My dad’s name is Ed. He’s a nice enough guy but when it comes to technology, he still considers the touch tone phone an incredible advancement.
Ed has over 20 grandchildren, ranging from nine – nineteen years old. A few years ago, my siblings and I thought it would be nice to get him a Smart Phone so he could better communicate and share things with said grandchildren. We thought he would enjoy texting, sharing pictures, and playing games such as scrabble, chess, checkers with this grandchildren.
How wrong we were!
Not only does my dear dad lack the capacity to understand such things, he lacks the interest! While he occasionally looks over the shoulder of one of his kids using a Smart Phone and exclaims, “Well, I’ll be! Lookee there…,” this in no way translates to “I want one.”
You see, Ed doesn’t see the value in the investment of resources (mental, time or otherwise), and he is perfectly comfortable with not keeping up with the Jones’. Likewise, he doesn’t NEED the fancy stuff. While he has realized there is value in having a mobile phone, he uses the simplest of devices…no frills…just the ability to call as long as “there is a tower.”
Fun fact for ya, Ed says that all the time…”I need a tower,” “I don’t know how long it’ll be before I get another tower” or “I must have lost my tower.” (Imagine that with a strong and slow southern accent…Good Lord!)
I thought of Ed yesterday when I was listening to a conversation about audiovisual control systems and control panels. It’s ok if you don’t know what that is; I didn’t either until about six months ago.
Let me explain:
An audiovisual control system will incorporate a processor and either a wired or wireless touch panel to give an integrated, programmable interface for a variety of devices. This panel manages, commands and regulates the behavior of every element of the room’s audiovisual infrastructure and its associated pieces of equipment (computers, phones, tablets, microphones, TV distribution systems, video streaming peripherals, etc.). In other words, the control panel is the mothership…it tells all the other stuff what to do. Ed would totally understand that.
The Chariot Group Sales Team members were discussing the complexities of control systems and how there is a reverse correlation between heightened functionality of the room and ease of use at the control panel. And these panels are typically only 6-10 inches wide, which makes it impossible to get everything on the home screen, especially if the room can do a lot of things.
I’ll be honest with you, much of this conversation went right over my head. I know as much about control panels and AV workflow as I do underwater basketweaving.
The whole thing made me think of the universal remote…not the genius magic that allows such a device to work but instead, about how Ed hates that thing.
My siblings and I want to take duct tape to his, as the picture here shows, but we have not yet done so. The consequence for our delay, however, is often a dramatic display of frustration every time Ed wants to watch his programs.*
However, prior to coming into the room, his grandkids have played the Wii, or watched a DVD, or streamed Netflix. We regret our decision not to modify his remote every time we hear the bellowing, “who broke my TV!!!” The TV will either “get fixed” or Ed will give up and read the paper. Regardless, we hear about this travesty for at least three meals.**
* Pronounced PRO-grems
** 9-12 hours
I said all of that to say this: Ed represents a type of customer, employee, and an end-user. There is absolutely no point in designing and installing complex AV equipment into a room if the end-users can’t learn or don’t care to learn how to use said equipment. Moreover, it makes no sense to train the end-users on the actual equipment if you don’t bother training them on how to use the control panel. And, I’m going out on a limb here, if the control panel is so complex that end-users have to be heavily trained to figure it out, the people programming the darn thing have done something wrong in the first place.
The good news is this: The Chariot Group makes the complex easy!
In a perfect world, a room’s control panel is intuitive or easy enough that the typical end-user does not need to fumble around with it. Shoot, for that matter, the perfect control panel has presets on it and all the end-user has to do is select the applicable preset.
Bob, who is a fancy schmancy end-user, hits his present and voila, the control panel responds and all of room’s equipment and software are commandable. Jane, who uses only some of the fancy stuff in the room, hits her preset and the control panel and subsequent equipment responds accordingly. Ed, bless his little heart, hits his preset and only the phone turns on but you know what, the phone is all he’d use anyway so he would be perfectly satisfied.
We don’t currently live in a perfect world, but it’s on its way, I’m sure of it, and The Chariot Group is ready to respond.
In the meantime, here’s what needs to happen. If you’re an end-user, demand this of your reseller/integrator. If you’re a reseller/integrator, get with the program and start earning your keep.
- We need the complex made easy; the control panels need to be programmed in such a way that doesn’t overwhelm the typical end-user.
- The “work flow” behind these control panels needs to be standardized in all the client’s rooms so the end-user can have the same experience regardless of what room he/she is in.
- ALL types of end-users need to be considered when designing the room and programming the control panel. Bob, Jane and Ed all deserve to have what they need to utilize the room in a way that works for them.
Failure to ensure these things happen will result in end-users NOT USING THE ROOM AT ALL!
Trust me on this, you’ll hear about that for more than three meals.