Econometrica Inc., a research and management consultation organization, recently added an extension to their Bethesda, Maryland office. When they made the move they decided to include an updated boardroom that would allow for employees to engage in more efficient collaboration.
Along with reliable videoconferencing capabilities, the company required the ability to record content of meetings for future needs. The technology features needed to be personalized to fit the characteristics of the space, including break-away tables and motorized shades already occupying the room. The solution also had to have the ability to stream content to the system regardless of where the presenter was sitting or how the room was configured.
The company turned to Casaplex to provide a solution. Casaplex had worked on the boardroom in Econometrica’s original space. The company mentioned to Casaplex that, while it was happy with the first project, the space operated more like a house than a boardroom. Econometrica was looking for something closer to a media-function room, with more video content and presentation ability as the space was so large.
“The challenge was to think outside the box,” says Chris Kane, Director of Operation and Sales at Casaplex. “Trying to find a simple way to allow anyone across all levels of the company and visitors to be able to use such an advanced room. Trying to incorporate all of the stuff so that no matter who was using the room it would be push-of-a-button, and that’s it.”
To meet Econometrica’s needs, Casaplex installed the client’s existing cable box, an Apple TV for mirroring and airplay, Crestron AirMedia for wireless presentation capabilities, two local inputs on each side of the room, and Crestron CaptureHD for recording and streaming presentations within the room. A Crestron DMPS processor is used to provide the ability to switch between multiple sources within a new projector. The projection system can stream content wirelessly from computers or mobile devices, and allows for multiple users to show their content on the projection screen simultaneously.
A dedicated iPad Mini is used for the room’s functionality. The iPad controls the motorized shades, both PTZ cameras used for presentations and Skype, lighting, and equipment. One of the more interesting aspects of the project is a customized floor plan representation of the room that is able to be utilized on both the dedicated iPad Mini and clients’ own Apple devices. The representation includes touchscreen symbols of each projection system within the room. The client simply taps on the desired device they wish to control and the system switches to the source. The representation also informs the user of which source inputs are being utilized at any given time.
The virtual floor plan shows seating as well as device location.
“The iPad Mini is definitely a nice controller. I think many people are used to touchscreen devices. If they don’t have an Apple, almost everyone now has some sort of a smart device,” says John Mucciardi, IT personnel for Econometrica. “The floor plan was a very nice idea and implementation. There are icons showing where you’re sitting and what’s available, you click and off you go. It’s a very intuitive interface. The iPad as a controller was a great idea, we love that.
“It’s so much better than having a pile of remotes,” adds Mucciardi. “It’s great when you simplify things.”
Casaplex installed Crestron Freespeech to capture audio from lectures and presentations. The system routs audio from the microphones through the CaptureHD system so the audio can be recorded or the speech can be enhanced within the room. The microphones are outfitted with an in-ceiling sensor which prevents incidents where the microphone is left on when someone leaves the room. Once the room is cleared the microphones disconnect from the system.
Econometrica is extremely happy with the design of the room. The company mentioned that the controls are intuitive, especially so with the floor representation that gives employees and visitors alike a simple way to connect their devices to the system for presentations. They have had virtually no problems with the system, aside from some lamps burning out and a case where an employee mistakenly changed the settings on the projector (both easily fixed).
Econometrica is currently utilizing the room for presentations, videoconferences, and as a viewing area for popular sporting events such as the World Cup.