Product Review: guidePORT Visitor Information System

Visitor guidance is taken to the next level with guidePORT, a digital wireless visitor information system specifically developed for optimum presentation of exhibitions.  Ever go to an exhibit and want more detailed information on one item while the person you are with wants more detailed information on another item?  With guidePORT, visitors can get detailed information – without any interruptions – at their own pace and route through the exhibit.

This highly flexible system can be used for individual tours, group tours, or conferences. In addition, guidePORT systems are highly flexible and allow for changes to text recordings at anytime to incorporate complex, lip-synced multimedia presentations without difficulty and, similar to public address systems, incorporate additional live information.  guidePORT can even collect statistical data about how visitors interact with exhibitions and determine the level of acceptance of the exhibits, which can then be evaluated in a statistically meaningful manner using software that can be purchased at a later date. For additional information about guidePORT systems go to www.guideport.de.

Visitor guidance is taken to the next level with guidePORT, a digital wireless visitor information system specifically developed for optimum presentation of exhibitions.  Ever go to an exhibit and want more detailed information on one item while the person you are with wants more detailed information on another item?  With guidePORT, visitors can get detailed… Read more »

Focus on Lighting: Taking Control of Architectural Lighting

Architectural lighting should be designed to complement your needs and as your needs change throughout the day, your lighting should adapt accordingly.  Lighting controls are the answer.  Several options are available to help make your environment and your life more comfortable and “green”.
Lighting controls can be as simple as the familiar toggle or rocker switch at the entry into a room or a sophisticated building-wide system that monitors occupancy, time of day usage, special events, and even events based on the sun’s cycle throughout the year.  In the past, lighting control systems were often seen as a luxury, used to help set a mood; now they are a critical part of the overall lighting system (both simple and complex) still helping to set the mood and environment and also a necessary part of a complete energy-saving system.

In designing the lighting control system, first considerations should be the space and task function (how will the space be used) followed by budget, any special considerations related to local codes, day-lighting requirements, control flexibility, and systems integration.  The cost of a lighting control system is frequently offset by savings in energy usage through effective monitoring of need relative to daylight, usage and time of day operations.

Historically, wall switches are line voltage devices, which open and close the phase wire (hot wire) that supplies power to the light fixture. Located at entry to a space or at locations convenient to the user, these offer an easy and the most cost effective way for fixtures to be turned on and off.

Wall box dimmers are slightly more expensive but provide flexible control of light output down to the minimum level provided by the dimming hardware while reducing the overall load consumption.  Standard wall box dimming allows most filament lamps to be dimmed smoothly from full brightness down to zero light output.  Other light sources require additional hardware for effective dimming:  fluorescent sources require the use of fluorescent dimming ballasts which receive a signal from a control device and control the lamps accordingly; solid state (LED) sources demand the use of drivers with dimming capabilities.

For spaces where different moods are required, the end user may consider the incorporation of a controller that permits different combinations of lighting zone switch and dimmer settings to be recalled.  For instance, in a corporate conference room you may want all of the lights at full brightness during a staff meeting and the lights near the projection screen or flat panel dimmed during a presentation.  A scene controller allows this transition to be made with the push of a button.

When looking at an entire building, whole building controls can fully integrate lighting, shading, and sensors for maximum energy savings. These solutions can be easily designed, installed and reconfigured to meet the changing needs of a building.  Control systems can incorporate an integral time clock feature to enable scheduling of lights and shades by time-of-day (e.g., 8:00 pm weeknights) and astronomic time clocks (e.g., dusk or dawn). Various manufacturers have developed systems that allow facility managers to conveniently manage both electric light and daylight right from their desktop. They can control, configure, monitor, and report on the lighting for any space in the building for maximum energy efficiency, comfort, and productivity.

The benefit of implementing any lighting control system is reduced heating and cooling costs as well as increased comfort and safety of the users.

Architectural lighting should be designed to complement your needs and as your needs change throughout the day, your lighting should adapt accordingly.  Lighting controls are the answer.  Several options are available to help make your environment and your life more comfortable and “green”. Lighting controls can be as simple as the familiar toggle or rocker… Read more »

Focus on Technology: The Greening Power of AV

Green power or green technology is a concept that has become a general buzzword in the construction industry. In its most general terms, it means using renewable power. It first started showing the most presence with building owners trying to get LEED certification for buildings. For example, for projects attempting to obtain the LEED green power credit, there are specific requirements for a new building to obtain a percentage of its power consumption from certified renewable sources for the first two years of the life of a new building.

While there is little in the LEED certification that ties directly to AV, being “green” has become a hot issue within the AV industry itself, yet differences in definition exist:

Green technology in the AV industry usually means the move to more energy efficient products.  Last year was the first time the EPA’s (Environmental Protection Agency) Energy Star program had a requirement dedicated to professional AV equipment.  The standards released in 2010 included most commercial AV equipment, and while projectors still do not have an Energy Star classification most other electronic AV equipment is now included.  In 2011 InfoComm, the leading professional AV trade organization, launched the STEP (Sustainable Technology Environments Program) rating system specifically for technology equipment within a building. This program was implemented because InfoComm failed to get the US Green Building Council to consider AV equipment in their LEED certification program.  While STEP stands on its own the hope is that at some future point, if the program becomes widely used, it will be adopted in the LEED program with even wider applicability to the built environment.

Green Power in the AV industry typically means that there is data that needs to be displayed somewhere prominently in the building.  Many owners want to have a lobby or other web based display accessible to all that can let building occupants know, in real time, what the power consumption of the building is at that moment.  Traditionally this type of information has been the domain of the building information systems managed by the facility’s group within the respective organization.  Now, after successfully completely the sustainable design of their new building, owners want to show off, in real time, how well their facility operates.  They want some type of digital signage displays or the information available on a web portal for anyone in the building to view.

Another area of growing interest is integrating the AV systems into the building automation system (BAS).  Two options then become available: the BAS is used to shut off AV equipment when it is not in use; or the AV control system is used to provide an easily accessible user interface (that building users are already used to using) to view and in some cases control building power usage for lighting, HVAC, and other building systems.

Green power or green technology is a concept that has become a general buzzword in the construction industry. In its most general terms, it means using renewable power. It first started showing the most presence with building owners trying to get LEED certification for buildings. For example, for projects attempting to obtain the LEED green… Read more »

Focus on Acoustics: Mixed Use Buildings

Many cities are changing their zoning laws to allow for the development of mixed-use buildings or re-development sites.  This means that many planning committees that once favored the suburban planning model of residences in one part of town and business in another are now moving towards a new model more like urban centers.  While this is great for reducing traffic, it comes with many acoustical considerations that are often overlooked by project planners and developers.

This also means that mixed-use buildings have additional acoustical considerations on top of those necessary for a typical multi-family building.  It is necessary to acoustically isolate all neighbors from one another in mixed-use buildings.  This includes making certain that the bar on the first floor doesn’t keep the people living on the upper floors awake and also doesn’t disturb the evening students at the yoga studio next door.  The impact of disruptive noise from vibration also need to be considered, for example members of a fitness center dropping free weights onto the floor/ceiling of the conference room below; or an exhaust chute from a restaurant rigidly attached to the common wall of the apartments above.

A variety of options are available to help address these various acoustical impacts: from sensible commercial tenant location (unlike the yoga studio next to a bar described here) and managing the noise expectations of all of the tenants, to using more substantial floor-ceiling, exterior wall and window constructions.

A successful mixed-used building doesn’t simply require proper planning for acoustical isolation between all tenants.  It also requires that all of the tenants be prepared to be good neighbors.  Remember, just because you live upstairs from your favorite restaurant doesn’t mean that you want to hear the kitchen all night long!

Many cities are changing their zoning laws to allow for the development of mixed-use buildings or re-development sites.  This means that many planning committees that once favored the suburban planning model of residences in one part of town and business in another are now moving towards a new model more like urban centers.  While this… Read more »

Focus on Acoustics-Spray Foam Insulation

Spray foam insulation, because of its high recycled content and superior insulating qualities over loose fitting batt insulation, is being used with increasing frequency. It is even more common when a project is seeking to meet objectives outlined by sustainable building programs, such as LEED.

Spray foam insulation comes in two different flavors: Open cell, and closed cell. These two different types of spray foam insulation are composed of different materials which react and expand differently in air, resulting in the different cell structure. In addition to being a better insulator, both types seal penetrations air-tight. This is helpful acoustically as it keeps unwanted sound from being transmitted through the wall system. However, these two types of insulation have many differences as well. Open cell foam is more expansive and can fill a ten-inch cavity in one application; closed cell foam is less expansive and is limited to two to three inches in thickness per spray treatment requiring multiple applications to fill larger cavities. The difference in expansion results in closed cell insulation being denser (2 pounds per cubic foot) than open cell (0.5 PCF). The higher density results in a higher R-value per inch of thickness.

When cured, closed cell insulation becomes rigid and does not allow sound to interact with the cell void in the [closed cell] insulation, and in the process absorb sound energy. Open cell insulation on the other hand, when cured remains flexible. The open-cell molecular structure allows sound energy to interact with the cell structure of the insulation and by physics of friction lose its energy to heat. This loss of sound energy results in an increase in sound transmission loss of the wall system when compared to an equivalent wall system that is either un-insulated or insulated with closed cell spray foam insulation.

Ultimately, the cost of spray foam insulation is higher than more conventional forms of insulation. However, it has many benefits and, when the correct kind is specified, could help your next project be a success.

Spray foam insulation, because of its high recycled content and superior insulating qualities over loose fitting batt insulation, is being used with increasing frequency. It is even more common when a project is seeking to meet objectives outlined by sustainable building programs, such as LEED. Spray foam insulation comes in two different flavors: Open cell,… Read more »

Deeper Into the Cloud We Go: The Integration of AV into IT

For most of the audiovisual (AV) systems designed in the 80s and 90s, there was a clear point of demarcation between where information technology (IT) networks ended and AV systems began. Early AV systems only used analog phone lines for audio conferencing. The mid-80s brought video conferencing and a requirement for digital phone lines such as ISDN and its cousin Switch 56. Most of this bandwidth was leased or had hourly usage fees. This resulted in the operating costs being very high for companies that used the technology.

With the advent of internet protocol (IP), audio and video information could be bundled and streamed on the same local and wide area networks (LANs and WANs) as other data within an enterprise at little or no additional cost. At first, IT managers were reluctant to allow AV traffic on their networks. It took some time for the IT world to understand that allowing AV information on their networks was not a choice but a business necessity.

It did not take long for AV manufacturers to capitalize on the fact that networks could be utilized for more than just audio and video streaming. The availability of AV equipment with an Ethernet port to allow device control, management, or movement of content is increasing with each new product release. Major control system manufacturers continue to shift away from proprietary control networks to open architecture protocols.

The AV industry has been forever changed by the convergence of AV and network controls. However, content delivery over networks is still the “wild, wild west” so stayed tuned for further updates as the technology continues to evolve!

For most of the audiovisual (AV) systems designed in the 80s and 90s, there was a clear point of demarcation between where information technology (IT) networks ended and AV systems began. Early AV systems only used analog phone lines for audio conferencing. The mid-80s brought video conferencing and a requirement for digital phone lines such… Read more »

Steve Thorburn Named Educator of the Year- 2011

As an industry expert and thought leader in the AV industry, Steve Thorburn was named 2011 Educator of the Year by InfoComm International. The award was in recognition of his 35,000 plus student hours in teaching acoustics and audiovisual technology. Since 1995, Steve has:

  • Taught at least two or more courses annually at the InfoComm conference
  • Developed and taught multi-day sessions under the original InfoComm Institute for Professional Development (IPD) program
  • Co-taught sessions with fellow faculty members of the InfoComm Academy.

Steve also participated in the development of the CTS-Installation and CTS-Design curriculum courses and designations which ultimately became industry standards. He has achieved “Senior InfoComm International Academy Faculty” status and was on InfoComm’s Install School Committee and Design School Committee. Active in the audiovisual industry for over 30 years, Steve has volunteered his knowledge, energy, time, and passion to the AV industry and InfoComm. The award was presented to Steve’s wife, Lisa, at a luncheon held in June at the annual trade show, in Orlando, FL, because Steve was unavailable since he was doing what he was recognized for – teaching. Please join everyone at TA in congratulating Steve on this honor!

The InfoComm International Educator of the Year award was created to recognize an individual who has made important contributions to the professional development, education, and training of the AV industry on AV topics and values.

For more information on InfoComm International visit www.infocomm.org

As an industry expert and thought leader in the AV industry, Steve Thorburn was named 2011 Educator of the Year by InfoComm International. The award was in recognition of his 35,000 plus student hours in teaching acoustics and audiovisual technology. Since 1995, Steve has: Taught at least two or more courses annually at the InfoComm… Read more »

LED Technology: Ready for Primetime?

For some time, consumers have been excited about the energy savings and efficient production of light from LED (Light Emitting Diode) technology compared to traditional light sources (incandescent and fluorescent). Most lighting design professionals, however, still approach the general use of LED technology with a bit of trepidation since many LED products have come to market prematurely with various issues. The advantages and disadvantages of light sources are:

Incandescent

  • A 19th century technology where a filament is heated to the point where it glow.
  • Pluses: Produces a warm light most people find inviting; very inexpensive to produce.
  • Minuses: Short life; low quality of light relative to the amount of energy used.

Fluorescent

  • An early 20th century technology where electrodes excite a gas inside a tube causing a glow on phosphor coatings.
  • Pluses: Relatively efficient light production; color quality has improved over the years.
  • Minuses: Tubes are not conducive to focusing (versus incandescent spotlights); concerns about toxic contents; has probably reached the limits of improvement.

LED

A late 20th century technology with more of a relationship to the components of computers than more familiar lighting sources.

  • Pluses: Long life; efficient production of light from energy used.
  • Minuses: Heat dissipation; component integration and reliability; consistency of color rendition; lack of optical assemblies to create usable real world fixtures; high price.

The good news is that LED technology is finally beginning to overcome its drawbacks. At Lightfair International, the largest United States architectural lighting conference, LED technology has been the star of the show for the last few years. Advances in LED technology have, for the first time, made LEDs a viable option for architecture lighting of spaces in certain applications: 

  • Manufacturers are overcoming color temperature and color rendering issues of LEDs in a number of ways including: color mixing where red, green, blue, amber, and white LEDs are combined to create the desired color temperature; and improvements in remote phosphor technology where color is added to the light produced by the LEDs with a colored phosphor to help correct color shortcomings, essentially using some of the techniques of both incandescent and fluorescent lamps
  • Pricing for LED products is still high, so users should carefully consider the complete Life Cycle costs versus other technologies.
  • An increasing variety of fixtures are now available to meet aesthetic requirements.

The current challenge is that LED technology is arbitrarily being used as the source for just about every lighting condition imaginable, even though it is not necessarily the best solution after all parameters and needs are considered. The best light source is one where the entire light fixture assembly maximizes the qualities of the light source in order to meet the project needs. LED technology may or may not be the answer, but is becoming a viable option.

 

 

For some time, consumers have been excited about the energy savings and efficient production of light from LED (Light Emitting Diode) technology compared to traditional light sources (incandescent and fluorescent). Most lighting design professionals, however, still approach the general use of LED technology with a bit of trepidation since many LED products have come to… Read more »

Product Review: Casio Signature Series Projectors

 

Wow, when TA started to look at what would be a good, respectable, small (read light weight) bright, wide screen projector for our team to use for meetings at client offices, we did not expect our final choice to be that projector often advertised in the back of the airline catalog – but we did! Casio’s High Brightness Eco-Friendly Green Signature Series uses a Hybrid Light Source, which combines Laser and LED technology for what they call amazing high brightness and can last up to 20,000 hours. They claim 2500 to 3000 lumens depending on the unit – we do question that a little as our old 2000 lumen Sony unit seemed brighter in a side-by-side comparison. But the Sony is much heavier, weighing in at 25 pounds and requires a large laptop sized case to tote it around. The Casio XJ-M255 projector is only 9 pounds including its carrying case. When you strip out the CD, manual and other extras you can slide the Casio into your laptop bag, and you won’t even know it’s there. Would we put this in a conference room or other fixed installation? Doubtful, but we are sure others will. However, for what it was designed to do, we feel the Casio Signature Series projectors hit the mark.

For more information go to:www.casio.com/products/Projectors/Signature_Models/

  Wow, when TA started to look at what would be a good, respectable, small (read light weight) bright, wide screen projector for our team to use for meetings at client offices, we did not expect our final choice to be that projector often advertised in the back of the airline catalog – but we… Read more »

Product Review: Floor Boxes

In our educational programs we joke around that we have never met a floor box that we liked. That is usually because someone pulled the wrong wire to the box, or it is not in the correct location, or it was used as a dust pan! However, FSR has stepped up to the challenge, year in and year out.

FSR is a manufacturer of a wide variety of products including floor, wall, table, and ceiling boxes specializing in AV connectivity needs. Their new FL-G series floor boxes are designed for flexibility, durability and style. These rugged units safely handle the rigors of high traffic floor environments, and they can easily be installed in poured concrete applications.

The really neat point – both models have a 2.5 inch deep back box with the added ability to route wiring between adjacent compartments. This lets them be used in almost all floor slab systems, with conduit coming in from all sides making installation much easier. They also have a scrub water-safe cover. So when a poke through is not an option, or you need more capacity than a poke through, special fire proofing is likely not required.

The FL-G series floor boxes offer flexibility, durability and style for many applications. For more information visit: http://www.fsrinc.com/innerHTML/floorBoxes.html

In our educational programs we joke around that we have never met a floor box that we liked. That is usually because someone pulled the wrong wire to the box, or it is not in the correct location, or it was used as a dust pan! However, FSR has stepped up to the challenge, year… Read more »