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Caltech Purchases Phoenix Duet Units - AvNetwork.com

Caltech Purchases Phoenix Duet Units

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Pasadena, CA--Phoenix Audio Technologies announced that the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) recently purchased a large number of the company’s Duet PCS (MT202-PCO) USB desktop speakerphone systems.

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The Phoenix Audio Technologies’ Duet PCS speakerphone system offers echo cancelling and noise suppression capabilities.


The Duet units are playing a critical role in an initiative designed to strengthen the audio/video communication abilities between the Institute’s remote collaborative teams of scientists and staff who are currently participating in the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) project.

The LIGO project, which began development two decades ago to search for gravitational waves (predicted by Albert Einstein), involves about 850 participants who are based around the world and who actively take part in a substantial number of meetings throughout the week.

Because of the geographical limitation involved, it’s not possible for the entire team to be in the same location at the same time. However, there is also what is known as the Enabling Virtual Organizations (EVO) System at Caltech, which is supported by an international team of developers supporting an application that combines audio, video, chat, whiteboard, screen-sharing and meeting reservations so that distributed (virtual) teams can meet and collaborate remotely. All of these are integrated into a single environment that utilizes a global network of servers to connect individuals together. It is primarily a tool for large academic research projects.

Caltech received funding from the National Science Foundation (NSF) for the LIGO Scientific Collaboration (LSC) that would improve the EVO system that LIGO relies on for its communications between virtual teams. The goal is to leverage this new funding for future development, and themselves, meet virtually each week for EVO development and enhancement communications. One of the crucial elements in the system is a solution that would be able to produce clear audio quality, yet still be portable and cost-effective. Phoenix Audio Technologies’ Duet unit, with its advanced echo cancellation and noise suppression technologies, made it the perfect choice for Caltech.

“As the Principle Investigator (PI) on the NSF award to improve EVO for LIGO, I have the responsibility for clear communications and direction between the original EVO team and the LIGO Scientific Collaboration,” said Dr. James Kent Blackburn, senior scientist / LSC Remote Participation PI. “The Collaboration meets ‘virtually’ each week, anywhere from 75 to 100 meetings, leveraging the EVO development and enhancement communications where participants are using audio/video technology to communicate with one another from all over the world. People are often relying on their laptops for these meetings, but many times, the hardware technology that’s available in the laptops simply does not do a good enough job when it comes to echo suppression and noise reduction. That’s where the Phoenix Duet units come in. They are small and compact and they have built-in echo cancellation and noise reduction and we just plug them into our USB ports in our desktops or laptops. When we use the Duet unit along with the EVO system, the Duet significantly improves the quality of the sound by removing the echo and the feedback.”

Dr. Blackburn was behind the initiative to distribute the Duet PCS units to 75 participants of a recent bi-annual collaboration meeting in Boston of the LIGO Scientific Collaboration with the ultimate goal of impressing each participant with the improved audio quality. Since the units were giveaways, the participants then brought the Duets back to their home institutions to share with the rest of their teams and experience the improved audio quality. While Dr. Blackburn was not physically attending the conference, he was able to participate through the EVO System and the Duet unit on his desk.

“All the participants in this type of meeting have the misfortune of suffering from the one person who has a bad audio system,” Dr. Blackburn continued. “So, what we wanted to do by purchasing these 75 units was to find the weak links in the chain and make them stronger. At the same time, we wanted participants to see that by using these units there was a noticeable improvement in the quality of the remote meetings and hopefully spark their interest in purchasing these on their own. We’re trying to stimulate people to use this technology.”

Duet is a USB desktop speakerphone that features a built-in microphone and speaker, paired with advanced echo cancellation and noise suppression technologies, making it a powerful yet portable tabletop VoIP conferencing solution. Its lightweight and discrete design make it ideal for hands-free desktop conferencing, while its powerful pickup and speaker volume give it a large coverage range. The Duet PCS is made out of an aluminum body that makes it exceptionally durable and great for travel. It provides a high quality speakerphone solution for desktop users while maintaining a user friendly, plug-and-play mentality. According to the company, it does not require expert knowledge or additional driver installations in order to use or install.

“Phoenix Audio Technologies’ Duet PCS is the perfect solution for those professionals working in an educational environment, be it K-12 or larger universities and institutions,” said Joseph Marash, CEO, Phoenix Audio Technologies. “Our Duet speakerphone has a high quality microphone that offers a large pick-up range as well as a powerful built-in speaker. But really it’s the unit’s ease of use, high quality and the echo cancelling and noise suppression capabilities that Caltech was looking for. It’s absolutely the right tool to show Caltech’s team of scientists and staff just how much it can help raise the quality of the audio during their important remote meetings. Understanding that the Duet is tightly integrated with Caltech’s EVO system, it helps make for a flawless audio/video communication between the various teams located around the country and around the world.”

The Duet PCS is intended for use in intimate or on-the-go environments and is compatible with PC (Windows and Linux) and Macintosh (MAC OS).

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