Category Archives: Commercial Applications

OvrC Enables Highest Level Client Care

OvrC Mobile App for Remote Management

Revolutionary 24/7 remote management of your residential and commercial networks

As technologies get smarter, the technologies that support them need to stay a step ahead. And so do we. We pride ourselves in offering the very best in system design and installation, but sometimes new devices need to be added or updated, or the unexpected network issue occurs. Traditionally, troubleshooting and updates required onsite service calls, but OvrC changed that!

OvrC is a cloud-based remote management platform developed for custom integrators that enables us to remotely manage, configure, and troubleshoot devices on your network. Appropriately named OvrC (oversee), the revolutionary support platform allows us to gain insights into your network for remote diagnosis and issue resolution. This service can potentially avoid costly and disruptive service calls. Dedicated to providing you with the highest level of client care and support, we enthusiastically adopted this service model at its inception.

We understand you need to be able to rely on your network and each of your various connected devices, both at home and in your business, and that interruptions in service are frustrating and costly. With OvrC’s comprehensive support systems, however, we can manage everything from your media room to a corporate networking infrastructure, ensuring all systems are running smoothly.

OvrC your home

We’ve all experienced it. You’re hosting a get-together, or maybe working on a time-sensitive presentation from your home office, and the network goes down. Sound familiar? Well, with La Scala’s expert client care programs that feature OvrC capabilities, the fix may be as easy as opening your personalized phone app and touching an icon to reset it yourself! For more complex issues, chances are we’ve already been alerted and are remotely troubleshooting it before you’ve even had a chance to touch the call button from your app. OvrC provides us with exceptional support so that we can provide you with incomparable support and customer service. See it in action!

OvrC your business

Network disruptions and downtime affect your productivity and are costly to your overall business operations. OvrC enables us “oversee” your systems in real-time, maximizing your uptime and minimizing potential revenue loss. Remote troubleshooting and issue resolution help avoid disruptive service calls. However, should an on-site service call be required, we’ll be better informed and equipped to quickly resolve the problem.

When you need us

OvrC is the latest enhancement added to an already robust line-up of support offerings available to us at La Scala. In addition to the OvrC remote management system, we can live-stream video tech support enhanced by augmented reality and an Essential+ program providing you with:

  • Proactive support
  • Round-the-clock service
  • Fast trouble resolution
  • Mobile management – A personalized app that lets you fix common issues and manage your network at your convenience.
  • Remote Firmware updates –the latest software updates/upgrades to your devices remotely

We are constantly striving to provide you with the best possible long-term client experience. For us, there is no better investment than in providing you with reliable systems that keep your home and business up and running. Call us to learn more about the benefits of having La Scala “OvrC” YOUR network!

How Changes in Fixtures and Furniture Affect a Project

Conference Room Design featuring Crestron

The AV system was designed to provide the ideal collaborative solution for your team. Perfectly aligned to cast its laser image onto the projection screen while centered exactly on the custom ceiling tile, the projector would descend on a scissor lift at the touch of a button. The equipment order had been placed and the trades were meticulously scheduled. And then, well into the project; a request was made to change the room’s prominent light fixture and consequently, its location. Its new position would place it directly in front of the projector’s path.  It may not sound like a complex issue but repositioning the projector may require either a short or long-throw lens be added, or a longer scissor-lift be specified. The electrical drop may also need to be relocated along with moving any other affected ceiling features. Audio visual systems are integral to any collaborative space and changes to a room’s walls, ceiling, flooring, lighting or furnishings may have a ripple effect that could result in costly change orders and extend your project’s timeline.

Typical video conferencing-enabled spaces will feature either a flat panel display, videowall matrix or projection system, along with microphones, speakers, AV equipment and room control device such as a pop-up touch panel. These elements are all part of an expertly engineered system, each with precise locations carefully documented. If, for example, a change is made replacing the specified 2-pedestal boardroom table with an extended 3-pedestal table, additional in-ceiling speakers or microphones may be required. Placement of these components will likely affect adjacent ceiling features including fire sprinklers, HVAC, occupancy sensors and lighting fixtures. Switching from 2 to 3 pedestals also shifts the locations of the floor boxes for power and connectivity. While these issues can be resolved through collaborative redesign and coordination with other trades, they will certainly impact the project’s timeline and budget.

Change orders of furniture, audio visual systems, electrical and more happen and for a variety of reasons. Custom items may encounter unforeseen delays. Furniture specified months earlier may be discontinued or the designer or client may have requested a change.  Regardless of the circumstances, collaboration among stakeholders at the onset of change is the key to successful project outcomes.

Determining the Proper Display Solution, Part Two

Conference room display size

What drives the technology in your meeting room?

“Which screen type is better for my meeting room, an LED display or a projection system?”  It’s one of the first questions we’re asked when approaching a collaborative room project however, to achieve the best outcome it’s important to keep in mind that technology does not drive the best application but instead, the use and goals of the space will drive the technology. While ease of installation, price and total cost of ownership (TCO) are factors, the answer depends on the project’s goals and on the calculated proper screen size. Once the size is determined and the client and AV Designer have a clear understanding of the goals to be achieved, the type of display best suited for the application can be revealed.  Let’s take at look at what each has to offer.

Flat Screens

The main flat Screen display technologies are Plasma, LED, and OLED (organic light-emitting diode), with the most widely accepted being the LED LCD display. Plasma, still in use in a consumer “niche” market by video purists who believe it provides the truest contrast and color saturation, is no longer used in commercial applications. As 4K continues to become more prevalent however,  plasma will be going the way of the VCR.

OLED, dating to 1987 was developed by researchers at Eastman Kodak, is the next great technology sweeping the flat screen market and will likely become the next standard. It may be a short-lived victory however as manufacturers are already looking ahead to direct view micro-LED technology as the next “big thing.”

Although similar in name to OLED, QLED technology is dramatically different. QLED is essentially an LED TV that uses quantum dots to enhance key picture quality areas and boasts of creating deeper black levels and reproducing more colors than ordinary LEDs.

LED Direct View technology is rapidly evolving. Originally making a splash on the likes of NY’s Times Square, over the past few years manufacturers have been able to provide smaller “pixel pitch” (ppx) panels that provide finer, more detailed picture quality.  These units are ideal for close viewing, making them a great choice for retail signage, auditoriums and Emergency Operations Centers or Network Operations Centers (EOC/NOC’s). LED Direct view is also perfect for spaces affected by uncontrolled ambient light. As the price continues to settle and the pixel pitch technology becomes smaller (Micro-LED), we will see more direct view applications in board rooms and smaller spaces.

As shared in Part 1, there are guidelines and formulas for determining the proper viewing screen size in a conference room. Those best practices hold true for 4K displays/projection screens as well but, with the incredible resolution of a 4K display or projector, you’ll need to consider that 4 times the amount of pixels will be displayed (imagine duplicating that screen into a 2×2 grid on the viewing surface). What does that mean for your image? While the resolution is incredibly true and sharp, font size and detailed content such as spreadsheets, will need to be enlarged.

Projection Systems

There are three main types of projection systems in use: traditional lamp (HID, high-intensity discharge lamps) DLP, LCD projectors and the new laser projectors (laser phosphorous projectors).  Laser projectors are quickly gaining momentum in the industry because of their picture quality, long-life lamps and energy efficiencies. A laser projector can run 20,000 hours before displaying a noticeable degradation of light output, whereas a HID lamped unit’s degradation may be detected as early as 1500 hours. HID lamp changes are usually made every 2,000 to 3,000 hours so, despite the added initial cost of laser (approximately 30% over that of HID), it yields a lower TCO. LED lighted technology is still available, but its lower lumens are more appropriate for home theater than a bright office environment.

Flat screen or projection – which is best for your meeting room? Just give us a call. We’ll uncover the right solution to make your meetings effective and productive.

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