7-Eleven Global Solution Centre, Bangalore, India

HMPL Consulting and AVID worked hand in hand to make retail fun again with their Inavate APAC Awards 2023 winning installation at 7-Eleven’s Global Solution Centre in Bangalore, India.

As a prominent retail giant, 7-Eleven manifested its commitment to be a technologically forward brand with the establishment of its Global Solution Centre [GSC] in Bangalore, India. The brand made substantial investments in revamping its AV systems to provide employees, customers, and clients with an immersive environment. It comes as no surprise that this installation won the Retail Project category at the Inavate APAC Awards 2023.

For this project, HMPL Consulting served as the consultant while AVID was appointed as the systems integrator. Nithin Manjunath, associate director of HMPL Consulting, shares how the consultant came onboard the team: “We were recommended by the client through wordof- mouth as we have a preexisting working relationship with Gensler, the architect of this project. Subsequently, the client appointed us considering our extensive portfolio. We then recommended AVID as a potential systems integrator due to their capabilities in executing large-scale and complex projects.”

Putting the fun in functional Anyone familiar with 7-Eleven knows that the brand is all about playful indulgences. This brand philosophy informed many of the decisions made by the architects, interior designers, and AV professionals. Manjunath explains: “For 7-Eleven, the GSC is not a purely business oriented space; it is more of a casual environment that encourages users to combine work with play. It functions as a retail experience centre as there are different ‘zones’ such as a social hub, gaming areas, gym, and even a retail space.”

Strong displays thus play a role in transforming the space to make it visually appealing and immersive for its users. Manjunath elaborates: “The jazzy aesthetics that 7-Eleven is known for influenced our decisions as we wanted to showcase the client’s unique branding through visuals and displays. However, we had to strike a balance between making the space fun and ensuring that it remains functional for users.”

Moreover, audio was a top priority for the client. Manjunath details: “Since the client requested for top-tier audio, we had to take extra measures to ensure that the acoustics were in line with their request. If your client invests crores of rupees into an audio system and it does not sound right, consultants will be the first to be blamed. So, we had to ensure that acoustic parameters were set in place before we could start taking certain products into consideration. This meant that there was a lot of cross collaboration with the architects as we had to give our input from an AV and tech perspective. For example, we shared with them that the social hub should be away from important spaces such as the boardroom or training room as noise should not be seeping into those rooms.”

Lifelike visuals

When visitors step into the GSC, their initial interaction with the brand takes place in the reception hall. As such, the client exclusively requested for the AV systems in the reception hall to create a highly immersive visual and auditory experience. This led to HMPL Consulting’s decision to install a large indoor L-shaped LED display mounted on the reception desk.

Manjunath details the thought process behind this: “Initially, we were wary of wrapping a videowall onto the façade of the desk because we could foresee challenges such as pixel damage and heat emitting from the LED, which could negatively affect people who are in close proximity. However, the client really wanted this vision to come to life so we had to find a way to make this work.”

To mitigate the anticipated complexities during the integration stage, AVID was involved in the early stages of the design phase as well. Kaushik Mukhopadhyay, managing director and CEO of AVID, comments: “We provided detailed construction drawings to the furniture vendors to ensure that the reception table would be designed to house the LED perfectly. Initially, we intended to have a curved LED but it was modified at the last minute, hence causing some challenges as we had to change the LED modules. Fortunately, we had the support of Unilumin and there was a coordinated effort between the architects, furniture vendor, AV consultants, and integrators to achieve the end result.”

The end result is a dynamic, lifelike display that comprises two screens, one measuring 4.8m x 0.68m and the other 1.2m x 0.68m, seamlessly integrated with the sharp corners being barely visible. The screens comprise Unilumin ULW III 1.2 panels while a BrightSign media player is installed to facilitate video playback, allowing 7-Eleven to showcase its organic content. On the selection of technology, Manjunath states: “When it comes to LED panels, there are some brands that are easily available and accessible in India such as Samsung, LG, Christie, and Unilumin. We eventually went with Unilumin as their expertise lies in LED manufacturing and we have worked with them for many of our projects. When considering solutions, it is also important to note whether there is post-sales support in India.”

For the digital signage, both local and centralised content were used – making this a unique point in the case study as AVID took on a hybrid approach when managing the AV systems in the reception hall. Mukhopadhyay shares how the integrators maneuvered the installation of these two seemingly distinct forms: “This hybrid approach was adapted because the client wanted centralised control so that employees could control the systems remotely. At the same time, we incorporated local control because it is more user-friendly and flexible as there is no need for the IT team to intervene at all.”

AVID was met with yet another hurdle, though: convincing the IT team to allow the proposed solutions onto the network. Mukhopadhyay explains how the team resolved the problems: “We arranged a live demonstration of our proposed BrightSign solutions to the client and showcased how network integrity and security have not been compromised. The IT team was thoroughly convinced and assisted us in opening the necessary ports without affecting their integral security.”

Work hard, play hard The social hub is a space that is borne out of 7-Eleven’s belief of merging aspects of work and play together – bringing a little joy to the corporate and retail world. The hub is designed to be flexible and can be used for various purposes, such as mini town hall meetings, team-building activities, and also private presentations.

Interestingly, 7-Eleven requested for the key highlight of the social hub to be an Xbox gaming platform. Manjunath conveys the client’s aspirations: “They envisioned a few large videowalls that could screen multiplayer Xbox games whenever employees needed a break from work. When the gaming facilities are not in use, the videowalls could function as digital signage to be used for presentations, content showcasing or satellite TV. It was therefore important for the AV system in the social hub to be flexible for all kinds of occasions.”

The result of this vision? Two 132-in videowalls lined side by side, enabling a truly immersive multiplayer Xbox gaming experience. For the display of the videowalls, Unilumin DVLED panels of 1.5mm pixel pitch were fitted into the space while a Lightware switcher was installed to seamlessly switch between the multiple sources. Extron control systems and touch panels were integrated into the space for users of varying technical skillsets to be able to control the videowalls, sound, and lighting with just one touch.

Mukhopadhyay adds: “As gaming was an integral part of the solution, the client was very keen to have lifelike visuals. The challenge, however, was to ensure that we got the right colours and depths on the LED wall. The calibration of the LED wall took us some time as we wanted to achieve the right colour temperatures, saturation and high frame rates so we had to use calibration cameras to get the right output.”

As for the audio, the client requested for a sound environment that would make users feel as though they are traversing through the gaming realm. To fulfil this, Tannoy pendant loudspeakers and Lab.gruppen amplifiers were fitted into the space – ensuring that there was no audio spillover from one portion of the space to another. Similarly, the multipurpose room in the GSC features a large LED videowall and two LG 55-in dual displays on each side of the front of the room. Keeping consistent with the brands of the audio solutions deployed throughout the building, Tannoy dual concentric ceiling speakers are installed within the space coupled with Lab.gruppen amplifiers.

Manjunath shares insights on the conceptualisation of the multipurpose room: “The client was initially unsure of what to do with this space. Was it going to be used as a wellness room or a town hall? We had to brainstorm to install AV solutions that would be universal, as well as user-intuitive and user-friendly as external vendors may utilise the room for events. We eventually decided to go with a large videowall as it would be able to cater to a larger audience. As for the audio system, the Tannoy speakers differ from the ones deployed in the meeting room. We chose to go with the dual concentric ceiling speakers due to their versatility in catering to all sorts of occasions – be it yoga classes or training presentations.”

Meeting spaces and training rooms

In line with the client’s requirements of having a unified communications platform, meeting rooms in the GSC are all equipped with Microsoft Teams Rooms videoconferencing solutions. Specifically, small and medium meeting rooms as well as training rooms feature all-in-one Poly Room kits that include USB cameras, touch controllers, video bars as well as expansion microphone sets. Extron TouchLink scheduling panels are installed to facilitate the process of room booking. For audio in the meeting and training rooms, Sennheiser TCC2 ceiling microphones are deployed alongside Tannoy ceiling speakers and Lab.gruppen amplifiers. The rooms are also equipped with QSC Core 110f processors that support Dante channels. Manjunath explains the choice of technology here: “Sennheiser ceiling microphones and QSC DSPs pair very well together in terms of programming and configurations.”

As for the displays in meeting spaces and training rooms, LG panels with built-in speakers are utilised while Lightware switchers are fitted to support HDMI and single cable USB-C solutions. This provides flexibility for employees who wish to switch between different sources without experiencing lag while also facilitating BYOD workstyles. Fulfilling the client’s request for neat and clutter-free meeting spaces, wireless presentation is enabled through the deployment of Extron ShareLink. Manjunath explains the choice: “While there are many solutions offering wireless presentation in the market, Extron ShareLink offers built-in AirPlay and Miracast – making it a flexible option for employees without the need to install drivers on their devices. More importantly, ShareLink is a product that has already been approved by 7-Eleven’s IT team and was allowed to go on the network.”

Overcoming challenges

A big challenge that HMPL Consulting and AVID had to tackle was the fact that the infrastructure of the campus was not acoustic-friendly to begin with. Mukhopadhyay elaborates: “There is never an ideal site for a project installation and like many other sites, this facility had its unique share of acoustic challenges such as low-height ceilings and not-so-great acoustic surfaces. Fortunately, the HMPL team had meticulously surveyed the space during the design stage and upon onboarding, they were wary of the challenges that the site imposed.”

An array of spatial and infrastructural limitations caused the consultants to rethink designs and proposed solutions. Manjunath shares: “For example, a long glass table is used in the boardroom – but glass is not an acoustic-friendly material. At the same time, the client had requested for premium audio in the boardroom considering that the space hosts C-suite and higher management teams from all over the region. We had to reconcile the demands of the client with the present reality and challenges.”

He details how they navigated these challenges: “For the audio issues, we conducted meetings with professional acoustic consultants as well as our in-house acoustic team to gather inputs on balancing the acoustics. We even went the extra mile to recommend certain types of chairs and curtains that would improve the acoustics of the space.”

Manjunath expounds on other complexities that emerged during the project: “The ceiling heights in the boardroom were considerably low. On top of this, there were reflective surfaces in the room which meant that large screens were required. When installing a large display in meeting rooms, the placement of the videoconferencing camera is also important to ensure effective tracking. If it is placed too low, the camera would not track people in the room to the best of its ability. If it is placed too high, we will get a bird’s eye view which is less than ideal. Hence, there were challenges faced in finding the perfect spot to install the cameras.”

Early intervention is key to preventing project delays, and preparing for anticipated problems allowed the integrators to work ahead. Mukhopadhyay details the strategic choices that were made in foresight: “Our drawings and GFC sets were aligned with the site conditions and there were enough remedial measures in the choice of furniture, surfaces, and supply of specific audio equipment to overcome such challenges.”

Despite the odds faced by the consultants and integrators, the project concluded with a bang. Aravinda S K, senior manager of facilities and procurement at 7-Eleven Global Solutions Centre, attests to the success of the project: “We are pleased with AVID’s exceptional AV equipment supply and tech systems integration work at 7-Eleven Global Solutions Centre.”

Aravinda concludes: “Team HMPL Consulting and AVID impressed us with their project management skills and utmost professionalism, ensuring world-class results that transformed our space into a visually stunning, functional, and engaging facility.”

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