What makes a good AV install?

Picture of a man installing a display

The IT world has many, many quirks. One of them is the distinction we make with audio-visual (AV) technology. Arguably, most modern devices have some form of audio or visual capacity, so why does AV get its own special label?

The answer to this lies not necessarily in the hardware itself, but rather, like most technology, is all about end use.

We’re all already familiar with domestic AV technology. If you’ve ever bought a new home TV, you’ve probably come across talk about the millions of colours your new screen can display, or multiple speaker configurations. But while technical specs might sound impressive, what really dazzles you is the prospect of your favourite film being so lifelike, it jumps out of the screen, right into your living room.

The distinction between features and benefits is equally important in the business world. Having helped organisations of all shapes and sizes with their AV technology, we’ve learned that successful installs depend on several factors. First, the benefits must offer both the wow factor and good business sense. Second, AV technology is nothing without the right infrastructure. And third, merely hanging a display is not enough – staff must feel confident using the new equipment. All of these factors couldn’t be more true for schools.

Helping teachers as they inspire students

During lockdown, we’ve been very privileged to work on a number of AV installations for schools. Having had long-term plans to upgrade their displays, these organisations realised that doing so while there are fewer students and staff on site was less disruptive – a small positive among the many big challenges of the pandemic.

One organisation that has taken this view is Elthorne Park High School in west London. This is a school that not only helps its students learn and grow, but has ‘curiosity’ as one of its main principles, embracing learning and growth as an organisation too. Consequently, using modern technology is a big part of that growth – and that includes the new displays we’ve recently installed there, while respecting social distancing rules.

Given how there’s a strong and understandable drive to limit youngsters’ screen time, it seems counterintuitive to say that smart displays are a crucial part of education technology. But, like all technology, it’s about context. And in a school setting, smart displays can provide the interactivity that young people love and now expect. And crucially, such displays can greatly enhance teaching and learning.

For example, a smart display can allow a teacher to show a video of explosive chemistry reactions to spark interest in a theoretical science lesson. Or, it can mean a teacher can browse the internet in front of the entire classroom, helping students grasp the importance of using reliable websites for research – a valuable lesson for life beyond school. And when it comes to drama studies, being able to show a film on screen for students to critique not only inspires future actors and entertainers, it can help students develop critical thinking and public speaking skills too.

Of course, with any of these examples, we know smart displays aren’t a substitute for the expertise and enthusiasm of teachers. But as with all technology, these displays can be useful catalyst for something more powerful – in this case, learning.

Another organisation that we’ve recently helped with displays is Skinners’ Academy in north London. Again, we completed the work while respecting social distancing restrictions – something that required careful planning, ingenuity and flexibility – and some physical flexibility too!

Being able to complete this work during lockdown is definitely among our most rewarding installations. Because it means the Academy has something ticked off its long to-do list – at a time when that list is growing exponentially ahead of the return to normality.

And so, we are delighted to have received this feedback from Skinners’ Academy:

“AdEPT Education has been a solid support partner for Skinners’ Academy throughout the years. The AdEPT Education engineers have worked with us with the utmost professionalism to complete their installs for our ongoing projects, even in this unsettling time of lockdown where social distancing rules need to be adhered to.

“Thank you again to our sincere account manager William Asare and his lovely engineers for the great work they have done!”

What more can we say? Not a lot – but if this is the kind of approach you’d like for your own school technology installations or services, then get in touch with our education team. You can find out more here, or email enquiries@adept.co.uk

Lessons beyond schools

Technology that enthrals school students has some unexpected lessons for the private sector. At the heart of this is sharing information, engaging people and building dialogue.

For conference rooms – notwithstanding connectivity issues, which we’ll come onto shortly – smart displays obviously provide the means to hold group video calls – which we’ve all come to really appreciate in the past few months. They can also bring people together in another way: allowing people to present documents, on-screen, to everyone. It’s easy to underestimate how useful this can be. Still, if you’ve ever huddled around a laptop screen, squinting to see what’s being discussed, then you’ll know viewing that same content on a larger, clearer, shared screen helps improve collaboration.

For the customer-facing aspects of business, AV technology such as digital signage can serve as the most flexible form of advertising imaginable. A smart display in a reception area, for example, can provide a warm welcome and useful information to visitors. Or for an exhibition, a smart display, featuring engaging content, can draw an audience and break the ice for conversations.

There are many more applications for smart displays. For example, call centres use them to show real-time information about customer calls; they’re ideal for local government planning departments and council meetings; and they can greatly enhance shop window displays.

AV technology is nothing without connectivity

While we’ve talked largely here about the ‘visual’ side of audio-visual technology, it’s worth noting that our expertise and experience extends to the audio too. Similarly – and perhaps more importantly – being an IT company that specialises in all things connectivity, it’s important to consider the behind-the-scenes aspects of AV.

When we approach any AV work, we always take the view that the technology should not only be carefully chosen for individual needs and budget – but it should be installed in the same way an electrician wires a light switch, or a plumber fits a tap, too. In such instances, the electrician ensures the switch is powered properly and the plumber makes sure the water is running.

In the same way, when we install AV equipment, we ensure the new technology is working properly with the network – both for internet and phone connectivity – and staff are fully comfortable with using the new gadgets. We do all of this as one package.

This may seem like a trivial point, but it’s always of great importance to our AV clients. And we’re able to provide this because we’re fundamentally an IT company that has a specialist AV arm. It’s one of the many things that make us different – and it’s one reason we consistently receive glowing feedback. We hope to do the same for your organisation.

Written by Nick Shea

Sales Director - AdEPT Education