Fuat Koro, director global sales and marketing at Bose, explains the reasons behind the company's move into conferencing and discusses the 'sensitive topic' of AV-IT convergence.
Why does the company feel the time is right to enter the conferencing space?
As we met with our dealers and customers and discussed the conferencing market, they shared with us that there are unmet needs with the current solutions. This is a mature market, but we believe that we can bring real benefits to the industry with the ControlSpace EX conferencing solution through products and tools that streamline the implementation of conference room audio. We do this through seamless microphone integration, comprehensive connectivity from one DSP model, and simplified software configuration.
There are a number of great new Dante microphones for the conferencing market which, being a native Dante processor, we can integrate directly with and will be providing integrated controls for these microphones. We are also introducing Dante based under-table boxes providing connectivity for any analogue microphone, with audio, control and power over a single cable from the table to the rack.
Many integrators told us about issues they had when installing a system. They would get everything programmed, wired and ready, only to find that the customer has added a requirement or wasn’t able to get their VoIP system to work with the DSP. The common solution was to rip out the DSP, send it back and install a new unit. With the ControlSpace EX-1280C we are providing VoIP, PSTN and USB connectivity all in one unit. In addition, our EX-UH Dante based under-table box will extend USB and a phone headset connection to the table. The end user will be able to communicate anyway they need to without additional cards or processors.
What has the reaction been like, particularly at ISE?
The reaction to ControlSpace EX has been phenomenal. There are many integrators that have been waiting for Bose Professional to provide a solution for this market and most see it as a natural evolution of our ControlSpace DSP line. Bose has been in the conferencing market with loudspeakers and amplifiers for years and the addition of the processing solution has been very well received.
From the end user community, it just makes sense. They have Bose audio in their homes and their cars, so having a trusted brand in their conference room is a welcome addition.
As AV and IT continue to converge, what are some of the key challenges with having to produce products that appeal to both IT managers and AV integrators?
The convergence of AV and IT is still a bit of a sensitive topic for the people that have to make it work. The biggest thing is not to limit options on either the AV or IT side. From the AV perspective, we want to be able to take advantage of new and emerging technologies, more and more that means network based product. The best way to fully realise the potential of those products is to be able to run them on the facility’s converged network. This allows signals and devices to be shared, centrally monitored and managed.
From the IT side, they are looking for devices and protocols that they understand and that can co-exist on their existing networks. Having an IT group purchase separate network switches just to run an audio system or to say that we must use multicast to integrate our favourite microphone is not a viable solution for most IT professionals. This is another reason that Bose has worked so closely with Audinate and why our processors and under-table boxes are native Dante and IT-friendly.
What affect has the trend towards more discreet/aesthetically pleasing units had?
Aesthetics are always a hot topic in the conference market. For most interior architects, the last thing they want to see in a conference room design is technology and the last thing they want the budget allocated to is the infrastructure required to support it. The more we can do to hide technology and minimise the infrastructure, the more we will be able to accomplish in the conference room.
At Bose, we constantly strive to balance the physics of good audio and product aesthetics. Our goal is to provide the most robust tools to do that. For example, if you need to have microphones in the table for acoustic reasons, then we have great low-profile, cost-effective solutions for wiring them up while minimising the infrastructure at the same time. If you are able to take advantage of the latest ceiling array microphones, then we provide a way to directly integrate and control them.