Corporate masterclass: Belden HQ, Germany

When it comes to unparalleled interaction and wow factor, seeing is believing. Reece Webb discovers how this Inavation Awards finalist delivers an AV corporate centrepiece like no other.

Today, many corporations are conscious of their carbon footprint and that is how Belden’s physical customer innovation centres (CIC) came to be; a place for Belden to showcase its solutions and illustrate how they can securely transmit data, audio and video for modern applications.

Located in Stuttgart, Germany, this new customer innovation centre is the first of five groundbreaking global projects, providing the blueprint for other CIC locations in the USA, Shanghai and India.

Ryan Crawford-Emery, technical manager, proAV, says: “We’re setting up all five of these CICs. This project in Germany is the first which proved to be a learning curve for everybody involved. The intention is to interlink each global CIC with the others.”

proAV was commissioned alongside design agency, 2Heads, to create a hybrid experience that blends the physical spaces together alongside a unique augmented reality version, or virtual innovation centre. This setup allows global visitors to experience the innovation centre, no matter where they are in the world.

Crawford-Emery explains: “We met 2Heads in the planning stages, but we were both directly engaged by Belden. We already support Belden with their day-to-day meeting rooms and boardrooms, so we already had a relationship with the client.

When 2Heads started talking to Belden to design the CIC, the IT director highlighted us as their AV partner, and we were brought in directly. This was the first big project delivery [we have provided for Belden] and since then, it has grown into delivering renovations for Belden’s boardrooms in the US, Europe and APAC regions.”

At the heart of the innovation centre is the town hall: A multipurpose space that is dominated by a 7.7m x 2.7m Samsung LED wall which is used for digital signage content, high-end presentation and videoconferencing for up to 300 guests. To achieve crisp audio alongside razor-sharp visuals, proAV installed a combination of Pan Acoustics beam-steering loudspeakers alongside Shure Microflex wireless microphones for presenters.

Maintaining the town hall feel and function, custom-branded Catchbox wireless microphones were installed, complete with custom colours and logos. These throwable cube microphones allow for many speakers to be heard quickly by simply passing or throwing the microphone to the next speaker.

"Belden really like the Catchbox microphones and they have put them in everywhere now,” says Crawford-Emery.

“The facility’s ceiling is made of glass, and it’s a big space which was an acoustic challenge for us. The Pan Acoustics loudspeakers overcame this [acoustics] problem as we couldn’t use ceiling speakers or ceiling mics in this space. The presenter uses a Shure microphone and as the seating is so casual, it’s very easy to just throw somebody a Catchbox for this more casual style of meeting.”

Keeping a focus on hybrid interactions was essential for this project, with Belden boasting a proof of concept (PoC) room for videoconferencing. This space is equipped with a 4K, dual screen Microsoft Teams VC suite running on a Poly G7500 codec. This setup is paired with a Nureva HDL 300 microphone array for simple but clear audio pickup in the room.

"This space is not only visually arresting, but the AV is really the centrepiece." - Ryan Crawford-Emery, proAV  

Wireless and wired presentation functionality is enabled by a Mersive Solstice wireless presentation system, with a Pixilab media player powering Belden’s CMS system to showcase case studies and products. From this space, users can also view the validation lab camera streams from the global CIC network using a Crestron AVoIP system.

Belden required extensive flexibility for the entire facility, and to meet this need, proAV designed the entire space using a Crestron NVX AVoIP system to manage all presentation sources, the videoconferencing system, digital signage players and HD cameras.

Routing of AV sources in this facility is managed by a centrally located network stack and Crestron control system which enables sources to be selected in each area using wall-mounted Crestron TSW touchpanels.

“There are also signage players we have installed for future use,” says Crawford-Emery. “Belden will have a library of content that they can use in their ordinary meeting rooms, but the control interface in those rooms is a Crestron touchpanel. Belden also uses Pixila, which has its own control capabilities.

“Together, we wrote a custom API so that the Crestron controller can work with the Pixilab products, that was a programming challenge that we had to overcome.”

Training masterclass

 Adjacent to the PoC room is the training room, a space that expands on the PoC room’s specification by providing the ability to present multiple sources simultaneously on the in-room 3 x 2 Samsung VM55 LCD videowall. A Samsung Flip interactive whiteboard provides that extra level of interaction between participants by allowing presenters to interact with and annotate over content and collaborate with remote participants to enhance the training experience.

The ability to broadcast was essential to meet the needs of the company’s in-house ‘Belden TV’ webinars, creating a need for a digital webinar space that is designed for recording product demonstrations, training videos and broadcasting live webinars.

This space is home to an electronic green screen, as well as an Aver PTZ 310N NDI PTZ camera which feeds into the in-room VFX machine. Additionally, Shure microphones and a portable Wolfvision EYE-14 live image camera system is used for product close-ups. Control of this space is managed through a combination of the Crestron system and a vMix live production and streaming system.

Crawford-Emery adds: “This was a collaboration between proAV and 2Heads. proAV handled the AV in the room, including the multiple cameras, microphones and green screen, while 2Heads brought in the vMix as their solution along with their own services to host live webinars.

“If Belden are doing a product demo and they want to make a recording, they can use that system themselves, but 2Heads can step in if they’re doing a bigger, live webinar. The vMix system can handle the sources and the collaboration.” Moving through the facility, visitors come face to face with the validation lab and solutions design room: A space where technical expertise can be showcased, with an ‘innovation discovery wall’ which showcases Belden’s solution journey as well as the standout Belden cube which highlights digital transformation.

To achieve this goal and reflect Belden’s position on the bleeding edge of solution development, a Mersive Solstice wireless presentation system is in place for the display of local content, using an Aver 520 Pro HD PTZ camera to enable remote viewing of the lab activity around the global CIC network.

"The facility’s ceiling is made of glass, and it’s a big space which was an acoustic challenge for us." - Ryan Crawford-Emery, proAV

The innovation display wall is made from a 98-in Samsung LCD display, mounted on a custommade, motorised plate that can traverse horizontally. The display wall itself is fed by a Pixilab player for interactive signage content.


The unique cube display is a free-standing structure created using PPDS’ X-Line series 3 x 2 LCD videowall on three faces, using a total of 18 displays to create the unique structure. Protective glass and an IR frame have been fitted in front of the displays, transforming the display area into a giant interactive display.

“The wall is an area that is also a collaboration between proAV and 2Heads,” says Crawford-Emery, “We handled the display side and they handled the PC and IR touch. We had to work incredibly cohesively to get this to work! Each side is a 2 x 3 videowall in portrait, creating a three-sided cube. In front of the cube is glass to protect the screen and create one touch surface with a thin IR frame in front.

“The construction involved some complex engineering to make sure that the videowall is serviceable when behind the glass, with tight tolerances on the joinery. The non-standard aspect ratio was a challenge as there is one signage player per side [three inside the cube], we don’t daisy chain the videowall in the traditional way, it’s actually six individual displays.”

Finally, full control of the AV equipment in every room of the innovation centre is managed via Crestron’s TSW touchpanels and via an Apple iPad running Crestron software. QSC ADS802T loudspeakers are also dotted throughout the facility’s rooms to provide additional sound reinforcement.

The CIC’s mission to reduce carbon footprints even extends to support and maintenance of the in-facility equipment, as Crawford-Emery explains: “Because we have that trusting relationship, Belden have given us access to the control network remotely, so we can do plenty of maintenance tasks remotely which is really helpful for us.” Today, proAV is hard at work delivering other CIC facilities for Belden across the globe, using the German CIC as a testbed and a blueprint for other standardised CICs around the world.

Crawford-Emery closes: “We are currently launching the fourth CIC and the fifth CIC will be opening in India in the future. We’ll also be looking at more remote management and training of their in-house IT staff.

“The whole space is special, and it’s been a real pleasure to work on something so unique. We do a lot of special projects, but this space is not only visually arresting, but the AV is really the centrepiece. For AV to come first on a project like this, it makes it a very special project.”


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