A NYC media company that helps to promote, in part, some of the most recognizable brands in the United States recently decided to outfit its office in the city with a vast digital signage system that could run throughout the entire office to a number of displays. This media company wanted a spacious and peaceful environment for its employees, in which they could fluidly connect to each other without the use of a phone system.
The company needed myriad information, like news feeds and internal announcements, constantly streaming throughout the office as clearly and unobtrusively as possible. The information needed to be remotely manageable by IT personnel on an office-wide basis, with the ease-of-use to be controllable on a per-TV basis by general users. Among the spaces to be outfitted with communications technology were dozens of conference rooms, a cafeteria and open office spaces.
The media company reached out to Everglades Technologies in NYC to help them implement the design. Bruce Reed, Senior AV Engineer, was the programmer for the communications project. His first task consisted of taking the media company’s design and fitting it to the strengths of Everglades Technologies.
“We’re a Savant shop,” says Reed. “The first-tier design was created by an outside consulting company, but it was designed around a Crestron build. So I actually took his Crestron design and flipped it to Savant, and kind of manipulated it to work in a way that, we explained to the client, we wanted to do it.
“The client had this really distinct idea of wanting to leverage the floorplan via an iPad. Savant’s iOS integration is just fantastic, and we couldn’t get the same kind of performance from a Crestron system. Leveraging Savant, we were able to build a floorplan.” To reach this end Reed needed to build a separate Graphic User Interface (GUI) for each floor, each floor with twenty five to thirty displays and each floor with a unique floorplan GUI.
Using a Blonder Tongue RF modulation system, Evertech was able to distribute multiple user created broadcasted channel feeds to the dozens of displays throughout the open areas and conference rooms. The displays could be easily controlled by any user with a basic remote. IT personnel were given global control on the Savant Systems platform, with iPads running the custom GUIs that could be pinched or zoomed to utilize every display location for the two separate floor plans. Custom programming was put in place for global actions, such as switching all displays to a certain channel for a big announcement.
“What was really cool was that we made separate Savant iPad GUIs for the boardrooms and conference rooms that were specific to those rooms, and it was for source selection and controlling the TV,” says Reed. “Then the sources that were in each corporate room that were separate, they were local sources, was ChromeBox because they do Google Hangouts all the time, and Apple TVs for AirPlay. We used Atlona HTVS line of products, and each conference room had a table with a pop-up in it for VGA and HDMI.
“The client’s whole thing was that they wanted it so that most of the videoconferencing element was in a space that they could control, so Google Hangouts was great for them because they were already kind of a Google-based company,” says Reed. “I mean it was really simple, Logitech cameras hooked up to a ChromeBox, and then we used USB extenders for the microphones at the table.”
Audio was also a concern for the company. With an open office plan and such an expansive system, it was important to break sound into different zones in order to allow for different feeds to be played over displays in different areas. Because the build was partly for business practices and partly for employee entertainment, the company wanted the ability to play music in different zones as well.
“There were three zones of audio that were routed through basic mixers, and for those they really only used Sonos as a source, wireless microphones and an Airport Express for AirPlay,” says Reed. “Speakers were not throughout the whole space, only in the common areas like the kitchen and lounge. [Music] was more or less for meetings that happened in the café and lounge where the speakers were located at. If they needed to do some kind of presentation that required amplification they would use the speakers for that, with wireless mics.”
The media company is currently using the system for employee entertainment, corporate branding, meetings, and more. They’re extremely satisfied with the system.