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Demo of the month: QSC’s simpler integration and programming

QSC has expanded its Q-SYS platform control portfolio. Steve Montgomery talked to Martin Barbour, QSC’s product manager for installed systems, to find out what these new features offer to AV integrators and to IT professionals.

The role of the AV system integrator is to select and combine the most appropriate audiovisual devices and present the user with a simple and intuitive user interface to control it all.

Historically this has not been a simple task: each component has its own unique control protocol, and programming a cohesive system requires a high level of understanding and skill. Later addition of devices often requires the return of a programmer.

The goal of QSC is to dramatically simplify the integration and programming workflow by introducing control capabilities at the software layer that not only enable unseasoned AV programmers to create operational and attractive user interfaces, but facilitate bidirectional communication with the many external devices that exist outside of the Q-SYS ecosystem, in a way that IT professionals recognise and comprehend.

Combined solutions
Q-SYS is a software-based platform built around an open IT-friendly ecosystem. It leverages powerful Intel processing, robust reliability of the Linux operating system and the interoperability of IEEE networking standards. This flexible software-defined technology platform allows QSC to offer fully integrated audio DSP, video routing and feature-rich control processing inside the same hardware processor and programming environment. This is a highly efficient way of delivering combined solutions rather than individual processors that each perform just one job. It also greatly enhances system scalability: common processing elements across multi-room deployments can be managed by one device rather than duplicating multiple hardware processors in every space; reducing the hardware required, the cost and the complexity, while centralising system management.

The process of programming the system to control peripheral devices and communicate clearly with users is now easier to develop and deploy. The Q-SYS UCI Editor is an easy-to-use, drag-and-drop design tool that allows users to create custom user control interfaces for native Q-SYS touchscreen controllers, all without the need for any previous programming experience. This streamlined design tool dramatically improves efficiency in the traditional AV control design and commissioning workflow.

For installations requiring more complex control integration, the Q-SYS Scripting Engine allows control plug-ins and scripts to easily integrate third-party devices with the Q-SYS platform. It also provides the backbone for the new Q-SYS Text Controller component for users to create custom scripts using modern, accessible scripting languages including Lua, an open-source, IT-friendly programming language.

The programming process is further enhanced by the new Q-SYS Block Controller component and Q-SYS Scripting Engine and includes a state-of-the-art visual programming tool to bring modern software design techniques to the AV programming industry. This well-established open source visual programming tool uses interlocking graphical blocks to represent common code programming concepts; an approach that brings simple, rapid code creation while ensuring that the generated code is always syntactically correct.

New controllers
At the same time, QSC has introduced four new touchscreen controllers with bright, high-resolution IPS LCDs for convenient, off-axis, wide-angle viewing. They offer native integration within the Q-SYS Platform to give users a more comprehensive selection of controllers with add-in room control.

To satisfy the demand for an IT-friendly cloud-based system management solution, QSC is unveiling a technology announcement, the Q-SYS Reflect management platform. It will launch with two primary components. Q-SYS Reflect Core Manager runs natively on the Q-SYS Core processor and provides a more modern and secure interface for common, IT related tasks on the Q-SYS processor. Q-SYS Reflect Enterprise Manager extends that web platform to a cloud hosted solution to monitor and manage multiple Q-SYS systems and peripheral devices. Regardless of whether AV assets are distributed within a single building or across an entire global enterprise, Q-SYS Reflect delivers valuable real-time data and insights for monitoring, diagnostics and troubleshooting.