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MIT Lays Out Crestron AV Backbone in E62

MIT's most energy efficient building, E62, isn't skimping on technological capacity. This new home for the Sloan School of Management has implemented a media infrastructure to support multiple forms of smart classroom operations. Sloan chose DigitalMedia products from Crestron as the communications backbone to support AV systems in eight classrooms and lecture halls, 40 study rooms, eight conference rooms, an executive dining room, and a lobby dining area. Four lecture halls in another building were also upgraded with new AV systems running on DigitalMedia.

The DigitalMedia line includes switchers, transmitters, receivers, room controllers, and cabling. On a single shielded twisted pair wire, the network can support a mix of digital and analog audio and video signals, including uncompressed 1080p high-definition video with a palette with a billion or more colors, 3D video, and 1,920x1,200 computer signals, as well as high-def digital audio, control, data, and Ethernet.

When MIT began planning E62, it proclaimed a goal of building a facility that would last for at least 100 years. According to Wesley Esser, the associate director or technology consulting and support services: "The MIT expectation is to build for the long term," he said. "No one thinks the same technology will be there 100 years from now, but we plan to use it for as long as possible."

MIT worked with Adtech Systems, a New England-based audio visual system service provider, on the implementation.

Each classroom has two screens, using side-by-side, 5,000-lumen projectors showing images from computer, DVD, cable TV, a document camera, or videoconferencing system. Faculty members can mark up any still or moving image on screen using Crestron's DVPHD-GB high definition video annotator. They can also record their classes since Adtech tied each classroom into a Cisco/Tandberg Content Server. The system records video of the instructor and all visual materials and then makes these available for live or on-demand viewing over the Web.

"Instructors are excited that students can now review their lectures and demonstrations online outside of the classroom. Ultimately, video is the next word processing," Esser said.

Now faculty members have begun lobbying for upgrades to AV equipment in conference rooms. "These rooms are perfect for smaller classes, so the faculty wants us to upgrade those AV systems too," Esser noted. "That's encouraging because we have more equipment in those conference rooms now than we had in any of our classrooms a year ago. For faculty to ask for more means they are definitely embracing the new technology."

E62 is already open for classes but will be formally dedicated May 12, 2011 to coincide with MIT's 150th anniversary.

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a writer who covers technology and business for a number of publications. Contact her at dian@dischaffhauser.com.

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