Université de Montréal
"The hard part was wiring 40 individual, networked mics with surface conduit and making them theft-proof. Designing the system with Biamp's AudiaFLEX DSP was easy"- ANDRE FILION, INSTALLER, APPLIED ELECTRONICS
With more than 55,000 students and some 10,000 employees, the Université de Montréal the second biggest university in Canada has a large technological infrastructure to support its teaching and research missions. It boosts over 1,200 workstations especially reserved for educational activities, and offers several high-tech multimedia rooms.
To keep the technology within the university's classrooms state-of-the-art, a system in one of the 80-seat distance learning rooms needed to be replaced; however, the retrofit had to fit within the university's limited budget and be easy to use.
In fall 2008, the Université de Montréal tasked Applied Electronics with the job. André Filion, the lead installer, based the system on the Biamp Systems AudiaFLEX Digital Signal Platform, a cost effective solution that combines all the capabilities needed in one unit. Filion and his team also installed a custom-built teacher's podium with a touch panel, cable cubby, interactive whiteboard and document camera to provide any tool the teacher could use in one station, which all are controlled by a mouse. Additionally, to enhance the rooms' distance learning capabilities, the videoconferencing system was designed so that the university's technicians could easily control the entire system from the rear of the room, where the equipment is housed.
The classroom features 40 removable microphones, each custom mounted to a desk shared by two students, and secured to prevent theft. The microphones feature an LED light/ button and synching talk/light prompts. To operate the microphones, students use the "push to talk" button, which sends a request to the Crestron touchpanel, and the technician then activates the microphone. Students can view the presentations on one of two 32-inch Mitsubishi monitors at the front of the room, on the 65-inch Sharp LCD TV or on the Sanyo LCD projector. All conferences can be recorded via the Accordent PC located in the control booth. The technician can route any video feed to any of the monitors, including four preview monitors mounted in the booth. The microphones are also used for sound reinforcement in the room.
The customized teachers' control podium is an elegant, efficient solution. Applied Electronics modified a computer dock and created custom brackets for the DVD player, which was not "rack-friendly." Teachers also have access to a preview monitor mounted from the ceiling.
Applied Electronics managed to make the most out of the university's limited budget. The new state-of-the-art technology in the classroom has allowed teachers to enhance the learning experience, as well as improved the rooms' distance-learning capabilities through a more high-tech videoconferencing system.
"Programming AudiaFLEX is quite a bit easier than other DSPs I've worked with. The open architecture allows for a lot more ease of use and flexibility. The Crestron programmer we subcontracted on this job had never used Biamp, but he got up to speed in just one day."- ANDRE FILION, INSTALLER, APPLIED ELECTRONICS