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Go green in the boardroom

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Although the latest in audio visual equipment may bend the budget, a well designed system will reduce energy consumption and improve audience attendance, says STEFAN MAYER, MD at Corporate AV Integration.

A good audio-visual (AV) system is far more than a great way to improve your presentations and keep your audience attentive. A well-designed AV system will reduce your energy consumption – saving your company money and contributing to making your office a green environment. That might sound like a big ask but the latest intelligent  building- and- room control systems can do just that.

“Today it’s not enough to offer solutions such as dimming lights and automatically turning off a screen or a projector,” says Stefan Mayer, Managing Director at Corporate AV Integration. “We need to embrace a future where AV and environmental systems are tightly integrated to intelligently communicate with each other and react to varying conditions to optimise energy and cost savings. Done properly, it’s not only affordable, it’s also intelligent.”

Vendors such as Crestron and AMX use algorithms to adjust their devices in response to variables such as natural light, temperature and room usage. For example, a projector and air conditioning in a meeting room can be primed to turn on 10 minutes ahead of a scheduled meeting. Another easy win comes through using motion sensors to switch off air conditioning and lights when nobody is in a room, again cutting down on energy consumption.

Another intelligent feature is the ability to integrate window blinds into the system and programme them to change according to the position of the sun –  using sunlight to warm and light your rooms, reducing heating and lighting bills. Ambient light sensors will measure the amount of natural light and adjust the window shades appropriately. The system can supplement natural light with interior lights to achieve the ideal ambience for a presentation or videoconference.

Sensors can be cleverly placed around the entire building too, so that lights are dimmed in areas close to the windows and brightened away from the windows to intelligently save electricity and give employees the optimal lighting conditions.

“The core function of a good AV system is to make meetings more efficient and interesting, of course, although statistics show otherwise. Studies have found that 25-30% of all meetings are not efficient due to poor or malfunctioning technologies like video conferencing systems and projectors or poor boardroom conditions,” Mayer says.

Troubleshooting, when a fault – or a human error – crops up disrupts the meeting  often not allowing for important issues to be addressed. Automated and simplistic videoconferencing systems is an important way in which AV systems contribute to a more efficient workforce, eliminating time, money and fuel spent on travelling and also contributing to improving the green status of your office. That’s far from the only way in which AV equipment can assist a company go green. An intelligent AV strategy can save money and help to achieve Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification through reduced energy consumption.

A conference room without automation technology is almost certainly wasting energy, says Mayer. Employees tend to leave equipment on after they leave the room, especially if multiple devices are controlled by different remotes. Automation technology controls all the displays, projectors, audio and video equipment, electronic voting systems, lighting, temperature and blinds from a single, easy to use touch panel. Should the unit not be turned off, it can be pre-programmed to shut down at a certain time or at the end of the day or based on movement within the room.

A report by Frost & Sullivan into Bright Green Buildings reported that AV technology has evolved from simple, piecemeal presentation tools into integrated systems through the convergence of AV and IT. In intelligent and green buildings where comfort, energy efficiency and asset management are key, an intelligent conference room plays a big part through green features like networked projectors and LCD displays, videoconferencing, and intelligent lighting and window shades.

The technologies behind these systems are complex, but Mayer says suppliers like Corporate AV Integration focus on making sure the end user is greeted with simplicity and operator-friendly interfaces.

An AV specialist can design the most cost effective solution and create a boardroom that looks good, works efficiently and boosts your green credentials.

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Audio/Visual

Planet Radio TV tune in on any device

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Planet Radio TV plans to be Africa’s first online broadcaster that allows its listeners to watch via Internet and satellite TV as well as listen via FM or Internet radio. SEAN BACHER visits its studios.

Planet Radio TV (PRTV) is broadcast much like any other terrestrial radio station, allowing its users to tune into it with a standard FM tuner. But its owner, Planet Image Productions, is about to launch two other means of tuning into the station.

In the coming month, MultiChoice will place a new satellite in orbit that will, by the new year, allow Planet to broadcast to subscribers via the satellite. Planet has also announced the PRTV app, which can be downloaded to Apple, BlackBerry, Android and Windows Mobile devices, allowing users to stream the content to their phones and tablets.

‚”What makes this unique though is that our systems will automatically detect a user’s connection speed and stream content in a format that suits that speed, says Planet Image CEO Wale Akinlabi. ‚”For example, someone connecting through 3G will be able to view high-definition video and hear high-definition audio. A user with a slower connection will still be able to view and listen to the station, but at a lower quality.‚”

This, he believes, will eliminate the buffering issue which discourages many users from streaming video and audio to their devices.

The radio station comprises 80% African music, with the remainder being international, and is targeted at Africa’s youth.

‚”At PRTV we intend to change the way consumers view, listen and interact with television, radio and Internet mediums,‚” says Mabel Mabaso, chief operations officer and director at Planet Image. ‚”It is an exciting platform that synchronises three mediums, providing opportunities for consumers and advertisers alike.‚”

Planet RadioTV differentiates itself from other local broadcasters with its clever use of software and hardware. Planet Image uses a high-definition video-graphics (HDVG) rendering program, designed by Orad, an Israeli company specialising in TV production software. This software suite, combined with four Panasonic high-definition cameras, is able to detect and focus on a person’s voice. When the camera fixes on a voice, that camera is automatically activated and begins broadcasting. Should someone else begin talking, a separate camera will detect the voice and focus on that person.

The software controlling the cameras also performs basic video editing. Mabaso says that, although the initial cost of the equipment was more than that of standard cameras, it will prove well worth it, as it eliminates the need for a dedicated cameraman filming the show in the studio.

‚”Another payoff is that we don’t need that much office space,‚” she says.

Based in Randburg in Johannesburg, the studio is small in comparison to most others and the control room is just big enough for one person.

‚”The control room merely serves as a back-up should one of the cameras fail. It also allows us to control when and where visual adverts appear.‚”

The system is also tightly integrated with applications like Skype.

‚”We can interview someone overseas without having to send a crew there to perform recording. We simply communicate via Skype, making the interviewee’s Internet camera an extension of our own in-studio cameras.‚”

Besides featuring local and international music, the station has regular fashion, food and cooking, music and culture segments, which are broadcast to around 30 000 listeners around Africa.

Rounding up the technology aspect, PRTV has integrated Twitter and Facebook, allowing its listeners to interact with DJs.

Listeners can tune into Planet Radio TV by logging onto www.planetradio.co.za

* Follow Sean Bacher on Twitter on @SeanBacher

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Canon EOS M – small and simple

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Canon has extended the EOS range with the EOS M, its first compact system camera. Although not yet available in South Africa, the EOS M offers DSLR quality images and full HD recording in a compact, easy to use device.

Canon has expanded the EOS range with the launch of the EOS M. The company’s first ever compact system camera (CSC), the EOS M offers DSLR-quality imaging and full HD movie creation in a compact and easy-to-use model.

The EOS M is available in sleek black, glossy white, stylish silver or bold red colours, and condenses Canon’s EOS imaging heritage into a stylish, compact design. The model launches alongside two new lenses, the EF-M 22mm f/2 STM pancake and the EF-M 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS STM standard zoom, as well as a new compact EX Speedlite the Speedlite 90EX. For those who want to push their images even further, the EOS M can also use Canon’s range of EF lenses with the new Mount Adapter EF-EOS M, for even more creative freedom.

The quality of a Canon DSLR

The EOS M’s high-resolution, 18 megapixel APS-C hybrid CMOS sensor also allows you to blur the background for beautiful portraits, or for close-ups with impact.

With the inclusion of Canon’s DIGIC 5 processor, colours ‚’pop’ and skin tones are beautifully natural, while a super-fast shutter allows you to capture split-second action.

Shoot what you see and easily express your creative vision

Every aspect of the EOS M has been designed to make it simple to capture high-quality images. With the high-resolution, 7.7cm (3.0‚”), Clear View LCD II Touch screen, the EOS M gives you as much or as little control over your photos as desired. Simply select different shooting modes and settings via the on-screen icons, or let Scene Intelligent Auto adjust the camera settings according to the subject and shooting conditions, leaving you free to focus on composition and selecting the perfect moment to hit the shutter release button.

Turn film-maker with EOS Movie and Video Snapshot

When a moment calls for more than a still image, the EOS M lets you switch to Full HD video with stereo sound.

Extending the EOS System with dedicated accessories

In addition to compatibility with Canon’s existing EF lenses, accessories and Speedlites, the EOS M launches with its own range of accessories. Two new EF-M lenses offer portability and high performance when using the new model the EF-M 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS STM standard zoom and the EF-M 22mm f/2 STM pancake lens. Both feature new stepper motor technology for exceptionally smooth AF performance, as well as precision Canon optics, while their compact designs offer the perfect form-factor to complement the camera’s pocket-sized body.

Additionally, the EOS M will ship with the new Speedlite 90EX flash unit as standard. Lightweight and highly-compact, it offers a maximum guide number of nine and supports wide-angle lenses, making it an ideal general-purpose flash for everyday use. A wireless master function also allows the control of multiple flash guns wirelessly, allowing more advanced users to experiment with a range of creative lighting effects.

EOS M key features

· The quality of a digital SLR in a compact body

· Scene Intelligent Auto

· Be versatile with interchangeable lenses

· Create out-of-focus backgrounds for high impact

· Easy-to-use touch-screen

· Atmospheric photos in low light

· Full-HD video with Video Snapshot Mode

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