University Upgrades Videoconference Rooms with Extron Universal Scaling Switcher

University Upgrades Videoconference Rooms with Extron Universal Scaling Switcher

James Cook University is an Australian multi-campus university comprised of two main sites in Townsville and Cairns. Additional campuses are located in Mount Isa, Thursday Island, Mackay, Australia, with an international campus in Singapore. Videoconferencing forms an integral part of the University’s education and communications strategy. The facilities are supported internally by the Videoconferencing and Audio Visual Support, or VAVS team.

With 10,000 hours of booked videoconferencing and a growing desire to support digital AV signals, the University needed to update existing systems in 11 smaller videoconferencing rooms to accept VGA, HDMI, Mini DisplayPort, and audio. Typically accommodating from 6 to 20 people, each small VC meeting space is equipped with a videoconferencing codec, room camera, microphone, PC, and document camera, along with two 70-inch Sharp Aquos LED displays and two Revtek 60-watt powered speakers. In addition, users often need to connect their own laptop or other device for use in the videoconference.

The DVS 605 A is an ideal hybrid switching solution.

Gary Gulliford, AV Services Manager - James Cook University

Effective Hybrid Switching Solution

Prior experience with the performance of Extron’s universal scaling switchers in university dental school applications led the James Cook VAVS team to select the Extron DVS 605 A to provide inconspicuous management of the various signal formats and resolutions. “We needed a solution that would support both analog and digital for at least the next five years until the full transition to digital,” says Gary Gulliford, AV Services Manager for James Cook University. “The DVS 605 A is an ideal hybrid switching solution.”

The capability of the DVS 605 A to detect an active signal on each input and auto-switch to that source provides a very effective switching solution for guests, minimizing confusion and allowing the system to be operated using the videoconferencing remote as the only point of control. A front panel lockout feature on the DVS 605 scaler prevents users from accidentally changing the settings, helping ensure trouble-free operation.

The HDMI output from the DVS 605 A is used to route a scaled video signal to the videoconferencing codec. A second analog output supports a preview monitor positioned above the DVS 605 A which provides users immediate confirmation that their source is connected to the system. Although the native resolution of displays is 1080p, the VAVS team prefers the easier legibility of 720p for the comfort of the users.

Advanced Video and Audio Features

Guillford and his team appreciated several advanced video and audio features of the the DVS 605 A that simplified and enhanced the integration of the sources and displays. Three exclusive Extron technologies, EDID Minder®, Key Minder®, and SpeedSwitch®, help ensure the immediate presentation of both HDCP-compliant and non-encrypted content on the display devices.

Independent audio with each HDMI input on the DVS 605 A provides added benefits for the videoconference rooms. “Separate audio was important,” says Gulliford. “Most users don’t have their laptops configured to embed audio on the HDMI output signal.” It also enabled audio support for presenters with VGA-equipped laptops. In addition, the audio de-embedding feature was put to use to extract HDMI embedded audio for routing to the analog input on the videoconferencing codec.

Remote System Monitoring and Control

The most consistent variable in these smaller VC rooms is the various guest laptops connected to the system. Using the Ethernet port, staff remotely monitor and control all aspects of this connection to the DVS 605 A. “If someone is having an issue, we have the ability to see what is going on,” says Gulliford. By browsing to the switcher’s internal Web pages, information is always readily available on the signal specifics of what is connected. The tabbed layout of input/output configurations, EDID Minder, image settings, audio configuration, and device settings enables the VAVS team to respond quickly to any support needs.