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Ticker systems: How AV can deliver financial data better

Ticker systems: How AV can deliver financial data better

Ticker systems have been around for more than a century, and today’s version of the technology still serves the same purpose – monitor high volumes of data. We’ve come a long way since the ticker tape days of the early 20th century, though, as current ticker systems are powered by modern AV tech.

This includes LED displays that can be shaped and sized endlessly. With this flexibility, ticker systems can be effectively integrated into any space.

What are Ticker Systems Used For?

Ticker systems have long been used to relay data from financial markets. Traditionally, this has mostly involved NYSE or AMEX-listed companies, but there are tens of thousands of assets that can be tracked in this way.

This financial information is of particular value to brokerage firms and banks, but you’ll find ticker systems in places you wouldn’t expect. Universities, business schools, sports stadiums, hospitals, and airports are some examples.

Modern ticker systems can deliver more than financial data, too. They can also display news headlines, weather forecasts and sports scores, among other information. A ticker system’s multifunctionality means the technology can be placed wherever people are catching up on current events.

Ticker Systems are Also Found in Retail Settings

Although LED tickers are still predominantly used for financial data, many retail brands are utilizing the technology to deliver on-brand messaging. Install the ticker in a window display and attract people with color and motion. Place tickers high up and around the room’s perimeter, and it can be used to advertise product specials. Ticker systems can even be scaled down to fit in individual product displays, where they can provide additional information for customers – like price, model or intended application.

Ticker System Displays Can Be Customized for a Variety of Spaces

The vast majority of ticker systems, though, are still intended for financial institutions. Here, they provide instant information for traders to pull from.

AV has modernized the way ticker systems operate. Here’s how the industry is making better ticker systems:

  • Leveraging reliable LED engineering – Given the critical nature of real-time financial data, your ticker systems cannot fail. That happens to be a major advantage of LEDs. LED technology is valued for its reliability and longevity, and you can expect several years of performance from your LED tickers. Also, LEDs age gracefully, so even as they near the end of their rated life, they still provide like-new visual performance.
  • Using vivid, high-contrast displays – LED displays offer superior color contrast and brightness, so they’re easily read from a distance. As many brokerage offices are arranged in an open-floor design, this improved visibility will help your traders make better, faster decisions.
  • Adapting ticker displays for a wider range of settings – A major breakthrough with LED displays is their flexibility. LED tickers offer a modular-like design, so they can be scaled up or down in size as needed. LED tickers can also be shaped to bend around sharp corners or into curves, so any interior space can accommodate one.
  • Supplementing ticker systems with additional AV – And if a lone ticker isn’t enough, additional displays can be attached to the system and used to provide additional information. There’s only so much data a ticker can output – additional display space will provide even more for your firm.

In control room settings, where an entire wall may be available for displays, an AV integrator can install oversized displays or video walls for maximum visibility.

As you can see, modern ticker systems have leveraged the best of AV design practices. To ensure your ticker displays are properly designed and installed, though, consider working with a certified AV integrator.

A Certified AV Integrator Can Maximize Your Ticker System’s Effectiveness

As simple as ticker systems appear to be, there are several things to consider before setting one up. For example:

  • How will the ticker system be powered? – Ticker systems are installed in sections and snap together for streamlined placement. Each section is also designed to carry power and data to the next, but it’s not always easy determining where cable should be run. This can be a big challenge for systems that aren’t wall-mounted but suspended from the ceiling instead.

Certified integrators are cable-pulling experts and will ensure no power or data cable is exposed following installation.

  • Can your ticker system provide all the information you need? – An integrator will also match your data-delivering needs to the best possible solution. If a ticker alone won’t get the job done, an integrator can customize your solution with additional display hardware and ensure it is configured to output the data you’re looking for.
  • Can the ticker system be comfortably seen by those who need to see it? – A common mistake when installing displays is placing them in a spot where people aren’t looking. If your tickers are elevated off the ground too high, placed at suboptimal angles or not properly sized for the room, they may blend into the background instead of standing out.

AV integrators know ideal display placement and positioning, so they can account for where your audience will be.

Every project comes with its own set of challenges, but an AV integrator can help take them on. And once your ticker is up and running, your certified integrator can support the system to extend its useful operating life. That’s getting maximum return on your ticker system investment.

Whether your organization needs better financial reporting, branding or just needs to make a visual statement, LED ticker systems are a proven solution.

How AV Can Prepare Students for STEM Careers

How AV Can Prepare Students for STEM Careers

U.S. students are having trouble competing on the world stage in math and engineering. According to data collected by the National Science Board, U.S. students’ math and science scores are in the middle of the pack globally, and dead last among G-7 countries, China and Korea. This poor performance means America’s students are at risk of falling behind in the global, tech-charged economy.

The answer is better STEM education for K-12 children, and that can be achieved with AV solutions. AV technology fits perfectly into K-12 STEM initiatives, as they can engage students of all ages and relate complex mathematical and scientific concepts in a compelling way.

Why is K-12 STEM Education Important for Students?

The benefits of STEM education go beyond career preparedness. In addition to giving students a better footing in the workforce, K-12 STEM can help students build the following skills:

  • Problem solving – STEM lessons require students to solve complex problems that they don’t encounter in other subjects. These problems require strategizing, planning, teamwork, and execution to handle, and this requires students to think about problems in-depth. STEM lessons don’t just transmit knowledge to students, they show people how to think for better problem solving.
  • Creativity – While STEM is math and science heavy, that doesn’t mean there isn’t room for creativity in STEM. Some forms of engineering, like robotics for example, require students to stretch their imaginations and produce unique solutions for unique problems. In doing so, children get better at tackling a wider variety of obstacles with a greater variety of tools – a skill the modern fast-paced economy demands.
  • Collaboration – Many STEM projects require teamwork to execute properly. Students must work together to visualize solutions, plan out execution, divide tasks among the team and collaborate with each other to solve issues that come up during the process. In this way, STEM content provides opportunities for individuals to function as a group. Something that professionals are expected to do in their jobs.

Students also get familiar with a wide range of technologies while they’re engaging with STEM lessons. Those technological tools may be relevant for certain job tracks, giving students a leg up in nailing down a fulfilling career.

Three AV-focused Ideas That Can Drive Better STEM Learning in K-12 schools

AV systems make STEM learning more effective and more engaging by delivering lessons in a multimodal format. Compared to a traditional stand-and-deliver approach, AV solutions are much more visually and aurally interesting for students. Some solutions also include a tactile element that enhances the multimodal approach further.

There are many ways to leverage AV for STEM initiatives, even for schools operating on a restrictive budget. Here’s three of our favorite approaches:

Break Makerspace into Pods and Pair Each Pod with a Quality Display

If your school has an interest in STEM, it may already have a makerspace in place. Makerspaces are dedicated areas for students to pursue STEM-related projects individually or with other students. Some makerspaces are designed for open accessibility, so students can work on their projects when not engaged in other classwork.

Others, though, are designed to function much like a traditional classroom, with educators providing STEM lesson content while students follow along.

If this is your school’s preferred approach to STEM learning, consider dividing your makerspace into pods and fitting each pod with a display. This is convenient for both students and teachers, especially if there is a document camera or other presentation technology in place. The document camera can be networked to the displays, allowing teachers to present various objects, paper handouts and notes to every display at once.

With this approach, students get a close look at everything, which can be extremely helpful for science experiments and engineering projects. And the instructor can demonstrate important lesson concepts to every student, including those in the back of the room.

Create a Mobile STEM Station Loaded with Primitive Crafts and Instructional Displays

If your district needs to boost STEM learning for multiple schools, consider going mobile with your STEM resources. This could be as simple as rotating portable AV technologies from building to building. The approach could be scaled up, though, if your school is willing to invest in converting a school bus into a STEM bus.

STEM buses are gaining in popularity, as they allow multiple schools to cover their STEM lesson needs. And when the STEM bus pulls up, it’s instantly engaging to K-12 students.

Enhanced audio technology and digital displays can drive a high-tech STEM bus and outfitting your bus with multiple primitive craft stations can also communicate important STEM concepts. Stick a small digital display at each station and teachers can run crafting demonstrations that help younger students step by step.

Provide High School Students with Professional-quality Training with AR and VR Solutions

Older learners will need something a little more sophisticated to engage them. For high schoolers, AV can introduce complex, even professional-level content through augmented (AR) and virtual reality (VR) technology.

The challenge with some STEM learning is that it requires a tactile component to really take. It’s difficult to learn how to make something, for example, without actually making or working on that item. AR and VR gives students opportunities to get hands-on, virtually, with the kind of the equipment or technology they’ll encounter in the working world.

If your school invests in vocational options for its students, AR and VR solutions provide your students with tactile-rich multimodal learning, giving them an edge during future professional training.

Is Your School Prioritizing STEM Learning? AV Technology Can Support It

If your school’s STEM education needs to be addressed, a certified AV integrator can help you get started. Certified integrators are experts in system design, installation, and support, including systems built to support K-12 STEM programs. Your AV integrator can take your school’s STEM needs and develop a customized solution that meets those needs, even if your school needs to be creative with its budget and space.

How Clevertouch is Revolutionizing Retail

How Clevertouch is Revolutionizing Retail

Interactive display technology adds value to a variety of applications, including retail. With their vivid colors, interactive features, and ability to output an array of media, displays like the Clevertouch are leading the way toward a better retail experience.

With the rapid rise of e-commerce around the world, brick and mortar shops have more competition than ever before. That means retail business owners need every advantage they can get, and for many businesses, the Clevertouch can be a powerful factor.

Large Format Displays: Capture Attention Around Storefront and Product Displays

The Clevertouch is available in a range of sizes, from 43-inch to 86-inch screens. Each one outputs at 4K resolution and with a near-180 degree viewing angle – so they’re sharp and vivid no matter where customers are standing. Since the Clevertouch is commercial grade, it is built with onboard fans and larger heat sinks that allow it to operate continuously without hardware failures.

How can that visual power be leveraged for retail applications? It’s most effective when incorporated into product displays, including storefront displays. Here, Clevertouch displays can deliver bright colors, eye-catching animation, brand messaging and decision-influencing information. Use the Clevertouch in the storefront to advertise ongoing specials or announce new arrivals. Run images or videos of people using, wearing, or eating the product.

The first goal of any business is to attract potential customers. Front-facing displays are effective in this role. They’re also effective inside retail shops, where they can be used to drive interest when grouped with a product display. Inside, the Clevertouch can help people navigate around the store, identify products on sale, or keep customers around longer. When used in these roles, Clevertouch displays increase foot traffic and sales.

Media Players and Central Control: Adjust your Clevertouch in Real Time to Optimize Impact

Displays are the most visible component in any digital signage system, but there’s more going on under the hood. Clevertouch signage is no different, as each display is powered by a media player. Each one houses all content, including layouts, images, videos, and software.

Clevertouch offers several media players for use with its displays. The Pro-V4 is one of its standout models and is designed for reliable, continuous operation. With the Pro-V4, Clevertouch displays can output in landscape or portrait mode. Further, Clevertouch’s media players can operate through the cloud or on LAN, which offers tighter security.

You can think of media players as the brains of every display, and this brain power means more than content storage. Through the Pro-V4 and other Clevertouch media players, retail businesses can control and maintain an entire network of displays. This includes switching out signage layouts instantly, pushing over software updates, locking the display from use, or powering individual displays on or off.

Better yet, this can all be done remotely, so users can update dozens of Clevertouch displys at once with a few taps. And preprogrammed, backup layouts can be pushed to every display with a few taps as well. For example, if the weather suddenly takes a turn for the worse, retail owners can switch up their signage to advertise a different set of products.

CleverLive: Quickly Create and Upload a Variety of Content to Any Clevertouch

CleverLive is Clevertouch’s proprietary digital signage software, and it offers the same advantages that other signage software solutions offer. Specifically, CleverLive can be used to quickly build impactful, unique layouts that require no specialized design knowledge to manage.

CleverLive is designed with user friendliness in mind, so the learning curve is minimal, even for people who have never designed a layout in their life. The layout-building software is similar to lightweight applications like Canva, where users select a template that closely matches the desired layout, and then is used as a foundation to arrange custom content. CleverLive includes more than 200 templates, so there’s a deep well to draw from. The interface is drag-and-drop, making it easy to use.

Once a layout is created, it can be scheduled for certain times or days well in advance. Layouts can be pushed to all displays at once, or to pre-defined display groups. This broad layout management can span across multiple business locations as well.

CleverLive also allows for live feed integration and QR code reading, so additional layouts can be reserved for when users scan a code with their own device. This is a good way to open up the conversion funnel and encourage people to hand over contact information or set up a rewards account.

CleverLive also allows users to send instant messages to networked displays. This is typically reserved for emergency situations but can be a decisive safety measure when an emergency does arise.

Additional Retail Applications: Create an Immersive, Conversion-Rich Experience for Customers

There is a world of retail-focused applications available to businesses. Beyond layout creation and scheduling, retail display applications can be used for completing transactions, exploring store inventory, looking up product guides or specifications, or even more advanced functions like modeling clothing or furniture.

These interactive functions add novelty to the shopping experience and encourage customers to consider every option before deciding whether to make a purchase or not.

Most retail applications are also inexpensive and customizable, so they can be easily integrated into a Clevertouch display strategy while retaining the brand’s messaging and visuals.

Versatility Means the Clevertouch Can Work in Any Retail Setting

Digital signage is an extremely versatile solution, making it ideal for retail settings. With brick and mortar businesses now competing on a national or global level, the visual impact of the Clevertouch means it can level the playing field.

Bring lessons to life with a 3D Printer and Design Curriculum

Bring lessons to life with a 3D Printer and Design Curriculum

Engineers have been working on 3D printing for decades, but only in the last 10-15 years has the technology become viable for educational settings. Since its introduction to schools, 3D printing has become a powerful STEM-teaching tool. Ideal for makerspaces and labs, but small enough for classrooms, there are many 3D printers for schools to choose from.

That’s exciting for educators, but also intimidating. Don’t worry, though, because this guide will help your school get started on 3D printing.

How 3D Printing Supports STEM Learning in K-12 Schools

The best STEM tools are those that can be used with students of all ages, with lessons that engage appropriately by age level. And few STEM technologies engage like 3D printers do. How can they benefit your K-12 students?

  • Elementary students – For younger students, 3D printing is an exciting novelty that can be used to exercise student creativity and problem-solving capabilities. Elementary students also learn how to utilize trial-and-error learning and are required to show patience while the printer works.
  • Middle school students – At this age, students can channel their creativity through the 3D printer more effectively. In fact, some will begin their future engineering, design, scientific, or manufacturing career by familiarizing themselves with the technology at this stage.
  • High school students – High school students can begin professional-level training with access to a 3D printer. They can take on complex, hands-on projects that will introduce them to the design cycle involved in product creation. This tactile approach to learning engages students in a way that most other lessons don’t, allowing schools to bring out the latent talents from more of their student body.

High school students can take the skills and critical thinking picked up through 3D printing and apply it to their studies at a trade school or university.

There are applications for 3D printing from K to 12, so the question isn’t if a 3D printer makes sense for your school. The real question is what features to look for in a printer.

 A Few Features to Consider for a 3D Printer

It wasn’t long before manufacturers started producing 3D printers specifically for education. These models, like the Robo E3 and Robo E3 Pro, come with features that enhance their safety and usability for both teachers and students. Those features include:

  • Enclosed printing spaces and HEPA filtering technology – Safety is the number one concern in schools and educational 3D printers prioritize it. Such printers are designed with enclosed printing spaces, so curious hands don’t wander around the print head. They’re also designed with HEPA filtering to remove any volatile organic compounds (VOCs) from the air during printing.
  • Compatibility with other educational technologies – Educational 3D printers are designed to be used in conjunction with other technologies found in the classroom. For the most part, this means compatibility with various tablets and computing devices, so the printer can be accessed from a variety of devices. The Robo E3, for instance, can be controlled from a tablet and ordered to print from a file retrieved through the cloud.
  • Simple out-of-the-box design that allows for immediate usage – Once educators and students are comfortable with the 3D printer, it can be used in a huge variety of projects. Getting comfortable is the challenge, though, but educational printers are designed with a gentle learning curve for schools. The Robo E3, for example, is a turn-key piece of technology that prints right out of the box.

Is 3D Printing a Big Tech Jump for Teachers? Consider a Curriculum Plan

Even if your teachers are experienced in STEM learning, it’s not easy developing curriculum for a 3D printer. With their limitless making capabilities, it can be overwhelming figuring out what to focus on for students.

This is another reason to pick a 3D printer designed with education in mind. These printers are packaged with lesson plans and ideas that can get instructors started with zero prior knowledge. The Robo E3 and Robo E3 Pro, for example, come with curriculum plans that include the following:

  • Detailed lesson plans, some 10+ pages in length
  • Compliance with academic standards
  • Student assessment checks and quizzes
  • Teacher guides
  • 3D print files and instructions for assembly
  • Paper handouts for students

Your Certified AV Integrator Can Help Your School Select the Right 3D Printer

A 3D printer may be a significant investment for your school. If it is, working with a certified AV integrator ensures you get the most from that investment. A certified integrator can match the right printer to your needs, taking the following into consideration:

  • The age group that will be using the printer
  • How comfortable teachers are with 3D printers (and tech, in general)
  • The type of room the printer will be used in
  • How often the printer will be used
  • What the printer will be used to make
  • What other educational technologies are already in place

This approach ensures long-term viability for your 3D printer and other AV solutions. What also ensures long-term viability is ongoing support for your 3D printers and other AV technologies. A certified AV integrator can provide those, too, so there’s no interruptions when it comes to STEM learning.

The Role of AV in Higher Education

The Role of AV in Higher Education

AV solutions have proven their worth in K-12 environments, where they can serve in multiple roles. This same approach can also work in higher education as AV technology can play the multitool part for college campuses. Collaboration, better lectures, security – AV solutions can solve a variety of needs. Some of these systems are scaled up for campus-wide AV coverage, with hundreds of components involved in a single integration project.

Here, we’ll address what AV equipment can do for universities and how the technology can help campuses deliver a better experience for students, faculty, and visitors.

1) An Expert Connector: Video Conferencing Brings Thought Leaders into the Classroom

College opens students up to a world of experts, giving them access to the best minds in every field. Universities trade on their ability to connect great teachers with ambitious students, which is why many colleges are investing in video conferencing systems for their lecture halls.

Video conferencing technology works best in smaller lecture halls – the size of a typical K-12 classroom or a bit larger. In these learning spaces, educators can organize a memorable learning experience by bringing in an accomplished expert. Every university has a number of professor emerita that can remain connected to the campus through video conferencing. These professors are the people that students pay to learn from, so the technology can be used as an effective selling point to prospective students.

AV technology is designed with usability as a focus, so even tech-resistant educators can use it with ease. Poly’s line of Studio all-in-one video conferencing bars are a favorite for their ease of installation and accessibility. The system is controlled from a touchscreen, and can be used to launch a conference call with only a few taps. Once the call is launched, it can be controlled from the same touchscreen, so starting a call, managing volume, and facilitating content sharing is all done through the same user interface.

In larger lecture rooms, one of Poly’s large room kits can provide the same user-friendly experience, only scaled up.

2) A Collaboration Facilitator: Interactive Display Technology Encourages Students to Work Together

Once released into the professional workforce, today’s students will become tomorrow’s collaborators. Teamwork is expected from modern professionals, and in a university setting, AV technology can introduce the collaboration tools and methods that those modern professionals are expected to utilize.
Interactive displays, for example, are a collaborative mainstay in professional settings, as they can be used to drive in-person, hybrid, or remote meetings. Given their importance in supporting professional projects, interactive displays are a valuable technology to introduce to university students.

The Clevertouch is uniquely well-suited for this role, as it’s been proven in both professional and education environments. In schools and universities, the Clevertouch can be used like a traditional whiteboard, allowing student teams to brainstorm ideas and visualize them. What the Clevertouch offers that a traditional whiteboard doesn’t, though, is a built-in browser that can be used to find media assets online and bring them into the whiteboarding session. Remote students can also connect to the whiteboard and make their own edits, as if they were in the room.

The Clevertouch is particularly effective for STEM-focused lessons, where a common objective is visualizing solutions and then acting on them.

3) An Always-There Guide and Greeter: Wayfinding and Video Concierge Make a Strong Impression on Campus Visitors

Major university campuses receive hundreds of visitors every day, and many of them are bound to get lost without a little help. Here again, AV solutions can provide support.

Specifically, wayfinding and video concierge technology are purpose-built for the job. Wayfinding is delivered using a digital display (often interactive), and it’s typically built into an interactive, kiosk-like visitor station. With wayfinding solutions, visitors can review a map of the campus, search for points of interest, buildings, or classrooms, and generate custom directions depending on where they want to go. There are many wayfinding solutions available, and most of them can be easily paired with display technology.

Wayfinding is great for directions, but what if visitors have questions that only a human can answer? That’s where video concierge solutions come in. Video concierge solutions like Teleportivity provide on-demand support from a live, remote technician. Users request support by scanning a QR code, and within seconds, a video call is established between the support staff member and visitor. This video call can be conveyed through a display installed for video concierge purposes, or it can be delivered directly to the user’s device. This second option means people can take support wherever they go on campus. This is helpful for dealing with the beginning-of-semester mass confusion that affects thousands of new students.

4) A Valuable Layer of Security: Advanced Alarm Systems and Digital Signage Improve Emergency Response Efforts

AV technology is increasingly becoming the eye-in-the-sky for campus security, as video surveillance can be used to identify and track threats as soon as they emerge. Modern alert and alarm systems can detect attempts to tamper with or force locked doors, and alert security personnel in response.

AV systems are also used in tandem with airlock style entryways, where building visitors are required to stop and communicate with campus personnel before entry is admitted. Communication can include video, so security can see everyone before they are allowed in.

And if an emergency does occur, AV solutions can instantly alert the entire campus. One effective way to do this is through the campus’s digital signage network. Digital signage is already in place in many higher educational facilities, owing to their versatility. With digital signage, universities can provide information on classes, events or exam schedules, reinforce the university’s brand, and knit the student fabric closer together. It can also be used to instantly send emergency alerts to every display on the network, so students and faculty can respond faster and better.

AV Plays a Vital Role for Universities and Colleges

AV integrators are the experts behind major AV projects. They bring the skill, expertise, and hardware knowledge that every AV initiative requires to succeed out of the box.

And in recent years, reputable AV integrators have spent much of their time integrating video conferencing, interactive displays, and other AV solutions in educational environments. While the focus has largely been on K-12, the same tools and hardware that work in a K-12 setting are also effective for higher education.

If your educators could use additional teaching tools, if your students could use more engaging learning experiences, and if your campus could use better security, AV technology has a solution for every need.

How AV Technology Can Enhance the Learning Experience

How AV Technology Can Enhance the Learning Experience

Technology is a mainstay in the modern school, and AV technologies stand out for their ability to improve the learning experience. AV can be found in the classroom, in hallways, in labs, in libraries, in the gym – AV is ubiquitous in education.

Educational AV is designed to do a lot in schools, but ultimately, it’s a learning multitool, facilitating and delivering lessons in a much more engaging way. Here, we’ll address what makes AV an ideal fit for K-12 campuses, and the solutions that schools frequently rely on.

AV is an A+ Communicator in Schools

AV was originally built for communication, as it can support better conversations and deliver better information. This communication advantage can be leveraged by schools in a few ways, including with digital signage.

Digital signage is one of AV’s most versatile solutions and can serve in a few roles for schools. Some of them include:

  • Running morning announcements – Your school is likely already recording and playing morning announcements. With digital signage, those announcements can be piped to every room on campus, as well as hallways, common areas and visitor areas.
  • Displaying important information – Event schedules, exam schedules, reminders about holidays and early dismissals, sports scores, weather, news, and all kinds of information can be shared through digital signage.
  • Strengthening the student fabric – Signage layouts can also be dedicated to school spirit-boosting messaging, such as highlighting student accomplishments and providing information about little known student clubs.
  • Helping people find their way – Some K-12 campuses are massive and can leave visitors and new students feeling lost. Digital signage can help point the way, which is helpful for open houses, student orientations and any event that will attract a lot of people unfamiliar with the campus.
  • Deliver emergency messaging – When an emergency situation arises, the front office can send an instant emergency alert to every networked signage display. Emergency messaging can include critical information to help students and teachers respond appropriately to the situation.

Video Conferencing Can Bring in Expert Educators from Around the World

Video conferencing is another core AV communication technology, and current generation solutions are well-built for education. That’s because they’re designed with usability and streamlined content sharing in mind.

In the classroom, video conferencing can connect students to respected experts. Artists, scholars, scientists, engineers, doctors – there are thousands and thousands of professionals out there that can also serve as guest educators. Video conferencing allows those professionals to easily connect with the classroom. It’s also easy for teachers, because with a modern video conferencing solution, one tap from a connected device can launch a conference.

In some instances, guest lecturers may have content – images, videos, slideshows – that they can share through the video conferencing system. Most solutions make this simple to manage, with built-in content sharing features.

Here’s an idea. Take a medium-sized room that’s getting little use and fit it with video conferencing technology. That room can be a guest lecturer room and provide students with a novel learning experience. Consider scaling the system up a bit with a second display (or interactive flat panel). A second display makes for more interesting presentations, as the lecturer can share content to one screen while they remain visible on the other.

Audio Visual Technology Makes Classroom Learning Much More Immersive

And of course, AV technology can ramp up classroom engagement. How?

It starts with the room’s digital display. Modern displays are powered with LED technology that’s extremely efficient and reliable, so they provide long-term value. With their ability to output ultra-high-quality visuals, LED displays are a powerful visual aid and a teacher’s best friend.

But interactive flat panels can take this approach a step further. These flat panels can also output brilliant visuals and serve as a constant classroom companion for teachers. They can also improve engagement by incorporating tactile learning into the lesson. For students who would rather use their hands to do the learning, interactive flat panels can be an effective way to drive student participation.

Interactive displays like the Clevertouch also improve lesson flow for teachers. Educators can connect their own devices to the display, and once connected control it from their device. This allows teachers to keep the lesson going without breaking eye contact with students.

Better Classroom Audio Can Also Keep Students Focused and Engaged

Another way to enhance classroom learning? Enhance classroom audio. Poor audio is a common problem in low-engagement classrooms. In larger classrooms or in classrooms with uncooperative acoustics, poor audio can be severe, leading to significant information gaps as students strain to hear. And many of those students will tune out instead.

Unsurprisingly, audio enhancement is a popular AV solution for K-12 schools. It’s also an easy solution for AV integrators to implement. Some of the standout features and benefits of audio enhancement include:

  • Improved audio quality and distribution – Audio enhancement uses a microphone and speakers to distribute crisp audio throughout the room. No matter where students are sitting, they can hear the teacher as if they were in the front row.
  • Reduced voice strain – Most audio enhancement technologies utilize a worn microphone, so teachers can use their hands freely while speaking into one. And teachers can use their normal speaking voice when lecturing or interacting with students, as the technology does the heavy lifting. No need to strain your voice.
  • Two-way communication – Some audio enhancement solutions allow for two-way communication with the front office, so teachers don’t have to leave their classroom and rush to the office if something important comes up.
  • Emergency alerts – Audio enhancement technology can also factor into the school’s emergency response protocols. Specifically, some systems allow teachers to send an alert to the front office or trigger a general alarm with a single button press.

AV Drives Improved Student Collaboration as Well

Collaboration is a major focus for today’s workplaces, so it’s a major focus for K-12 schools as well. There are several AV solutions that help in this area, but interactive flat panels are again a frontline option.

Interactive technology shines in lab settings, whether it’s a bio lab, STEM lab or makerspace. In these settings, students work together to bring their ideas to life, and these projects can span the entire school year. Interactive flat panels like the Clevertouch allow students to diagram their projects, brainstorm ideas as a group, create action plans, and save their work to the display when they’re done. Using this approach, interactive flat panels keep student groups organized and engaged as they work through a project.

AV Enhances Communication, Unity and Engagement in Schools, Improving the Learning Experience

Schools are always looking for a better way to deliver education, and AV technology has emerged as a vital tool for this goal. Digital signage, interactive displays, video conferencing and many other AV solutions can be readily implemented by a certified AV integrator. Each serves a valuable role for schools that want to support better student performance.


Hybrid Meetings: Benefits and Best Practices

Hybrid Meetings Benefits and Best Practices

As more workers return to the office, businesses are transitioning back to in-person meetings, at least to some extent. The 2020 pandemic revealed the advantages and challenges of a remote-only meeting model.

The data suggests that companies prefer a hybrid model for their meetings. Many AV manufacturers have surveyed their clients and found that hybrid meetings are becoming the new normal. That makes sense for several reasons, but before adopting it as a company-wide initiative, it’s important for organizations to match their meeting needs with the right technologies.

Three Reasons More Companies are Moving to a Hybrid Meeting Model

Thousands of SMBs and enterprises are making hybrid meetings their primary approach to collaboration. Why? Because hybrid meetings offer a competitive advantage. Specifically, here are three benefits worth considering:

  • More effective collaboration – Hybrid meetings preserve the power of in-person collaboration, as many people are at their collaborative best when working face-to-face. In this way, hybrid meetings are like adding remote participants to already effective in-person collaboration.
  • Global access to talent – The primary advantage of the remote work model is that it allows companies to hire the best talent around the globe. No organization is willing to give up that competitive advantage, so hybrid meetings are a must to properly integrate remote talent.
  • Reduced real estate footprint – Office space is expensive, and since the pandemic, companies need it less and less. Cutting unused office space can be a big overhead saver, and hybrid meetings allow organizations to do that without missing a beat.

Hybrid Meeting Technology Must Meet the Needs of In-Person and Remote Participants

There are good reasons to go hybrid, but there’s one significant hurdle. How do you keep both in-person and remote participants engaged? Some organizations make the mistake of assuming that being seen is the same as being engaged. A video conferencing solution is a necessary starting point for hybrid meetings, but also consider the following:

  • Can your remote employees easily see everything during the meeting?
  • Can your remote employees tell who is speaking?
  • Can remote participants actively collaborate? Make annotations or share content?
  • Are your hybrid meetings easy to start and control?
  • Do in-person participants need to connect their devices via cable, or can it be done wirelessly?

There are more questions to answer, but this can give you an idea of what companies must account for when moving to a hybrid meeting model. Fortunately, AV manufacturers are also considering these questions and have solutions that can make hybrid meetings easier to manage.

A Few AV Solutions That Make Hybrid Meetings More Effective

Because hybrid meetings cater to two different worker groups, it’s common for either in-person or remote participants to be left out. If the meeting’s presenter has trouble balancing their interaction between remote and in-person, the result is ineffective collaboration.

AV solutions can restore this balance. Here are three technologies that can support better hybrid collaboration for your teams:

  • Wireless presentation systems – Wireless presentation solutions like the Barco ClickShare, Mersive Solstice and Crestron AirMedia are worthy additions to a hybrid meeting setup. With wireless presentation solutions, the meeting’s presenter can connect their device to the room’s conferencing technology and control everything. This includes sending content to the room’s displays and to any remote participants.
    Wireless presentation solutions are also a convenience for workers who only make the occasional trip to the office. Because wireless presentation solutions can be controlled from the user’s own device, people who are unfamiliar with the room’s conferencing technology can still access it through wireless presentation technology. There’s no learning curve, so users can control the room even if they’ve never stepped foot in it before.
  • Interactive displaysInteractive displays are the ultimate collaboration tool for visual people, providing a canvas for teams to test and review ideas. They’re also the ultimate collaboration tool for hybrid teams because interactive displays like the Clevertouch make it easy to incorporate remote team members into the meeting.
    For example, the Clevertouch is frequently used as a whiteboarding tool during meetings, and these whiteboarding sessions can be used with remote participants. If connected, remote users can see what’s on the display, as well as any annotations being made. Remote users can make their own annotations, too, as if they were in the room. It’s a perfect setup for managers who need to check in on collaborative meetings while on the go. Those managers can drop in, make some quick annotations, and move on to other tasks.
  • Smart cameras – Smart cameras help remote participants follow the action. They do this by automatically framing whoever is speaking and presenting them front and center on the remote user’s screen. Smart cameras are typically included in high-end video conferencing solutions, such as Poly’s room systems and all-in-one conferencing bars.
    Smart cameras are effective whether the meeting is at the table or if the presenter is walking around the room. When they speak, the camera detects this and zooms in on them, so remote participants aren’t lost if people are moving around in the room.

Ready to go Hybrid? A Certified AV Integrator Can Help

Hybrid meetings are an effective compromise between in-person and remote collaboration. They’re also here to stay as more organizations realize their enterprise-expanding potential. If your organization plans on joining the thousands that have switched to hybrid meetings, a certified integrator can help execute all AV-related initiatives.

As hybrid meetings rely heavily on AV technology, a certified integrator can provide valuable insight into potential solutions, design systems for scalability, and pick the best products for your team. Certified integrators can also install and support hybrid meeting hardware. This ongoing support ensures your hybrid solutions are offering optimal performance and reliability.

How AV Can Support Your School’s Esports Curriculum

How AV Can Support Your School’s Esports Curriculum

Esports is taking middle and high schools by storm in recent years. According to the National Education Association (NEA), about 9,000 high schools have instituted Esports curriculum. This curriculum targets several focus areas, including:

  • Teamwork and collaboration
  • Strategy
  • Planning
  • Time management
  • Statistics
  • Creativity and design (games and graphics)
  • STEM and technology management
  • Communications and coaching
  • Health and fitness

It’s easy to engage students with gaming, so Esports can be an effective vehicle for many subjects.

What Are the Benefits of Adopting an Esports Curriculum?

Esports can support an impressive range of curriculum initiatives, but why use Esports to support your curriculum in the first place? There are several reasons, including:

  • Engage difficult-to-engage students – Surveys show that about 80 percent of Esports participants are not part of any other school activities or extracurricular activities. Traditional programs do not reach everyone, and this group has been largely left out. With Esports, some of your most difficult to reach students can be brought into the larger student body with an activity that they can excel in.

If your Esports club achieves success, the added prestige can be a bonus for your school and for the students participating in your Esports program.

  • Introduce novel learning experiences – Esports gives students and instructors a new way to learn. Educators can use games to teach a variety of skills, including social, emotional, spatial, problem solving and technology skills. For some students, there are few opportunities to pick those skills up outside of video games.
  • Offer some additional career readiness channels – Esports is thriving and the market for it is growing. Along with that growth in popularity is a growth in job opportunities. Those opportunities go well beyond the game, as the typical Esports production requires expertise in audio and video technology, marketing, business services, graphic and visual design, coaching, and much more. Esports programs can prepare students for those career options.

Four AV Technologies That Can Be Used to Improve a School’s Esports Program

If your school has an Esports program in place or is considering one, then AV solutions can support it. It is often recommended to dedicate a specific space for Esports, but any computer lab can do the job just fine.

Once an area has been set aside for Esports, its performance can be improved with the following technologies:

How can each of these fit into a school’s Esports efforts? We’ll address each option in greater depth below.

Interactive Displays Encourage Teamwork and Strategy

Interactive displays like the Clevertouch are ideal for improving strategic thinking and analysis. With a Clevertouch, students can use the screen to map out strategies by annotating over images or video stills. Teams can even diagram plays and tactics like with other athletics. The Clevertouch comes with an onboard PC, which makes it easy to store media for future strategy sessions.

An interactive display can also lead curriculum delivery, just like it can in the traditional classroom. Strategy, statistics, art, design, production, marketing, nutrition – the Clevertouch can make the educational part of Esports as engaging as the gaming part.

Shoutcaster Stations Add Excitement and Give Students Broadcasting Experience

Shoutcasters are the play-by-play announcers of the Esports world. During a match, the shoutcasters follow the action on their own screens and provide real-time commentary as the game develops.

A shoutcaster station is where the game callers sit and watch everything. Spectrum produces a line of shoutcaster stations that can accommodate any monitor mounting layout. This could be a pair of recessed monitors, arm-mounted displays or displays that face the audience. In addition to monitor space, Spectrum’s shoutcaster stations are large enough to accommodate keyboards, headsets, mixers, and stream decks.

Spectrum’s stations are also built with premium casters, so they can be easily wheeled to your next competition. They’re available in an array of colors and trim designs, too, so they can be color coded to match your team colors.

Mobile Gaming Carts Provide Storage and Charging for Esports Equipment

Esports teams require significant technology resources to function, and those resources need proper storage and organization. A mobile gaming cart can provide both, and Spectrum also manufactures a popular line of mobile carts.

Mobile gaming carts can store gaming laptops and headsets when they’re not in use. Spectrum’s carts can hold up to 24 laptops and headsets at once, and while stored, the cart also provides charging so they’re ready to go when your team is.

Spectrum has also integrated several usability and durability features into its carts. Some of those features include:

  • Premium casters for mobility and transport
  • Two access points so students can quickly retrieve their equipment
  • Cable capture for faster cable organization following a gaming session
  • Internal shelves for additional accessories and peripherals
  • Double bolted locks and high-gauge steel doors for added security
  • Ventilated doors and walls to protect from overheating
  • Removable dividers to keep laptops from contacting each other inside the cabinet

And all of this is available in an impact and scratch-resistant package, for long-term durability.

Esports Desks and Chairs Facilitate Focus, Good Posture and Engagement

Players spend a lot of their time sitting at a desk. To ensure they maintain good posture and focus, many schools provide their players with specialized chairs and desks.

Spectrum, again, is a leading manufacturer of both. Its gaming chairs are flexible and made from carbon PVC, so they hold up well after long periods of use. They can be reclined up to 180 degrees, come with an adjustable seat, and have an adjustable neck and back cushion for optimal comfort.

Spectrum’s desks are also adjustable, and some of them are motorized for easy lifting and dropping. All of the brand’s desks are made with scratch and impact resistant materials, as well as low-glare materials to minimize player distraction. Spectrum’s Esports desks are also built with extended depths (up to 30 inches) and expanded widths (up to 47 inches) to provide maximum room for monitors, keywords, and gaming accessories.

A Certified AV Partner Can Match the Perfect AV Solutions for any Esports Curriculum

If your school is just getting started with Esports, or if it already has a world class program in place, a certified AV integrator can take it to the next level. Certified AV integrators can help your school select the right technologies for where it is with its Esports program, and ensure those technologies are properly set up. Your certified AV partner can also support your Esports technology, so it can continue supporting your Esports curriculum for years to come.

Optimizing Office Space with AV Solutions

Optimizing Office Space with AV Solutions

The economy may be largely unpredictable, but one thing is certain – companies will be placing a bigger priority on optimizing office space going forward. The pandemic-driven interruption of in-office work lingers, and many businesses realize that there’s no going back to 2019.

Now that companies are relying on in-office employees less, their space needs are changing. Fewer onsite employees mean fewer workstations, and fewer workstations means businesses are paying for a lot of space that’s not being used.

As companies lessen their physical footprint, though, they may lose the room they need for meetings and collaboration. Here, we’ll detail a handful of AV solutions that can help your organization do more with the space that’s available.

Businesses are Facing an Office Space Crunch

Since the 2020 pandemic, office occupancy rates have plunged. Prior to March 2020, occupancy rates were over 95 percent. In March 2020, those occupancy rates fell to under 20 percent. Since, the rebound has been modest, with less than 50 percent of office space being utilized. That’s according to data published in the Wall Street Journal.

Unsurprisingly, SMBs all the way up to enterprises are physically condensing. It’s affecting nearly every industry to some extent and exacerbated by economic uncertainty.

If your organization is among the many that needs to streamline its office space, AV solutions can facilitate this approach. Whether you need to transform compact meeting spaces into collaborative hubs or optimize an open office floor plan, you’ve got options with AV.

Three AV Solutions That Can Help a Company Go Hybrid and Optimize its Space

Since the AV industry became the AV industry, its focus has been on improving the way organizations communicate. This is still true today, where AV is now vital for supporting remote and hybrid offices.

Hybrid offices are of particular note because they represent an effective middle ground between full remote and full onsite organizations. Many organizations already rely on a mix of remote and onsite employees, and it’s likely that many more will have to transition to hybrid setups to remain competitive in their industry. AV solutions are a natural fit for hybrid-minded organizations, especially among those that need to condense their unused office space.

Here are three solution that offer superior functionality in space-limited buildings:

All-in-one Video Conferencing Bars

All-in-one video conferencing bars, like the Poly Studio, are designed for focus rooms, huddle rooms and small meeting rooms. They’re extremely compact and include almost all the essential conferencing components – camera, microphones, and speakers – in a single piece of hardware. This hardware can be placed on a shelf or directly mounted to the wall, making for a clutter-free meeting experience, no matter the room’s size. All you need is a display to pair with the video bar.

Poly’s Studio line of all-in-one bars is available in several models, for several room sizes. The Studio P15 is designed for focus and huddle rooms, and the P30 is designed for huddle rooms and small meeting rooms. Poly has models for larger meetings rooms, but the P15 and P30 work nicely in tighter spaces.

In addition to their compact build, simple installation and even simpler operation, Poly’s Studio bars come with the brand’s much-lauded audio preservation features. This includes NoiseBlock AI and Acoustic Fence, both of which identify undesirable audio during conferencing and block it from interfering.

Room Scheduling Solutions

There are numerous room scheduling solutions available to organizations, almost all of them software-based. However, room scheduling solutions can be integrated with other AV technologies, such as small screens, interactive displays, or wayfinding solutions.

With a room scheduling solution in place, your workers can search for available conference rooms without stepping away from their desks. They can also reserve an available conference room for a certain time and instantly send out invites to everyone involved. Most room scheduling options can also be paired with popular calendars, including Google Calendar, so spots are automatically reserved on everyone’s schedule.

Small displays and wayfinding displays can really unlock the potential of room scheduling software. Stick a touchscreen outside every conference room and they can be used to alert others when a room is reserved and what the meeting is about. Pair room scheduling with an interactive display and employees can use it to select a room through an interactive map.

Sound Masking Systems

Sound masking systems are an ideal fit in open office layouts, where many employees may share a single space. In this kind of environment, finding a private area to hold a meeting can be a challenge, especially for companies that are downsizing and don’t have a bunch of rooms to spare.

A sound masking solution divides an open space into zones using nothing but white noise. In short, sound masking covers up the noise that other people are making nearby. If a sound could be heard 50 or 60 feet away normally, for example, then a sound masking system may reduce this distance to 15 feet or less. It’s a way of establishing conversational privacy without actually having a wall in place.

With sound masking technology, you can divide up a large space into multiple smaller ones without investing in physical dividers. If your open office is moving to a hybrid office model, sound masking can be used to establish multiple meeting spaces without the need for additional rooms.

Businesses are Doing More With Less, and AV Technology Can Support That Mission

The office space landscape is changing, with organizations squeezing every last bit of value out of every last square foot. If your business also needs to get more from its people and spaces, AV technologies are proven productivity and collaboration boosters.

Certified AV integrators are experts in hybrid offices and the technologies used to support them. If your organization is transitioning to a hybrid model – or just condensing to reduce your real estate footprint – a certified integrator can design, install and support your new AV solutions.

AV and STEM Trends in 2023

AV and STEM Trends in 2023

Among educators, STEM curriculum has been a focus for years. That focus continues into 2023, as the future will clearly be defined by technology. High-paying, stable careers are plentiful in science, engineering, and technology fields. STEM teaching gives your students a head start toward those career paths.

If your school is ready to jump on the STEM bandwagon, it’s an exciting time to do so. 2023 promises to be an interesting year in AV educational tech, as integrators and manufacturers get better at tailoring their solutions to a post-pandemic, K-12 environment.

Here, we’ll take a look at a handful of AV and STEM trends to look for in the new year, and how they can be leveraged for your students’ benefit.

Schools Are Converting Large Spaces into STEM Learning Hubs

There’s a lot of activity and creation involved with STEM lessons. Much of STEM is about developing a solution to a problem, and then making that solution. This lesson delivery approach can be scaled up and down in complexity. Robotics? Obviously, STEM. Crafting with popsicle sticks and rubber bands? That is also STEM.

In short, STEM spaces are makerspaces, and makerspaces need room to flourish. That’s why schools are increasingly transforming their large and communal spaces into STEM learning areas. Libraries and unused computer labs are both common targets for STEM initiatives, though some districts are breaking ground on dedicated facilities just for STEM labs.

Of course, most districts need to ramp up their STEM efforts before they’re ready for a standalone building. They can do so by outfitting STEM spaces with makerspace furniture – like Spectrum’s Aspire desks. These can be arranged to create pods of any size, so no student is left out of the lesson. Placing an interactive display at each pod is also a good idea, as this can kick off collaboration between students. With the display, student teams can whiteboard their ideas and keep a running design document going.

When the day is done, STEM storage cabinets and racks make cleanup, organization, and charging simple for teachers.

VR Technology is Immersing Students in STEM Education

VR and AR solutions have been available to schools for several years, but they continue to get better. With VR and AR technologies, teachers and students have a world of potential experiences to share in. This includes many opportunities to introduce STEM learning into the lesson.

ClassVR has been a favorite of ours for a while, and it remains the top VR option for schools. A ClassVR package comes with a set of VR headsets (packages of eight or 30 are available), a secure charging station and lesson delivery software. Everything you need to power VR learning.

ClassVR is one of the few VR solutions purpose-built for the classroom. In addition to a wealth of lesson content, it gives teachers lesson planning and delivery tools that make classroom management a snap during a VR session. From their desk, teachers can create lesson playlists, so one scene follows another without interruption. Teachers can also monitor what each student is doing inside their headset and focus attention on a point of interest.

What truly sets ClassVR apart from its competitors is the sheer amount of content the technology comes with. This includes STEM content, like exploring the building techniques behind the world’s longest bridges, manipulating a collection of 3D shapes, and exploring the solar system.

Some Districts are Going Mobile with Their STEM Curriculum

Budgeting realities can limit STEM learning initiatives, but some schools have taken this as a challenge instead of a roadblock. For example, some schools are creating mobile STEM stations that can be moved from room to room, or even between schools.

STEM buses are one example, and they’re becoming more popular among STEM-focused districts. How does a STEM bus work? Take a school bus that’s not getting any use, take out the seats and create STEM stations inside. This could be simple stuff, like making paper airplanes, but there’s potential for so much more.

For instance, shade the windows, add a few displays (or a projector), boost the audio and simulate a field trip through space. It’s as close as it gets to The Magic School Bus.

But if your school only needs on-campus or in-class flexibility, mobile AV carts are an inexpensive and simple solution. These carts can be used to mount displays, organization cabinets, or racks for smaller devices (like Chromebooks).

AV Solutions are Inspiring Teachers to Change the Way They Arrange Their Classrooms

AV technology has been featured at the front of the classroom for a while, but teachers are looking for a bit more flexibility. Currently, interactive displays are the classroom workhorse, but it’s common for them to be underutilized.

That’s understandable – interactive displays do perform well as a front-of-the-classroom information delivery medium. They’re the modern chalkboard or overhead projector.

However, interactive displays can also be used to drive student-led learning. Again, STEM relies on tactile, hands-on learning – the kind of learning that interactive displays are well-suited for. In elementary, an interactive display can be used for student-led art projects. For older students, student-led STEM lessons include whiteboarding math equations, diagramming engineering projects, or running a physics simulator to make hypotheses and record data.

In these STEM learning spaces, multiple interactive displays may make sense in order to break the class into more manageable groups.

STEM Education Provides Students With a Brighter Future, and AV Technology Makes STEM Teaching More Effective

An educator’s job is to prepare students for the future they’ll face after school, and the future is STEM. The number of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics careers is growing, and those careers are some of the most secure, well-paying jobs available.

The surest way to connect your students to those high-achieving careers is with engaging STEM education. A lesson that “wows” can be a life-defining experience for budding scientists and engineers. The only challenge is developing and delivering engaging STEM lessons.

Fortunately, it’ll be much easier to do that in 2023. The last few years have seen a wave of AV technologies designed to enhance STEM learning. Look for that trend to continue.