades, lighting and room control allows for sleek, custom design possibilities. Rather than a fixed installation, for example, the projector may be elegantly incorporated into the ceiling design, extending from a cleverly hidden lift mechanism. The screen may also descend from a concealed soffit and A/V equipment may be stowed in a custom built-in credenza or, if conduit has been provided, located outside of the room.  Similarly, power and device connectivity can be offered via built-in table pop-ups, if floor boxes have been made available at the table base. Another critical factor in a project’s success is its timeline. A pro will manage the project throughout its lifecycle, coordinating wiring and technology integration with adjacent trades and communicating and resolving any issues that may arise.

Proper planning and coordination with design and technology integration professionals from the project’s inception helps keep it on budget and schedule while delivering the best possible technology and aesthetic outcomes. Ready to start planning your next project and formulate your technology strategies for 2018 and years to come? Call today and let’s get started!

Enhance the Decor and Enjoyment of Any Space with Acoustical Treatments

Home Cinema with custom acoustic panels

Custom panels absorb unwanted noise while complementing the room’s decor

Listen! Did you hear that? If you’re home in your media room, are you experiencing the audio as it was intended with clean, crisp speech and striking, directional sound effects? If you’re seated in a cozy restaurant for an intimate, fine-dining experience, are you able to comfortably engage in conversation, or is the space humming with deafening chatter and clanking plates? Sound is a critical factor in how we experience a space, yet it is often completely overlooked in the room’s design.

Laughter and lively conversation create a fun, atmosphere but, if the space is designed with only hard, reflective surfaces, the noise level in the room quickly escalates, reaching an uncomfortable level. In fact, according to a ZAGAT survey, when restaurant-goers were asked what irritated them most about dining out, 25% responded “noise”, a staggering percentage coming in second behind only “service”. A survey by the Action on Hearing Loss found corroborating results; 91% of respondents said that they would not return to a venue where noise levels were too high.

Background music and normal speaking levels are desirable sounds, but noises that bounce off the high ceilings and hard surfaces need to be controlled. That’s the job of acoustical treatment, a thoughtfully engineered and aesthetically designed system of ceiling, wall and floor treatments to absorb unwanted noise and improve sound.

Sound & Surfaces

A sound wave will bounce around a room, reflecting off surfaces until it hits an object that either diffuses or absorbs it. Made of sound-absorbing material like foam or fiberglass, sound absorption products are intended to absorb unwanted noise, such as echo, within a space. Acoustic panels, tiles, ceiling clouds, & ceiling baffles are all sound absorption products that are designed to dampen sound in a properly treated space. An acoustical analysis will determine the treatments required to improve the room’s acoustical properties. Once determined, the design choices are endless with custom fabrics, materials, shapes and placement options that will complement the architecture and décor.

Comforts of home

Uncomfortable noise & distractions aren’t limited to public places. With the trend of many people choosing to work from home, a focus has shifted to controlling sound levels not just in our home theaters, but throughout our homes. Not surprisingly, many newly constructed homes and multi-unit buildings now have noise blocking requirements. For homes that do not offer these initial treatments however, noise control can be combatted with carpeting, area rugs or floating hardwoods, luxurious draperies, plush upholstered furnishings, and, of course, elegant acoustic panels. Panels created for the home can mimic art, featuring works from a favorite artist or perhaps your favorite movie, musician or vacation destination. To open a space, panels can even create faux windows with sceneries and exquisite skylines.

What do you hear?

So, listen. Are you able to have a conversation with the clerk behind the service desk or with your waiter, without shouting? Can you conduct a comfortable video conferencing call from your office without raising your voice above the office chatter and HVAC? Sound is an essential element in the overall experience of a space and the treatments to overcome unwanted noise are extensive and elegant. Are you ready to have a “conversation” about how to address the acoustics in your spaces? Call us today – we’re “listening”!

Additional Resources:

Rules for Placement of Acoustic Panels in a Theater Room: Technology in Education, Mark Valenti

10 buildings with extraordinary acoustics: Where to find a sonic surprise, The Spaces

Eating Out Loud: Why Restaurants are Getting Noisier, New Statesmen,Caroline Crampton

Soundproofing, ExplainThatStuff, Chris Woodford

Introduction to Acoustic Treatment, Home toys, Ethan Winer