The Open University's Michael Young Building consists of four small teaching rooms, named MYB 1-4, which are separated by three collapsible partitions. The space can be used as four independent rooms or a single large teaching area, along with several options for use as two or three rooms.
Before our installation, the MYB's inherent flexibility was hampered by aged equipment and poor AV controls. All equipment, audio, and tie line connectivity was controlled through MYB 1. This was not only counter-intuitive to the room's purpose – it also required a great deal of hands-on supervision and was almost impossible for visitors and newcomers to use without prior knowledge of its quirks.
Pacific won the tender to upgrade the rooms to a more current spec, with instruction to bring the rooms as close to self-sufficiency as possible while increasing their capabilities, flexibility, reliability, and ease of use. Sightlines were a key requirement of the brief, along with video conferencing capabilities to make the MYB suitable for professional presentations as well as external communications.
Design and Equipment
After taking stock of the full brief, we designed a complete AV over IP solution which would meet or exceed the project requirements while also reducing the University's overall spend and power consumption. New 80” displays were fitted in each of the four rooms, eliminating sightline issues entirely and vastly improving visibility.
Using our IT pedigree, we selected an AMX SVSI solution along with AMX RMS monitoring software, while front-end controls were provided through an AMX touch panel control system. For audio requirements, we designed a BSS system from scratch, which included a variety of BSS capabilities to cater for the required inputs and outputs, feeding into a Crown CDI 4 BL 4-channel amplifier. Meanwhile, all signals were routed using a Soundweb control with a Sennheiser IT system providing induction loop capability.
To facilitate video conferencing, each of the four rooms was fitted with a VC setup from Lifesize encompassing a HD camera, omnidirectional ceiling microphone and AT lapel microphones, and full Skype functionality with cloud license. Video feeds are outputted to an Extron SMP352 streamer, allowing live video and pre-loaded content to be streamed to the web and simultaneously saved to local storage. As much of the University's student body uses distance learning, this was a particularly crucial aspect of the installation, which informed our decision to use a robust Lifesize/Extron solution.
Finally, each room was fitted with a TopTec Explorer lectern housing various presentation sources including a built-in PC (supplied by the University), local HDMI and VGA laptop connectivity, and Freeview TV direct from a box housed within the Comms rooms two floors away.