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AV Technology Enhances Corporate Collaboration, Part 1

Dec 9, 2010 12:00 PM, With Bennett Liles

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Editor's note: For your convenience, this transcription of the podcast includes timestamps. If you are listening to the podcast and reading its accompanying transcription, you can use the timestamps to jump to any part of the audio podcast by simply dragging the slider on the podcast to the time indicated in the transcription.

When Cricket Communications set up a new San Diego headquarters, they wanted the staff to be able to collaborate on projects using the latest AV tools without waiting in line or scattering emails around, so they called on CompView Audio Visual to come up with a solution. Travis Ellis and Tom Yerkes are on the project, and they're here to tell us how they pulled off the solution.

SVC: Travis and Tom, thanks for being with me on the SVC podcast coming to us from California and CompView Audio Visual. Tell me a little bit about CompView Audio Visual. I know you've got offices along the West Coast, and I believe you've got one in the Midwest too?
Tom Yerkes: That is correct. We're based an office in Minneapolis, as well as Salt Lake City and as you mentioned before, mostly on the West Coast—Seattle, our heaquarters in Beaverton, Ore., San Francisco, Los Angeles, as well as San Diego. [Timestamp: 1:16]

OK, and it looks like this was a pretty ambitious project. Your client was Cricket Communications, a well-established mobile phone service provider, and they were doing the new headquarters facility in San Diego. What exactly were they looking for in the installation? What was the overall goal on the project?
Travis Ellis:
The goal on the project was to repurpose some of the audiovisual equipment that they had in about five locations here in San Diego. They were going to move all of the folks from those five buildings into one large office space, and so the goal was to be able to set up conference rooms to collaborate and communicate and have a meeting space that was productive for all the conference rooms. [Timestamp: 2:00]

Yeah, it looks like staff collaboration and easy communication was the big thing on this. So how did CompView Audio Visual come into this? How did you get hooked up with Cricket Communications?
Travis Ellis:
We worked with a company called Space Matters. Space Matters is a project management company, and they helped coordinate a meeting with us and Cricket to identify their needs and what they would need for their AV spaces throughout the facility. [Timestamp: 2:24]

And it was obviously about bringing people together. I saw some pictures on this, and there was one where they had a bunch of cubicles, but they also had some common areas—I think they're referred to as courtyards—where the staff can go to and work together so they don't have to cram into one cubical or hang over the partitions and talk to each other. How were the courtyards equipped? They had video monitors in those areas?
Travis Ellis:
Yeah, the courtyards are just a space where folks can come out of their cubicles, have a quick meeting. There's an LCD display on a half-wall that separates the hallway and then where all these cubicles are, and there's several tables adjacent to that display so they could hook up a laptop and go through a presentation or take notes, get done with their meeting. And then they're just a few short steps away from their cubicle so they could go back to work. [Timestamp: 3:13]

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Now that would seem to be really handy if you've got a team presentation where the presenters might be taking turns or you've got several people involved, so you can some valuable rehearsal time there.
Travis Ellis:
It was. And in every instance in every conference room, we equipped them with a VGA connection and also a HDMI connection for future-proofing them for digital. So a lot of their laptops that they used for meetings had a HDMI connection or a display port connection as well as a VGA connection, so it gave them some flexibility between the two signal types. [Timestamp: 3:44]

From what I saw of this, there were places with where there could be different ways of doing things and you had to sort all that out. What turned out to be the biggest challenge on this project? Was there one thing that turned out to be the biggest hurdle to get past?
Travis Ellis:
Probably the biggest challenge was just being in the large-scale construction environment where you have six floors that are being installed at the same time. And then there's particular schedules of when J-boxes are going to be installed and floor boxes, and where you can really start roughing in your cabling, and all that's a coordinated effort in stages. Really the biggest challenge was the construction element and fitting in phases of the project as construction moved along. You have to do X amount of cabling from this state to this state, and then maybe upstairs you're already installing flatpanels in a room that already had that precabling done. [Timestamp: 4:33]

Yeah, that's always the trick when you've got so many people doing so many different things during construction and keeping those things in the right order so you don't end up having one thing holding up everything else. I was interested in how you have these monitors arranged in these little courtyard areas. What kind of video sources can you get on those monitors?
Travis Ellis:
In the courtyards themselves, its basic laptop presentation, so there's VGA connections with audio as well as HDMI. All those monitors are controlled from a simple AMX button panel that's right directly adjacent to the monitors, so you would just turn the monitor on and select either VGA or HDMI, and then you can control the volume right from the pushbutton controller there. [Timestamp: 5:15]

So how does the audio work without, I guess, disturbing the people in the cubicles?
Travis Ellis:
Good question. Typically some of their cubicles have like a sliding—well, they weren't even cubicles actually, it's a kind of an office space—where they have these sliding glass doors. So in those areas, they can actually use the audio, but in some instances where they are right around the cubicles, they wouldn't typically use the audio. [Timestamp: 5:35]

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