The Verizon Innovation Center in San Francisco is the second in a series of technological showcasing and collaboration spaces that the company has constructed for partners and customers to gather and begin plans for the next generation of technology solutions. Visitors come from around the world to discuss technology innovation and, in-turn, rapidly develop, test, and prototype 4G LTE-enabled products.
“This journey started a few years ago,” says Gagan Puranik, Director of Innovation and Growth Marketing for Verizon. “Our vision at that time was about how to bring to life our aspiration of being the most innovative company in the world.” In 2010 Verizon began working on two Innovation Centers in Waltham, Massachusetts and San Francisco, the innovation capital of the west. The San Francisco Center underwent a wide-ranging expansion in 2013.
Whitlock, a global AV solutions provider specializing in collaborative technology design, integration, and managed services, was tasked with integrating innovative technologies and collaborative environments into the space. Having worked on the first Innovation Centers as well, Whitlock had a good idea of the solutions Verizon would need for the massive project. Whitlock called upon the consultants at Cavanaugh Tocci Associates, a partner during the first Innovation Center projects, to once again help Verizon.
The most visually outstanding piece of the integration will draw a visitor’s attention immediately. A two-story digital Brand Totem stands in the center of the Innovation Center. Messages run across the totem throughout the day, including messages communicated between floors to be seen on either level and customized messages for visitors. The totem creates a wow factor and stirs anticipation for those entering the space.
“Gagan from Verizon and our team collaborated from the beginning on how to integrate the totem into the system,” says Matt Moore, a principal consultant at Cavanaugh Tocci. “We worked directly with the architect to make sure that everything looked great and wasn’t just stuck on, it was really a part of the system. Figuring out the technology behind it was done in conjunction with content consultants. Whitlock, every step of the way, did budget checks and checked to see what was feasible and what could be built. The technology was chosen in a very collaborative way.”
For presentations, Whitlock equipped the Innovation Center’s 22-person, fixed seating, tiered theater with 60 Christie MicroTile screens stacked five high. The intimate space enables immersive, innovative demonstrations showcasing leading-edge technology and industry solutions. For larger functions, a multipurpose room was outfitted with the latest in world class audiovisual gear and support technology. The room serves as a space for functions, private dining, demos, large presentations, and exhibit space.
Collaboration rooms fit groups of 15-18 people and were designed to provide a clean, modern aesthetic mixed with state of the art technology. The wood tables in each collaboration room houses built-in power, data, AV connections, and microphones. The rooms contain 90-inch LCD screens with HD videoconferencing capabilities to bolster worldwide collaboration.
The labs within the Innovation Center are engaging and intuitive, providing space to create and customize special purpose environments. The labs can be configured to meet the changing needs of the Center or any target audience. Graphic backdrops are utilized to set the stage for vignettes focused on industry specific needs. Adaptable platforms turn the labs into a full exhibit space.
“Part of what made this cutting edge project so successful was the great partnerships Whitlock has with manufacturers such as Crestron and Christie,” says Jim Stephens of Whitlock. “With our strong ties we were able to give Verizon solutions that were just hitting the street. We delivered the first 64 x 64 DM switcher in the world.” The matrix allows content and tech to flow to a central location.
If you need a rest you can visit the Innovation Center’s Coffee Bar, an amenity for visitors that also provides an informal space to spur conversations with customers. There are various tactile technology displays with which to interact. With a multi-touch surface, TouchTones 4G enabled juke box streaming music, and world class views of the San Francisco Bay, the area serves as a favorite hangout spot for visitors.
“What’s really important to understand is that we as a team, Whitlock, Verizon, CTA, are pushing the boundaries of what could be done in a space like this,” says Stephens. “One of the biggest takeaways is that it takes a real partnership. Without that partnership, I don’t think this would have been possible.”
The Innovation Center stands as a state-of-the-art example of that teamwork. For that reason, they are the 2014 Corporate Integration Award winners.
3 Integrator Takeaways
- Flexibility – Technology changes. You need to be able to think on your feet, and have the ability to adapt to an existing building. Moving things around, fitting them in, and having them work the way you need can be tough.
- Forward Thinking – For this project Verizon needed technology that was ‘future-proof.’ The integration needed to be able to work with or be modified to work with new technologies as they are introduced.
- Communication – Being able to communicate with content, contractors, end users, and making sure everyone has input and understands what is going on is paramount.
3 End User Takeaways
- Choice – Choosing the correct integrator can be trying. High quality installation, reliability, cost, and on-time delivery are important. More than anything, though, the end user needs to have trust in an integrator.
- Understanding – As an end user, companies need to understand what they are buying and why they are buying it. Designers and engineers have to understand why they are installing the technology. Everyone needs to be on the same page.
- Cutting Edge – When working with first generation technology, end users need to understand that technology. While there may be hiccups, it doesn’t mean it’s the wrong technology. Pick the right partner, trust in one another, and the result will be a success.