The Hybrid Workplace & the Work-From-Anywhere Workforce

WORK IS NO LONGER A PLACE.
IT’S WHAT YOU DO.

Work doesn’t happen the way it used to. It’s no longer a single place to go or a time of day. It’s no longer about sitting in the same office or cubicle every day. It’s about having meaningful conversations with your colleagues, partners, and clients that inspire new ideas for innovation and growth.

It’s a wherever, whenever reality that continues to evolve. But some things haven’t changed. Work still means getting stuff done. It still depends on clear communication and collaboration. On technology that promotes connections, while tuning out distractions. On devices that set up your workforce for success. And on easy device management that means less work for you.

Backman Vidcom, together with Poly, is here to assist you with the design, deployment, and optimization of your AV systems to help you communicate better in order to achieve your organization’s business objectives.

Download Poly’s The Modern Communication & Collaboration Handbook and learn about the new rules & tools for the “work-from-anywhere” workforce.

 

Topics:

The Trouble with Today’s Reality

How COVID-19 has shaped key industries

Powering the ‘Next Normal’

Workspace Solutions

UC Platforms

IT Management Tools and Services

Edu-BLEND

The Hybrid Classroom Solution

 

Edu-BLEND

Designed to make things simple and easy for the instructor

With Edu-BLEND, students can effectively stay connected to their classroom should they need to self-isolate at home or if the physical classroom cannot accommodate social distancing for all students. Teachers simply continue to teach the way they normally do at the front of the classroom. A camera and microphone follow the teacher in the room creating a more natural user experience for students who are participating remotely. At the push of a button, a teacher can share content from a computer to all students.

Edu-BLEND‘s simplicity and ease of operation enable instructors to use the room without compromising their individual teaching styles.

Free from the rigidity of complex hardware systems, Edu-BLEND is flexible and can be deployed in a vast range of spaces. Even non-experts can set up the system in just a few minutes. And because the system is already
preconfigured, it is ready for immediate use. It’s plug and play simplicity at its finest.

A simple, safe and scalable way to combine distance learning with traditional classroom instruction

Simplicity & Ease-of-Use:

  • Teachers conduct lessons as they normally do at the front of the classroom.
  • Technology is simply “plug-and-play”. Connect one cable to device and simply start teaching.
  • The display allows instructors to see, hear and address remote students while teaching to a local classroom.
  • Integrates with any platform used by the teacher and students (Zoom, Google, Teams, Blackboard, etc.).

System Features:

  • High quality audio and video components for a much better user experience.
  • Fixed or portable setup that can easily be moved from one room to another
  • Easy and efficient set-up without any disruptions
  • Allows instructors to use existing teaching aids like Mimio while teaching to students online
  • Universally compatible equipment

 

Edu-BLEND

Combining remote learning with the traditional classroom

Adopting hybrid learning technology is becoming essential for educators to meet the needs of today’s learning environments amid the pandemic.

Converting the traditional classroom to accommodate distance learning can be a challenge both financially and logistically. That’s why Backman Vidcom’s Edu-BLEND classroom technology solution offers an affordable, scalable, easy-to-implement way of bringing a unified communications platform to almost any space, even ones without any existing AV infrastructure.

Our technology brings flexibility to the classroom. That means no disruption for students or faculty, because there’s almost no learning curve. From day one, our solution allows instructors to focus on teaching
rather than technology.

 

Redefining The Classroom

From primary schools to university campuses, the global pandemic shutdown tested our ability to shift educational approaches and adapt to unknown variables. As a result, the ability to change how we deliver learning—even dynamically shifting between models—is becoming part of the standard operating procedure, extending well beyond the end of COVID-19

 

In this guide, we’ll share insights and resources from certified, PSNI Global Alliance integrators, partners, and other industry leaders to help you find and assess technologies that will create a safe and effective learning environment and enable rapid and frequent changes to your delivery model.

  • Solutions available to implement in-person learning with an emphasis on safety
  • Steps for a hybrid learning environment including  capturing, transmitting and recording  content and ensure the audio and video is sent where it’s needed.
  • Remote and virtual learning solutions that  focus on improved access and quality
  • Ideas on how to get the most out of a technology investment including  integrating  with existing systems when possible

MimioPad

MimioPad – A Useful Tool for Teachers during a Pandemic

In this time of social-distancing and remote-learning, many teachers are searching for innovative ways to address the changing classroom environments. Even for schools that are meeting in person, many of the hands-on lesson plans that teachers might have previously utilized are incredibly challenging under distancing and cleanliness guidelines.

The MimioPad wireless tablet allows teachers and students to collaborate using an interactive whiteboard while walking around the room up to 30 feet away from the classroom computer. The cost-effective MimioPad tablet works with a slim pen stylus powered by a rechargeable Lithium-Ion battery and included MimioStudio software.  The award-winning MimioPad tablet gives you more ways to encourage class participation.

 

Features:

  • Wireless operation with included receiver
  • Works right out of the box, with no set-up required. It’s plug-and-play simplicity.
  • Long-range operation—works up to 30 feet (10 meters) from the computer
  • Frees teachers to move about, so they can help individual students and manage the classroom more effectively.
  • Slim and lightweight.
  • Connect multiple MimioPad tablets to a single computer to enable multi-student collaboration
  • Easy-to-read LCD display shows number of connected pads along with pen, battery, and connection status
  • Easy battery charging via the included USB computer cable (battery life is an amazing 16 hours!)
  • Control your MimioStudio™ lesson on the front-of-the-room display – from anywhere in the classroom. What’s more, students can collaborate right from their desks.

 

MimioPad brochure

 

What’s in the Box?

Wireless pen tablet, lithium-ion battery, stylus with lanyard, USB cable, replacement pen cap, MimioStudio hardware license, and shortcut reference card. MimioHub™ wireless receiver available separately.

 

For pricing, to purchase, or to learn more, contact info@bvcl.ca or call 902.450.5005

 

 

Teacher Testimonials

 

“The MimioPad allows me to move about my math classroom freely so I can help students from their desks. With COVID restrictions as a Jr High teacher, I have to change classes and can take the MimioPad into any classroom. The MimioPad is so versatile and easy to use, I cannot recommend it enough!”
– Jodie (Grade 9 math teacher)

 

“When online learning happened, my MimioPad was like magic. I used it at home to create virtual lessons for my students. It would have been a lot of work to deliver my math lessons without my MimioPad.”
– Danielle (Grade 10 math teacher)

 

“The MimioPad has made it easier for students to show their classmates their work without walking up to the whiteboard. Mimiopad has been a fantastic and useful addition to my classroom!”
– Crystal (Grade 8 math teacher)

 

 

 

 

MimioTeach

MimioTeach (video)

Portable Interactive Whiteboard

Turns any whiteboard into an interactive whiteboard with your classroom computer and a projector – you get whole-class learning in under a minute!

The MimioTeach™ interactive whiteboard includes all the hardware and software you need to launch your interactive classroom, so you get more for your budget dollars.

The small, portable MimioTeach bar attaches magnetically to a typical dry erase board. When your teachers plug the MimioHub™ wireless receiver into their computer and connect the computer to a projector, you can enjoy a projected display area up to 5 feet by 8 feet. Your lessons come to life, quickly and easily.

The MimioTeach interactive whiteboard comes with award-winning MimioStudio™ classroom software – the power behind all our products -so adding on additional Boxlight tools is a breeze.

  • A complete interactive whiteboard system that uses the dry erase boards and projectors you already have.
  • Straightforward interface lets you get up and running in minutes.
  • Full-featured MimioStudio software helps you create engaging interactive lessons.
  • Lightweight and portable, so you can move it between classrooms and store it safely.

 

MimioTeach Specsheet

 

What’s in the Box?
MimioTeach bar with embedded wireless interface, rechargeable stylus, MimioHub wireless receiver, USB micro-B cable, magnetic mounting bracket, 5V 1.2A USB power supply, and MimioStudio software license.

 

To learn more, contact info@bvcl.ca or call 902.450.5005

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Backman Vidcom achieves Zoom Integrator Certification

Backman Vidcom has achieved Zoom’s specialized certification requirements in video collaboration and is now officially recognized as a Zoom Certified Integrator.

Zoom Video Communications, Inc. (NASDAQ: ZM) brings teams together to get more done in a frictionless and secure video environment. Their easy, reliable, and innovative video-first unified communications platform provides video meetings, voice, webinars, and chat across desktops, phones, mobile devices, and conference room systems.

Zoom certified integrators are required to undergo intensive technical training of Zoom’s infrastructure and solutions. The requisite training touches on all aspects of Zoom Rooms including deployment, integration and management. As an accredited Zoom certified integrator, Backman Vidcom provides professional solutions in collaborating all the equipment such as video camera, conference phone, sound system, display etc. with Zoom Rooms software.

“End-users looking to scale Zoom from their desktop to meeting rooms throughout their organization now have the ability to engage with Backman Vidcom as a trusted Zoom Integrator,” says Tom Murray, Vice President of Backman Vidcom. “We can give end-users the confidence that Zoom’s easy-to-use interface, one touch-to-join, consistent experience, among many other customizable features that adopters of Zoom technology have come to enjoy, will meet their expected outcomes.”

Video Conferencing Etiquette for Today’s New Normal in the Workplace

The havoc that COVID-19 is causing on our global economy has led to many empty office buildings and a new workplace dynamic. Many companies have mandated their staff to work from home. As employees adopt new ways of communicating with their colleagues, suppliers, and customers, the use of videoconferencing technology can be a very effective tool for businesses to facilitate continued productivity and move forward without further disruption.

As the world deals with the fallout from the virus, it is important for everyone using video conferencing technology to understand its importance as a business tool. For many new users, there could be a bit of a learning curve before they feel comfortable.

The following videoconferencing etiquette tips can help guide your organization’s transition to remote work:

 

1. Be on Time

In fact, you should aim to arrive 5-10 minutes early just to ensure that the technology works. Always come prepared and make sure your devices are charged. You should set a reminder that you have a call coming up, just like you would do for any normal meeting.

 

2. Turn on the camera

If you don’t like to look at yourself on the screen, don’t fret. You’re not alone. Nobody looks perfect on a computer screen. But it’s a fear that most people quickly get over after a few meetings. Most video applications actually allow you to hide your individual feed. Use that feature if you think it will create less of a distraction for you.

 

3. Appearance

Just because you’re working from home, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be in work mode. You still need to be professional and look presentable. Sit up straight and be engaged. Dress for the people you are conferencing with, just as you would if you were at an office location. It might be uncomfortable for other participants if you have joined the virtual meeting wearing your pajamas.

 

4. Smile and Be Yourself

The purpose of videoconferencing is to replicate a face-to-face meeting as much as possible. Just because your physical setting is different, it doesn’t give you permission to act or behave any differently. You should use the same facial expressions you would use in a face-to-face meeting. If someone makes a joke, smile. Make sure you’re reacting the same way as you would in a physical meeting. Relax and just be yourself.

 

5. Presentation

If you’re working at home, make sure your surroundings are presentable. If you have a home office in a separate part of your home dedicated to your remote work, great. If not, you should find a quiet space in your house or apartment that has very few distractions. Make sure there’s nothing embarrassing or unprofessional on the wall behind you. You should treat a video conference call the same way you do when you invite guests into your home.

 

6. Lighting is important

Make sure you can see yourself clearly before you join the call. Don’t sit with your back to a source of light or a window. It doesn’t have to be studio-grade lighting equipment, but the room should be well lit.

 

7. Remove Distractions

Make sure everyone in your home knows you have a call. As adorable as it might be for young ones running into the room to jump on mom or dad’s lap, it takes away from productivity. Also, nobody likes trying to talk over barking dogs or a lawnmower. Keep pets out of your office or work area when you’re on a call and close the window.

 

8. Mute yourself when you’re not speaking

Consider muting yourself when it’s not your turn to speak, especially if there’s a prolonged stretch of the conversation when you are not up to speak. Sometimes the technology is too good and can easily pick up noises like breathing, sneezing, tapping pens, helicopters, and even road traffic can get picked up by microphones and cause unnecessary distractions for those participating.

 

9. Invest in a quality headset

Most laptops are equipped with microphones and speakers located near each other. This causes something call echo. Echo can be very unpleasant for all participants involved. A quality headset can help eliminate echo and provide more clarity to both you and the other participants on the call.

 

10. Speak normally and clearly

If you followed step no. 9, then there’s no need to raise your voice or speak too quietly. Chances are that people can hear you just fine, as long as you’re speaking clearly.

 

11. Troubleshooting

In the event of an audio or video failure, most video conferencing platforms have a chat feature for the participants to communicate with each other. If not, use these hand signals to troubleshoot:
Thumbs up = yes
Thumbs down = no
Hand by ear = can’t hear
Raise a hand = requesting to speak

Protecting AV Clients from Cyber Attacks

Each year, we hear about cyber attacks and breaches from companies of all sizes. Hackers are getting smart and know to look for the weak link to gain access into a company. Network-connected AV equipment is vulnerable, and clients need to understand how to guard against malicious intrusion.

AV professionals should be well-versed on the subject of cloud security and have the ability to provide you with all the information and support you need to stay vigilant and avoid attacks.
With that in mind, here are the Top 3 threats our clients are facing when it comes to AV security, and the strategies they need to have in order to respond.

 

1. Cloud-Connected Equipment

Network connectivity is the root cause of AV cyber vulnerabilities. We’ll explore some specific vulnerabilities, but this is where all threats start. To understand how vulnerabilities spread, here are a few terms to understand.

  • An attack surface is basically all of the exploitable vulnerabilities in AV installations. This can include hardware, software, and the humans who interact with either of these. It includes applications both outside and inside of the firewall, and any software that processes incoming data, email, and attachments. It includes the people who work in these networks and use any of the hardware or software in the company’s AV ecosystem.
  • An attack vector is the means of egress – it is the path a hacker takes to gain access to a computer or network server.

Any cloud-connected device is vulnerable. If you use a digital display, or video conferencing platform, or microphones and speakers, you are potentially at risk. If an interactive whiteboard being used in a conference room, and which some participants are accessing remotely, that whiteboard, with all that great information about business plans and strategies, is vulnerable.

 

2. Voice and Smart Technology

Newer vulnerabilities come from voice controls and other smart technology. AV technologies like smart digital signage, voice-controlled smart speakers, AI-based video security platforms, and AV automation systems are all avenues for hackers to gain a foothold in an organization’s network in order to do harm.
There has been a lag in getting up to speed on how to manage voice and smart technologies as they interface with AV systems. As AV and IT continue to converge, organizations will need to become as immersed in smart technologies as much as they are in other aspects of IT. Your AV provider can assist with understanding how to manage the vulnerabilities inherent in the use of voice technologies.

 

3. Internal Threats

Did you know that over 30% of cyber-attacks are the work of current or former employees? From deleting data to an outright attack, internal threats should not be overlooked. All businesses want to build a culture of trust but also remember to not get too trusting of employees when it comes to cyber-security. There is just too much risk at stake.

 

Correcting Vulnerabilities

How can you best be prepared? Here are some steps to take to correct vulnerabilities to cyberattack in AV:

  • Restrict Access – You are likely familiar with multi-factor authentication and role-based access control. These are ways of restricting access to only those who need access to perform their job functions. But when deadlines loom and task lists are large, sometimes access protocols get sidelined. Stress the importance of ongoing vigilance in restricting and monitoring access.
  • Update Continuously – Hopefully, updating software and installing patches are standard operating procedure for you. Make sure they are.
  • Segment Networks – While total segmentation may not be possible, become familiar with the principle of Least Route to limit the physical and logical connections between networks.
  • Filter outbound traffic – Security breaches often rely on outbound connections sending data to hackers. By vigorous filtering protocols, you can reduce this risk.
  • Monitor logs – Most AV devices now have the ability to log activity. But that doesn’t do any good if the activity is not monitored. Have your AV provider help set up procedures for monitoring activity logs on networked AV devices.

 

Whatever the surface or vector, the threats inherent in networked environments are out there and the threats are real. But these threats can be mitigated. Understanding vulnerabilities and keeping strong, clear communication will go a long way in helping to establish cyber-threat protocols. This is how to keep everyone vigilant for threats and aware of how to handle them.

AV Design is Important for Every Industry

AV Design is Important for Every Industry

 

Industries everywhere are embracing AV technology. Now more than ever, these businesses need to pay attention to AV design.

We’ve all been there – the restaurant bar with screens of every size and description with distorted colors, flawed alignment, bad cable management, or even worse, a black screen with an error message. It is supposed to feel vibrant, but the actual vibe is more likely to drive business away. Well-designed AV installations can make all the difference.

AV design has moved from the conference room to the hotel lobby, the table in the restaurant and the waiting room at the hospital. Consumers are starting to expect AV everywhere. Whether it is restaurants, hospitals, universities, hotels – industries of all kinds are embracing AV. Increasingly, design matters just as much as the technical aspects of an installation.

Design thinking is becoming an important aspect of creating any product or environment. It’s like if the kitchen gadget doesn’t feel good in your hand, you don’t use it. If the restaurant bar just throws up screens without a design approach in mind, patrons will find somewhere else to watch the big game.

Which is why AV design is important for every industry. AV systems need to work seamlessly and with the end user in mind. Design cannot be an afterthought. When you marry the technical, functional aspects of the AV purpose to the design aspect, customers in the space will be happy.
Let’s take a look at how AV design can make a big impact various industries.

 

Restaurants

That maze of large-screen TVs is just the start. AV is everywhere in the restaurant world. For instance, self-serve kiosks are becoming the norm at fast food and fast-casual dining establishments. AV design in restaurants is a large and fast-growing market.

Restaurant patrons have experienced the prevalence and changing developments of digital menu boards over the past several years. Digital menus are much easier to read than the old standard boards. They are becoming ubiquitous, so has the need to get the design process correct.

Customer experience is important, but so is ease of use. Expertise in the design and execution of a menu and kiosk program, is a must for restaurant owners who need signage that can be changed quickly, transitioning from menu to menu depending on the time of day and season of the year.

In any fast-paced restaurant or bar environment, the simpler the control panel, the better. Systems that use an iPad for quick changes to menu boards, music or visual channel choices will help employees get back to serving customers more quickly.

 

Hospitals

AV design in hospitals is changing the way patients experience a visit and the way caregivers interact with one another. Hospitals are a labyrinth of corridors, and patients and their loved ones are under stress especially as they first enter the hospital environment. Digital signage can do a lot to create a clearer direction for where a visitor or patient needs to go. Audio output is also critical in alerting hospital staff.

Rather than scheduling everyone to be at the same place at the same time, they can confer on diagnosis, course of treatment, symptoms, etc without having to physically be in the same place.

 

Education

User-centered design is getting a boost in the education space. Experiential AV design in education is another market with solid growth potential.

More and more campuses are using video walls in common space to keep the flow of information moving along. From student life to advancement, to recruitment—these large, complex systems need to work for everyone. AV integrators can play a critical role in making sure data is transported from distant parts of campus without interruption.

Collaboration is key in education, so that is another aspect of AV design that is coming into its own in higher education.

 

Hospitality

AV design in the hospitality space is another sector with nearly limitless potential. From hotel lobbies to every corner of an all-inclusive resort, design plays a big role in visitor interaction.

For instance, cruise lines and all-inclusive resorts are using AV technology to enhance the guest experience. Strategically placed touchscreens can help guests book dinner reservations, time at the spa, or a spot at the wine and yoga session. Once again, design is the star, with the layers of signal management, routing, control, and setting up the physical environment playing that crucial supporting role in enhancing the end user’s experience of that environment.

 

Design is playing an ever-increasing role in AV integration. Now more than ever, AV integrators serve a purpose when it comes to early stage design, planning, and implementation that can ultimately help businesses shine.

Fiber, Connectivity, and the Need for Fast, High-Resolution Audio and Video

What’s New in AV Connectivity?

In many ways, what’s new in connectivity has been with us for quite some time. While fiber is not a new technology, it remains unique and continues to provide exceptional benefits for AV connectivity. Fiber also has the capacity to adapt as technology around bandwidth, audio, video transmission and clarity continues to evolve. Copper is still around and will probably be around for a long time. But its limitations become more and more apparent as fiber rises to meet those same challenges.

Why Now is the Time for Fiber?

In many ways, fiber is seen as the safest choice. It is the safest, not in the sense of being conservative, but it is the clear choice that offers commercial clients positive outcomes that are future-ready. Here are just a few answers to the question, “Why fiber?”

1. Bandwidth
The thirst for bandwidth is so far unquenchable. Each benchmark reached is a great milestone, but today’s miracle speed and level of clarity is tomorrow’s telephone landline connection. CatX copper is limited to 10Gps on an unbent, perfectly installed line. Fiber’s bandwidth is only limited by how hardware connected to the cable performs, not the cable itself.

2. No Interference
Fiber means there are no metal connections creating interference. Metalic connection points create potential surge and noise interference, making copper a weak competitor.

3. Distance
Copper and Wi-fi have limitations when it comes to distance. For the best possible audio and visual experience from one end of a corporate campus to the other, fiber remains what is new in connectivity. Copper is limited to relatively short distances while delivering acceptable speed and clarity.

4. Future-Proof
Fiber’s adaptability may be its most relevant feature for the world of AV installation. What is “new” in connectivity, in this case, is how fiber creates such a future-proof infrastructure. Fiber meets today’s standards and is also ready for the next level standards.

This is a big win for consumers of AV connectivity since the infrastructure is put in once rather than over and over again.

Stigma
With all that good news about connectivity and fiber, what issues could there possibly be? Consumers of AV should be educated about this because there does remain some level of stigma around fiber. Many think wireless is the only game in town, especially in the future. But for the most seamless connectivity over distance, fiber remains hard to beat.

Another stigma is that fiber is too expensive. The truth is, fiber infrastructure is becoming more affordable. In line with copper, with many more benefits. And when you factor in fiber’s power of future-proofing, there really is no comparison.

Fiber and Beyond

Connectivity that the client does not have to think about needs to be the standard in commercial installations. Commercial projects often deal with long distances. Single mode installation allows for long runs without fear of diminished clarity, etc. Again surge or voltage droppage is typical with copper, so the future is fiber.

Years ago, integrators used matrix switchers, baluns and other devices to distribute AV signals. Some of these solutions required complex setups and lots of labor.

Today, however, through technologies like HDBaseT, AV over IP signal management and fiber cabling, integrators can tailor their system designs to meet the exact content, budget and future expansion goals of their clients.

Get Ready for HDMI 2.1

Another thing that is new but not is HDMI 2.1. It’s not here completely, even though it was announced back in November of 2017. But we’re getting close. Why should we be paying attention? Rob Tobias, CEO and President of HDMI Licensing Administrator, recently explained it this way: “With the promise of increase in bandwidth from 18Gbps to 48Gbps—that increases the resolution into the 8K realm, and with an optional digitally lossless compression called DSC it can even get to 10K.”

The industry has caught up to 4K60 with 18Gbps. We are not yet at 48Gbps, but we are all eager to get there.

These are truly exciting times in connectivity.

 

 

photo credit: C2G, Legrand AV