Spread the word

When the Royal College of Pathologists wanted to open up its activities and promote awareness of pathology it turned to AVM to overhaul its Education Centre and bolster information dissemination. Anna Mitchell reports on an audiovisual installation that promotes flexibility and access.

The Royal College of Pathologists has overhauled its teaching facilities, creating a new Education Centre in its central London headquarters. One of the main aims when establishing the Centre was to promote information sharing, not just throughout the building but into the public domain as well.

Professor Peter Furness, president of the college feels it is important to raise awareness of pathology - the study of disease – by providing public education, promoting research in the discipline and disseminating the results. It is a really important area to support as 70 per cent of diagnoses in the NHS depend on pathologists. Therefore, the College, which is a registered charity and was established in 1962, turned to Twickenham, UK based Audio Visual Machines (AVM) for a comprehensive installation that would boost communications. The integration company had to exercise great sensitivity and care as they were working within a listed building.

College staff had specified the need for flexibility so distribution to various lecture theatres was necessary to handle changing numbers of attendees to lectures and events. Full interaction had to be achieved between the rooms so not only could delegates view a speaker in a different room, they could interact with them as well. Rooms had to act as standalone spaces as well, using their own local source equipment.

AVM used Extron matrixes in each of the three theatres to feed incoming and local content from the core hub to an Extron two-channel graphics processor. The processor is programmed to allow a video image and a computer image to be displayed side-by-side on the projection screen. This allows delegates to view a presentation, for example PowerPoint and also see a video picture of the presenter from the far end of the theatre. A mixture of Sony and Vaddio cameras wall mounted in each room handle video. These feed signals back to the shared resource videoconference codecs in the main AV hub.

The audio from beyerdynamic goosenecks and Sennheiser radio microphones (both lapel and handheld models) is combined with presentation content from the lecturer and sent with the picture images. AVM opted for Audio Technica table microphones to serve the three seminar rooms and each room space utilises a Clearone mixer DSP. In the theatres Electrovoice loudspeakers handle front of room left and right speakers while JBL ceiling speakers provide fill-in sound.

Displays, for either presentations or a video image of the speaker were an important aspect for the installation. In the lecture theatres widescreen format Panasonic projectors handle all visual requirements and seminar rooms house Sony 40” LCDs and Panasonic plasmas. Unicol brackets were chosen to mount the display equipment.

At the heart of the installation is a Smart-e SNX-16x32+ matrix. It acts as the core feeding all PC, TV plus audio and video content, including video conferencing, to other parts of the Education Centre and meeting spaces via CAT 6 structured cabling.

Videoconferencing can be conducted from all rooms and theatres using a Polycom solution. Each room is equipped with a video conference camera and microphones plus its own source equipment, all housed within a credenza unit. Sources include DVD, laptop, PC, visualiser, interactive touchscreen podium panels, digital TV, Aux inputs for mobile equipment and an XRay display device.

Crestron control panels in each room allow users to control their local environment and room system. A Crestron e-control system is available to the College technicians allowing the manipulation and joining of the rooms so that a chosen room/theatre can act as a master. Presets are loaded ready for the College technician to call up when a change of venue status is required. The content from the master room is sent via the core hub matrix and displayed in the other rooms.

The Royal College of Surgeons also asked AVM to provide it with a solution to record lectures and play them back, allowing authorised remote users to access the entire archive. AVM responded with a “Lecture Capture and Record” system from Apreso. The core hub feeds video camera, voice and PC presentation content from a pre-selected room to an Echo 360 lecture capture system.

Lecterns and equipment racks were designed and produced specifically to suit the teaching environment and room aesthetics. Lighting and blinds are linked in to allow remote operation via the Crestron control panels. Additional control interfaces are provided with Hitachi interactive tablets.

In addition, outside each lecture theatre and seminar room is a dedicated room signage display that shows room bookings and occupancy. The booking service can be accessed via Microsoft Outlook where the displays are depicted as a meeting resource. The room booking system is handled by a Onelan Room Booking Server and provides an easy way to manage resources. Furthermore it acts as a useful tool to guide delegates to the correct room location for their seminar.

After completing the installation AVM made sure an on site technician was on hand to ensure the first few weeks of high profile events went smoothly. The technician was able to guide the College staff through the equipment and its functions. Furthermore, AVM has been selected to provide ongoing maintenance and is continually expanding the audiovisual equipment at the London site.

The new Education Centre is part of a plan to become the first Royal Medical College to foster understanding between society and the medical community by providing an integrated approach to education. The centre will train professionals, broaden public awareness by fostering public understanding and confidence in the medical profession, and help patients understand the processes of health care.

Furthermore, the audiovisual installation has transformed the Education Centre into an attractive hire venue and is providing the College with additional revenue. The rooms now house small meetings, full conferences and formal dinners as well as the usual activities carried out by the Royal College of Pathology.


Behringer mixers
Beyerdynamic gooseneck lectern mics
ClearOne XAP400 audio processors
Crown audio power amps
Electrovoice loudspeakers and brackets
Extron audio matrix
JBL ceiling speakers
Panasonic speaker system for plasma
Sennheiser radio-mic systems

AMX universal power/motor controller
Apreso classroom capture station and content manager
Crestron control processor
Extron matrix switchers, graphics processors and lectern interfaces
Hitachi interactive tablets
Kodak slide projector
Lower Ground Activity Room
Lower Ground Floor Seminar Rooms
Lower Ground Lecture Theatre
Middle Atlantic racks
Onelan content management system
Panasonic plasmas, DVD recorders and projectors
Polycom videoconferencing unit
SMART-e matrix
Sony LCD display, cameras, DVD players
Unicol brackets
Vaddio PTZ cameras

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