Tag Archives: crestron

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Zoom Video Conferencing

Keeping conferencing simple with Zoom Rooms

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At iTkey, we integrate everything over IP. Video conferencing is one of our specialties, and we were recently asked by National Geographic to install two Zoom Rooms as part of the 21st Century Fox global migration to Zoom.

The Zoom Rooms solution

The 21CF Zoom Rooms system is focused on simplicity and value.

For the main boardroom:

  • The “brain” is a Mac Mini, providing off the shelf hardware that is easily support and replaced if needed
  • Control is via an iPad on the wifi network, housed in a LaunchPort charger, removing the need for fixed locations and data cabling
  • Audio and video are from the Logitech GROUP kit, which is a cost-effective solution to add camera, speaker and microphones
  • Two displays are from the LG 55″ UHD 4K Commercial/Hotel range, giving a 3 year warranty without the expensive price tag of some other commercial displays
  • Being a TV network, National Geographic also has the new Foxtel iQ4 UHD set-top-box for subscription and free-to-air TV viewing

Zoom conference room

Zoom conference room equipment

For the huddle room:

  • The Mac Mini and iPad are the brains and control, as per the main boardroom
  • A single wall-mounted Samsung display
  • A smaller Logitech MEETUP system provides all-in-one camera and audio, with external desktop microphone

Zoom huddle room

Zoom huddle room equipment

The soft conferencing revolution

The traditional hardware conferencing systems are facing stiff competition from “soft” solutions. A decade ago, hardware was often the only way to get the consistent image quality desired. But with improvements in video compression, computing power and internet bandwidth, software-only solutions are now just as good.

Soft conferencing also adds a lot more flexibility, allowing smaller BYOD huddle rooms, and the ability to join a conference from your desk, home or airport lounge.

Zoom Video Conferencing laptop

Adding Room Scheduling & Control

21CF choose to keep things simple and didn’t put any room automation or scheduling displays.

However, Zoom Rooms can be integrated with leading control systems, such as Crestron. Whilst Zoom is adding more direct control to their system, we still like the flexibility provided from a dedicated control system. Such systems allow better control of display sources, integration with lighting, and control of audio/speakers.

Room scheduling displays can easily be added, as either wall-mount iPads running the Zoom app, or integrated into Office365, Exchange or Gmail using dedicated displays from Crestron Room Scheduling and others.

At iTkey we have a range of solutions to fit your budget, whether its software-only systems such as Zoom Rooms, traditional showcase boardrooms, or somewhere in between.

Find out more

For more information on our wide range of conferencing solutions here.

iTkey is the Integrated Technology division of the OnAir Solutions group. We work with end users, fitout contractors and electrical/AV contractors to provide high quality installations. For more information email sales@itkey.com.au or call us on +61 2 8882 7755.

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Crestron TSW760 featured image

Room Scheduling made easy with Crestron

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Room scheduling is a common way to make more effective use of meeting spaces. Users get more visibility of rooms that are available, making walk-up meetings a breeze. Likewise, organisations benefit from better visibility of room availability and usage.

Traditionally, room scheduling screens have come as part of an overall audio visual control system. This works well if you have such a control system in place, but it can be hard to justify outside of a new fitout.

Room scheduling without a control system

Crestron’s TSW series of touch-screens are the go-to screen for flexible control in corporate and educational settings. It goes without saying these screens can be programmed to do almost anything, and integrate into a Crestron control system.

However, the Crestron TSW-760 and TSW-1060 can also be configured to run an out-of-the-box room scheduling application. This means no control system, and no need for programming and on-site commissioning services.

The room scheduling app can connect directly to your mail server, and has simple configuration via a web GUI. Users can make walk-up meetings and the door, and browse availability for the rest of the day.

Crestron TSW760 boardroom entry

Compatible with leading mail systems

Crestron’s room scheduling application is compatible with both Microsoft (Office 365 and Exchange on-premise) and Google mail systems. In addition, you can connect to Crestron Fusion for enterprise control of your room scheduling and control systems.

Connecting to a mail server is a simple as providing the room resource mailbox username and password, and the web services URL of your mail server. Each room can be configured in a matter of minutes.

Once connected, the room scheduling panel will poll the mail server for updates and allow direct entry of meetings for ad-hoc usage.

Creston calendar integration


Aesthetic mounting options

Touch screens are available in both white and black, and 7″ or 10″ sizes. In our own boardroom, we decided on the 7″ black screen to match with the existing fittings.

A range of cable ducting and screen mounting solutions are available. Pictured below, we integrated the cable run into the door frame and used the glass adhesive mount for a very “invisible” mounting solution.

As the screens are PoE-powered, only a single cable is required for power and data.

As an option, you can also connect a room status sign directly into the screen, for automated red/green status tally. This lets people see room availability with a quick glance down the corridor.

Crestron meetingroom signs

Greater insight into room usage

Combined with Crestron Fusion, an organisation can get more detailed insights in to room usage through regular reports. On top of that, occupancy sensors and clever programming allow “shadow” meetings (the recurring ones that never actually happen) to be deleted automatically after a period of non-attendance. With CBD real estate costs always on the increase, smart organisation can make sure the cries of “we can never get a free room” are really accurate, and plan accordingly.

Want to know more?

iTkey is a system integrator connecting Everything Over IP. We bridge the gap between audio visual and IT for truly connected systems.

More information on our range of solutions is on the iTkey Audio Visual website.

For more on Enterprise Room Scheduling see this page on the Crestron website.

Or contact us at our Sydney office – av@itkey.com.au to talk to an AV/IT expert.

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Network AV solutions for secure IP transport feature image

Network AV solutions for secure IP transport

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Over the past decade, audio-over-IP and more recently video-over-IP has revolutionised the way radio and TV broadcasters move their signals around. Network AV solutions are about to do the same in the audio visual industry, as IT departments realise the power and flexibility of IP distribution.

No More Central Routers

Central routers have been a mainstay of audio and video distribution systems. First they were analog. Then AES audio, SDI video and DVI/HDMI PC signals saw an array of digital routers proliferate – from small in-room rack boxes to massive card-based multi-format switchers. With their abilities to be controlled, scheduled and remotely switched, router systems opened up new possibilities and efficiency.

But their Achilles’ heel is the large amount of expensive single-purpose cable, which needs to run long distances back to central racks in equipment rooms and service cupboards. This makes them expensive to install and often very difficult to upgrade when needs change in the future.

CAT6 media converters, such as HDBaseT, have made central A/V routers more manageable, by allowing longer runs on less expensive cable. But these systems are still managed separately from the IT network, and are often inflexible.

Network AV benefits

Network AV brings audio visual services fully into the IT world. Using business-grade gigabit switches, audio and video up to 4K can easily be moved on a corporate or campus network. Signals are converted to IP using converters that are only marginally more than existing CAT6 media converters. Once in the IP realm, the audio/video streams travel as multicast groups, with encryption, security and content protection. Using multicast means the bandwidth is optimised, and streams of 950mbit/s can happily share uplinks with voice, office traffic and other applications.

Being IP-based, your organisation can design a network topology to integrate Network AV. In many cases, existing networks can add Network AV with minimal changes or upgrades.

IP Challenges

IP distribution of media does offer unmatched flexibility. But there are a few challenges as well.

Traditionally. digital media signals like AES audio, SDI video, HDMI and even voice signals were run on dedicated serial transmission lines. These point-to-point connections had dedicated cable types, and were generally very reliable. They weren’t always trouble-free – requiring specialist test gear to commission and diagnose faults.

As IP networks become faster and wider, it makes a lot of sense to “packetise” these dedicated serial signals and move them on existing networks. This gives IT departments a single type of cables and distribution equipment to manage, and far more flexibility to reconfigure the network as organisational needs change.

Audio was pretty easy to move to IP – each stereo audio signal is only a few megabits and even a big deployment can easily fit into an existing network. Video is a little trickier. Uncompressed video signals can get as high as 12-16 megabits once 4K/UHD video is needed, and this is a big stretch for most networks. Usually, some form compression is needed to bring the overall bandwidth down, but this can add latency and quality concerns if not done properly.

Multicast IP also adds new challenges. Although the multicast protocols such as IGMP have been around for decades, their use has been relatively limited until the last 10-15 years. Multicast traffic is fairly easy to integrate into a network, but it requires switches with native support, and an understanding of multicast groups and protocols.

Not all switches will support high-bandwidth video either. Any enterprise-grade switch from HPE, Cisco, Juniper, Arista of the other big names will be fine. Even lower-grade switches such as Cisco Small Business and Netgear can work perfectly well. It is important to know what your switches are capable of – can they support uncontended backplane switching, and do they understand multicast traffic?

Crestron NVX Digital Media range

Crestron NVX Network AV diagram

The NVX range from Crestron gives you 4K video and multi-channel audio over a multicast gigabit network. The encoding is frame-based, so very low latency (around 1-2 frames), and equivalent in quality to a native connection.

Bandwidth usage is configurable, up to 950mbit/s for highest quality or as low as 200-300mbit/s if you need to conserve bandwidth on switch uplinks to certain areas.

The content is fully encrypted through the chain, and therefore fully HDCP compliant. Switching between sources is quick and easy, and fully managed by the Crestron control system.

In a fully networked A/V system, the NVX units replace a traditional Digital Media transmitter or receiver. This can remove the need for central presentation switchers, or just provide the links between rooms and remote sources. Pricing for NVX systems is comparable to a traditional router-based matrix, and if the existing network infrastructure is already in place, may even be cheaper.

For more information on the Creston NVX range, see our iTkey media page and the Creston NVX microsite.

How iTkey can help with your Network AV migration

We’ve been building IP networks for media for a decade, so intimately understand the benefits and pitfalls of Network AV. Our qualified network engineers understand multicast inside-out, and know how to design a network with audio and video in mind.

As an IP System Integrator, we work across many disciplines, including networking, servers, lighting control, audio visual, security and CCTV. All the systems we work with are designed to be integrated into an IT network, so you have full control.

We can help with new designs for a relocation/rebuild, or help assess and upgrade your existing systems. iTkey engineering staff have recently completed the Crestron NVX training course, so we are fully certified to help with any Crestron Network AV projects.

If you are interested to learn more, we can show you our own demo room, including:

  • Crestron touch-screen control and room scheduling
  • Crestron NVX Network AV integrated with the 4K Digital Media Presentation System (DMPS)
  • C-BUS Lighting Control
  • Shure MicroFlex ceiling array microphone with DANTE Audio
  • Skype for Business video conferencing
  • Panasonic PTZ and fixed cameras
  • CMS Electracom Soft Power

In an future post, we’ll cover more details of the recent demo room build project.

In the meantime, please visit our website for more details – itkey.com.au


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