Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Open Architecture Challenge: Classroom

Recently local developer, Urban Ventrues and respected architect Michelle Kaufman announced that they will be partnering on a Green, Sustainable community development here in Denver. The project is called Aria Denver. As a result of that announcment, I found Michelle's blog and have been following it ever since.

I'm really glad I have been because she has some very interesting and thought provoking posts. Yesterday's post was one of those. She brought to my attention a design competition currently underway and sponsored by Open Architecture Network. The idea is for local architects and designers to partner with a local school to help design a classroom of the future. Something that is smart, safe and sustainable. Because this is through the Open Architecture Network, any designs that win the competition would make their design available worldwide through some type of open copyright. This is opensource software for architects! What a great idea. The reason for the competition is to address the fact that (according to the World Bank), educating all children worldwide will require the construction of 10 million new classrooms in more than 100 countries by 2015.

MediaLogix partnered with local architecture firm, Bennett Wagner Grody to design a similar classroom for the National Middle School Association show in Denver last year. Actually, I should say that Bennet Wagner Grody designed the classroom and MediaLogix designed the technology systems.

So, who is up for it? Any architects out there interested in taking on the challenge? We know that technology is an integral part of future classrooms. It enables better presentation/learning environments and the ability to connect in a multitude of ways. We have some great ideas so lets get started!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Throw out your paper! (metaphorically speaking)

I was inspired by a post today from the RNL Green Design Blog. Greg Buglewicz wrote some great tips on how to reduce your use of paper in the office. Anyone trying to "Green their routine" in the office should definitely check it out. Of course being in the technology and Audiovisual industry, I turn to technology as a way to save on if not elminate paper use altogether. Here are some of my ideas:

1. Create more Conference Rooms & Huddle Rooms: Make more room for collaborative type spaces. Instead of printing out drawings, lists of items or similar to share with colleagues, focus on storing digital copies that can be presented on a large format LCD display or projection screen. Manipulate the digital copies together and only print out final copies for storage or presentation to a client.

2. Utilize Interactive Whiteboard Systems: Pull up plans or documents on a large interactive whiteboard. These systems allow you to annotate, write (electronically) and mark on any type of computer content you have displayed. Red Line some plans and save digitally. You don't need a stand alone system for this either. Hitachi offers a great wireless tablet with free software for annotating on a traditional projection system.

3. Fax from your computer: Stop printing out a paper copy to fax! Most printers these days have functions built in to send digital files directly through the fax machine. Additinally you can get services from your printer or online services that allow you to receive faxes digitally as well. Use these features! You will not only save paper but I promise you will eventually come to love how much easier it is to store all your files digitally instead of pilling them up on your desk. If your printer doesn't have built in functions for this, check out services from eFax or
What other ideas are out there? Do you think technology will eventually eliminate the need for paper altogether or will there always be a place for paper in the office?

My Profile - Online & Off

When MediaLogix introduced a profile based building system a few years back on our One Willow Bridge project, many had never heard of such a thing. It was pretty cutting edge at the time and quite frankly still is. One Willow Bridge is a fractional ownership residence in Vail where the residents might get a different unit each time they come to visit. That being said, the experience for them remains very much the same each time they visit. Each of the units in the building have a complete Crestron Control system that operates and automates every function of the home including lighting, heating & cooling, TV Channels, Direct Phone numbers (inbound and outbound), concierge services, pre-programmed home “scenes” and more. The problem with allowing so much customization is the fact that each time the resident comes back to town (and subsequently gets a different unit to stay in), they have to go through and set all there preferences again. That WOULD be the problem if the resident profile system wasn’t introduced.

Instead of each resident “re-programming” their home every time they come to visit, we were able to setup a profile based system that follows them around to each unit as they are occupied. Before the resident ever comes to town, they log in to a website to inform the building when they are coming to town. The building system intelligently registers this information. As the resident physically arrives, the building recognizes them based on an intelligent RFID based key card system. The building knows to let them in and after they park their car, they are directed to the correct elevator, floor and unit. When the resident walks in to the unit, it might be the first time they have ever seen it, but everything they stored before is already loaded in to the system. This creates an automatic “home” where all of their favorite pre-sets, media, phone numbers and the like are already there waiting for them.

Getting to the point

My point in this post is to ask a simple question. All of us have online accounts with Yahoo, Google, Microsoft or similar. As technology continues to grow, our accounts are capable of handling more and more tasks. Where as I used to just have email through Google, I now have a fully functioning web based business hub that handles contacts, docs & spreadsheets, unified communications (including video communications), and much much more. My account saves my preferences so I can access them from anywhere and at any time (with an internet connection). This change combined with building wide technology systems like I mentioned above are bound to hit a crossroads at some point. This means that in a few years, my Google Account might just interact with any compatible “Google Home Automation System” to offer me very similar features and functions as One Willow Bridge does independently.

Of course this is just my thoughts of where this might go. What do you think? What technologies do you see shaping the world and how we interact with it? Does all this stuff creep you out or get you excited? We are all very interested to hear!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Crestron MLX-2 - Control it all in the palm of your hand

Ever wanted a remote control that would literally control EVERYTHING in your environment? Kind of like the Adam Sandler movie, "Click"? Well, we don't have that technology (yet), but we do have something almost as cool. The long awaited Crestron MLX-2 was just released in to the market. Of course Crestron already makes a wide variety of installed and wireless touch panels, but this product is more for the digital media connoisseur who wants the look and feel of a traditional remote control. Just like Crestron's other products, this remote control can handle everything from selection of sources (DVD, Satellite, iPod, etc..) to lighting controls, shades & drapes, and anything else you can think of that has the ability to be controlled. Check it out on the Crestron website, and check out the review from Gizmodo here.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Digital Signage - Where can it be used?

It is easy to spout off the normal ideas that come to you for Digital Signage. Sure, it can be used in retails stores, banks, airports and subway/light rail stations. Those are the easy targets. These businesses are used to advertising and know that the more advertising they do in their store (or to lure people in to their store) the more sales they are going to make.
But where else could digital signage be used? Where are there captive audiences that are not just "forced" to look at your screen but would also possibly welcome the ability to watch some interesting content?

A posting from the Digital Signage Blog today inspired me to start thinking about this. The post focused on using Digital Signage at the Dentist office. Why not entertain your patient while simultaneously making them more comfortable, lessening the effect of the scary drill AND possibly make some passive income on the side. Sounds like a win/win to me! Check out my comment on the Digital Signage Blog. I suggested adding a Digital Media Server and simple control system to allow patients a choice in what they are watching and allowing the dentist to mute the programming when he/she needed to speak with the patient.

What are some other interesting applications and venues for Digital Signage? I can think of a few I'll post on later. Let me know your thoughts!!

Videoconferencing in K12 Education

One of the most promising applications for Videoconferencing technology is in the classroom. Many teachers may already know this but there are many out there who haven't had the opportunity to even see how videoconferencing works, let alone given the opportunity to deploy it in their classrooms. As with many new things, the main barrier to entry is the cost. With current day videoconferencing systems costing in the 5 digits minimum, how does a school implement such technologies?

Right now there isn't a great answer. Sure, classrooms can use free services such as Skype or Google Video Chat, but those technologies are meant to be used on a "one to one" basis over two personal computers. To get the full experience of videoconferencing, a classroom needs to have a room based system with wide angle cameras that Pan, Tilt & Zoom, and dual monitors. One monitor for showing the other end of the call (the people you are talking to) and another screen for seeing the local end (you) or possible content being shared like computer screens.

MediaLogix helped put together an exhibit for the National Middle School Conference last year in Denver. The work we did there was "Pro bono" and for the benefit of introducing both teachers & students to technologies such as Videoconferencing. Tandberg joined us in displaying their videoconferencing technology and during the 4 day conference students were able to communicate with classrooms across the nation and even receive instruction from teachers in other locations!
I'm sure that as these and other technologies improve over the next few years that we will see more and more videoconferencing starting to take place in the classroom. MediaLogix is excited to be a part of it all and will continue to put a huge focus on "educating" the education community on the benefits of Videoconferencing for the classroom!

Friday, February 13, 2009

The ZED Prize!

I came across a very interesting competition and had to share it. Seeing as how many of our clients and partners are deep in to the green living movement, I’m sure many will find this intriguing. Perhaps this post might even inspire some of our local architects and designers to get involved! It’s called the ZED Prize and the folks over at Zerofootprint are hoping to turn it in to the largest architectural prize issued worldwide in 2009. That is quite a bold goal!

The idea of the competition is to address the issue of re-purposing or “Re-skinning” (as they call it) existing buildings to have little or no carbon foot print. As they point out on their website, we are starting to do a good job of building NEW buildings that have low carbon footprints but we need to do a MUCH better job of re-skinning existing buildings. I would say they make a very good point. Especially seeing as how existing buildings account for 40% of all greenhouse gas emissions in north America.

Of course a smart building isn’t smart at all without a smart technology system helping to run it. That is where MediaLogix comes in! Our focus is on creating integrated building solutions for commercial buildings in Denver and throughout the west. We would love to partner with a forward thinking architectural firm or developer to help create the (Retrofit) buildings of the future! Email us or comment on this blog to get the conversation going!

Bell Tower Approved!

We have been following Buzz Geller’s Bell Tower with great interest and enthusiasm over the past year. If you haven’t already read about it in the Rocky Mountain news or Westword, you should definitely check it out. The tower was actually finally approved last Thursday the 5th after a long drawn out process between the Lower Downtown Review Board and Buzz Geller and his Architectural Firm, Fentress Architects.

I like many other people in the community think this is a great victory for Denver! Finally a building that steps out of the “Box Mold” that most buildings in the area fall in to. In addition to inspiring architecture, I’m interested in the “Guts” of the building and how Fentress plans on utilizing technology in the residences. This project could be very similar to our “One Willow Bridge” project in Vail that was also marketed and sold to the upper 1% of buyers.

Monday, February 9, 2009

People you can "Count" on

Kevin sent me a great article worth sharing. Our goal at MediaLogix is and always has been to help our clients utilize technology to enhance their overall business success. Implementing People Counting systems can help certain companies achieve that. As described in this article by Smart Buildings, Knowing how many people have entered a building or a space is directly related to a financial or management objective for the building. Some of those management or financial objectives might be related to Security & Access Control, Life Safety, Financial Metrics, Audience Tracking, HVAC Control, Staff Management, Space Planning and more.

MediaLogix specializes in integrating technologies such as this in to your overall building management programs. Shoot me an email or comment on this posting so we can start the discussion!

Videoconferencing Going Mainstream

As with many other companies, Verizon wants a piece of the Videoconferencing pie. By building their FiOS network directly to homes across america, they are brining true broadband service capable of delivering true high def video communications. In this article from Telephony Online, Carol Wilson outlines Verizon's initial strategy at Videoconferencing to the home and end user. Verizon is one of MANY companies starting to get in to this space. I honestly think that as broadband becomes more ubiquitous, and online servics such as Google Video Chat, and services from companies like Vidyo expand, we are going to see traditional Video Conferencing companies like Tandberg & Polycom dramtically change their strategies. After all, if Google provides HD Video "Chat" within the next year, how easy will it be for a company like Tandberg to charge $25,000 per end point for a similar service?

MediaLogix works hard to stay at the forefront of video communications. We are partnering with forward thinking companies to provide our customers with both superior technology AND superior price points. Shoot me an email or comment on this post so we can get the dialog going!

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Tandberg Video Champion Awards!

Rick Snyder, President of Tandberg Americas is seen here putting the call out to innovators in the video world! This is relevant to anyone who reads this blog because a major industry player is going to help promote new uses for video technology throughout the world. We will stay on top of the new technologies being highlighted and report back to let you know what types of technological advances you can look forward to in the coming months!

Taking Digital Signage & RFID To the next level

I have long been interested in the use of RFID technologies and how they relate to certain business segments. It has been used in manufacturing settings for quite some time now, but as the technology matures it is being used for more and more things. Take the Retail setting for instance. How could a retailer utilize RFID and other technologies to further sales and/or build new sales opportunities? Well, I read a very interesting article this morning that I would encourage anyone interested to read (especially our retail clients). The story is about a german businessman who uses a clever display system for his clothes. As people walking by see something in his store window, the items details come up on a digital display with details of the item and also the unique RFID tag of that item. They can then order that item utilizing their cell phone. The item can either be put on hold OR dispensed right then and there! No salesperson required! Check out the article here for the complete story.

MediaLogix specializes in building special innovative solutions like this. We would love to discuss how we can turn your dreams in to reality through innovative uses of technology like this!

Something NEW from Polycom - QDX 6000

Polycom has come out with a great new unit that is sure to make a lot of people happy. The unit allows point to point video conferencing calls and little else. That being said, what else do you really need sometimes? The idea is that a remote office can affordably get in to video conferencing without breaking the bank. The new unit is much cheaper ($3,999 MSRP) than any other Polycom Codec yet offers very good quality video and ease of use.

MediaLogix has these units available! Call us today or click on the link below to get your QDX 6000 today!

Polycom - See it Live

We are always looking for new ways to show our clients how video conferencing and telepresence solutions can improve their productivity and help them save money. I found this great video that lets you visualize exactly how some of these solutions work. Check it out and let us know what you think!

Architects of Integration

Welcome to the new Architects of Integration Blog! The MediaLogix blog focusing on the audiovisual, automation, videoconferencing, digital signage and communications technology industry! We know "physical technology" and how it helps building owners. More to come later!
© 2009 Bryan M. Wilson. All Rights Reserved | Powered by Blogger
Design by psdvibe | Bloggerized By LawnyDesignz