Systems Integration

IMS Technology Services Achieves AVIXA AV Provider of Excellence Distinction

Posted on: February 14th, 2018

IMS Technology Services has qualified as an AVIXA AV Provider of Excellence, or APEx. The AVIXA APEx program is a marketing recognition program for integration companies and AV design consulting firms dedicated to upholding industry excellence by providing quality service to customers.

The AVIXA APEx program recognizes companies based on the number of employees holding key industry certifications, including AVIXA’s CTS credential, completion of continuing education classes, and positive customer survey responses. APEx providers must also prove that they meet or exceed the requirements within 2 ANSI/INFOCOMM standards, the Standard Guide for Audiovisual Systems Design and Coordination Processes and the AV System Performance Verification Standard, to foster better communication between the AV provider and the client.

“The APEx designation gives AV companies a mark of distinction in the marketplace,” said David Labuskes, CTS, RCDD, AVIXA’s Executive Director and Chief Executive Officer. “Customers of APEx companies can be confident of the AV provider’s professionalism and commitment to ongoing training, customer service and dedication to excellence.”

“We pride ourselves on delivering a quality product on time and on budget to our customers, so the AVIXA APEx distinction really solidifies our mission,” said Patrick Whipkey IMS’s Director of Project Management.

For more information on the APEx Program, visit avixa.org/APEx.

CES 2018 – Trends, Distractions, and Revolutions

Posted on: January 31st, 2018

Original article written by David Keene on avnetwork.com

While most of the goings on at the huge CES show in Las Vegas this week do not directly affect the pro video, audio, and AV world, we can’t discount the growing trend of product development in the consumer electronics world powering R&D for displays and other technologies that will eventually impact the pro world. Not to mention the jockeying of the tech giants who love the pro world but who really make the lions share of their sales in CE. The days when all video, image processing, and user interface platform breakthroughs came first to pro video or broadcast and then filtered over to the consumer world are over. Today what Google, Apple, Samsung, LG, et al do best, they often do it first in the larger CE realm. The arrow of causality from pro to CE has not reversed completely or permanently but there is big momentum from the CE world on many fronts.

If you’re too busy designing a command and control center for a major city’s traffic control hub, a university teaching theater, a corporate meeting space, or a hospital data visualization system to attend CES and wade through drone pavilions and wearables to sleuth out what’s important, here are some highlights of what from the CE(S) world should be on your radar, as CES 2018 rolls up a tumultuous week in Las Vegas:

Emissive displays vs. non-emissive displays

8K is not the big story from CES. It’s a story, but 8K is the same story– the same evolution– for every display manufacturer. At CES 2018 two of the most important things that happened in the display realm of significance are: LG doubled down on OLED breakthroughs, and Samsung showed they can do “emissive” too. Revolution? It’s part of one– that we in the large screen video world are seeing in other quarters.

Click here to read more about these displays.

Google vs. Amazon (Why should you care?)

In 2017 Google Assistant emerged as the first serious contender to Alexa– so CES 2018 is being seen as Google vs. Amazon for the “voice ecosystem” by some. Why is this important? Google Home, it’s being touted at CES, will be the company’s best-selling hardware product. That’s saying a lot, since the Chromebook was and is a hugely successful product– largely fueled by the K-12 education market. Recent numbers from consulting firm Futuresource said Google was commanding 58 percent of U.S. K-12 school market for devices (tablets, netbooks, etc). Windows is in second with 22 percent and the combined MacOS and iOS are at 19 percent. Amazingly, just three years ago, Apple represented nearly half of devices being shipped to U.S. classrooms. So Google, supporting hardware that was cheap, won a big market battle vs. Apple and Microsoft in the classroom with an education console (marketed and branded by Dell, Samsung, Acer, HP, etc) very well received and that made it possible for IT administrators to manage profiles on individual devices or manage multiple students on one device.

Click here to learn what that has to do with Google vs. Amazon now.

Learning Technology Trends

Posted on: January 30th, 2018

There is no doubt that we are in the midst of significant changes in the way we teach and learn in the boardroom and classroom. Those involved with corporate and academic instruction have seen teaching and learning upheavals in both pedagogical and technological terms. E-Learning, m-Learning, Blended Learning and Distance Education are just a few of these trends over relatively recent times.

From the School Without Walls, Open Classroom movement lead by Herbert Kohl in the 70’s, to advent of the personal computer in the 1990’s, to the “Flipped Classroom” of today, the “Sage on the Stage” traditional instructional methodology is being rapidly augmented by placing the power of learning in the hands of the learner. Those with a resistance to change in the way they teach and learn, with a “head-in-the sand” techno-phobic mentality, are being rapidly replaced by trainers and educators who have adapted to meet their learners now living in a world of technology. With the unlimited resource of the internet available to both teachers and students alike, all instructors should realize that a multi-medium approach with its infinite vehicles to deliver instruction increases the effectiveness and engagement of the learner, and instructor.

Most instructors agree that 80% learned in traditional instruction is forgotten if not used consistently within 48 hrs. What we have learned over time is that learning is an individualized prescription and that one size does not fit all. It must be remembered however that technology is only another piece of chalk in the arsenal of an instructor and that a blended approach incorporating the full array of methodologies, including instructor-led, often yields the best learning results.

Many of us have been through an on-line learning experience with varying levels of satisfaction. It should not be forgotten, that regardless of the methodology and the extent of technology used, effective learning is only as good as the underlying instructional design, the quality, and delivery vehicle of the materials. A good example comes from Hollywood and the oft-times outrageous budgets spent on blockbuster flops that are over the top in special effects technology but fail in story-telling script-writing.

Corporations and academia are in a constant battle to attract and retain the best employees and students. These talented young individuals often make their decisions to join your organization or attend your university based on the extent to which you have embraced technology. The fact is that young people are part of the connected generation and most have never known a world without the internet and mobile devices providing on-demand and instantaneous access to information.

The question is: How can both the corporate and academic worlds keep themselves vital and embrace the ability to respond and adapt to these rapid changes? Technology has proven itself to be no substitute for human interaction and learning collaboration. All of the human senses need to be engaged, the process of interruption aids creative thought, and person-to-person body language is processed on both a conscious and sub-conscious level. Therefore, technology provides only a partial solution and the blended approach of technology and human interaction supported by carefully crafted instructional design is the key to effective instruction and learning.

Collaborative Learning

One of the current trends is the concept of Collaborative Learning, bringing together the instructor and other learners together on a common learning goal. Quickly accepted multi-platform, wireless collaboration technologies have resulted in the rise of the huddle room and interactive classroom, where students can share their multi-sourced resources on the same screen during educational/training activities. One this region’s largest construction companies recently embraced this collaborative concept, incorporating the project management philosophy of Integrated Project Delivery by using wireless collaboration tools and interactive touch screen monitors which led to greater cooperation among the many stake-holders in the construction of a new skyscraper on the Philadelphia skyline. Additionally, a number of major regional universities are now working with their architectural partners to design new innovative learning environments enhancing collaboration. The classroom and boardroom of the future is now taking place. Manufacturers’ technologies such as Barco’s Click-Share, Mersive’s Pod/Solstice, and Crestron’s Air Media, to name just a few, are providing these collaborative technology solution.

Virtual Reality

Another trend is the use of Virtual Reality to create a new and separate world designed to maximize learning. Coming out of the world of military training, virtual reality is being used as a learning aid to simulate real-life situations such as emergency response scenarios and medical procedures. I recently had the pleasure of experiencing Labster, a virtual reality system that has replaced basic skill laboratory training and experimentation in universities and corporations world-wide. Not only can these virtual environments be recreated visually, but other senses can also be recreated via touch to experience texture and weigh, and even smell. These technologies are still in the very early adoption phase due to the budgetary considerations and the necessity of wearing a bulky headgear. For an inexpensive way to experience virtual reality, go to Google Cardboard.

Augmented Reality

But even more promising than Virtual Reality is Augmented Reality, with its ability to enhance existing reality and provide a just-in-time mobile job aid. As stated previously, learning retention is a challenge to the learning goals of all educators. The ability to recall the information you learned, as you need it, is based on individualized learning styles and mental processing. Now that almost everyone has a cell phone in their pocket, this power mini-computer can be used to provide on-demand training with a minimal investment and without a bulking headset. To experience this technology yourself, right now, go to your app store and download the free IMS AR Live app. Then use this phone app to scan the pictures of the forklift or the painting below. Scanning these still images will provide access to training/educational videos viewed on your mobile device. The potential for augmented reality for on-demand, just-in-time learning is HUGE.

Keeping Up

So what are the best strategies you can deploy to keep up with this rapidly changing learning technology landscape? Read articles, subscribe to on-line magazines, download the Horizon Reports, become active in local social networks and your local meetups, and become involved with PADLA, the PA/DE/NJ Distance Learning Association. PADLA’s 17+ year mission is to provide a professional forum, thru face-to-face/on-line bi-monthly meetings, and an Annual Conference, bringing together learning technology professionals from the Corporate, Higher Ed, K-12, Non-profit, Medical, and Government sectors to share their experiences concerning the use of technology to enhance human performance in the classroom and boardroom.

Article written by Louis Stricoff, M.Ed, CTS, Director of New Business Development with IMS Technology Services.

IMS Presents a Winning AV Case at NYC Law Firm Office

Posted on: January 30th, 2018

Original article on Commercial Integrator

A deadline-driven project by IMS reimagines and upgrades conference tech to serve complex, high-level meetings at a law firm.

IMS redesigned and integrated an existing quad-divisible space for the NYC law firm, which modernized their presentation, video conference, and audio conference capabilities.

A certain New York City law firm leaned on IMS Technology Services for technology integration for over three years. IMS made some small modifications a few years back to the firm’s meeting room, but the time came to overhaul it. The customer had a tight timeline and IMS was tasked with matching it and bringing full functionality to the complex space.

IMS redesigned and integrated an existing quad-divisible space for the NYC law firm, which modernized their presentation, video conference, and audio conference capabilities. It also managed a variety of other trades during the design, planning, and installation process.

One of the biggest challenges was coordination, design, and build out of a recessed 98-inch display system wall. While IMS has vast experience in recessed dual display systems, this unique combination required heavy coordination and support from the engineering team.Another challenging aspect of the project was the control programming. Taking all of the room combinations, sources, VTC, ATC, and environmental control into account, the programming team had their work cut out for them.

The installation team worked in three phases, which were tethered to completion of work by other trades for a total of three weeks’install time. Two system commissioners were onsite simultaneously implementing control, video, and audio code.

Multiple Room Configurations

The NYC law firm’s multipurpose room is made up of four rooms (A, B, C, D) that can be combined in various configurations, requiring subsystem routing and interconnections as well as zoning and programming to facilitate those configurations.

As a fully combined room the space features four projection systems, a dual 98-inch display system, six Polycom cameras, and 28 Shure MX wireless mics.

The system is centrally controlled via a client-operated Crestron tech panel while each individual room features an iPad controller and custom user interface —all driven by a Crestron control processor system. The audio is driven by custom Biamp DSP that not only incorporates the 28 wireless tabletop mics, but allows for integration of the existing analog mic system.

The rooms can be uncombined and used as individual meeting spaces as well. There are 16 different room configurations that allow for up to four simultaneous meetings. This versatility provides a number of AV solutions for this busy NYC office space.

Tech Verdict Is Positive

In the end the client was provided with a functional, smooth, and stable control system despite the exhausting number of options. Users have found that the rooms are easy to setup and use in a variety of configurations. It truly is an amazing space.

The updated technology in this NYC quad-divisible room defines the ability to collaborate with partners across the globe. Not only is the room visually stunning with the dual 98-inch displays and four projection systems, but robust with features easily controlled with the custom iPad Crestron interface.

The law firm’s staff can easily operate the rooms individually or combined and have had great success with this state-of-the-art upgrade. When high-level meetings occur, the onsite audio visual specialist is equipped with his own “tech panel” from which he can direct and operate the feature-rich audio and video conferencing systems, allowing executive partners to focus on the agenda rather than the technology.

All in all, this design and integration has set the benchmark for future build-outs.

IMS Equipment Highlights

  • Biamp Tesira
  • Chief Fusion
  • Christie 98-inch UHD LCD Flat Panel Display
  • Crestron 3-Series Control System
  • Crestron DigitalMedia
  • Draper Aerolift 150
  • Kramer Electronics HDMI Cabling
  • Middle Atlantic Racks
  • Polycom RealPresence Group
  • Shure Mircrophones

The Road to Repack: Broadcast Spectrum Transformation

Posted on: January 30th, 2018

Original article written by Aram Piligian, Senior Audio Engineer for IMS Technology Services for RFVenue.com

As we begin 2018, one topic that’s on the minds of audio professionals across North America is the TV broadcast spectrum repack, set to begin in the second half of the year. Television stations will cease broadcasting in the 600 MHz band, and cell phone companies will begin using that space. Displaced stations are either going dark or moving to lower frequency bands, making an already-crowded RF spectrum even tougher to navigate for users of wireless microphones, IEM, and communications systems. For many companies and organizations, losing the 600 MHz band means a significant number of wireless systems must be replaced. Some are wondering if these purchases can be delayed or spread out over the next eighteen months, and the answer is not simple.

What should we expect between now and July 2020?

The repack process is like a dance, choreographed by the FCC in conjunction with broadcasters. Because many stations are moving to RF channels that are currently occupied by other stations, these moves must be made in a coordinated fashion to minimize interference between transmitters. These dependencies are referred to as ‘linked station sets’—the largest of which consists of 94 stations across the Mid-Atlantic and Southeastern US, followed closely by another set of 89 stations in the Northeast and Canada.

Maps showing two ‘linked station sets.’ Compiled from FCC Phase Assignment Tableau File

This ‘dance’ is scheduled by the FCC across ten phases (pictured below), ranging from one to four months each. In some markets, like Boston, the repack will be gradual, spanning multiple phases and almost nine months. Conversely, the Dallas market (among others) will transform during just one phase, over the course of two months. This phase schedule is the basis for the Repack Timeline Overview chart featured below.

There are already some great resources that illustrate the final post-repack layout of the VHF and UHF bands available—for instance, Radio Active Designs has a very easy to navigate tool here that covers many different markets. Until the repack is complete, however, things are still murky. The FCC’s transition documentation only includes stations that are changing. With IMS Technology Services needing to navigate all these changes I created The Repack Timeline Overview Chart. It was compiled by cross-referencing current spectrum data to the FCC’s Phase Assignment Timeline, giving us a window into the near future. An excerpt is below, you can download the full document here.

The FCC’s schedule for New York, Boston, and Dallas spectrum repacks.

What should we be prepared for?

As TV stations in the 600 MHz range shut down their transmitters, cell phone providers will begin to test and deploy their systems. T-Mobile, eager to roll out service, has already begun to provide financial incentives to stations that can move earlier than their expected date. Thus, the Repack Timeline Overview is a best-case scenario—many changes may happen earlier. The message is clear: the 600 MHz band is not ours anymore.

We are going to see a lot of changes in our RF environment over the next few years. Some of these changes (like TV stations going dark or changing frequency) can be anticipated and planned for, as broadcasters have a duty to inform the public when a station goes off-air. Other changes, such as cell providers testing new systems, may happen without warning. Thus, getting out of the 600 MHz band should be a top priority for production and rental companies as well as venues, houses of worship, and installation environments.

However, even if your wireless gear is in a ‘safe’ band, your work is not done. The repack affects the entire spectrum—not just the 600 MHz band. Frequently scanning the RF environment and using professional frequency coordination software is essential to ensure as smooth a transition as possible.

6 Reasons to Try Wireless Collaboration

Posted on: January 30th, 2018

We’ve all been in this situation, or have at least seen it.

You walk into the boardroom with your laptop to give a presentation, you set your laptop on the table, you turn on the projector, and then you realize that you didn’t bring a cable to connect your laptop. You see a wall plate that has a VGA input, find a cable, and you are able to connect. Not too bad. However, you now have a 15-foot cord draped across the room and table.

But what would have happened if you had planned to give the presentation using your tablet? How would you connect?

Cables all over the place are eyesores, people are increasingly relying on to iPads and tablets instead of laptops, and passing adapters around is a hassle. In today’s fast-paced, technology-driven world, people need to connect, share content and data, and collaborate. And, they need to do so quickly and from a multitude of different devices. All of this can happen, with the right wireless collaboration tools, which also eliminate the struggles of cables and adapters and so many different devices.

Why go with a wireless collaboration solution?

  • Allow all users to connect wirelessly.
  • Allow for presentations from any device.
  • Get rid of cables.
  • Stay current with today’s evolving technology trends.
  • Multiple users can share content and connect simultaneously.
  • A small investment that has a huge impact!

Article written by Brad Kohli, IMS Account Manager

Can collaboration technology be affordable

Yes! Complete the form below and an IMS technology expert will contact you to talk about your organization can benefit from wireless collaboration solutions.

Cutting-Edge Technology At West Chester University Prepares Students For Real World

Posted on: March 27th, 2017

IMS is proud to have provided much of the presentation and collaboration technology inside this high-tech flagship building for West Chester University of PA! Check out some of the cool tech showcased in this piece by CBS 3 KYW-TV!

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — West Chester University is the flagship of the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education, and now, they have a new building that puts them on par with some of the best colleges in the country.

This is the new Business and Public Management Center. What makes it so special?

Joshua Dandridge, a senior at West Chester University, says, “Coming in here, it’s super conducive to the modern age. A lot of the furniture you can move around, so it’s pretty valuable, and the big thing is definitely the group rooms.”

Brittany Smeltz, a junior, adds, “It really helps the students change their environment and gives them the ability to interact with their classmates, with their professors.”

The dean of the business school, Jeffrey Osgood, says the brand new building is setting students up for the real world.

“Most of the design features of this building mimic what students will find in their workspaces as they go out into accounting firms and they go into management firms,” Osgood said.

Gary Coutu is an associate professor in the Department of Geography and Planning. He says the interactive classrooms allows students to create and show off their work in real time.

“This is the design studio. That used to be a pen and paper studio. Now, its all digital. We do 3-D modeling, we do virtual reality, that’s all part of planning,” Coutu explained.

Coutu finds the VR headsets take his lessons to the next level.

Original article on CBS

Seven Offices: A Day in the Life of an Integration Project Manager

Posted on: March 27th, 2017

This is the second installment of a new series of “Day in the Life” articles featuring IMS team members and how they spend their day on the road supporting our clients.  This is the recent “day in the life” of Daniel Flynn, Integration Project Manager.

Dan-FlynnIt’s 4am on a brisk October morning in Philadelphia. I can see my breath as I blankly stare at the calendar on my phone, silently converting conference calls from Eastern to Pacific time in my head. As I realize that I can join one of my scheduled calls during a layover in Minneapolis, the Economy Parking shuttle arrives at ‘stop H’, my first of many “offices” for the next few days.

Next stop: airport security. After a brief discussion with one of the officers regarding all of the spare cables and connectors in my bag, I reassemble my personal effects and head for the gates. Like a typical Project Manager, I am already thinking about tasks that I can tend to before my first flight.

“I have my mobile wi-fi hotspot. I can update a materials pull for our warehouse tech. I can send a change order request to one of our engineers. I can…smell coffee!”

After I obtain a large cup of dark roast, I set up my second makeshift office for today, Gate D12. I take care of the pull list, send the change order request, and even find a few minutes to review our installation calendar. I respond to an email thread about a few architectural changes that will affect a video wall that IMS is preparing to install, and the boarding process begins. Time to pack up office number two and prepare for take-off.

While standing in the seemingly eternal jetway line, it occurs to me that I might benefit from a few hours without wi-fi or distraction from the many emails that I’ll receive this morning. While the folks around me might be looking forward to a few chapters in their book or simply more sleep, I’m smitten with the idea of creating a project plan without interruption from the waking world that is soon to be 20,000 feet below.

I board the plane, glancing at my ticket and noting my next place of business, seat 14E. When I arrive at the “office” I’m greeted with a few smiles from an elderly couple who are very obviously excited about their trip. When I set up office number three, the husband instinctively asks “What line of work are you in?” “AV, Audio Visual Integration.” I mutter back. “Oh, like TVs?” he says. “Yeah, lots of TVs.” I reply with obvious sarcasm. Little does he, or sometimes our clients, know the detailed process and extensive milestones that we accomplish in order to provide these state-of-the-art systems. I begin to explain that I’ll be working on a project plan for a room that does incredible things. “It’s going to have four projectors and two giant displays and the staff that use the room will be able to collaborate face to face with their counterparts on the other side of the world. All of those incredible things start right here on this plane.” I say this with the type of pride in my voice that you might hear from a union ironworker or steamfitter – someone who is truly proud of their industry and what they do. I think he began to realize I was working on more than just TVs.

We land in Minneapolis and taxi toward the runway. The plane fills with the sound of text and email messages arriving in mass quantities. My phone buzzes in my pocket as I reach for it in anticipation. While I’m standing in line waiting to exit the plane, I remember that I have a conference call in just a few short minutes. I dial in and announce my presence. As the construction team on the other end reviews the two week look-ahead, I am walking toward my next office, Gate B3. When I arrive, I immediately open my laptop and get back to business. I answer a few questions about floor box requirements on the call, and field a few email requests from our installation team. Before I know it, it’s already time to board another plane and set up another mile-high office.

When I finally touch down in California it’s, 12 noon on the dot. I scramble to get through all of the incoming notifications on my phone and dial in to the daily IMS scheduling review call. I’m confused when none of my typically punctual teammates are on the call. Then I remember standing at ‘stop H’ at the airport in Philadelphia. I knew then that I would miss this meeting. I’m three hours too late, having gone through a few time zones since then. I’m just so used to being on that call at noon every day I almost forgot that I’m on the West coast now.

I pick up my rental car and head to the job site. Here I spend the remainder of the day directing technicians on a variety of tasks from the installation of a room scheduling touch panel to changes regarding tabletop AV connections. The technicians were able to complete my punch list while I tested the various aspects of each system. In all, it was a very productive visit that left the client happy and excited to have their new Video Conference hub ready in time for the following week’s high-level meetings.

By the time I check in to my hotel that evening, or office number seven as I liked to call it, I realize that it’s been quite a journey today. I think about the other Project Managers on my team – and where they may have been working. Some on a construction site in New York or at a University near IMS. Others at IMS headquarters collaborating with our in-house commissioning team or reviewing a project with one of our engineers. No matter where they were, it’s certain that they worked in a variety of environments, each with its own challenges and diversities. That’s why today was an excellent example of what being an Integration Project Manager is all about – working with a variety of people from diverse backgrounds in a broad spectrum of environments, managing a busy schedule, helping others complete tasks, and delivering the best results from all of those things to our clients.

Article written by Daniel Flynn, integration project manager for IMS Technology Services

The Challenges of 4K/UHD Video

Posted on: March 27th, 2017

 ims-4k-uhd-display2

Staying in front of changes in the professional AV market can be challenging.  The technology is changing every day and the consumer market now drives the professional market.  Some would say the tail is wagging the dog.  This really became the case when HDMI was introduced as a standard for home video and professional AV has never been the same.

I know this to be true because I had a full head of dark hair prior to the introduction of HDMI in the pro market and now I’m holding onto table scraps.

The challenge is what works in the home doesn’t work the same way in a professional environment.  Issues like adoption, security, and reliability become bigger at the enterprise level as opposed to the home.  With 4K or UHD (Ultra High Definition) video becoming the new standard, professional AV is now faced with a new set of challenges.  For example: how do we transmit the signal reliably over long distances and how can we integrate each manufacturers specification with the other?  We have been extending 1080P video over CAT6 shielded cable and that will work for 4K/UHD, but there are many limitations such as distance and color saturation.  In order to push high bandwidth signals over long distances, it may require the use of fiber optic cable but not all products are compatible with fiber optic cable.

Professional AV lacks standards in comparison to the IT industry and each manufacturer has their own spin on the specifications of the 4K/UHD spec.  Some products that are listed as supporting 4K only support UHD.  4K and UHD are often referred to in the same breath, but they’re not exactly the same.

The difference between Ultra HD and 4K

ims-4k-uhd-displayTechnically, “Ultra High Definition” is actually a derivation of the 4K digital cinema standard.  However, while your local multiplex shows images in native 4096 x 2160 4K resolution, the new Ultra HD consumer format has a slightly lower resolution of 3840 x 2160.  Within those specifications, there are varying color saturation specs that are dictated by availability of bandwidth and compression rates.  The 4K/UHD spec has formed the need for an update to HDCP copyright protection protocols. The new HDCP protocol has gone from version 2.0 to 2.2 and the early products that were released supporting 2.0 can’t support HDCP 2.2.  The secondary issue is the color saturation of the video being viewed.  This impacts what bandwidth is needed to support the signal and can cause products to be incompatible with one another.

The biggest question we need to ansswer is what is the 4K content that will be viewed in a corporate setting?  Yes, videos on YouTube, Netflix, Direct TV and others are a given, but the quality is not true UHD.  The signals are compressed and may or may not be able to display full resolution depending on the bandwidth of the connection.

To me, what this all means is that 4K/UHD is still in its infancy and professional AV does not have a complete solution that will support the content for all applications yet.  Pro AV 4K/UHD systems have limitations and this will get worse before it gets better.   It is quite possible that by the time the industry and the manufacturers figure this out, 8K will be the new standard.

In most applications (excluding broadcast), there isn’t a compelling reason today to deploy 4K/UHD systems. The best thing that the professional AV industry can do is prepare for what is to come.  I believe that utilizing fiber optics as much as possible now is the best way to prepare for high bandwidth signal transmission in the future.  To be of the best service, I also believe in the importance of educating clients on 4K/UHD and helping them prepare for the changing landscape in professional video.  All of these concerns are pushing the market towards IP base streaming systems and will move us away from more traditional switching/video processing methods, but that is another topic for another time.

I recently had the luxury of sitting down with Pete Putman, who is an AV subject matter expert and has a wealth of knowledge about how technology impacts our personal and professional lives, when he spoke about the UHD/4K issue and many others with the IMS Technology Services engineering team.  Pete recently returned from the Consumer Electronics Show and released a compelling recap.  Click here to read more about 4K/UHD video and other technologies that are impacting Professional AV.

Article written by Keith Moss,Vice President of Technology Services at IMS Technology Services

Who’s Managing Your Technology and A/V Systems?

Posted on: March 27th, 2017

ims-managing-technology

Technology has become an integral part in today’s business environment, from small think tank and collaboration rooms to full blown video conference and presentation rooms. Companies depend on this technology to collaborate, train, and drive their business. Companies are also investing much more on technology than in years past to provide their employees and their clients the type of experience they have come to expect and rely upon. The dependence on and the investment in this technology means that it is critical that the systems work consistently and reliably.

But what happens when the technology that we rely on every day fails to perform?

Traditionally, companies turned to their IT departments or facilities staff to help, and in years past, this approach worked fine. However, with this new digital age and BYOD (bring your own device) era, these systems are becoming ever more complex. Gone are the days of a single direct laptop connection to a display and a handheld remote control on the table. It has now been replaced by complex control systems with switching and routing that allows the end user to have the choice of multiple connection options, including both wired and wireless solutions. The need for a professional technology team that is trained and certified by the manufacturers is fast becoming a necessity.

The best way to protect your technology investment is through managed services from a professional integration company that knows your system inside and out, and can provide service, support, and training. There are many options available for managed services ranging from labor-only contracts to all-inclusive labor and equipment coverage, and from meeting support to full-time on-site technical staffing. Let’s take a closer look at some of these options that managed services can provide.

Expedited Response

Companies rely on technology to get business done. When that technology is no longer working, meetings can get disrupted or delayed, and productivity slows down. With a traditional service agreement, on-site response times can be customized for either 48hr, 24hr or even same-day on-site support. This greatly improves the uptime of a system, allowing your business to continue working.

Remote Support

In many cases, a system fails at the software level, and much like a computer, it may need a reboot once in a while. With remote support, a system can be diagnosed, resolved, and tested in a matter of minutes, rather than hours or days. If a system cannot be resolved remotely, technicians can be dispatched, bringing the right parts with them, based on the diagnosis tasks performed prior to their arrival. Remote support not only helps get a system back up and running quickly, it also adds the ability to monitor the system 24/7. Should a device come off line, the issue can often be resolved before the client even knows there was an issue. Another valuable feature of remote support is the pre-meeting testing. A system can be fully tested prior to an important meeting to ensure the system is performing at an optimal level.

On-Site Managed Service

Some clients have numerous conference rooms, meeting spaces, and training rooms all outfitted with technology. They need a dedicated audio/video specialist on-site 40 hours a week to monitor systems, setup meetings, resolve issues immediately, and perform routine checkups of the systems. Some clients have chosen to hire such a person, but it can be difficult to find the right person with the right qualifications. Also, what happens when that person is on vacation or sick? Who takes their place? Over the past several years, companies have been turning to their technology integrators to fill this void. With on-site manage services, a dedicated technician is assigned to a company and essentially becomes like one of their employees. There are several advantages to this approach:

  • Replacement techs will fill in when the primary tech is out sick, on vacation, or in training.
  • Ongoing training is provided to assure the tech is always up to speed on the latest technology.
  • The technician has an entire team to back them up. You are not just getting the knowledge of one technician, but an entire team of experts with different skill sets.

Training

Many managed service agreements also include initial and ongoing training. As employee roles change or new employees are hired, they will need training to learn how to utilize the technology that they will need regularly in the performance of their jobs. Managed service plans frequently include scheduled training sessions that fit into typical training schedules at each company. Training sessions could be held annually, quarterly, monthly or even weekly, depending on the needs of your company.

These are a just a few of the many benefits that Managed Services can provide. Technology is always changing and by partnering with an Integration company that knows your systems inside and out, you can assure that the technology you have will work when you need it, and your users will get the most out of your investment.

Article written by Michael Spitale, Service Manager at IMS Technology Services

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