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Corporate Initiatives installs boardrooms, conference facilities for Telstra

Feb 10, 2005 8:00 AM


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Australian telecommunications company Telstra has a reputation to keep as a company that fully embraces cutting-edge technology. Twelve years ago, it had the foresight to employ a standard video projection system in its main executive meeting rooms. Today, Telstra uses AMX automation and integration to control high-level presentations and videoconferences between its Melbourne and Sydney facilities. By blending the required audio/video equipment with the innovative architectural design and overall purpose of these two conference rooms, the company has successfully set a new standard in multimedia business communications.

Telstra uses AMX automation and integration to control presentations in its Melbourne and Sydney facilities.

Corporate Initiatives of Melbourne, Australia, completed Telstra's original installation of video projection equipment and the recent technology and control system upgrade designs. "We are a preferred supplier of A / V for Telstra," said Gary Oliver, MD at Corporate Initiatives. "Their main goals were to be seen by their customers and more than 70,000 employees across the country as utilizing technology in an advanced and efficient manner that produced a high level of business efficiency. So we introduced AMX as the heart of the new system."

Harnessing AMX
All aspects of communication--audio signals, video feeds, and data display--throughout the facility occur through a robust AMX NetLinx control system supported by numerous AMX TPI/4 touch panel interfaces and the one-touch efficiency of AMX 4in. and 6in. touch panels. At the simple touch of a button, in-room executives and technical support staff have the ability to activate sound levels, direct images, and launch multimedia presentations between the identical conferencing facilities in Melbourne and Sydney.

"Telstra has a large number of executives who use these rooms," Oliver said. "The A/V requirements were to build identical facilities so that they would adapt quickly to the new technology. We made sure to provide a standardized control system and consistent form of control capability. The overall design of the rooms evolved from Telstra's expectation that we would implement a better way to handle videconferencing. We presented them with a design that delivered performance, value, and the flexibility to meet future demands."

Making room
In the Telstra building located in Melbourne, an entire floor was knocked out to create a new and improved conference room. In Sydney, the installation required a partial renovation of the existing meeting area. In an effort to create an enhanced level of simplicity and intimacy between the users (executives and other employees) and the A/V equipment in both places, Corporate Initiatives convinced Telstra that the architectural facets of the project had to "wrap around the technology," according to Oliver.

"Larger projects such as this are often driven by the architect and builder," he said. "The client does not always have total control. I explained to Telstra that the physical properties of the rooms had to be constructed around the technology. There was no other way to do it in order to achieve efficient and effective conference facilities. We got the message through during the concept stage of design."

Ergonomic efficiency
In most conference rooms, heads pivot toward speakers, to watch presentations and to see videoconferencing images. The lines of sight are virtually nonexistent as participants continually reposition themselves to obtain a clearer view. At Telstra, the sightlines are nearly perfect. With minimal effort and only a slight turn of the head, executives can comfortably watch video on a projection screen, communicate with data on automated LCD monitors, directly view the far-end person on centralized plasmas, and contact technicians or support staff in a separate control room for assistance whenever needed.

Telstra blended the required audio/video equipment with innovative architectural design in its new conference rooms.

"The sightlines were incredibly difficult to achieve," Oliver said. "The conference table alone required 17 separate concepts before we were able to determine the best possible layout. What we were able to provide was distinct electronic workspaces for each executive seated around the table without interfering with their normal working style." At the front of the room, two rear-projection screens display up to five far-end videoconference locations simultaneously. The introduction of MPEG-2 broadcast technology provides full-motion DVD-quality videoconferencing between both facilities. The high placement of the screens ensures maximum visibility (line of sight) from every seating position in the room.

Technology blitz
Eight plasma screens are located in the center of the main conference table. These screens display images at the far end of a videoconference. The placement of the plasmas creates a natural line of sight between the speaker and the audience. Installed above each plasma is a video camera that offers far-end viewers the ability to establish direct eye contact over video with individual executives and other speakers.

At each seat around the table, automated LCD monitors rise and descend on command to display supporting data for presentations. The LCDs also double as a control interface to manage conference elements such as multimedia presentations and lighting.

"We had to maximize the floorplan and I was just able to think of some innovative ideas," Oliver said. "I don't let [the fact that] something hasn't been done before stop me from finding a solution. I always ask, can we make it better and how can we do it differently?

"The facilities would have been impossible without AMX," Oliver added. "There is simply too much A/V equipment that would have required a team of people."

Supporting roles
Instead, a single control room located behind the front wall of each conference room allows on-site technicians to manage the operation of integrated devices through the NetLinx system. A technician can maintain view of the room through the already installed video cameras and provide assistance to resolve any equipment issues during a live meeting. The technicians also have the ability to remotely monitor equipment from Melbourne to Sydney and back again, testing voice processors, verifying the functionality of projectors, confirming lamp life, and checking that all incoming and outgoing data is switching properly. The technicians have total command of both conference rooms by using NetLinx and the local network to establish remote access of in-room diagnostics.

One of a kind
"Telstra's first impression was that the executives were very pleased," Oliver said. "During the design phase, I emphasized that we show the installation not just on paper first but also with physical mockups in order to give Telstra a complete understanding of all the technology we were going to give them to use. The final result went beyond their expectations in how the rooms perform. They use the facilities so extensively, significantly more so than any other electronic meeting room that they have had before."

"Many international companies from all over the world visit Telstra and have commented on how they have never seen anything like these conference facilities anywhere else," Oliver added. "What we are really offering here is excellent functionality and extreme simplicity. The lines of sight, the levels of audio and video and the amount of technology we could only accomplish if we controlled everything with AMX. That's what makes it all come together."



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