Brian Feldmann does not believe in business as usual.
As Senior Communications Administrator for Cubic Corporation, he outsources system design and engineering for conference rooms around the world –but he handles the installations himself with the company’s local IT staff.
That approach worked extraordinarily well in a customer demonstration center Feldmann rebuilt with the help of Diversified last year.
The Tech Decision
The new customer center needed to support Cubic Corporation’s three business divisions.
Cubic Global Defense is best known for its air combat training systems used in the Navy, which were portrayed in the movie TOP GUN. They provide a wide variety of training solutions and services for the military and security forces throughout the United States and allied nations.
Cubic Mission Solutions provides networked Command, Control, Communications, Computers, Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (C4ISR) capabilities for defense, intelligence, security and commercial missions. Cubic Transportation supplies automated ticketing and fare collection systems for public transportation systems around the world, including the subway systems in London, New York, Atlanta and Chicago.
Among Feldmann’s concerns was that the new demo system be very flexible, very easy to use, easy to refresh with new Cubic products, and high impact. “The systems in the demo room had to reflect our leadership as a technology company.”
In addition to the demo room, Cubic needed spaces for business development people to sit down with clients. Cubic is a defense contractor requiring specific security clearance to enter, and because clients sometimes arrive without the necessary paperwork, they needed a meeting space outside the secure areas. “For that reason, we decided to upgrade our employee canteen for impromptu meetings,” says Feldmann.
The center, located in the Cubic headquarters in San Diego, includes a demo room, a multi-purpose conference room, a huddle room, and a lunch room that doubles as a client meeting space, all of which push the envelope for interactive AV systems.
The demo room is especially impressive, able to be reconfigured in minutes from a self-running overview of the company’s products to demonstrations tailored to a specific customer. “Because the room is software driven, it’s dynamically flexible,” Feldmann says. “We can run any source with any combination of demos to any of our displays, and we can use any of our 70” touch screens to control the content shown on any other.”
The finished demo room is built around a core of six 70-inch Sharp PN-L703B Aquos Board touch sensitive displays, each with a BrightSign XD1032 digital signage player behind it. In default mode, the room plays a series of video demos of Cubic products, some displays dedicated to Global Defense training, some to Global Defense communications, others to Transportation. But walk up to any Sharp display and touch the screen – that will interrupt the automated show and activate a set of on-screen icons for specific demonstrations.
With the standard setup, Cubic staff can walk a customer or a new employee through a 30-minute overview of the entire company. But they can also tailor the room to a specific client, putting the appropriate content on all screens or uploading new content into the system. “In some of the bigger events, we will bring in one of our products, sit it next to a screen, then demonstrate it, either with a PowerPoint or with the actual software it uses,” says Feldmann.
For example, Global Defense offers an inflatable antenna for satellite transmissions, quickly deployable in an extreme environment. “We brought it in and set it up, then displayed the technician’s screen, so clients could watch him bring it online,” says Feldmann.
According to Steve Gordon, Account Executive for Diversified, three innovations make this setup especially powerful.
- There’s a 16×16 Crestron DigitalMedia matrix that allows users to send any video source to any display or combination of displays. These include the Sharp touch screens plus a 2×2 Planar video wall.
- The DM16x16, used in conjunction with six pairs of Crestron USB extenders, allows staff to use any of the 70-inch Sharp touch screens as a control screen to send content from the BrightSign players to any or all of the displays.
- High impact audio is provided by a pair of highly-directional HyperSound speakers installed in the ceiling above each display. “Two people can stand comfortably in the cone in front of each display, but then they can step back to talk, or step over to the next display and listen to that audio,” Gordon says.
The room can be used to make group presentations in addition to individual demos. In that case, the video wall serves as the main display and six large Crestron speakers provide program audio for the entire room. Diversified provided an iPad for overall room control, tying it to a Crestron AV3 control processor.
“The programming is brilliant,” Feldmann says. “We can drag and drop any source, audio or video. If I want a player to go to panels one, three and six, I just drag it there – and I can leave the audio on the directional speakers or drag it to the full room.”
The “Tech Conference Room” next door is on the matrix as well, making it possible to show demos from the demo room to a seated group. The room includes two 90-inch Sharp displays, a Cisco C40 codec, a Vaddio Clearview PTZ camera and Vaddio AV Bridge to connect to PCs via USB. There’s also a Crestron AirMedia hub to allow meeting participants to connect wirelessly.
“We can use the Cisco system for higher-level conferences, but we have every soft codec available as well,” Feldmann says. “If someone wants to use WebEx, Skype, GoToMeeting or full telepresence, it’s there.”
The smaller “History Conference Room” room includes two 55-inch Samsung displays, a Vaddio camera and AV Bridge for soft codec connections plus AirMedia.
The Canteen includes two 60-inch and one 46-inch Sharp display in individual seating areas, one with a table for eight. Staff and clients can connect to the displays via a plug-in interface or AirMedia, and they can choose sources and volume levels via a 5-inch Crestron touch screen. When not in use for a meeting, staff can use the displays as televisions.
Feldmann says the unique way he and Diversified work together helps IT staff better support the AV. “If the local guy helps with the install, it’s an easy baptism into a type of system that many would otherwise not be familiar with.”
Typically Diversified draws the schematics, builds and tests the equipment racks, handles programming, and ships the racks to the local offices. Feldmann flies out and, with the local IT people, installs the equipment. Depending on the system, Diversified may send a technician to finalize programming, test and commission the new system, or, on a very large project, help with the install.
Often this collaboration results in a more creative and effective design than might otherwise be possible. “Because I’m so involved in each project,” Feldmann says, “I understand what can work and how it can work on a deeper level. I’m also much more attuned to how other people design their systems and pick up ideas any time I see something cool.”
For example, Feldmann says the idea of the directional speakers came from a visit he made to the Churchill Museum in London museum a few years ago. “We were talking about the setup here and I thought of that. Diversified was able to run with the idea.”
The result, Feldmann says, is remarkably effective. “It was a collaborative effort that worked out really well here at Cubic. It reflects well on us as a technology company and fits our culture really well.”