Mira Connect integrates with Biamp Tesira

Mira Connect and Biamp Tesira DSPs are a powerful one-two punch for collaboration rooms. With just a few clicks on Aveo’s cloud platform, Mira Portal, users can have a fully-configured and easy-to-use control system with a dialer, sound reinforcement control, and more, to complement Biamp’s outstanding audio conferencing performance.

Mira Connect controls other equipment in the room too – including displays, video switchers, video codecs, PTZ cameras, and more – making it the only control system and user interface required in your rooms.

To get started, use Biamp’s Tesira Design software to create the DSP’s audio processing, including VoIP and POTS telephony interfaces. Next, pair your Mira Connect with your room you’ve created in Mira Portal, add the Biamp Tesira DSP to the room from the Equipment list, enter its IP address and then press ‘Add Equipment’.

Mira Connect automatically connects to the Biamp Tesira DSP and gathers information about the Biamp instance tags that Mira Connect uses to control the system.

Edit the equipment in Mira Portal and select the instance tags for each feature you’d like to enable – microphone mute, volume control, telephony, sound reinforcement, and more. The instance tags are available in the pull down lists for each feature in Mira Portal so you don’t have to remember the names or worry about misspelling them.

You can add more equipment, customize the background image and colors, add a logo, and integrate with Office 365 Calendar for one-touch dialing. See the Mira Connect user interface example below.

For more information about the Biamp Tesira integration, see our Mira Connect and Biamp Tesira integration document available from our supported equipment page. For example systems using Biamp and Mira Connect together, see our application diagrams.

To learn how you can customize the user interface in minutes, see our Creating the User Interface article and relevant links. Use Mira Portal’s UI Preview feature to quickly visualize your designs using only your browser.

See the Mira Connect product page for datasheets and more information about Mira Connect.

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Mira Connect supports NEC Projectors

Mira Connect, the smart control appliance, has added support for controlling NEC’s family of projectors. Mira Connect controls the family of NEC projectors either directly over Ethernet or over an RS-232 interface through a Global Cache IP2SL serial to IP converter.

To get started, select ‘Add’ in the equipment area in Mira Portal, and select ‘NEC Projector’ from the list of supported displays and projectors.

Enter the projector’s network address on the Connections tab, and on the Video Inputs tab select and label the desired inputs and press ‘Add Equipment’ when done. Mira Connect will automatically create the user interface. Mira Portal makes it is easy to add, label, and change which projector’s inputs you want to use.

Once the projector has been added to the room, Mira Connect makes it easy to select sources, turn the projector on and off, and also adds the projector to the room ‘power down’ feature that restores the default room mute and volume settings and powers down the projector when the users choose to power off the room.

For integration details on integrating NEC Projectors with Mira Connect, see the NEC Projector integration guide.

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Mira Connect supports ClearOne ConvergePro®

ClearOne’s ConvergePro® family of products can now be controlled by Mira Connect, Aveo Systems’ smart control appliance. Mira Connect makes it easy to build a professionally-designed user interface system with ClearOne ConvergePro conferencing products including the Beamforming Microphone Array and the ConvergePro 880, 880T, 880TA, 840T, 8i, TH20, and VH20.

Mira Connect also gives you control over the other devices in your room including displays, video switchers, video conferencing systems, and more. You can control your ConvergePro DSP system and your whole room with Mira Connect.

To get started, create a room in Mira Portal and add a ClearOne ConvergePro system from the equipment list. Next, enter the IP address and user name and password of the system to be controlled.

Navigate to the Audio Controls tab and enter the desired control points for microphone mute, room volume, and telephony based on the configuration you built using ClearOne’s Converge Console software. Control points are specified using the device type, device ID and channel numbers and groups. Macros can also be used instead of individual channels for advanced control of muting, sound reinforcement, assistive listening, and more. When done entering the control points, click ‘Update Equipment’ and Mira Connect validates the control points, and builds the user interface automatically.

With Mira Connect’s UI Preview feature you can create and visualize your finished ClearOne ConvergePro-based system in just minutes. See our UI Preview blog post to get started today.

For more information, see the Mira Connect ClearOne Integration guide about integrating the ClearOne ConvergePro family of products with Mira Connect.

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Creating the Mira Connect User Interface

Mira Connect provides a simple, intuitive interface that can be easily customized for different applications and user preferences.

In this post we’ll explore the Mira Portal settings used to create the Mira Connect user interface in the example room tutorial that was introduced in a previous post.

In the center of the following figure we see the Mira Connect user interface automatically created by the example room tutorial.

[Click here for a full size figure]Click here for the full size figure

This user interface was driven by the equipment (see highlight 1) that was added to the room and the options and features enabled for each piece of equipment, as described below.

In this example there is a SoundStructure DSP device in the room. Since there is a telephony interface as part of the DSP system (see highlight 2), dialing options and “recent calls” menu entries become visible.

If there’s video conferencing equipment in the system – a Polycom Group Series RealPresence codec in this example – a video dial button appears along with camera controls. Camera presets can be easily defined as shown in highlight 3.

When one or more displays or projectors are added to the room, the video input settings can be configured to show the desired video conferencing and content sources as shown in highlight 4.

Audio source selection controls can be presented by adding audio inputs to the DSP equipment settings as shown in highlight 5. Adding a description can help users select their desired input.

Instructions for the room user or dial-in information can be added on the top of the Mira Connect user interface by editing the room settings as shown in highlight 6.

If a calendar is defined for the room (highlight 7), then meeting invitations for the room that include audio or video telephone numbers can be dialed by users with just one touch.

Editing the DSP equipment and selecting the mute and volume control points creates the mute button and volume slider on the right of the user interface (see highlight 8).

The look and feel of the Mira Connect, including background image, logo, and colors are configured on the site’s settings as shown in highlight 9. By setting the visual theme at the site level, all rooms in the site are instantly updated as changes to the visual theme are made. If you need more instructions for users, you can add them to the background image.

The interface behind the user interface is as intuitive to set up as it is to use. The behind-the-scenes wizardry makes it easy to create amazing systems, very quickly. We encourage you to explore the example organization, site, and room settings and learn more about how to create intuitive user interfaces for your applications.

For more information on creating a Mira Connect system, see the training examples. Click here for an example of getting started with the Mira Connect UI Preview feature. For reference, a Mira Connect quick start card is shown below.

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Test Drive Mira Connect with Example Room Tutorial

A new Mira Portal tutorial has been added that automatically creates an example organization, site, and room, and then adds equipment to the room. The tutorial shows the user where to click to launch the UI Preview feature to see the user interface that has been built automatically. This is the same user interface that would be running on an actual Mira Connect device that is paired to the room.

This new tutorial allows users to see what Mira Connect can do with just a few clicks after creating a new account. Users can customize and edit the equipment in the room and other settings to suit their application.

All users can select the ‘Create Example Room’ from the help menu and new Mira Portal users will automatically have the new tutorial started.

There is another tutorial, ‘Getting Started’, that walks users through creating their own organization, site, room, and adding equipment to the room.

Creating a New Mira Portal Account

Creating a new account with Mira Portal is free and is easy to do.

Navigate to Mira Portal and click the “create one” link on the bottom of the login window to create a new account.

After you’ve entered your user information to create the account, and reviewed and accepted the terms of service, the ‘Create Example Room’ tutorial will start. Mira Portal shows an indication of the password strength to help with setting a secure password.

Example System

The example room, ‘Example Room’, has a Polycom SoundStructure DSP, a Polycom RealPresence Group Series video codec, an Extron video switcher, and a Samsung display as shown in the system diagram. The display and Extron switcher use Global Caché IP to serial converters to add Ethernet control to the display and switcher’s native RS-232 interfaces.

One-touch dialing is supported via calendaring from the Polycom RealPresence Group Series video codec. Office 365 calendar events could have been used instead by enabling Office 365 Calendar from the organization settings, entering the Office 365 credentials, and then selecting a calendar source from the room’s settings.

The microphone mute and volume control are controlled on the DSP, video calls are launched from the codec, content sharing is available through the codec for any of the inputs to the video switcher, and the display allows source selection and power. All of these devices are controlled by Mira Connect over their network interface. The room has a ‘power off’ mode to make it easy to turn off the display, hang-up any active calls, reset gains back to default values, and leave the microphone in a muted state.

Feel free to edit the options for any of the equipment or delete and add other equipment. This example can be recreated by simply clicking the ‘Create Example Room’ tutorial again.

The resulting user interface is shown below. The background image and logo have been customized using the site’s Visual Theme settings.

For more information about how to configure Mira Connect, see our training videos.

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Mira Connect supports Extron Video Switchers

Mira Connect now supports Extron’s presentation video switchers, controlling the switchers over RS-232 or Ethernet, depending on the model.

Mira Connect makes it easy for users, showing a single display menu, even if some video sources are connected to the video switcher and some directly to the display. Users can just select the desired input from the menu and Mira Connect does the rest including powering on the display and selecting the proper sources on the connected devices.

With the addition of Extron video switcher support, Extron’s family of USB switchers can also be used with the video switcher to control the Extron USB switcher’s USB selection, by connecting the logic outputs of the video switcher to the USB switcher’s contact closures. This makes it easy to switch USB peripherals including VISCA-compatible PTZ cameras and DSP audio systems with USB audio connections to a dedicated room PC and a guest laptop, for example, by just selecting the video source to display.

Now room participants can select the desired video source, such as a dedicated room PC, and the USB switcher with follow the selection, assigning USB room resources such as DSP audio and PTZ cameras to the dedicated room PC.

To learn how to integrate Extron video switchers with Mira Connect see our Extron integration document.

You can also try it yourself with our Mira Connect UI Preview.

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Pan, Tilt, Zoom Cameras supported by Mira Connect

Mira Connect’s latest software release supports controlling VISCA-compatible pan, tilt, zoom (PTZ) cameras over RS-232 or Ethernet, allowing designers to add one or more cameras to their room and have Mira Connect control the camera.

Why PTZ Support is Important

While Mira Connect already integrates with major video conferencing systems, including Polycom RealPresence Group series and Cisco SX Telepresence series, adding direct support for PTZ cameras allows Mira Connect to be used with many soft codec applications, including our upcoming release supporting Zoom Rooms.

Soft codecs typically have a dedicated room PC running video conferencing software. You can now add one or more PTZ cameras to the PC over USB and have Mira Connect control the cameras over RS-232 or Ethernet, depending on the camera model. Mira Connect can also control the display’s source selection, power, along with the room’s microphone mute, and volume levels.

Mira Connect makes it easy for users in the room to position the camera using the intuitive pan, tilt, and zoom controls. Mira Connect will also soon support recalling camera presets. Simply create the presets using the camera’s IR remote, and enter the preset number and description in Mira Portal.

To learn more details of how to integrate PTZ cameras with Mira Connect see our PTZ camera integration document.

You can also try it yourself with our Mira Connect UI Preview.

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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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