On the 29th floor of 900 Third Avenue, in the heart of Manhattan, you’ll find Gateway, state-of-the-art co-working and innovation hub that’s part of the Swedish-American Chamber of Commerce (SACCNY), whose mission is to help Scandinavian companies gain a strategic foothold in the U.S. market. SACCNY provides services including business matchmaking, service-oriented partnerships, administrative setup, and desk and event space to Scandinavian businesses.
SACCNY boasts an impressive membership of Scandinavian innovators that includes large and mid-sized companies in a variety of sectors. It also serves as a knowledge and networking incubator for start-ups looking to make their mark.
Anna Throne-Holst was appointed SACCNY’s president in 2017. The collaboration among Sennheiser, Barco and QSC came about as Throne-Holst began exploring a technology upgrade: “I wanted to create a state-of-the-art meeting space,” she said.
Throne-Holst’s idea was a winner all around. For members, it meant access to world-class conferencing technology in a beautiful working environment, right in the heart of Manhattan. For Sennheiser, Barco, QSC, and a handful of other companies, it meant an ideal technology showcase to demonstrate the quality, functionality, and efficiency of ground-breaking products.
To move the project forward, she engaged longtime technology evangelist Greg Harper, president of Harpervision Associates, vice president of infrastructure for Shorelight Education, and technology advisor for several other companies and financial institutions. Harper embraced the idea and subsequently pitched it to Sennheiser, Barco and QSC. “For us, it was a no-brainer,” Throne-Holst said. “Greg loved what we were doing up here and we all became friends.”
A Room with a View
The showcase room in the 20,000-square-foot facility is called “Room with a View.” Providing seating and videoconferencing space for up to 12 people, it features a Sennheiser TeamConnect Ceiling 2 (TCC2) microphone with beamforming technology, which enables the microphone to “follow the speaker” if they move around the conference space.
The TCC2 is connected to a QSC Q-SYS Core 110f, which serves as a room controller supporting up to 256 channels of networked audio and multiple instances of VoIP. “The Core 110f is connected to three cameras that use auto-tracking,” explained Harper. “So we are getting the data from the Sennheiser TCC2 microphone and using that data to switch the cameras based on who is speaking.”
Aside from the fact that there are no microphones on the conference room table, one of the first things people notice when walking into the Room with a View conference space is the bright 14-foot Barco X 1.2 LED video wall. The wall is driven by a Barco E2 Gen 2, which handles all the processing and offers flexible layouts. Barco’s ClickShare technology allows for seamless wireless conferencing in Gateway’s meeting rooms. In this space, ClickShare Conference enables agnostic BYOM (Bring Your Own Meeting) capabilities, allowing users easy access to the advanced AV present in the room.
While this showcase conferencing space offers fantastic views of New York City, its large windows, hardwood floors, and hard ceiling presented several acoustic challenges that were generally overcome by the Sennheiser TCC2. The ceiling microphone is designed to pick up the subject rather than the room itself, which helped mitigate undesirable sound reflections. “We tried several different microphones in there and as soon as we used the TCC2, it just sounded better,” explained Harper.
Other Collaborative Spaces
With seating for 18 people, the Board Room is one of Gateway’s larger spaces. It’s accented with several tables that can be moved around to accommodate different types of meetings, seminars, or smaller events. It features a 16-foot Barco UniSee video wall with multiple LCD panels and two Sennheiser TCC2s. The room’s AV complement is connected to a QSC Core 110f processor, which serves as the primary technology interface. Barco’s ClickShare Conference enables wireless universal sharing of information from the user’s own device across presentation platforms.
The Sennheiser TCC2s in the Board Room drive a 1 Beyond Autotracker system, which has seven built-in cameras and is able to track and switch cameras based on the location of the audio source. There are two cameras on the left side of the room facing the right side, two cameras on the right side facing the left, and three cameras at the center pointed at the end tables, the head of the table, and a “default” wide shot.
The Media Lab, a smaller space in the facility, has been outfitted with a similar combination of technology: the Sennheiser TCC2 and QSC cameras connected to a QSC Core 110f processor, and several video screens.
The Event Room features seating for 60, or 100 people standing. While it hasn’t been used for many months due to the pandemic, Gateway is eager to resume in-person events and programming there. “During the pandemic, we had to re-think how we do our events,” said Throne-Holst. “And part of what we thought about was, ‘How do we do digital meetings in a way that really functions?’ This led to a webinar series we called ‘Checking the Pulse’ with corporate metrics, where we touch on an array of different things. The next series we are going to do is on investment tools: IPOs, M&As and more.”
But Does It Sound Good?
Charlie Jones, Sennheiser’s global business development manager, said, “Our collaboration with Barco, QSC, and the SACCNY really demonstrates the power of combining our respective best-of-breed communications technologies. In this case, our TCC2 ceiling microphone was able to deliver both audio clarity and intelligibility while working within a highly reflective, acoustically challenging environment. Moreover, the seamless interoperability of our TCC2, Barco’s LED Walls and QSC’s processing has resulted in a world-class video conferencing solution for SACCNY and its members.”