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Familiarity breeds contentment EDITOR’S COMMENT

I’VE BEEN thinking a bit about user interfaces recently. I suppose one of the things that started me off is that, after several years using QuarkXPress to lay out this magazine, from this issue onwards we have switched to rival software InDesign. From my perspective it shouldn’t make a massive difference, as the two packages have very similar functionality, but at this stage the change is certainly slowing me down, simply because I’m less familiar with the interface. I’m sure you’ll have had a similar experience, perhaps when working on

a borrowed computer – if you’re using an unfamiliar version of Word, or if documents save to a different default location from the one that you’re used to, everything takes longer, because you have to think much more about the IT environment, rather than being able to concentrate fully on the actual work you’re doing. Recently at PLASA Focus in Leeds I was chatting with Richard ‘Fez’ Ferriday of

‘The user experience will

surely become even more of a point of differentiation between


Cadac, who mentioned that the company’s CDC eight console has an interface that appeals across the age groups: younger users like its touchscreens, while those who pre-date the digital era appreciate that it is laid out like an analogue console rather than burying a lot of the functionality within menus. Audio consoles are a good example of the importance of good interface design. Their users are often called upon to act quickly when something unexpected happens, so it’s vital that their functions are organised logically, so the right one can be accessed at once, unthinkingly. Additionally, though, an individual desk may be used by many different operators, who each have their own preferences for how they like to work, so a degree of customisability is also useful. This is by no means confined to the world of audio – it applies right across our industry (and out into the wider world). For instance, in videoconferencing, Ashton Bentley recently announced its Lync Room Environments, which enable users of Microsoft Lync to take their personal Lync account settings into the meeting room – so they will see the same interface that they are used to from using the package for conferencing from their desktop. I’m convinced that we will see increasing attention paid to interface design and customisability in the future. First, the AV industry is becoming more software-based and less hardware-based, making it more affordable for manufacturers to optimise their interface designs. Second, the move to software will also make it more feasible to create custom interfaces, where users can adjust the layout to suit them, and save their preferences to the system; so each user gets the interface they need, and it can be called up again whenever they need it. Third, as products mature and increase in functionality, there is a greater need to ensure that users are not swamped in the detail. And finally, as rival products in mature areas increasingly have similar capabilities, the user experience will surely become even more of a point of differentiation between manufacturers. All of which is good news to anyone who has found themselves swearing at an item of technology because they couldn’t find the feature they needed. Now, how do you adjust the line spacing again?

Paddy Baker, Editor, Installation –

NEWS 4 8


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Appointments InstallAwards: 15 Years of Achievement winner revealed Expos and events

Industry data: Smart home technology market on the up


Interview: Simon Johnston of d&b audiotechnik discusses sound evolution during his career

SHOW REVIEW PLASA Focus: Leeds p18



34 38

Command and control: Meeting the design challenge Intercoms and paging: Will all-encompassing solutions replace traditional systems? Room control: Smart device apps are changing this market massively Regional voices: United States

SHOW PREVIEWS InstallMarket: More speakers announced p40



56 58


New products Showcase: Audio consoles

Jyske Bank, Silkeborg: The InstallAwards finalist has upgraded its auditorium with a Constellation system from Meyer Sound Hollywood Multicinema, Sicily: The first Dolby Atmos installation in Italy Ripley’s Aquarium, Toronto: Multi-million dollar attraction invests in high-spec audio system Babasaheb Bhimrao Ambedkar University, Lucknow: Leading Central University benefits from an advanced PA system

Cover image Glasgow control centre, courtesy of BBG Peerless-AV

May 2014 3

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