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Bank Hapoalim’s new Innovation Center deploys AVoIP solution

As well as being Israel’s biggest bank, with a significant presence in global markets, Bank Hapoalim is a strong advocate of technical innovation and is at the forefront of digital banking. The bank’s new Innovation Center features an AV facility that highlights the many advantages of AV over IP.

Bank Hapoalim’s Innovation Center is driving forward the latest technology for the banking world, creating and developing new ideas for both the industry and consumers. Its AV system needed to be equally progressive – extremely flexible, able to respond dynamically and able to stay at the leading edge of technology for at least five years.

“Our goal was to create a dynamic working space where innovation will occur,” says Tsachi Lutaty, head of the innovation lab at Bank Hapoalim. “We looked for an AV system that would be an enabler for the innovation process in terms of helping us capture ideas, promote discussions and communicate products to visitors and employees, while being available everywhere within the space and flexible enough to handle any type of AV we will need. Choosing an AV-over-IP solution would help us achieve that goal.”

The Innovation Center in Tel Aviv is a very open, new and ‘techy’ working environment that includes conference rooms, fixed and mobile displays, and a large, two-part videowall in what is effectively a mini-auditorium for presentations. To meet the goals of the facility, the AV system had to connect ‘from everywhere to everywhere’. AV over IP was an obvious solution to achieve that goal.

“There needed to be enough flexibility to allow a facility that is constantly pushing the boundaries of technology to do whatever they want with it, being very ‘agile’ and able to move with them as they move forward,” says Aviad Cohen, conferencing and collaboration consultant for Aerolite, which won a competitive tender to specify and manage the project. Aerolite worked closely with systems integrator AVCS to deploy the system to meet Bank Hapoalim’s requirements.

“AV over IP was the way to go because it has already proven itself and it’s a platform that will develop well into the future,” he continues. “We looked at all the major players in the market and at whatever would allow the best possible solution regarding ease of use, management, upscaling and future-proofing. It went without saying that it also had to be of the highest quality.”

Enterprise-wide distribution

The installation was built around Atlona’s OmniStream – a platform for dependable, high performance 4K video, audio and control distribution over enterprise-wide installations.

According to Cohen, OmniStream offered a number of advantages over other AV-over-IP solutions. As well as its flexibility and ease of distributing high-quality content, its scalability is virtually unlimited and it features dual-channel encoding and decoding. This makes each encoder and decoder effectively two devices in one, making a major difference in terms of cost performance.

“OmniStream allows you to connect whatever you need – whether it’s DisplayPort, mini DisplayPort, HDMI – and your content will go smoothly from one place to the other wherever you like, however you like,” says Cohen. “There are so many scenarios that were introduced to us, so many ways and ideas of how it can be used, that OmniStream was an obvious choice. The GUI is also very easy to use and manage and the dual Ethernet connections on the encoders and decoders mean a failover is designed into the equipment, which was another obvious advantage.”

As well as the two-part videowall in the ‘mini-auditorium’ – which comprises adjacent 3 x 3 and 3 x 2 panel screens – the Innovation Center includes rooms with 65in screens. The system allows any conference or project to be displayed on any of the screens without the need for extra equipment, for sophisticated content management on the split videowall and for any external IP source, such as cable TV, to be displayed, should it be needed.

OmniStream also allows any resolution and any frame rate to be delivered. All of the screens in the Innovation Center are 4K-capable; 4K is used on the split videowall, but 1080p is currently favoured for the rooms with the 65in displays, because some 4K content can be a little too small to be legible.

Welcome messages

Another aspect of the system facilitated by OmniStream is all screens being able to act as high-resolution digital signage. It gives any or all the ability to display a welcome message, video or other appropriate content, then be instantly switched to the content needed for a particular meeting or session.

User control for the system is straightforward, using Extron graphic touchpanels. These are managed by a central computer on the network, and the use of OmniStream means the control system is fully redundant, ensuring the workflow in the Innovation Center is never interrupted.

“OmniStream is effectively hidden in plain sight,” says Cohen. “It’s the Innovation Center AV system’s biggest player ‘behind the curtain’, the thing that makes everything work, but much of what actually happens is automated.

“The client brief and our tender were all about innovation. Using AV over IP and OmniStream allowed us to break the mould of ‘traditional’ AV systems whatever, however and whenever that needed to happen.”

On the subject of AV over IP being adopted more widely, Cohen says, “I believe we will be seeing both HDBaseT and AV over IP side by side for some time, but at some point, the latter will become the preferred solution and HDBaseT phased out. This is especially likely as networks become more inhabitable for other AV equipment.

“It might need a new role within companies, someone who knows both AV and IP networks. Planning ahead for equipment, networks, subnets and bandwidth load will be necessary but, if you have that knowledge and know how to apply it, as we do at Aerolite, AV over IP is a great solution. And although OmniStream is already at its maturity stage, it’s scary to think to what it will be capable of once as the platform scales for new applications.”