During the summer of 2015, the Norris University Center Technical Services department at Northwestern University was charged with upgrading the audio/visual systems to address the aging technology throughout the building, primarily within seven mid-sized conference rooms.
A key driving force in this initiative was addressing the Analog Sunset. Being an older facility, the technology in the Norris Center had not been addressed in many years.
Many of the Norris Center clients now use newer laptops and other devices which natively support HDMI and other digital outputs, but most rooms were only equipped with VGA ports and composite RCA ports.
It was critical that analog inputs be converted to digital inputs that could handle higher resolutions, and support more advanced devices. The decision to upgrade was also made to cultivate a “bring-your-own device” culture among students, faculty, staff, and guests holding meetings and other programs in the Norris Center.
In addition to addressing the Analog Sunset, the sunshine had to be addressed as well. Most of the meeting rooms within the Norris Center have large, floor-to-ceiling windows, showcasing the beautiful shores of Lake Michigan and allowing in an abundance of sunshine.
Because of this, many times, projector-generated images were washed out on-screen whenever the shades were left open.
Like many projects involving technology, the budget was limited and the staff was small. Hiring an audio/visual integrator to upgrade the spaces for us was not possible with the time and money allocated.
Therefore, the Technical Services staff was responsible for researching, purchasing, and installing all of the equipment that was needed.
After research, benchmarking, and price-comparisons, seven 70″ Sharp Aquos flat panel displays were purchased to replace old projectors and screens. This not only saved money, but also solved the problem of sunlight washing out the screens during meetings.
Sharp Aquos displays are also capable of displaying a static wallpaper image when turned off, allowing for an additional branding opportunity within each space.
In addition to the new displays, a resident computer was purchased for each of these seven rooms. A Dell Chromebox (Google) computer was paired with each new display.
The Chromeboxes were mounted to the walls above the TV mounts while still hidden behind the displays. A wireless Logitec keyboard with integrated track pad now accompanies each new display, allowing the user to operate the computer from anywhere in the room. A USB extender was installed to provide an accessible USB port for plugging in flash drives and other portable USB devices.