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GE Grid IQ Global Innovation Center Showcases AV

GE Grid IQ Global Innovation Center Showcases AV

GE, one of the most well-known names in energy research and technology, recently opened its new $40 million, 200,000-square-foot Grid IQ Global Innovation Center in Markham, Ontario. Company officials say that the new center is dedicated to promoting its next-generation energy management grid. In an effort to help bring the center to life in an engaging, customer-friendly way, GE turned to Advanced to envision, design, and install an integrated AV and IT solution that encompasses 55 rooms, including a Customer Experience Center that features a 58-foot Prysm LPD video wall.


Planning and open dialogue between Advanced’s engineers and GE’s IT department were essential for a successful solution and implementation. Advanced worked closely with GE’s IT Department to ensure the new AV systems deployed on their network would operate without any issues. In an environment with different communication brands/types, interoperability of these devices on the network was important. Devices had to be custom configured to integrate into the enterprise network. A primary area of focus was ensuring both Polycom and Cisco phones and VC systems would be able to cross talk and operate seamlessly on their network.

As part of the design, Advanced worked with GE to standardize on leading manufacturers to ensure reliability and cross-platform interoperability. Advanced has also arranged for a customized on-site service package to assist GE with the implementation of the new AV systems.

Priority on Ease of Use

GE recently opened its impressive $40 million, 200,000-square-foot Grid IQ Global Innovation Center in Markham, Ontario. The facility, featuring Crestron control and a 58-foot Prysm LPD video wall, promotes its next-generation energy management grid.From the early stages of the project, the entire AV technology strategy focused on ease of use for all GE employees. The majority of the 55 rooms in the building include Crestron room automation products, and a custom GUI interface was designed by Advanced to keep room functionality simple and easy to use for all staff. Staff can access both tabletop and wall-mounted touchpanels to control the installed AV products as needed. The VC systems are controlled by a Crestron system, including remote dialing access from the touchpanel interface to eliminate the need for a secondary remote.

According to Mark Mulford, president and CEO at Advanced, “This expansive AV and IT installation encapsulates GE’s mantra of ‘Imagination At Work’ and provides an immersive media experience that is vital to convey the forward-thinking technologies GE is developing to improve the efficiency, reliability and security of the world’s electrical grids.”

Enhancing the Customer Experience

The focal point of the building’s new AV system is the Customer Experience Center. As one of the world’s largest installations of Prysm Laser Phosphor Display technology, the curved 58-foot Prysm video wall consumes a tenth the power of traditional displays. When GE examined the total cost of ownership for their new video wall, they quickly discovered that LPD technology would save them hundreds of thousands of dollars in energy costs, company officials reported. Also, because the technology has zero consumables, there are minimal maintenance costs.

The Customer Experience Center, controlled by Crestron, allows the presenter to navigate the interactive space using an iPad, which is linked to the IT infrastructure. The Customer Experience Center is divided into different sections and has a zoned audio system that is easily controlled by the iPad as the presenters move from each experience zone. The 58-foot Prysm video wall is also controlled by the presenter’s iPad, allowing customers to become immersed in the content.

The Prysm video wall requires almost no maintenance, as there are no consumables, and since most of its components are solid-state the failure rate is very low. Reliability and ease of use were major considerations for GE, as they had to know a customer could be taken through the high traffic center at any time without any technical problems.

To complete the media experience, a professional grade multi-zone audio system, featuring multiple Biamp digital signal processors, Crown Tech amplifiers, and a Tannoy full range, three-way loudspeaker system was installed.

“GE wanted to create a one-of-a-kind experience for their customers,” said Mulford, “and we proved that Advanced, more than any other integration company, has the knowledge, experience and vision to deliver compelling and effective AV solutions. We worked directly with GE and Prysm on the concept, design, and implementation of the system and utilized the newest cutting-edge AV and presentation technologies. This created one of the world’s most immersive digital environments. To put it simply, there is no other system like this on Earth.”

The AV installation encompasses 54 additional rooms including executive offices, boardrooms, training rooms, meeting rooms, and many more. One training room, which can be divided into two separate rooms with a motorized wall, is equipped with a SMART 70-inch LCD interactive display and an enterprise-grade Polycom videoconferencing system, allowing for global conferencing and training sessions. The room also features several large interactive touch screens, an NEC projector, and a fully integrated audio system that includes Polycom sound structure ceiling microphone arrays.

The facility’s gym and fitness studio provides a personalized AV experience at each station.The building features the latest visual collaboration tools from SMART and Polycom videoconferencing that allow GE employees to work remotely and share data with other offices around the world. Use of these collaboration technologies reduces travel expenses and accelerates innovation, to help GE solve customer problems and bring new products to market faster.

The facility’s executive boardroom is equipped with a Crestron system that controls an NEC projector mounted on a Draper automated projector lift, a Polycom audio conferencing system, table-mounted microphones at each seat and ceiling-mounted microphones that provide an unobtrusive solution for presenters.

Even the manufacturing floor got an AV upgrade with more than a dozen NEC 46-inch LCD monitors gracing its walls to display production stats and other internal GE messaging.

The collaboration room allows individuals to work together in real time with internal or external staff worldwide. Advanced installed a SMART interactive whiteboard, in-ceiling speakers, Crown microphones, a videoconferencing system and a projector to accommodate every type of meeting and interaction. All of the room’s AV functions can be managed through the Crestron control system on a wireless touchscreen device.

Holistic Approach

GE knows that happy, healthy employees are productive employees, so they asked Advanced to create a gym and fitness studio that provides a personal AV experience at each fitness station. Employees can plug in their personal iPads and iPods to listen to music or watch satellite TV or DVDs at each station. The system can direct audio to individual stations or the main loudspeakers throughout the entire gym and fitness studio.

Adding to the Global Innovation Center’s sense of community, the cafeteria serves double duty as the location for Markham’s town hall meetings. The cafeteria features an NEC projector and five NEC LCD displays with built-in speakers to display cable programming for staff and provide video presentation capabilities for town hall meetings, while an integrated Polycom videoconferencing system with two Shure wireless microphones allows meetings to be broadcast to remote viewers.

EQUIPMENT USED (Partial list)

Biamp digital signal processors
Curved 58-foot Prysm video wall
NEC LCD displays & projector
Polycom videoconferencing system
Crown in-ceiling microphones & amps
Shure wireless microphones
SMART 70-inch LCD interactive display
Tannoy three-way loudspeaker system


GE Grid IQ Global Innovation Center