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Technology trends – digital matrix switching

Andrew Brister 30 May 2012

What is digital matrix switching? TFA brings architects up to speed with the latest innovations in this fast-moving technology sector. Many buildings now have a need to distribute multiple sources of analogue and digital audio and video locally over long distances. The latest digital matrix switching innovations allow connected devices to be centrally monitored, managed and controlled over IT infrastructure to effectively resolve AV issues for digital video distribution. Teaching staff and students at Lancaster University will be amongst the first in Europe to benefit from the very latest in digital matrix switching, following the recent installation of the highly anticipated Enova DGX from AMX technology. Ranked as one of the top ten universities in the UK and a centre for excellence in teaching and research, Lancaster has become the first university in the country to receive the award-winning digital matrix switcher. Originally built between 1965 and 1970, the Lancaster University campus occupies an impressive 360 acre parkland site at Bailrigg, just three miles from Lancaster city centre. As part of the university’s ongoing investment in its teaching resources, it embarked on a project to refurbish its Faraday facility; a complex of lecture theatres, colloquium rooms and seminar rooms. The scope of work, which would include the external upgrade of the original 1960s building, would also lead to the total refurbishment of the existing lecture theatres to a high internal and technical standard, including the very latest in projection and video conference systems so as to facilitate distributed learning and the teaching of large year groups. Needing a technological solution that could distribute multiple sources of analogue and digital audio and video locally over long distances, leading integrator proAV turned to AMX and its new Enova DGX system; this is claimed to be the industry’s first modular digital media switcher with a built-in central controller. By harnessing the power of the High-bandwidth Digital Content Protection (HDCP)-solving Enova DGX 32, together with products from AMX’s new range of DXLink HDMI transmitters and receivers, proAV was able to effectively resolve AV issues for digital video distribution while enabling Lancaster University’s connected devices to be centrally monitored, managed and controlled over its IT infrastructure.@page_break@As part of the solution, DXLink technology has provided a clean, simple-to-use and quickly deployable method for overcoming the digital signal distance transport issues that arose from the construction of the Faraday Complex’s floor, walls and ceiling which meant that traditional AV cabling could not be installed without massive disruption. DXlink allowed for the successful upgrading of the switching and infrastructure to cope with full HD whilst using new and existing Cat6 cable. “The AMX Enova DGX digital media switcher provides us with a cost effective way to integrate groups of lecture theatres allowing us to utilise existing legacy hardware and new technology in our environment,” explains Chris Dixon, head of service, delivery and operations, Lancaster University. “It gives us the ability to quickly link teaching spaces together, providing delivery of lectures and other events to multiple screens.” Part of the Enova Series, AMX’s award-winning DGX 16 and 32 extend the boundaries of modular matrix switchers with an integrated NetLinx controller and embedded Ethernet switch so users, like Lancaster University, can manage, monitor and control their entire solution, including the connected source and display devices located throughout a building, all from a single point of control. With the powerful combination of analogue-to-digital signal conversion, video scaling and high-speed digital switching, this hybrid system delivers perfect video every time, regardless of signal type, and without any of the typical problems associated with HDCP-authenticated content distribution and switching. Both models include AMX exclusive features, such as InstaGate Pro Technology designed to resolve HDCP limitations, and SmartScale Technology that perfectly scales video for each connected display. The Enova DGX series uses field-swappable input and output boards available in a variety of formats including HDMI, DVI and DXLink (twisted pair cable). The embedded AMX NetLinx Central Controller and Ethernet switch enable centralised monitoring, management and control of every connected device; simplifying support for AV and IT departments alike. “AMX’s SmartScale technology removes many of the headaches around the specification and replacement of kit and the use of DX link allows us to use simple UTP cabling to provide all the feeds. The expandability of the AMX Enova DGX digital media switcher gives us straightforward routes to incrementally improve teaching spaces and provides us with a level of future proofing that we haven’t had before, all without the need to rip and replace,” adds Dixon. www.amx.com 

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