Case Study: Electrical and Mechanical Services Department, Hong Kong
Can technology help make training and learning activities more interactive? Electrical and Mechanical Services Department, with the help of integrator i-Control, seeks to find an answer with its modern learning centre.
The Electrical and Mechanical Services Department (EMSD) is Hong Kong’s government department responsible for inspection and enforcement of operation and safety for a range of electricity and gas installations, railways and trams, lifts and escalators, amusement rides, working platforms on building sites and other diverse areas.
To commemorate its 70th anniversary, EMSD wanted to create a modern learning centre, employing the latest developments in technology to help provide training in an engaging and efficient manner. The project went to tender in May 2018 and was completed in October 2018 with an outlay of HKD 3.5 million (approximately USD 447,000). SP was the consultant for the project while i-Control and Mind Design were engaged in the capacity of integrators.
Alex Wong, solutions executive for i-Control, talks about the brief issued for the project: “EMSD really wanted to create a modern learning environment using the latest technological advancements such as virtual reality, which it believed would represent the content pertaining to training for maintenance of mechanical and engineering parts in the best possible way. Interactivity was also a key requirement from EMSD so videowalls and holograms with integrated QR scanning systems were proposed so that objects shown would engage the trainees and get them to participate in the discussion rather than sit in a traditional classroom where they just listen to the trainer talk.”
EMSD’s learning centre has three major areas of interest namely a lecture theatre, an interactive space and a multi-purpose training room.
The main video display in the training room is a 3x3 videowall comprising nine Philips 55BDL1005X 55-in display panels. Chief pop- out brackets are used to keep the panels in place and to enable maintenance if required. PQLAB PQ165-6T IR sensors with custom made tempered glass provide touch interactivity.
Video signals are transmitted over IP with the help of video over IP encoders and decoders. A Luxul managed switch serves as the heart of the video network. A Lenovo PC serves as the input.
A Crestron Avia DSP-1283 12x8 digital signal processor forms the core of the audio system along with a Crestron AMP-2210HT amplifier. A total of 12 Crestron SAROS-IC6T ceiling speakers are employed to provide sound. A Shure Microflex Wireless Digital microphone system serves as the input. All audio signals are transported over IP via Dante.
AV over IP plays a key role as Wong details: “The overall backbone of the install is AV over IP where the input source can be output to any device within the project space, whether it is the connecting space or lecture theatre the content can also be distributed.”
Control for the AV systems is provided by a Crestron CP3 unit which can be accessed via an Apple iPad or Crestron TSW-76 room control panel. A Crestron DIN-8SW8 lighting control module is used to control the lights.
The classroom differs from the training room primarily with respect to the displays used. This space features two Philips BDL8470QT 84-in 4K touch enabled panels with the relevant Chief mounts in addition to eight Philips 55BDL4051T 55-in displays.
Care was taken in selecting the video displays for all three spaces. Wong says: “The classroom was designed to split into two smaller spaces. This division allows for multiple discussions which are possible due to the many interactive Philips touch panels present in the space.”
Wong continues: “In addition, the right mounting solution greatly enhances the functionality of the displays. The pop-out mounts help provide easy maintenance access for the videowalls. Customised motorised mounts with wheels allow interactive touch panels to be easily positioned.”
Once again video over IP encoders and decoders help transport the video signals over the IP network. A Lenovo PC serves as the input.
An interesting diversion from the template AV system seen in the training room comes in the form of Wolfvision Cynap which has been added to the mix to provide wireless presentation for the classroom.
Wong talks about the selection of the Cynap over other competing products on the market: “We had a specific use case where we required content from multiple interactive touch panels to be shared with a large, central screen. In the past this was only possible with Microsoft Surface Hub. But now Wolfvision Cynap can provide similar functionality and we chose it as the wireless presentation solution.”
The audio and control systems for the classroom are very similar to those found in the training room. A Crestron DSP and a Crestron amplifier are at the core of the audio system with eight Crestron ceiling speakers providing audio output. Crestron CP3 unit and lighting control module manage the AV and lighting systems.
The last space to consider is the multipurpose hall. As the name suggests the space is used for a range of activities. It features a 4x2 videowall omprising Philips 55BDL1005X panels and Chief pop-out mounts. A Lenovo PC serves as the input while video over IP encoders and decoders transport video signals. Wolfvision Cynap provides wireless presentation.
Since the space is also used for conferencing, Vaddio cameras and a camera control unit can be found.
The audio and control systems in the multi- purpose hall are identical to those found in the classroom space.
To conclude, Wong says: “EMSD used to have standard AV equipment such as projectors and screens and wireless microphones. Everything was analogue. But now it is fully digital. This installation involved a lot of new technology, so the challenge for us was to learn the tech as we went. This is an AV over IP deployment and we had to set up the network switch, assign ports, program and do voice control. There was a lot of trial and error on our part but we overcame the learning curve and rose to meet the challenge.”