How total integration revolutionises learning at the Comenius University

Quality integration and fool-proof ease of use go hand in hand in the Faculty of Pharmacy at Comenius University’s brand-new multimedia room. Reece Webb finds out how MediaTech brought an outdated reading room into the 21st century.

The Comenius University in Bratislava, Slovakia is a modern facility that requires modern workspaces for its staff and students to teach and learn in a way that is flexible and thorough. The university’s new multimedia room is no exception to this rule.

AV integrator MediaTech was called on to transform the Comenius University’s reading room into a comprehensive and interactive multimedia room that allows students and staff access to state-of-the-art technology to enhance the learning experience.

To offer the best experience for as many people as possible, MediaTech was tasked with creating an AV system that was both expansive and complex in its scope, but also simple to operate and use for untrained personnel and students.

This involved radically overhauling the university’s reading room into a modern multimedia space which offered clear and comprehensive audio for in-person learning and videoconferencing, vivid projection technology and a system that is easy to control day-to-day with very little training.

Bohumil Tonkovic, CEO, MediaTech, explained: “The main request was to turn this reading area into a multimedia room which allows people to work all the technologies and join various conferences, videoconferencing, distanced teaching and in-house events.

“The university was looking for an easy to use, fool-proof solution for people who are not technically skilled. We started the project with them, carried out the design, won the tender and carried out the installation.”

Stepping into the facility, visitors are met with a spacious, open room with a large projection screen and lecturer’s table at the end of the space, in full view of the audience area. This is flanked by four unobtrusive columns for audio as well as an overhead projector and ceiling mounted loudspeakers for complete coverage of the area.

The open design of the room promotes an undistracted learning environment that seamlessly blends the equipment into the room’s architecture, creating an unobtrusive teaching and working environment.

A custom-made table sits at the front of the room, housing three Audio-Technica ES925/21 gooseneck microphones and two ATW-3211 wireless microphones for lecturers, connected to the Biamp digital mixing console, allowing the microphones to be controlled directly from the console.

Around the room are four pillar-mounted Renkus-Heinz ICX7 loudspeakers, mounted discreetly in each corner of the audience area to allow a clear view of the projection screen without obstruction.

MediaTech’s choice to create a ‘fool-proof’ system drove the choice of technology in the room, encompassing possibilities for conferencing, video conferencing, remote learning and in-house events without the headaches of overcomplicated equipment or setup procedures.

At the core of the system’s functionality is a simple to use control system, driven by a Crestron RMC3 control processor and TSW-760 touch panel on the speaker’s desk. A single button on the touchscreen offers control of the system via a ‘fully automatic’ mode.

Various modes are programmed including a videoconferencing mode that changes and activates equipment settings on equipment in the room, activating Atlona AT-HDVS-CAM PTZ cameras for two-way communications and the possibility of motorised recording. Pre-sets can also be accessed on the touchscreen to control the position of the PTZ cameras around the room.

Tonkovic commented: “Our goal is that when a lecturer comes into the room, they press one button and the screen comes down, the projector and lighting turns on and they are good to go. This is a life-saver because it reduces the time a person spends setting up equipment. We used Atlona because the company offered good value for money, with a good switcher and two Atlona moving cameras.

The switch for the camera works with the videoconferencing solution for Microsoft Teams and Webex.

"When a lecturer comes into the room, they press one button and the screen comes down, the projector and lighting turns on and they are good to go." - Bohumil Tonkovic, MediaTech

“There is also a AudioPressBoxAPB-116 SB audio distribution amplifier for journalists, with C-Pro 6 ceiling loudspeakers from Work deployed in the ceiling.”

An NEC PA703UL+NP1XLlaser projector displays content in the room by projecting on to an AV-Stumpfl projection screen located behind the desk as Tonkovic explained: “We used [an AV-Stumpfl] screen because they are high quality and we have good experience with them; we used the screen with an NEC laser projector.”

In catering for everybody, a large emphasis was placed upon the room’s support for the hard of hearing by installing an Ampetronic C7-2N amplifier and magnetic loop, allowing staff and students with hearing loss to engage with the room’s multimedia content without difficulty.

Tonkovic: “The Ampetronic hearing loop system had to be placed precisely, to radiate exactly in the right area to work effectively. This technology is necessary for this kind of room.”

Getting the magnetic loop right was of the upmost importance for MediaTech, with this particular installation marking the largest installation of its type that the company has installed to date.

Tonkovic clarified: “This loop was our first installation of this size and it was the biggest challenge for us to get it working properly. We have installed them previously in a smaller scale but not to this size; the rest of the technologies were easy to install. We used a range of brands and we cherry-pick the best things from each brand and put them together into a quality system integration.

“We are very proud that it works and we have had no issues or any difficulties with staff being able to control the system. The hearing aid loop was one of the things that we were most proud of. We have introduced this into the university field and this is the first of a kind installation of a hearing aid loop in a university in Slovakia.”

MediaTech is also responsible for on-site technical maintenance and troubleshooting on site. Tonkovic closes: “After this project, the client was happy with us and we have completed five big auditoriums for the university for distance learning all within the past year. They are also working flawlessly.”

Kit list

Audio

Ampetronic C7-2N amplifier for magnetic loop

Audio-Technica ES925/21 gooseneck microphone, ES8766R static pad, ESE-Ca gooseneck microphone head, AT809a pop filter, ATW-3212/C710 wireless microphone transmitter, ATW-3211 wireless microphone, BP894cH-TH headset microphone

Biamp TesiraForte audio DSP matrix

MediaTech AudioPressBox APB-116 SB audio distribution amplifier

Renkus-HeinzICX7 line array system,W-Wall-IC7 wall mount speaker

Work C-Pro 6ceiling speaker

Video

Atlona AT-HDVS-CAM PTZ camera, AT-OME-EX-TX HDBaseT transmitter, AT-OME-EX-RX HDBaseT receiver, AT-UHD-SW-52ED HDMI switcher

AV Stumpfl motorised projection screen

NEC PA703UL+N-P41ZL laser projector

Control

Crestron RMC3 control processor, TSW-760 touchpanel