AMX: Taking Control of the Classroom

In the classroom, one touch control used to refer to fingers wrapped around a piece of chalk. Now it means ready access to the full suite of tools available in technology-equipped classrooms. The installation of an intuitive, user-friendly control system can transform a smart classroom from an underused collection of hardware to a cutting-edge teaching center.

AMX Corp., based in Richardson, Texas, is a significant player in the control systems field. The company began as a producer of wireless controllers for slide projectors (a product they still offer), but has evolved into a premier provider of systems for controlling an array of presentation tools.

AMX offers an array of control systems, software that directs the many components of a “smart” classroom. Users and administrators operate the system via a control panel, which might be a touch panel mounted in a podium, a wireless touch panel or keypad. The company has developed the Platinum Packaged Solutions to make it easier for dealers to use and dramatically reduce programming time for smaller installations. “We used to be exclusively a custom house for specific solutions. We’d work with a client to develop a customized system from the ground up,” said Anna Stamatelatos, director of strategic marketing for AMX. “Moving forward, we will continue to develop prepackaged solutions that allow us to better serve our clients’ needs.” AMX will still provide custom work where needed for larger installations.

The Platinum Packaged solutions come in two levels, depending on the equipment they control and the touch panel technology that controls it. The premium solution uses a 15-inch touch panel screen and includes the ability to manage PowerPoint presentations. The classic solution uses a smaller 10.4-inch color active touch panel and d'es not have the PowerPoint capability. Each level features a software wizard capable of automatically configuring a solution based on the customer’s equipment, using a predefined equipment list.

Most AMX higher education customers purchase NetLinx, an Ethernet solution that connects an extensive network of equipment in a bundle of applications that AMX has dubbed Internet Inside. The NetLinx control system is master-to-master system, communicating with third party devices from a remote location. Administrators using NetLinx do not have to be present in a particular smart classroom to operate and adjust the system. Instructors using the control panel have the option, in fact, of commanding it themselves or ceding control over to remote administrators. AMX also offers its Axcess control system, a non-Ethernet solution that uses control cards to direct hundreds of connected devices in one location.

How many devices can an AMX system manage? You name it: VCRs, DVD players, document cameras, projection systems, Internet connections, and audio/video conferencing equipment for starters. Add lighting and audio control for complete management of classroom presentations. Campuses with multiple smart classrooms can unify their systems so that hundreds of rooms are operated with the same control technology. No matter which room they are teaching in, professors will find the same control panel and the same interface. This, along with the simple, icon-driven control panel, makes AMX systems easy to use. Says Maggie McGinn, an AMX system designer: “The goal was to reduce the learning curve to zero. The touch panel is designed to be completely obvious and intuitive.”

For more information, contact Anna Stamatelatos at AMX Corp. or visit www.amxcorp.com.

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