As we are in the final days of summer, teachers are preparing their classrooms for their incoming students, preparing lessons plans, and having teacher meetings.
And in some areas of the country, the school year is already back in full-swing! And with the effects of the pandemic, many people are eager to get their children back to an in-person learning environment. That being said, there are some unique challenges facing our educators again this year. In the state of Florida alone, there are over 9,000 teacher and staff vacancies for this upcoming year. In early 2022, the National Education Association chronicled the results from a member survey, which found that “a staggering 55% of [educators] are thinking about leaving the profession earlier than they had planned.” My brother is a 7th grade teacher and I have a few friends who work in education, and I can tell that they have had similar discussions or have heavily considered other occupational options.
If we have a large amount of students coming to the classroom and limited educators for them, that likely means classroom sizes have expanded too much for instructors. In addition, there’s still
the option to provide remote education for those that have chosen to continue that learning approach for their children. In many cases, teachers are instructing remotely and in-person at the same time.
I can only imagine the challenge to trying to keep everyone’s attention while focusing on particular lesson plan! Also, it’s a challenge when the audio is poor and you cannot effectively hear the speaker, or there are multiple conversations happening at the same time. I’m an adult (or I’m supposed to be), so I imagine it is even more difficult for young students to focus and retain information when audio is overpowered by background noise. I’d compare it to Charlie Brown’s teacher (blah, blah, blah).
The Nureva XT Bundle for Education, which includes the CV300 classroom camera kit and HDL microphone and speaker system, will help to alleviate some of the challenges that educators face today. Although, I do wish we had a magic wand to help them address more obstacles in modern education, beyond audio solutions.
First, the product does not use RF technology, which is utilized in most audio devices available. Instead, Nureva uses the patented Mist Technology, which allows for audio-fullness throughout a classroom. Imagine millions of bubbles in the air, catching and distributing the sound from the speaker evenly throughout the room, floating into all of the nooks and crannies.
But wait, there’s more. By placing primary focus on the speaker, Nureva’s “What You Don’t Hear” technology minimizes distracting background noise or side conversations form students during a lesson (I was certainly guilty of this in school!). This allows the speaker to be heard consistently while moving around the room, creating a great learning environment for both in-person and remote students. Plus, the technology notices changes in the speaker’s tone or enunciation, to enhance a particular point for students, keeping them interested and focuses on the subject at-hand.
In our own industry, we are facing many challenges: product availability issues, delayed projects, and staffing difficulties. With Nureva, you’ll enjoy efficient installation (in approximately 15 minutes). In fact, Exertis Almo has prepared a special installation SKU that you can order, so they can take care of it for you! You can keep skilled staff on your higher-end projects and leverage us for the help.
If you’d like to learn more about the Nureva line or book a live demo,
please visit our website, or contact me.
Angela (Angie) Greene, DSCE
Business Development Manager, Avocor and Nureva
If you’re like many of us in the industry, you have a lot of questions about USB-C and how it fits into AV applications. Fortunately, Legrand AV’s “Technology Evangelist” Joe Cornwall is here to help. Joe presented a very thorough presentation on how USB-C fits into modern AV installations during Almo’s recent E4v.
During Almo’s recent E4v, Joe gave a detailed presentation on how USB-C fits into modern AV installations.
If you missed it, not to worry – you still have a chance! Courtesy of Almo, these trainings are available for another month at the E4v Flex Experience.
Below are three key takeaways from Joe’s session that you’ll definitely want to see:
#1 Cable Lengths and Connectors Matter
The great news about USB-C is that there is finally a single connector, and you don’t have to worry about whether or not it’s upside down anymore. Anyone who has touched a USB cable in the past has certainly dealt with the roller coaster of emotions that come with trying to figure out which way to plug in the cable. USB-C will solve that problem. Unfortunately, because of how much data these new cables are able to handle, they’re limited to very short cable lengths. The longest one you’ll find is six feet! Tune in to Joe’s presentation to learn why you should be excited about these cables, even with such a short length limitation.
#2 New Terms: EMCA Cables and Billboard Devices
Unlike most standard cables, the USB-C connector actually has small chipsets built right into the connector. This means that the cables work in a different manner than previous USB versions. Here are a few terms and features to be aware of: “EMCA Connectors” and “Billboard Devices.” Failing to account for these when needed could create headaches for you and your customers. Joe will teach you what to look for and how to navigate these new waters.
#3 We’re Going to Need a Bigger Docking Station
If you’re planning on deploying USB-C, you should plan on learning the role of docking stations, as these little devices display the true power of USB-C. USB-C allows for the transmission of power, video, audio, data and control bi-directionality. You’ll need a docking station to fully take advantage of all of these features and get the most out of your USB-C products in your system.
Joe’s presentation is worth a 1 AVIXA CTS Renewal Unit. He does a deep dive on these topics (and many more), in a way that onlyLegrand AV’s Joe Cornwall with can. This is one session you won’t want to miss!
An interview with Sam Taylor, Senior Vice President and COO, Almo Professional A/V
With 2020 in the rearview mirror, we are settling in and setting our sites on new goals in 2021. And yes, while 2021 is already starting with its share of challenges, there is a bright glimmer of expectation for the future, especially in Pro AV!
With recent AVIXA reports showing 7-8 percent growth this year, the Pro AV market continues to march ahead. In fact, according to AXIXA’s 2020 Industry Outlook and Trends Analysis, North American Pro AV revenue is expected to grow to $78.5 billion in 2021, up from $74.3 billion in 2020.
There are other glimmers available to small businesses in our industry. The latest COVID-19 Relief Package signed into law on Dec. 27, 2020 provides a second round of assistance to companies in need. See the see the full article from NSCA for complete details.
Many lessons were learned in 2020. Like most companies, the Almo Pro A/V crew was also challenged with cancelled events, the work-from-home learning curve, and moving quickly to offer new ways to keep reseller and integrator partners learning, working and relevant.
We sat down with Sam Taylor, Vice President and COO for Almo Pro A/V to get his perspective on the highs and lows of 2020 and what to expect from Almo in 2021. Here’s what he had to say:
Q: What was the single greatest challenge for Almo in 2020?
Sam: The most difficult part was the inability to begin or complete installations due to facility closures. We’ve experienced a “W-shaped” business cycle with projects at a hard stop in the spring, only to come roaring back in the summer, then closing down again in the late fall with re-opening starting to happen again now.
Q: How has Almo responded to this challenge?
Sam: Two primary ways, by keeping our partners educated on new trends and opportunities in the industry and providing them with relevant products/services/support they need to keep their business moving forward – either with existing opportunities or with new ones. While many markets like hospitality and onsite events were paused, others like distance learning for education and working from home for corporate businesses had urgent new AV needs.
Q: How is Almo keeping partners educated?
Sam: For the first time in 11 years, and after announcing and preparing for our regional E4 Experience education and networking program to travel to Washington, D.C. and CA last spring, we cancelled our live events and introduced a new virtual platform called E4 Evolution (E4v). E4v was met with such success that it has become a permanent part of the E4 program. With fully curated live and interactive AVIXA-certified sessions led by all-star educators on relevant topics to help attendees thrive, E4v has become the next evolution in live education experiences.
We are soon announcing the next E4v, which will take place in March! Stay tuned for details!
Q: What other measures has Almo taken to support integrators since COVID changed our world?
Sam: We are constantly evaluating and changing direction based on the industry and the needs of our partners. We now offer PPE, disinfectant fogging kits, hand sanitizing kiosks and other point-of-entry products. We supply work-from-home bundles and lecture-capture devices for educators and business professionals. We’ve even entered an exclusive relationship with ARHT Media to offer holographic telepresence technology, which is the next best thing to being live!
At the same time, we’ve expanded our managed services offering, particularly for labor and installation to include drafting and engineering options. So many spaces have to be reworked to accommodate COVID restrictions, like restaurant build-outs and restructured office and educational facilities and most of these changes must be made quickly. Almo provides these services so integrators can use them without having to worry about hiring the experts or managing the overhead. We are ready for you now.
Q: How have you handled shipping and manufacturing delays due to COVID?
Sam: The most common delays we have seen are with cameras and USB audio products due to high demand, particularly for education. We offer multiple manufacturing lines so that if one is delayed, there is usually another to access. We help our partners lock down on product allocations early and build flexible options into their P.O.’s to provide the best possible outcome. Offering managed services to help get those products installed quickly and effectively has also helped our partners complete their projects.
Q: Looking on the bright side, what are some of the positives that emerged as a result of all the challenges in 2020?
Sam: It’s been interesting to see how some of the changes we’ve been forced to make have actually been beneficial. We have the technology to make working from home a professional, productive experience. Our E4v has enabled partners to participate in more educational sessions worth AVIXA CTS renewal units from the comfort and safety of their remote workspace. New projects and new ways of conducting business have created exciting new opportunities for our industry that we have been able to immediately embrace.
What are you looking forward to the most in 2021?
Sam: I cannot wait until I am seeing our customers and our vendor partners in person, and getting back to the business of being together as an industry face to face for business and pleasure. While some things may permanently change, many will stay in a “hybrid” mode for some. As COVID vaccines and treatments become more widely available, public spaces will continue to open, making way for existing projects to continue and new projects to begin. The future is bright!
DO YOU HAVE ANY QUESTIONS FOR SAM? IF SO, TYPE THEM IN THE COMMENTS SECTION BELOW!
As the trite saying goes, the only constant is change. The trials and tribulations of COVID-19 underscore this idea by testing our ability to navigate uncertainties, a continually evolving “new normal,” and pivoting business models. Our schools are among the hardest hit in all three of these areas. Safety, new teaching and learning methods, unfamiliar technology, and daily go/no-go uncertainty of in-class instruction dominate many teachers’ and students’ thoughts. Simultaneously, many speculate on the potential long-term emotional impact on children of the COVID generation.
I am mostly optimistic. One life-skill contributing to long-term success is adaptability to change, and now is the perfect time to master this skill. I am not a child psychologist and expect to get some comments on how feeling safe and other factors shape the young mind. While I agree, I also believe we have an opportunity to favorably influence the long-term implications while building resiliency in our children through the example we set in our responses to our circumstances. A vital part of the modeling includes the attitude teachers demonstrate for students in the face of challenges. But teachers need help too. The AV community can minimize instructor stress and maximize adaptability by suggesting distance learning solutions requiring limited teacher intervention or training. Having taught for many years at the college level, I know firsthand that instructors and professors have enough on their minds that mastering a new classroom tool can increase anxiety and reduce education delivery quality. In the process, this stress response potentially adversely impacts their ability to adapt to the new COVID-induced realities and negatively influences students’ attitudes and long-term adaptability. Conversely, if we maximize teacher comfort in their new HyFlex and distance learning environments, they are more likely to model the adaptability needed for long-term student wellbeing.
When we first moved to remote models, leveraging Zoom got remote classes up and running quickly. Many schools rapidly adapted, and teachers learned the new technology. But as time progressed, they discovered they needed something more. The wish list and questions raised included several of the following items:
Zero teacher interaction – Start class and the technology works. When teachers need to remember to start recording, then the recordings often do not happen.
Minimal training requirements for the teacher – The more training needed, the lower the retention, adoption, and proper utilization, and the higher the stress
Reduced resource impact on teaching computer – Who thinks their computer is fast enough? Presenter PCs sometimes bog down. Running capture, streaming, or soft codec software on top of presentations further stresses the machines.
If the instruction PC seizes or needs a restart, what happens to the stream and recording? Does the instructor need to remember to restart the application?
After class, how does content get to remote students? Does the teacher need to upload the lecture content to an LMS or provide a link to students?
Could the network experience bandwidth issues while uploading content to the LMS during peak times? Does this potentially interfere with live classes running concurrently with the uploads?
Does the recording contain tags to simplify playback and searches? If so, what are the post-production requirements to embed the information?
How can we create student experiences similar to the classroom, where the students can individually control what they view and when? For example, sometimes they want to see the teacher, sometimes the content from the presentation computer, and at other times the whiteboard. Globally switching the content may cause some students to miss content when they need to see a source longer than presented.
What if the teacher moves around the classroom? How do you maintain their image on camera while ensuring they have good audio pickup? Speaking of audio, how do you pick up questions from students in the classroom well enough for far-end participants to hear?
Each of the items above represents a potential stress-inducing pain-point, reducing instructional quality and the student experience. Finding an ideal solution that addresses all of these issues could take a rack of equipment, control systems, and programming. Additionally, while there are technical solutions to address all of the above questions, how do you do it all without breaking the bank?
Frankly, in some cases, you can’t do it all without the end-user spending money. But, there are methods to make it more palatable. First, identify the priorities. Sometimes schools want everything but are willing to accept some trade-offs. Understanding your customers’ priorities can save you time hunting for the unicorn solution that fits their budget too. Second, familiarize yourself with some of the potentially lesser-known options on the market with user- and integrator-friendly feature-sets designed to address schools’ preferences. Some of the items to familiarize yourself with include:
CatturaCaptureCast – A recording, streaming, and publishing appliance that automatically captures classes, tags the content, and posts to an LMS with zero teacher intervention or burden on the presenter’s PC. The choice of HDMI or SDI inputs makes them source agnostic, and student controlled multiview playback emulates the classroom experience from the far-end. Remarkably affordable for the value.
Stem Audio ecosystem – Broad coverage or a controlled, narrow pickup area, Stem provides ceiling, wall, and table, mics with speakers and integrated DSP, in a simple to design and implement format. A couple of units cover most classrooms, while PoE convenience, USB connection to a soft-codec, and system self-tuning help the budget while ensuring intelligibility for all participants.
VDO360 AutoPilot and CompassX – An auto-tracking camera that does not require a lanyard or third-party control, along with a decent conventional PTZ camera. With the Autopilot covering the teacher, the CompassX on the content and connected, to a CaptureCast (with Stem Audio), provides the “killer app” in lecture capture.
It seems like I have the same conversation with integrators daily. They have a school system that tried the lowest cost mic and camera connected to the presenter PC, but now they need something better. They need something easy to integrate and low stress for the teacher that provides a positive learning experience – and all three of the items above, along with new other options, frequently receive favorable responses from all parties. Most importantly, however, is the impact on students. As a father of three remote high school students experiencing varying Covid-19 outlooks, and teacher influences, I appreciate students’ need to see role-models successfully navigating today’s challenges. Technology in the new-classroom can enhance or impair the teachers’ experience, and by extension, the students’. So, the next time you are working on classroom projects, remember your design may impact the teacher experience, and by extension, the long-term resilience of the students in their charge.
I welcome your insights. Please share your thoughts on balancing quality distance learning solutions with teacher comfort and budget constraints. What are your views on how the teaching experience can impact student adaptability and the long-term resilience of the COVID generation? Feel free to comment below or reach out to me at [email protected].
This is part three of a three-part blog series on ARHT Media’s new Holographic TelePresence technology, distributed in the U.S. exclusively through Almo Professional A/V. Find part one here and part two here.
You’re in conference calls with partners and coworkers multiple times a day, day after day, week after week. Naturally, you can imagine 2D video meetings have gotten a little old and unimaginative.
ARHT Media and Almo Professional A/V have joined forces. The new partnership brings Holographic TelePresence technology and a new platform for it called the Virtual Global Stage. In case you have not heard, this exciting solution is coming soon to a virtual stage design near you.
While COVID-19 was completely unexpected, we now know a lot more about how work, UCC (unified communications and collaboration) and meeting culture will change. Acting upon this new knowledge now is totally in your power.
What is hologram technology used for? Here are a few applications for which Holographic TelePresence is a perfect fit:
Higher education. Yes, we can do our virtual teaching through video conferencing platforms. But with more than a few people on each session, the personal feel you’re yearning for pretty much vanishes. Classrooms are an ideal place for interactive holographic displays. Why? Because holograms prove particularly useful where a connection is valued.
In the classroom, there’s great importance in seeing facial expressions, storytelling through body language, reading the room before moving onto the next lesson. As great as it is to have Zoom and Teams for digital learning, truly connecting on a 2D platform is tough. Add holography, and picture the wildly enriched lectures and engaging experiences.
Corporate and UCC spaces. The second application to consider as a use case for Holographic TelePresence is corporate. Holographic TelePresence takes the idea of a virtual meeting and infuses it with new energy and possibilities.
While, for now, we see holographic display images used by the C-Suite, widespread use is very possible. In corporate environments, remote or otherwise, ARHT’s technology breaks down the limitations of 2D. Hologram tech in a virtual environment creates an interactive experience that benefits viewers and hologram presenters alike.
Live events, meetings and conferences. Live event programming, while fun and valuable, costs a fortune. Highly desired speakers only have so much time and availability. Consider the possibilities if, suddenly, neither travel nor a large venue were needed. That alone is enough to make an event planner smile.
How great would it be to virtually stage a room and have world-class speakers (think religious leaders, CEOs, politicians, celebrities) at virtual events if the in-person feel was maintained? Booking speakers virtually (who can “beam in” from their remote setup instead of getting on a plane) saves time and finances — plus, it greatly lessens the environmental impact. Through Holographic TelePresence, it’s as though hologram presenters are on stage next to each other.
A Visual Edge and an Emotional Draw: Now Is The Time for 3D Holographic Display Tech
Especially lately, high-status speakers like celebrities are in high demand. But does a 2D video appearance create the connection that an in-person one would? No.
3D hologram meetings and hologram teleconferences deliver a more lifelike presentation and create a bigger emotional draw. In an interview with Inavate Magazine, ARHT Media CEO Larry O’Reilly highlighted an example from December 2018 with “Aquaman” star Jason Momoa.
“He was rehearsing for Saturday Night Live [in New York City],” said O’Reilly. “On Thursday night, he just went to a different studio at 30 Rock, and we beamed him into Mexico City for fan engagement and media events at the IMAX theatre there. The next night, we beamed him into Comic-Con Brazil, where he addressed over 3,000 people live.”
Through its Virtual Global Stage, ARHT leverages the proprietary transmission software that powers its HoloPresence (or “holographic presence”) platform to “beam” multiple presenters into a virtual, online environment. Human holograms then appear in lifesize proportions and can interact with audience members (and the other panelists) virtually.
Hologram solutions are beyond what your customer even knows.
Some may claim that hologram media is a trend — or they’ll say it’s just emerging — but we know otherwise. The benefits of an enhanced teaching presence, a cutting-edge guest appearance or a town hall that doesn’t put you to sleep are massive. We’ve heard people say that futuristic solutions like human hologram technology are just a solution just looking for a problem. COVID-19 has changed this reality.
This is part two of a three-part blog series on ARHT Media’s new Holographic TelePresence technology, distributed in the U.S. exclusively through Almo Professional A/V. You can find part one here.
Providers like Zoom have done an amazing job supporting the new remote world this year. But if you’re now video conferencing all day, you may be “Zoomed out” from all the video calls. I know I am.
What seems like endless video conferences, webinars, and virtual meetings has been, well, fine. And necessary during this cultural shift in work and meetings. But we can only thrive so long on standard 2D video conferencing.
In remote and virtual settings, 2D video conferencing only scratches the surface of what is possible.
In part one of this three-part blog series, we gave you the scoop on something new and exciting that could change video meetings and virtual events. That something is called Holographic TelePresence, and it’s a solution from ARHT Media that brings lifelike, interactive holographic display content to your event, room or computer screen. Holographic TelePresences creates a unique and highly engaging experience like no other.
To add to the excitement, ARHT’s new Virtual Global Stage (VGS)platform is a premium, digital experience. It offers the look and feel of a professional broadcast but streamed online. Through the Virtual Global Stage, presenters, panelists and lecturers around the world can participate from wherever they can access a capture studio.
Imagine the possibilities when you eliminate the need for a huge venue, expensive travel, and the physical gathering of attendees.
Unlike AR and VR, No Headset Is Needed With Holographic TelePresence
Do you know how hologram technology works? Below, we explain how ARHT Media does it.
Using proprietary technology, capture studios, and standard projection equipment, Holographic TelePresence “beams” presenters into one or multiple venues simultaneously. You may also hear the technology referred to as HoloPresence, short for “holographic presence.” Presenters can be located anywhere in the world — they just need the equipment and access to the platform via the web. Along with a new hologram presentation platform known as the Virtual Global Stage, Holographic TelePresence enables hybrid events — with some participants attending remotely and some attending live.
In other words, ARHT’s hologram events can run with all-remote participants/presenters, or with some live and some remote participants/presenters. Attendees and speakers choose how they participate — remotely or face to face — which empowers choice and flexibility. The value is that events can reach their largest possible audience. Organizations can also deliver a premium experience that goes well beyond the 2D video call.
To explain how Holographic TelePresence works, we’ll distinguish it from holograms, virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR).
Holographic TelePresence vs. Holograms:There is a distinction to be made between true holograms — 3D images produced in mid-air — and Holographic TelePresence. The “ARHT” (pronounced “art”) in ARHT Media stands for Augmented Reality Holographic Technology. It turns out that ARHT’s solution is not exactly equatable to a hologram, even though the final result appears as one. (Quick note: we will refer to the imagery produced by ARHT’s technology as “holograms;” just know we’re using that term as a general understanding of the final result — lifelike images that appear to the audience as holograms. We’re doing that for simplicity’s sake, not specifically to annoy the technology purists out there.)
Holographic TelePresence vs. AR and VR: How does ARHT’s solution differ from other new hologram technology, virtual reality and augmented reality? VR blocks out your ability to see and hear the real world — usually through a VR headset. AR uses a computer and, sometimes, a special headset or glasses to create digital objects and overlay them onto what you see in our physical world. Are you familiar with Pokémon GO? That’s also augmented reality.
Holographic TelePresence is a projection that uses an illusion effect powered by ARHT’s “HumaGram” technology. ARHT’s technique is more sophisticated than others you may know, like Pepper’s Ghost. Contrasting AR and VR to Holographic TelePresence, ARHT’s solution is neither augmented reality nor virtual reality alone. Holographic AR is steps beyond — no headset or special glasses needed.
With these distinctions and a new understanding, we’re ready to reveal the minimal equipment it takes to deploy ARHT’s hologram technology in any space.
Debunking the Technology
To virtually stage a room, Holographic TelePresence requires a more precise setup than video conferencing or a remote presentation system, but the concept and necessary equipment are pretty straightforward. ARHT’s setup is a combination of video shot in front of a backdrop, then projected on stage (or “on stage,” if being done virtually) onto a screen. So, the production needs a screen, as well as controlled lighting, to ensure the projection is bright and visible.
In an article with Inavate Magazine, Andrew Parry, an online learning video producer at Imperial College Business School, explained further. Elements to consider include the capture space (plus, distance between camera and subject), the height/positioning of the camera, and lighting. In the case of Imperial College’s virtual stage design, Parry explained, lights placed behind the subject backlit everything, including shoes. He added that there were also two lights arranged in front of the subject to improve the lighting of the human hologram on the other end.
Factors such as lighting and camera angle ensure that the final result — holographic display images on the screen — is an accurate representation in terms of body shape and dimensions. Thankfully, the AV industry is quite familiar with the principles of projection, making the execution of this technology, once learned, quite straightforward.
Below, you’ll see some behind-the-scenes photos of the setup in a recent hologram teleconference held live with ARHT’s hologram tech. In the interview, rAVe [PUBS] founder Gary Kayye (beaming in from North Carolina) and Almo’s Sam Taylor (beaming in from Maryland) are using ARHT’s Virtual Global Stage. To the audience, the two appeared virtually on the same “stage” with no editing, and no latency lag, having a real-time conversation about the emerging interactive hologram technology.
Will Hologram Technology Change Business in 2020?
While holograms have gotten plenty of attention in the media these past few years, many could be asking if this is just a trend. Will on-stage holograms like ARHT Media’s become big business? What can we expect from hologram technology in the future?
We believe any industry — higher education, live events, advertising and entertainment, healthcare, corporate spaces, meeting spaces, you name it — will benefit from 3D holographic display technology.