Designing and engineering a large scale assembly room for a prestigious international organization is an honor that carries significant weight. While there are many interests to balance, chief among those are providing a space that allows to find solutions for peace and preserving the planet.
This organization in Switzerland recently received the gift of such a stunning landmark meeting space with Room XIX, featuring many state-of-the-art technologies that have never before been integrated at this scale and complexity. The landmark project was commissioned as a bequest from the State of Qatar – all completed in just 12 months with the main architect Peia Associati from Italy.
Room XIX is a 400-seat conferencing room fronted by a 45-square meter 4K LED video wall. Four channels of zero latency HD video are distributed to all 400 seats with 12-inch interactive displays. At each seat, there are two fully integrated E Ink name plates architecturally designed so that identities are visible from any angle of the room and any camera view. Four robotic cameras ensure a perfect view of current speakers. For the first time in any international organization, a dedicated sign-language booth provides picture-in-picture viewing to any seat through the networked video distribution system. Everything in the room is also equipped with Braille, plus automatic transcription to meet the client’s design guidelines for maximal accessibility and inclusion.
Apart from the main meeting floor for delegates, a balcony area houses areas for press, VIPs, interpretation booths, waiting areas for speakers, and an expansive control room for operators to manage broadcasts, facilitate voting processes and monitor the room with custom software.
The key requirements from the client, the State of Qatar, included zero latency video distribution; full accessibility for any disability; full redundancy of power, data, connectivity, computing; quick system startup; and future proofing of technology in a way that could easily integrate with other legacy rooms. The technicians can boot up the room in less than a minute, a process that previous technology would take 30 minutes to complete. A standard API was used to ensure the future proofing and compatibility with existing rooms.
Media Vision designed a brand-new video distribution system to provide the instant video switching to all 400 of the distributed displays at 4K with HDCP compliancy. The custom product development led to TAIDEN’s Fourth Generation (G4) Multimedia Terminal.
The 12-inch touch display uses video encoding over AMX SVSI Networked AV and has HDMI inputs on the TAIDEN system, but all the control for switching video is on the delegate panel, with touch functionality, hard buttons and Braille, yet control command extends through the TAIDEN network. The result allows delegates to watch a presentation or video with the ability to switch to a variety of content – the voting results, sign language or transcription, for example.
The two E Ink nameplates (TAIDEN HCS-1082 Series) were integrated into the furniture at the front and back. The larger, 15-inch, nameplate at the front of the desk identifies current speakers with an LED light, which is captured by cameras when they’re speaking, and they support quick seating change updates electronically.
The smaller, 7-inch E Ink nameplate faces the conferencing unit to help delegates locate their seat without needing to walk around the table to do so. The smaller nameplate also delivers messages from the control room, informing delegates individually or as a group of an important memo from their office, for example, or suggestions if they should speak slower.
With a project of this size, complexity and unique use cases, software programming was substantial. It required extensive customization performed by TAIDEN and Media Vision with support from AMX SVSI as well. For the system redundancy, there is constant monitoring of all the conferencing components. The programming enables all of the various pieces of technology to work seamlessly together from different endpoints. While the control room has master control to startup the room, enable interpretation video or transcription, and select video sources, the participants also have a wide range of functionality.
On the interface of each delegate unit, participants can request to speak and view priority speaking requests. There’s a comprehensive speech timer where different timings are assigned to different sets of users with varying priority levels for a specific meeting. Users can be grouped to move from left to right if, for example, two people switch seats. People log in using existing RFID card badges that provide access to the room. The badges fit with the nameplate signage, so participants scan their badge when they sit at their desk in order to use the system. These functionalities involved custom software programming to integrate with the database of speakers in the room. The end result of all these programmed features is a seamless user experience.
For Media Vision, this very high-profile project marked the first in its 18-year history as the prime audiovisual systems contractor. According to Annabelle Zabetian, president, Media Vision, “This project marks a new chapter for us, working with qualified partners to successfully deliver a complex, large scale and turnkey AV project.”