The saying goes that necessity is indeed the mother of invention. And never before have we seen such a large and abrupt catalyst for change as the current pandemic. Businesses, schools, churches, and countless other organizations have had to make rapid changes to the way they do things. Changing school and business models to accommodate the risk to public health and keep everyone as safe as possible. All these changes have resulted in a massive increase in the use of AV services and technology. How can AV services help during a pandemic?
The first and most obvious answer is Video Conferencing. Never before have we seen the use of Video Conferencing permeate through every aspect of our lives. What was once a necessity for some companies and organizations to stay connected, is now an aspect of all types of work, school, and even our personal lives. So many have had to learn the skill of joining a meeting on a myriad of platforms, with mixed results. Camera? Audio? What’s working, what isn’t?
With the increased use of Video Conference comes increased frustration as technical difficulties with audio and video quality become more evident and cumbersome. When you’re using something occasionally, it’s easier to tolerate these set-backs. But with Video Conferencing being a tool used daily to keep things going, these technical difficulties are slowing things down, making some calls painful to participate in.
A tool used daily should provide a seamless experience, allowing you to see, hear, and share with ease.
The Right Equipment
The right equipment will help eliminate the soft costs – the time it takes to work through the technical issues before a video call can get started. There are three key components we focus on for any of our solutions.
- It has to be simple
- It has to work
- You don’t even notice it
Our mantra is we make technology disappear. Meaning, if we’ve done our job, we make technology unseen. No thought goes into using it. You’re able to pay attention to your meeting because the technology you’re using is no longer on your mind. It disappeared.
Another important aspect is to make sure you have the same experience in every room. Whether in a conference, huddle, or training room, getting a meeting started should be just as easy and dependable.
The right AV technology has allowed businesses to adapt during the pandemic – implementing contactless and social distancing solutions to move forward, staying open, and staying safe.
We offer free consultations. Feel free to contact us. We can help.
Philm Gear is a multi-media equipment supply and tech consultancy. We are founded on relationships and offer the best solutions for Video Conferencing and Huddle Spaces. We offer personalized, guided research and customized solutions in affordable packages for all multi-media needs. We thrive on applying our knowledge and expertise in creative implementation, giving our clients technology that’s easy to use. We solve AV problems.
Workfront is a Utah-based software company that develops web-based work management and project management software. Software that features enterprise work management, issue tracking, document management time tracking, and portfolio management. The company was founded in 2001 by Scott Johnson. Workfront is designed to connect people to work and accelerate organizational success across the enterprise. Workfront has 1200 employees and approximately 4,000 customers with offices in the United States, Europe, the Middle East, and Africa.
Workfront was regularly experiencing 20 to 30 percent downtime on all their AV systems. They had conference rooms that would remain vacant for weeks at a time due to the systems being too difficult to operate. People were not using the AV resources available to them. Workfront has 75 conference rooms available for their employees and would conduct approximately 4000 meetings per year. Their number one concern was to have AV systems that were easy to use and uniform throughout their organization.
Recommended Solution: Integrated AV and Zoom Room.
We recommended utilizing Zoom Room Video Conference service licensing rather than other, more traditional video conferencing methods. This would make creating invites and screen sharing consistent regardless of which room or office they were using. We recommended installing control systems for each room so it would be easy to control temperature, lighting, screens, presentations, room scheduling and video conferencing all from a tablet. We made sure all systems were integrated for ease-of-use. Each meeting member would be able to wirelessly access presentations and related documents at a touch. We wanted to make sure that everyone at every skill level would be able to access the technology without help from their IT Department.
We designed all AV systems and handled the project from start to finish making sure the design, installation, and implementation went smoothly. Each room was outfitted with the appropriate equipment based on the space. We installed the same control systems and ways to connect throughout. We integrated all systems so that utilizing the AV systems was the same regardless of the location for ease-of-use. It became easy to access a wireless presentation, start a video conference call, or just control the blinds. We made sure all video conferencing cameras were eye-level and that each piece of equipment was in a convenient location. The AV equipment integrated seamlessly into the environment keeping the rooms professional and presentable. And it just works.
Implementation of Workfront’s new AV systems was simple and painless. Learning how to use the new systems took very little time and was easy for all employees to adopt. During the first year of utilizing our integrated AV solution, Workfront saw a 60 percent increase in conference room and AV systems usage as well as a zero percent downtime with meetings starting on time, greatly increasing team collaboration and productivity.
Workfront is exceedingly happy with the results of our AV solutions. Now Workfront’s end-users know how to go into a conference or training room, start a meeting and share materials. The AV systems are intuitive and easy to use with no down-time.
“The number one concern we had was ease-of-use. If our end-users don’t want to use the product, it’s not going to get used. No matter how great it is, no matter how advanced, cool and shiny the thing is, it’s never going to get used if the end-user doesn’t understand how to use it and are unable to easily adopt it. Philm Gear came in and designed everything from the ground up, gave us the right products, and everything just works.”-James Sennett, Corporate IT Manager, Workfront
Utah Sound Masking
Utah Sound Masking is a great way to increase privacy in any workplace that features an open layout design. Many modern office spaces are designed with the intent of increasing collaboration and workflow by allowing each team member easy access to one another. The only drawback, sound travels, so you can easily overhear each other’s conversations.
Sound is a wave that spreads out in all directions from a source. Walls block it, soft surfaces absorb it and it’s reflected by hard surfaces. Some sounds can cover it up. But sound can travel pretty far when unimpeded. Even soft sounds are easy to hear if there’s nothing to cover or otherwise impede the sound from being detected by your ears.
What is Utah Sound Masking?
Utah Sound Masking is the addition of an unstructured sound to an environment that fills in the sound spectrum and makes the structured sound of human speech less intelligible.
Less intelligible speech = privacy.
Usually, it’s an un-intrusive sound like airflow, similar to a typical modern HVAC system and our team will customize this for your space. Each system we install ensures your team is comfortable in their environment.
Achieving Speech Privacy
Block, Absorb or Cover are three ways that can improve your acoustic environment and achieve the necessary privacy. Sound waves can be blocked by using high-STC-rated panels, partitions, windows, and walls. Sound can be absorbed by using a high-NRC-rated ceiling tile or acoustic wall panels. Sound can be covered by using a source of unstructured–NOT music which is structured and therefore distracting–low-level background sound, known as Sound Masking or white noise.
Most office environments will require some combination of these three tools to provide an acoustically pleasing atmosphere. In most cases, no one tool by itself will solve your privacy needs, however, covering or Sound Masking provides the greatest increase in privacy per dollar invested. It’s even more effective if used in conjunction with the proper mixture of Absorption and Blocking components in order to achieve specific speech privacy levels.
We Meet The 5 Criteria For Comfort
- Broadband sound 65hz – 13Khz
- Good wraparound, no noticeable repeat
- Multiple noise sources, randomness is relaxing
- Uniformity of sound, +/- 1dB
- Tuning Flexibility, easily adjusted for privacy and comfort
Utah Sound Masking Solutions Provide
- Virtually limitless zoning capabilities, easy expansion, and complete system access with the click of the remote or mouse, on-site, off-site or around the world.
- It is best for 20,000 square feet to projects requiring multiple facilities/campus-wide installations.
- A networked system with plug and play components with real-time system access, control, monitoring, and reporting.
- Provides point-by-point technical advantages in tuning, control, and coverage.
Our solutions will give you both individualized and central speaker control. We ensure sound uniformity with no re-tuning requirements, where most Sound Masking systems need to be attended to regularly and maintained annually to keep from degrading over time.
Most offices have multiple distinct sound signatures (Such as a call center vs. reception area) unlike the competition, our sound masking levels can be customized to areas as small as 225 sq. ft. Most other systems mask in half- or full-floor zones. Because Spectra systems can be so finely tuned, you can be confident in uniform, comfortable speech privacy.
Click here, to chat with us for free about Utah Sound Masking.
All Sound Masking solutions by Philm Gear are UL Listed so that you can be confident that your system will meet code requirements.
KNOW THE CODES
NFPA72: Fire Alarm & Signaling and UL 2572 / ULC-S576
Sound masking systems installed in mid- to large-sized projects where NFPA72 is enforced must be UL Certified by a Nationally Recognized Testing Laboratory (NRTL). The reasoning behind this requirement is sound masking systems impede the annunciation of emergency communications systems. UL 2572 and ULC-S576 are the US and Canadian testing standards, respectively, for approved equipment performance in mass notification systems. In order to certify that a system can perform the sound masking shutdown sequence requirement, the system control panel interfacing with the Fire Alarm Control Panel (FACP) must pass UL 2572 and/or ULC-S576. Any sound masking control panel connected directly with an FACP must be monitored to ensure shutdown in the event of an emergency. Following are specifics extracted from the codes and the testing procedures highlighting the necessities to ensure life safety:
NFPA72 2010 – 2016 versions states:
- Chapter 3: Emergency Communications Systems — Combination. 3.3.86 Various emergency communication systems such as fire alarm, mass notification, firefighter communications, area of refuge communications, elevator communications, or others that can be served through a single control system or through an interconnection of several control systems.
- 3.95.1 (2010) / 184.108.40.206 (2016) Combination System. A fire alarm system in which components are used, in whole or in part, in common with a non-fire signaling system.
- 220.127.116.11 (2010) / A.18.104.22.168 (2016) Examples of non-fire systems are security, card access control, closed-circuit television, sound reinforcement, background music, paging, and sound masking.
- Chapter 10: Fundamentals. The scope of this chapter includes requirements for equipment suitability and compatibility, power supplies, signal distinction and priority and distinction of signals, signal indication, fundamental equipment performance, protection of fire alarm systems, annunciation and annunciation zoning, monitoring integrity of power supplies, and impairments.
- Chapter 12: Circuits and Pathways. Addresses the performance and survivability characteristics of pathways (interconnections) used in fire alarm and signaling systems.
- 6.1 Unless otherwise permitted or required by 12.3.1 through 12.3.7 and 12.6.3 through 12.6.13, all means of interconnecting equipment, devices, and appliances and wiring connections shall be monitored for the integrity of the interconnecting conductors or equivalent path so that the occurrence of a single open or a single ground-fault condition in the installation conductors or other signaling channels is automatically indicated within 20 seconds.
- Chapter 18: Notification Appliances. 22.214.171.124 A signaling system arranged to stop or reduce ambient noise shall comply with 126.96.36.199.1 through 188.8.131.52.3.
- 184.108.40.206 Relays, circuits, or interfaces necessary to stop or reduce ambient noise shall meet the requirements of Chapters 10, 12, 21, and 23.
- Chapter 23: Protected Premises Fire Alarm Systems. As a minimum, where fire alarm systems SLCs are shared with other systems, the requirements of 220.127.116.11 and 18.104.22.168 apply and wiring for other systems must comply with the requirements of the NEC. Special care must be taken to ensure that the function or malfunction of other systems does not interfere with the operation of the fire alarm system.
- Chapter 23: While fire alarm systems are permitted to share circuits with non-fire alarm systems or components, the circuits are required to be arranged such that operation of the non-fire alarm system equipment or a non-fire alarm system component does not impair the operation of the fire alarm system. Extensive testing may be required to ensure that this requirement is met under all possible operating conditions and all possible combinations of events.
- Chapter 24: Emergency Communications System. 24.2.1 The systems covered under 24 are for the protection of life by indicating the existence of an emergency situation and communicating information necessary to facilitate an appropriate response and action.
- 24.3.7 Conflicting or competing signals or messages from different systems could be very confusing to occupants and have a negative impact on the intended occupant response. Where independent systems using audible and/or visible notification are present, the emergency communications system needs to interface with those systems to effect related control actions such as deactivating both audible and visible notification appliances.
- 5.1.1 Interconnection of protected premises emergency control functions with the mass notification systems shall comply with Chapter 21.
Underwriters Laboratories (UL) has designed certification tests (UL 2572 and ULC-S576) in order to ensure a product achieves a minimum level of performance to work with and not damage a fire alarm control panel in addition to being reliable. Successfully passing the battery of tests to achieve the certification helps ensure product performance in the actual event of an emergency. The equipment must be capable to perform its intended functions in all environmental conditions to meet life safety codes.
Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)
The ADA ensures access to the built environment for people with disabilities. The ADA Standards establish design requirements for the construction and alteration of facilities subject to the law. These enforceable standards apply to places of public accommodation, commercial facilities, and state and local government facilities.
NFPA 72 recognizes the ADA and references it in the code:
A.10.12 it is the intent that both visual and audible appliances are shut off when the notification appliance silence feature is activated on the fire alarm control unit. Per the ADA, it is important not to provide conflicting signals for the hearing or visually impaired.
18.5 The Americans with Disabilities Act and Architectural Barriers Act Accessibility (ADA/ABA) Guidelines references NFPA 72. The ADA/ABA and ADAAG continue to trigger upgrades of existing fire alarm systems. Almost all local jurisdictions have adopted some form of accessibility code or have incorporated the concepts directly into their building and fire codes, which then reference and require the use of NFPA 72.
We are excited to talk about the AVer EP65 Zoom Rooms Plug and Play option – the problem solution for video conferencing. So many of us experience the difficult situation of integrating video conferencing equipment and service/software. That’s why we are overjoyed that the AVer EP 65 Plug and Play problem solution is now available. This option is designed specifically for ease of use for no-hassle set-up.
Literally, Plugin and Play
The EP65 is an all-in-one display for business, designed to take all the guesswork out of setting up video conferencing in your office, huddle rooms, and conference rooms. It makes collaboration more efficient and effective. Integrated with Zoom Rooms software, the integrated flat panel allows for out-of-the-box annotations with 20 points of touch and multiple users. There is nothing additional to install so it’s easy to connect to live video with one touch and share ideas face to face across all devices immediately.
Zoom Rooms Integration
Zoom software is already integrated, so Installation is very easy. The same as mounting a flat panel television with a single power cable. Just take it out of the box, mount to a cart or on a wall – we recommend one other person to help you lift it – and plug it in. just like that, it’s ready to use. For ease of management and minimal maintenance, the EP65 features a high-powered Windows IoT pluggable PC module.
Camera and Audio
There is an embedded 4K video conference camera making sharing ideas face to face easy. You can see who you’re speaking to with clarity and no delay. The EP65 Zoom Rooms Plug and Play problem solution also feature a built-in far-field 13-element microphone array with beam-forming (without DSP) for excellent audio.
The optional cloud-based recording is a wonderful EP65 feature making it easy to keep track of and collaborate during and after meetings. One-touch recording and whiteboard sharing synchronized across multiple tablets, laptops and the web making it easy to access all information.
The EP65 features and incredibly responsive touch-screen whiteboard which allows you to interact with other meeting participants, take notes, brainstorm, comment on a shared screen or use split-screen multitasking to keep everyone on the same page.
Zoom Rooms plug and play option the EP65 is truly a problem solution, answering the need for video conferencing equipment and video calls software in one unique device. Here is a quick list of features.
- Easy Installation
- Sharp Video
- Clear Audio
- Seamless Integration
- Cloud Recording
- White Board Sharing
- Digital Signage
- Screen Sharing
Tested and Evaluated
The AVer EP65 was put through the Frost & Sullivan Analyst Gauntlet, a structured program wherein participating vendors and service providers give industry analysts long demonstrations and feedback of their collaboration solution. Here’s what they had to say about their experience and evaluation.
“AVer EP65 is truly plug and play for users, offering a range of collaboration capabilities both in and outside of Zoom meetings. The sturdy, anti-glare, anti-fingerprint touchscreen glass feels natural and comfortable when using whiteboard features with fingers or the pen. Multiple people may also annotate simultaneously. Embedded Zoom Rooms software provides a similar look and feel across desktop, browser, mobile and room-based clients, which helps reduce training requirements and support tickets as well as drives utilization of in-room collaboration technology investments such as the EP65. Outstanding audio and video quality and adjustability further enhance the meeting room experience where it is deployed. As a modular system, the EP65 can support a variety of use cases, user preferences and environments spanning collaboration sessions with distributed or local-only participants, single or dual screen, and support for a variety of external components.”
For more information on the EP65 and downloadable brochures, please visit AVer’s website here.
For information on how to order, call us at 801-999-8552 or contact us here.
Guest Post by Amie Fipps
Huddle rooms are becoming the “it” meeting space for more and more companies using collaboration. Huddle rooms provide a more flexible approach to getting work done in a less formal environment, unlike the corporate atmosphere of an executive conference room. These little dynamos are great for taking care of serious business like webinars, sales presentations, job interviews, conferences with remote workers and more.
Every meeting space, no matter how small, should be equipped with a high-quality dynamic audio and video conferencing solution that allows people to communicate and engage. Their small size also makes them a budget-friendly option since equipping four huddle rooms typically costs less than outfitting one conference room, and yet they offer more productivity potential.
To help with huddle room design, we created two different options for video conferencing installations.
We recommend using the AVer CAM340+ in our first solution. It’s an affordable, professional-grade USB conference camera optimized to deliver a dynamic video communication experience. The CAM340+ is a great option because of its ultra-portability and color richness. You can place it on a laptop, mount it on the wall above or below a display, or put it on a cart for a moveable meeting solution
The CAM340+ has a 120-degree field of view, one of the widest possible with zero distortion. Perfect for the growing huddle room environments where attendees are closer to the lens but sit on the edge or outside of normal cameras field of view. The CAM340+ offers the flexibility to easily move from huddle room to huddle room and is compatible with all of your favorite applications connecting to virtually any desktop or laptop, via a single USB cable. With an MSRP of $499.99, the CAM340+ is suitable for all types of video calls from professional-grade presentations to YouTube recordings to everyday meetings.
The second design includes the CAM540. The CAM540 is a great option because it provides easy, fluid, and precise video conferencing thanks to its plug-and-play functionality, quiet motor, and high-quality 4K video. It also has SmartFrame technology, so you can include any participants in the frame with a push of a button. The AVer CAM540 is a sleek and modern video conferencing camera that is perfect for huddle up to medium-sized meeting rooms. With compatibility to the latest conferencing platforms, the CAM540 makes your meetings convenient to start and stress-free.
For a great audio solution, we recommend the HDL300 system. It works with Microphone Mist technology, an entirely new approach to audio conferencing, which fills the room with thousands of virtual microphones. For the first time, meeting participants can be heard no matter where they move in the room or which direction they face. It’s an affordable, professional-grade audio solution optimized to deliver a dynamic communication experience.
With these recommendations, you get the perfect combination of Philm Gear Solutions plus AVer Equipment for your huddle room. You’ll get the most out of your meetings with solutions that are simple to install, easy to use, and compatible with all your favorite video conferencing platforms.