Atlona technology played a key part in a recent AV installation at the Maersk Tower, a 15-story centre for world-class research into health and medical science at the Panum Institute complex of the University of Copenhagen.
A central feature of the tower is three large lecture auditoriums, located on the lower floors, which are complemented by 16 classrooms.
The AV system for the building was designed, specified and installed by systems integrator Stouenborg ApS.
“We don’t have any obligations in terms of distributing products; we just choose the right products for the job,” says project executive Anders Jørgensen. Stouenborg was involved in the Maersk Tower project from the start, and was tasked with showing the public-private partnership between A.P. Møller Foundation and the Danish state (which funded the complete AV integration) what they felt ‘tomorrow’s AV solution’ would be.
The integration team first solidified the backbone with 13 miles (22km) of CAT6 network cabling to accommodate all signal transport needs. In each of the 16 classrooms, the teaching facilities include two whiteboards, two Panasonic projectors, two Projecta projection screens and Genelec loudspeakers. With control by Neets input panels, in each room a custom-built, height adjustable Montana desk houses the control and distribution equipment, with Atlona AT-UHD-CLSO-824 matrix switchers handling all mixing and HDBaseT signal distribution.
“The lecturer controls the Montana desk, which has a Elmo document scanner, the Neets input panels control the AT-UHD-CLSO-824 which allows an HDMI, VGA or display port connected into the system,” Anders explains.
“It needed a powerful matrix that could combine video, sound and two outputs in a small frame at a sensible price point. Atlona was the only supplier to offer such a solution to support these requirements, while offering the flexibility to handle other tasks such as streaming, if required in the future.”
“They wanted everything to be in one box,” adds Mads Nørskov, sales director and founding partner of Imago Sonas, Atlona’s Danish distributor. “The AT-UHD-CLSO-824 has a variety of inputs, allowing you to combine it with microphones. This allows the customer to support audio and video in two different layers.
“You can combine the inputs and send them to the two different projectors,” he continues. “In addition, the audio matrix allows every picture to work with every audio input. If desired, one picture can be combined with audio from a microphone or from another presentation. It all works very smoothly, and it’s very easy to control from the touchscreens in the auditoriums or the Neets panels in the lecture rooms.”
The AT-UHD-CLSO-824’s combination of HDMI and VGA inputs was also very important, because a lot of students have older laptops with VGA outputs. In addition, although much of the AV industry is focusing on 4K high definition images, there are important reasons why Stouenborg didn’t specify it for this project.
“We deliberately chose not to work with 4K for a number of reasons for this project,” Anders points out. “One of the most important was that you cannot read an Excel spreadsheet from 5m away on a 4K screen. The numbers are so small that, even if you are 2m away, you won’t be able to read it. However, we see many opportunities where Atlona’s 4K support will be of great value in corporate, education and other AV environments. We also chose the AT-UHD-CLSO-824 so the university has a future proof system that will be ready if they want to switch to 4K.”
“Another benefit of the AT-UHD-CLSO-824 is that we didn’t need to run two cables to the projector, because we could control it via HDBaseT,” he adds. “It is also simple to set up and really reliable. Again, it was all about choosing the right product for the application. For this task, Atlona was a winner.”
Because of European legislation and the demands of the university regarding electromagnetic compatibility (EMC), Imago Sonas worked closely with Stouenborg to ensure that the Atlona units were EMC compliant.
“In a research facility, it’s important that you don’t have products polluting the area with unwelcome electromagnetics, but getting EMC approval for AV products can be a difficult task,” Anders admits. “Imago Sonas is one of the few distributors I know which is able to answer the difficult questions we sometimes have, and they were really good in getting the information we needed.”
Imago Sonas also ensured that the proposed system for the classrooms was rigorously tested before it was installed, making sure it fulfilled all the requirements of both Stouenborg and the university. With each system connected to the Maersk Tower’s AV network, software updates for all 16 classrooms can easily be done with a few clicks, rather than having to do each system individually.
“We never know what Microsoft, Apple or other manufacturers are doing tomorrow, so we wanted to make sure that we could update the products in a simple and convenient way as soon as the manufacturers change anything. That way, there is no system downtime for the end user,” says Mads.
The 16 classrooms are a significant part of the overall Maersk Tower development, which has delivered world-class facilities for world-class research. The Atlona AT-UHD-CLSO-824 matrix switchers will play a notable role in the student learning experience for at least the next decade.
“The university wanted something that was extraordinary, where the students would feel like that they had the best facilities available. We think the Maersk Tower fulfils that,” says Mads.
“Technical development in the AV industry is extremely rapid and sometimes it’s a little difficult to keep up,” adds Anders. “But I think the systems in Maersk Tower are at a point where, as an educator, you cannot ask for more. They have facilities that are at the very leading edge of learning.”