AV Integration spoke with senior systems engineer at Dariel, Francois Coetzer, as well as integration specialists Integrated Home and Office about the project. Since its inception in 2001, Dariel has established itself as a leading software developer in South Africa and across the broader African continent. The company specialises in developing bespoke software solutions for clients across a multitude of sectors and prides itself on being forward-thinking and client-focused in all of their business practices.
Late last year, Dariel Solutions’ management team decided that after eleven years in the same location, it was time to move the company to new premises. This provided an ideal opportunity to overhaul the company’s dated audiovisual systems.
“The AV solution that was in place in our boardroom was awkward, and it was often difficult for non-technical team members to use. While we had a projector that could be connected to a PC, there were multiple remote controls for the different aspects of the system, and users invariably had to call on technical support to ensure that the room was working before we held large meetings in the space,” explains Coetzer.
When the company decided to move premises, management allocated a budget to upgrade the company’s AV capabilities, with a close focus on the installation in the executive boardroom.
“As a technology-based company, it is important that we project an image that is coherent with the services that we offer. As such, we wanted to have a boardroom solution that ensured a tech-savvy and user-friendly experience, both for our team and for our guests. At the same time, I had a defined budget for the AV installation, and needed an integrator that would understand our specific needs and limitations,” Coetzer explains.
PARTNERING FOR SUCCESS
Coetzer approached a number of integration specialists to design a wireless presentation solution for the company’s boardrooms and meeting spaces. “I sourced a number of prospective designs and quotes, and we decided to award the contract to Integrated Home and Office as they were the only integrator that was able to deliver on the features that we wanted, within budget,” Coetzer says.
Company director at Integrated Home and Office, Mark Fourie, explains that he and his team have been working in the commercial integration space for about five years. However, Fourie has extensive experience in the professional AV industry, having specialised in broadcast and post-production facilities before deciding to explore opportunities presented by the fairly recent and rapid expansion of the residential and commercial AV markets.
Corporate accounts manager at Integrated Home and Office, Lucinda Hattingh, meanwhile, has a long-standing relationship with the team at Dariel that precedes her joining Fourie’s team, and therefore from the outset had a solid understanding of both the organisational culture and the AV needs of the company.
“Lucinda and Mark came in for a meeting, and they were able to specify a solution that fit my purpose and my budget. Right from the onset, the Integrated Home and Office team understood my problems and space, and they were able to offer me a turnkey solution that would ensure we had one contractor who would take care of all of the components of the installation,” Coetzer points out.
DESIGNING A SOLUTION
The main objective of the executive boardroom installation at Dariel was to deploy a highly efficient wireless presentation system that offered centralised control and would provide a seamless and secure platform for the BYOD style of meeting most often used by the Dariel team and their clients. In response to this brief, Hattingh and Fourie proposed a solution based on Kramer Electronics’ comprehensive range of boardroom solutions. “While we are generally brand agnostic as an integrator, Kramer is a manufacturer that has a proven track record for solid and well-supported products across verticals in the professional AV market,” Fourie points out.
In addition, Fourie and his team have worked with Kramer’s South African distributor, Electrosonic, for a long time, and have come to trust the technology that they provide.
“Electrosonic has a well-deserved reputation for outstanding customer service. We have always been able to rely on Electrosonic to support our clients with swift responses, personal service and exceptional turnaround times on repairs,” states Fourie.
To ensure that centralised control was achieved, Hattingh specified the Kramer VS-62H matrix switcher for 4K@60Hz. This unit enables analogue audio signals that employ advanced auto switching schemes and control options to be processed. The switcher, which supports resolutions up to 4K@60Hz (4:2:0) and WUXGA, is also able to reclock and equalise signals, and it can route any input to either or both outputs simultaneously. For video switching, the Kramer DIP-31 with Maestro Room Automation was deployed. The DIP-31 is a 4K@60Hz (4:2:0) automatic switcher for HDMI, VGA, Ethernet, data and unbalanced audio signals. It supports various modes of input selection and transmits signal via HDMI cable to the VS-62H, which is housed in the company’s rack and serves not only as the aesthetic, but also the operational heart of the organisation’s offices.
The DIP-31 functions as a step-in commander when connected to a VS-62H matrix switcher, and can manage RS-232 commands to support display powering options. The in-built Maestro Room Automation features an intuitive user interface that enabled Fourie and his team of integrators to fully automate Dariel’s executive boardroom, including input/ output connectivity, routing and button pressing. As a result, Coetzer and the Dariel team do not need to change sources, manage audio or deal with manually connecting the projector in the boardroom.
To ensure pristine audio in the executive boardroom, Hattingh specified the Kramer FC-46xL, a high-performance HDMI audio de-embedder. The unit can de-embed audio from the HDMI input or from the HDMI output audio return channel to S/PDIF, TOSLINK and analogue audio outputs simultaneously.
For sound in the boardroom, Integrated Home and Office specified the Kramer PA-120Z power amplifier, which is housed in the server room and is connected to four Kramer Galil 4-C closed-back compact ceiling speakers.
Coetzer and the Dariel team decided that using a projector in the executive boardroom, rather than migrating to an LED screen, remained the best solution for their purposes, and therefore Integrated Home and Office specified the NEC M403H professional projector for the space, which projects directly onto a wall. “In our previous premises, we decided to dispense with our projection screen and project directly onto the wall of the boardroom, and we have found this to be a very effective solution for our needs. We decided to upgrade the projector to ensure a better image and to enable wireless connectivity, which has proven very successful,” states Coetzer.
Hattingh concurs, explaining that Integrated Home and Office have installed numerous NEC projectors for both commercial and residential applications over the years, and have found the product to offer excellent quality while being both robust and affordable for the South African market.
THE USER EXPERIENCE
With the backbone of the installation taken care of, the Integrated Home and Office team turned their attention to the user interface and elected to implement Kramer’s VIA GO Wireless presentation solution together with the Kramer KT-107 touch panel.
The Dariel team wanted to deploy a solution that would be best suited to a BYOD model, which meant that it needed to be flexible in terms of its compatibility with multiple operating systems. The VIA GO gives iOS, Android, Chromebook, PC and Mac users instant wireless connectivity with advanced presentation capabilities. The product features content streaming with crystal-clear mirrored images and video playback, and supports iOS, Windows and Android mirroring. VIA GO is easy and flexible to install with both built-in Wi-Fi and LAN connectivity, and the solution includes industry-leading 1024-bit encryption for secure use on the internal network.
To guarantee that users are offered a seamless meeting room experience, the Kramer KT-107 table-mounted touch panel has been installed in the executive boardroom and serves as the main point-of entry for meeting participants. “Integrated Home and Office worked with Kramer programmers to configure the touch panel to be as user-friendly as possible, and thus far we have not had a single staff member requesting assistance once they are familiar with the three simple buttons on the interface,” says Coetzer.
Coetzer concludes by stating that: “Our brief for this project was to implement an affordable wireless presentation system in the executive boardroom that would reflect our corporate identity as a solutions driven and forward-thinking organisation – without over capitalising on the installation. Integrated Home and Office, with Electrosonic’s support, have delivered on every front – and we could not be happier with the end result.”