Cisco SX Series and Mira Connect

Mira Connect, the smart control appliance, now supports the Cisco Telepresence SX Series family of video conferencing systems in addition to Polycom RealPresence Group and HDX series codecs.

Mira Connect can easily launch calls, manage audio mute and volume, position one or more cameras, start and stop content sharing, and more. Mira Connect communicates to the Cisco SX series codecs securely over the network using SSH.

Simply add the Cisco Telepresence system to your room in Mira Portal, select the model number (SX10, SX20, or SX80), and enter the IP address and login credentials. Enable content sharing on the Video Inputs tab, and select icons and text labels for camera presets from the Camera Presets page and you are ready to use the room.

Using the Mira Connect’s Microsoft Office 365 calendar integration, meetings can be dialed with one touch, or dialed directly from the dial pad. Select the camera icon for camera control including camera presets, and select the display icon for source selection on the codec.

To learn more details of the integrating the Cisco SX series codecs with Mira Connect see our integration document.

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Mira Connect UI Preview

Aveo Systems has released a new version of Mira Portal, its cloud management system, that includes UI Preview, a feature that makes it easy to demonstrate Mira Connect and show how the finished system will look, even when you don’t yet have a real Mira Connect touch screen control appliance.

To see UI Preview in action, browse to Mira Portal, log in (or create a new account), and follow the tutorial for creating an organization, site, and room. Then click the Preview Mira Connect link in the Mira Connect area. As you add equipment and configure the control points, the UI preview in your browser will update and preview the entire user interface so you can see and test exactly how the system will look and feel.

As with a real Mira Connect system, you configure the equipment, change the background image, add a logo, set colors, enable Office 365 calendar integration, and more. As the UI Preview does not control real equipment, equipment alert messages are not supported with the UI Preview.

The Mira Connect Preview banner in the top left of the display and the ‘blue eye’ icon on the browser tab are reminders that you are previewing the user interface and not controlling an actual room. One user can preview the user interface at a time and a new user will automatically cause the session to expire for the currently active preview. Pairing a Mira Connect to the room will cause the UI preview to expire.

The browser tab shows the eye icon, making it easy to find your UI Preview tab.

Why UI Preview is Important

Now everyone can demo Mira Connect in their browser and share the power, ease-of-set-up, and ease-of-use of Mira Connect with more potential customers.

Partners and end users can see what the Mira Connect user interface will look like with their equipment and how the room will operate before a real Mira Connect is installed in that room.

How does UI Preview differ from Remote Control?

UI preview uses simulated equipment – a feature that’s been available in Mira Portal from the beginning – to make it easy to build any system you’d like with your desired equipment and its capabilities. The User Interface preview is only available when there is no Mira Connect paired to the room.

If there is a Mira Connect paired to the room, the Remote Control feature is available to control the paired Mira Connect from a web browser.

With this latest release, you no longer need an actual Mira Connect paired to the room to show how Mira Connect and Mira Portal create exceptional user experiences. Try it today!

For a demo of the Mira Connect UI Preview feature, see our short UI Preview video.

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Mira Connect and the Benefits of User-Centered Design

We were excited to read this recent post from Commercial Integrator about the importance of user-centered design in AV solutions. User-centered design is a successful collection of techniques with a long history in product and software design, and AVIXA and others are drumming up awareness in the AV space.

At Aveo Systems, we are strong believers in user-centered design. Our cloud-connected control system for collaboration spaces, Mira Connect, is a great example of the result of this process. We created this product through iterative design and testing cycles, adhering to the core principles of “know the user” and “know the task”.

In this post, we examine five of the crucial steps in user-centered design and explain how we applied each to the design of Mira Connect.

1) Research

Research uncovers details about who is using the collaboration space and how they are using it. This is best done by asking and observing, which may include:

  • Interviewing or surveying users
  • Getting permission to directly observe users as they perform real tasks
  • Exploring user feedback and analytics gathered from existing solutions

Understanding the end-users and their goals is the most important component of user-centered design. For Mira Connect, we consulted both end-users, who are using the control aspect of the product, and AV integrators, who are using the configuration and management aspects of the product.

At Aveo Systems, we think of the research stage as clarifying the what of the problems our users want to solve, as in, “What are the users’ goals in the collaboration space? What problems do they face along the way?” This defines a list of goals that can be met through the features and workflow of the product.

As an example, one group of users we consulted for Mira Connect was highly concerned with the privacy of their meetings: they had a primary meeting room with an adjoining overflow room which could have meeting audio routed to it, as well as an inductive assistive listening loop, which could have audio routed to wireless headsets. In a sensitive meeting, they wanted to ensure that no one outside the primary meeting room could inadvertantly hear the meeting audio. We kept this concern firmly in mind as we continued on to the Ideation step in the design process.

2) Ideate

Brainstorming, as ideation is known in everyday language, is intended to broadly explore the set of possible solutions to a problem.

At Aveo Systems, we call the ideas generated in this phase the how of a solution, as in, “How specifically might we solve this user’s problem?” It is great to have as many potential solutions as possible in this brainstorming phase because many don’t make the final cut, but they often evolve into better ideas.

It is also crucial to have the what soundly identified in the Research step before jumping into Ideation. Without truly understanding the nature of the problem we are trying to solve, it could be easy to let the how (e.g. a particular technology or way of doing something) prescribe the product’s features, potentially missing a solution better matched to the user’s goals.

Continuing our example from the Research step: we knew that some Mira Connect users wanted to ensure the privacy of the meeting room. We considered a variety of mechanisms, including some we had seen in other control systems designs: mute indicators and controls for each audio route, or a special “privacy mode” that overrides all mutes for audio routes, among others. We hit upon a variation on the theme of muting control by turning the question around to “Who can hear me?” Since this was the information our users really wanted, we knew that our display should clearly present it. At this point we took some of these ideas into the Prototype phase.

3) Prototype

The purpose of a prototype is to quickly and cheaply explore the hows from ideation. Rather than building a real, working solution and hoping it meets user needs, we mock up a representation of how the solution is intended to work and evaluate that with real users. Typically, these prototypes are created to answer simple questions, such as the wording of menu items, icon interpretations, or navigation features.

There are many ways to approach this phase, but the most simple is to individually walk a handful of users through real-world scenarios on the prototype. A prototype can include visual representations (e.g. drawings or mockups) of any display screen that users would see or interact with, and might include stand-ins for tablets, PCs, or even cable connections that might be part of the intended solution. These mockups can be as low-fidelity as paper renderings on the table or taped to a screen, or as high-fidelity as an interactive image on a display. One can simulate interactivity by asking users to touch the mockup to indicate taking an action and then manually flipping to another image.

It is important to use real, representative users for this testing: your AV co-workers may have knowledge a real user does not (or vice versa). It is also important to pose representative problems to these users: “Dial a call” will not provide as many insights as “You have a scheduled meeting with a team member. Use the contact information in your calendar to dial the call.” The types of users and representative scenarios should have been identified in the Research step.

To explore our Mira Connect example of answering the “Who can hear me?” question, we constructed a few variations on the basic design of a popup menu accessed by an icon button. The icon button indicated the number of routes (such as assistive listening or an overflow room) that could hear the current room, or provided a “mute” indicator if none of the routes could hear the current room. We iterated on the icon and label for the button and the content and style of items in the menu.


‘Who can hear me’ icon with four items enabled


‘Who can hear me’ menu open with four items enabled


‘Who can hear me’ menu open with one item enabled


‘Who can hear me’ icon with no items enabled

Testing with prototypes allowed us to rapidly iterate our design without the cost of revising code. By adjusting the prototypes, we zeroed in on the most usable designs that met the goals of the users.

4) Evaluate

Though some evaluation is done in the Prototype stage, evaluation of the full design is always revealing. Again, we choose representative tasks ahead of time and test our design with real users. We measure at multiple levels, from simple to more complex questions:

  • Did the user succeed?
  • How long did it take them?
  • What unsuccessful paths did they go down before success?
  • If they failed, why?

Looking for commonalities in the failures between users quickly identifies root causes: the Nielsen Norman Group predicts that testing with 5 users will find 85% of the problems in a design. Armed with these data, we can update our design and prototype, and test again to verify that the changes improve our metrics.

In the case of our Mira Connect “Who can hear me?” menu example, our evaluation took place at several points in time. In early phases of the design, we evaluated details like icons and text with input from users via the web. Later, as the design took on a more clear form, we provided mock-ups to users for evaluation via real tasks: “You are having a private meeting; how can you be certain no one else might overhear?”

If a task is particularly complex, for example entering meeting codes for an audio bridge, there should be cycles of Prototype and Evaluation phases. In some cases, we may even return to the Research or Ideate stages to solve an emergent issue identified by our user testing.

5) Launch

We see the launch of a product as both an end and a beginning. Deploying Mira Connect to a multitude of users opened up additional avenues of user feedback and data analytics. As users continue to explore Mira Connect, they see the potential for new features that could help them achieve their goals. We collect user feedback and usage analytics, and the entire user-centered design process begins again to make sure that any new features will be well-integrated, keeping the experience seamless for old and new users alike.

The Mira Connect Payoff

As you can see, a lot goes into the user-centered design process. We’ve put this effort into Mira Connect by building a high-quality user experience focused on end-user control of a collaboration space, as well as administrator management and monitoring of AV equipment.

We think Mira Connect can save AV integrators the substantial effort of conducting their own user-centered design work, preserving their valuable time and knowledge for the other crucial aspects of creating a successful collaboration space.

Learn what Mira Connect can do for you and your end-users!

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UCLA Learning Center uses Televic Conference Microphone Stations


When UCLA’s Samueli School of Engineering initiated a project to bring a new Learning Center to the campus, they had several goals in mind to ensure the system was engaging, flexible, and encouraged student and participant interaction.

At the front of the room are 25 removable tables, each outfitted with a microphone conferencing system from Televic Conference. Gooseneck microphones provide clear, clean pickup of voices and allow users to have papers and other items on the tables without interfering with the microphones. The conference system includes request-to-speak functionality and allows the moderator to set up a queue for speakers; LED rings on the microphones illuminate to indicate who is speaking, who is next in queue, and who is waiting to speak.

See more details in our success story about how Televic Conference flush-mounted microphone stations were used to create a state-of-the-art learning center at UCLA.

 

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New Representation in Canada

We’re pleased to announce that three superb rep firms are now promoting Aveo Systems products in Canada. Connect West Marketing is covering Western Canada including British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba; BG Media Solutions handles the province of Ontario (excluding Ottawa) and the Eastern Canadian region (Quebec, Newfoundland, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island), plus the Ottawa area, is covered by Michel Morrow Technologie.

All three firms are very well experienced in collaboration products and technologies. Faced with the challenges of a massive geographical area with diverse cultures and two official languages, several years ago the three companies created a collaboration of their own – the Connected Media Tech Group – to provide the best possible service not only to the system integrators and consultants in Canada, but to manufacturers who want to establish a strong brand presence across the country. With common product lines represented among the three firms, a unified front is presented across Canada for key audio-visual brands.

For more information on Connect West Marketing, visit http://connect-west.ca ; phone 604.463.1559 or email mike.upright@connect-west.ca.

BG Media Solutions may be reached at www.bgmediasolutions.com; phone 905.331.7349; email sales@bgmediasolutions.com.

Michel Morrow Technologie’s website is www.mmtechnologie.ca; phone 514.771.7155; email michel@mmtechnologie.ca.

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Control Symetrix DSPs

Now with Mira Connect and just a few clicks of your mouse, you can create a control system with a dialer, and more, for Symetrix DSPs.

To integrate with Mira Connect, use Symetrix’s Composer software to customize your Symetrix DSP, and define control number assignments you want for mute, volume control, and for your telephony interfaces. You can use VoIP or POTS telephony interfaces with your Symetrix DSP, it doesn’t matter.

Ensure the mute, volume, and telephone control parameters you defined have the “Enable Push” setting active in Composer. You can verify this using the Control Manager and making sure there is a “Yes” in the Push column. Be sure you Go On-Line (Push Design To Hardware) or press F4 after making any changes in Composer.

Once the Symetrix DSP is running your configuration file, pair your Mira Connect with the room you’ve created in Mira Portal. Haven’t created a room yet? Log in to Mira Portal (https://mira.aveosystems.com) where you can add an organization, then a site to the organization, and a room to the site.

Pair the Mira Connect to the room by following the steps shown on Mira Connect for setting the language, selecting a network, and getting a pairing code. Enter the pairing code number from Mira Connect into Mira Portal.

Add the Symetrix DSP to the room from the Equipment line and enter its IP address and then press Add Equipment.

Next edit the Symetrix DSP to enter control numbers that you defined in your Symetrix configuration file and press Update Equipment.  After selecting your telephony interface, you can start with the first controller number and Mira Portal can add the rest of the controller numbers into the configuration.

If you want to test without a Symetrix DSP, check the Simulate Equipment box and use control numbers 250 for the Microphone Mute, and 301 for the Volume control and the telephony control points starting with 101 for keypad digit 1.

If you entered the control numbers that match the configuration file, Mira Connect will update to become a controller for your Symetrix DSP. If you need to make changes, edit the Symetrix DSP again.

You can edit the site’s Visual Theme to customize the background image, add a logo, and customize the colors. Your final result will look like the image below.

See the integration document on our website for more information about integrating Symetrix DSPs with Mira Connect.
For training on how to do more with Mira Connect, see our training videos.

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Northmar to Represent Aveo Systems

Marietta, GA – Aveo Systems, Inc. has appointed Northmar Inc. as manufacturers’ representatives, effective immediately to represent Aveo Systems’ Mira Connect collaboration control system and Televic Conference, which is distributed in the United States by Aveo Systems. Northmar covers the Pacific Northwest territory.

Bob Entrop Jr., the second-generation leader of Northmar Inc., said “Northmar has been representing high-quality manufacturers of industrial and professional AV products since 1952, and we have seen many changes in the industry over the decades. The trends that are happening now in the world of collaboration are both dynamic and interesting, and we are thrilled to offer our customers the highest level of conferencing systems for commercial installations in the Northwest. Aveo Systems is a good fit for us, expanding our offerings in this important professional category.”

“We are looking forward to our partnerships with Northmar,” said Paul Roberts, Aveo Systems Director of Sales. “Northmar is one of the oldest and most well-respected firms in the industry.”

Press Contact:
Elaine Jones
Elaine Jones Associates
520.989.9536
elaine@ejonespr.com

 

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One-Touch Dialing: Mira Connect and Microsoft® Office 365

With our latest software release, Mira Connect integrates with Microsoft’s Office 365 calendar and scheduling system.  Now the room’s meeting schedule and dial-in information appear on the Mira Connect touch screen, making it easy for users to dial calls and bridge numbers with just one-touch.

 

 

Why is this important?

  • One-Touch dialing gets users into meetings on time.  Every time. Hassle free.
  • Meeting passcodes are dialed automatically
  • Spend less time dialing the meeting so you can get to what’s important
  • Dial either audio or video conference meetings based on the equipment in your room
  • No other equipment or servers are needed – only Mira Connect in the room and Office 365 room resources
  • No programming is required with Mira Connect

Setting up the system is easy:

  1. In Office 365, configure your conference rooms with room resource accounts so the rooms can be scheduled and accept meeting invitations
  2. In Mira Portal, associate the room resource’s calendar with the room in Mira Portal
  3. Schedule meetings using the room resource and meeting invitations will appear on Mira Connect, ready to dial

Meetings appear on the Mira Connect touch screen with the best way to dial the call visible on the calendar card.  If the meeting invitation includes other ways to dial into the meeting, those other options can be viewed and dialed by the room user based on the equipment in the room.

For an overview of Mira Connect, see the product summary sheet.

For training, detailed instructions for setting up the system, product brochures, and more, see the Mira Connect product page at aveosystems.com.

 

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Skreens Wall in a Box and Mira Connect

Mira Connect’s support for the Skreens Wall in a Box product is the easiest integration you will ever find with a control system.

Use the Skreens mobile application (available for Apple and Android devices) to discover your Skreens device and add different layouts of your video inputs.  Using the app, create the layouts of the four HDMI inputs you’d like to have on your display, and you’re ready to integrate with Mira Connect.

In Mira Portal, add the Skreens Wall in a Box to your room in Mira Portal and enter the IP address of the Skreens device.

Mira Connect will automatically display all the defined layouts and their names from the Skreens device.  No programming is required.  We’ve done all the heavy lifting so you can quickly integrate the room for your customer.  If you change your layouts on the Skreens Wall in a Box, Mira Connect will update automatically.  Nothing else needs to be done with Mira Connect.

See the Mira Connect integration document for more info on controlling the Skreens Wall in a Box with Mira Connect.

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Shure IntelliMix P300 Audio Conference Processor and Mira Connect

Aveo Systems has released new Mira Portal and Mira Connect software (v1.4.0.9) that supports the Shure IntelliMix P300 Audio Conferencer.

The Shure IntelliMix P300 is a compact PoE powered DSP with 8-channels of acoustic echo cancellation (AEC) that makes it perfect for use with the Shure Array Microphones and video conferencing systems, such as the Polycom RealPresence Group Series codecs.  Mira Connect can control mutes, volumes, and source selections.  For integration details, see the Shure IntelliMix P300 Mira Connect integration document.

We’re continually adding more product and functionality to Mira Connect.  Have equipment you’d like to have supported?  Let us know about it with the request form at https://aveosystems.com/equipment.

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