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AV Asset Control on a University Campus, Part 1

Sep 14, 2010 12:00 PM, With Bennett Liles

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So what exact model of those Extron touchpanels have you got? Have you got the ones mount flush into the wall?
Yes, we're using the 700MVs, which will do a wall mount or a lectern mount; we're using them in lecterns. We have a custom-built piece of furniture that we use, so we use the 700MVs, which will mount directly into that. [Timestamp: 7:33]

Did you have to go to the Extron TouchLink class or anything like that or did you figure it out all on your own?
We've all been to that when it came here to Atlanta last year. Every single one of us has been to the training. Some of it was just based on our experience with using level Configurator in the past with a 226—we were able to figure a lot of things out on our own. But being able to go to the class certainly helped and answered a lot of questions and filled in some gaps for—particularly with GUI Configurator. But overall the configuration software was very simple to learn and to use. [Timestamp: 8:07]

Well sometimes the faculty members may get a little spooked when they see a touchpanel. When they see something with the hard buttons, they know nothing is going to change. So do you find that some of the faculty members maybe get a little apprehensive when they saw a hard-button panel there before, and then they come in and see a touchpanel?
To be honest, we haven't really found that yet. We try to make sure—and Extron does a great job with the interface. So our faculty have really come a long way since we've been doing this for 10 years here at KSU. The interface that Extron puts out there is very similar, I feel, in relation to the 226 so they're able to come in and just seamlessly take over and start running it—with more flexibility, frankly, than they had with the 226. So that's what we've found so far. [Timestamp: 8:55]

  Related Links

AV Asset Control on a University Campus, Part 2
At Kennesaw State University in Atlanta, they're upgrading the AV control systems and installing Extron's TouchLink touchpanel controllers...

When faculty members come in and they want to learn the system, what kind of issues do they normally have the most problems with? Is it the controller or is operating the actual equipment, like document cameras and things like that?
If you're using the touchpanel, it very much is the GUI design. You have to keep in mind that we are higher-ed and not home theater, so keeping the GUI simple is the key thing when you're having a lot of different faculty members coming in throughout the day, throughout week who all have different abilities and different needs being able to use this system. So that's why, for example, a TouchLink—originally we thought we would probably do a lot of our own GUI design, but in fact, we just ended up using their templates for the most part because they were simple and they did what we needed them to do. [Timestamp: 9:39]

Really saves a lot of time. And you guys have started using the SMX series Extron switchers. How are those being used?
As we mentioned earlier, we like to revisit our standard classroom design every so often, and one of the things we've decided to do recently was to go all-digital video. And after looking at some of the different digital video switching products on the market, we decided to go with the Extron SMX series—mainly because of the chassis frame and the ability to swap different cards in and out. We thought it was the best solution for us now and going into the future. So we're using those with an 8x8 HDMI card and an 8x8 audio card for right now. All the video in our standard classroom is all-digital from the source. There is actually one analog input that is a VGA input—we'll call it a legacy input—for all our laptops that may not have a digital output, but even that input is actually being scaled up to HDMI. So that's pretty much how we're using them; it's being controlled over IP through the TouchLink processor, the IPL 250. And so far they've worked really well, we have not had any problems with them they've been a breeze to set up and control, and everything is working really well with them. [Timestamp: 10:49]

All right, Chris Walston and Chris Lewis of the multimedia development group at Kennesaw State University. It's been great having you here for part one. In part two, we'll get into some of the more routine aspects of the job and maybe talk about some future applications like classroom capture. But I really thank you both for being here for part one.

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