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Swedish-American Chamber of Commerce Opens Innovation 'Gateway'

Swedish-American Chamber of Commerce
(Image credit: Sennheiser)

On the 29th floor of 900 Third Avenue, in the very heart of Manhattan, is Gateway—a state-of-the-art co-working and innovation hub. As part of the Swedish-American Chamber of Commerce (SACCNY), the oldest international chamber of commerce in the United States, Gateway’s mission is to help Scandinavian companies gain a strategic foothold and become more successful in the U.S. market. Recently, top communication technology brands Sennheiser, Barco, and QSC collaborated to help deliver a fully integrated, world class conferencing and equipment demonstration environment within Gateway’s 20,000-square-foot facility.

Gateway opened its doors in January 2019 as a "landing" and "launchpad" for Scandinavian businesses, providing members everything they need to help accelerate their success, whether it be business matchmaking, service-oriented partnerships, administrative setup, desk and event space, or a myriad of other offerings. The Gateway conferencing and technology demonstration center was implemented during 2020 and was completed in March 2021.

Anna Throne-Holst was appointed as SACCNY’s president in 2017, following her career as a public servant. “In my public life, much of my work was supporting small business,” she said. “So, when I was offered the opportunity with SACCNY, I jumped on it, with the goal of creating a model chamber, offering both services and support to the innovation and start-up sectors, while facilitating important synergies with the long-time, large corporate members. Now, Gateway is a co-working, meeting, and innovation platform mostly geared to Swedish start-ups and corporates, but open to other companies as well.” 

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SACCNY boasts an impressive membership, including large and mid-sized companies in a variety of sectors, and serves as a knowledge and networking incubator for start-ups. The opening of Gateway coincided with a move to SACCNY’s current location, which afforded more office space and room to grow: “We needed to be there for our members, and the move meant we could create a myriad of working and event-based spaces for these entrepreneurs and innovators,” Throne-Holst added.

'Room with a View'

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 recalled.

Throne-Holst’s idea meant access to world-class conferencing technology in a beautiful working environment. For Sennheiser, Barco, QSC, and a handful of other companies, it meant an ideal technology showcase to demonstrate the quality, functionality, and efficiency of their products. 

To move the project forward, Throne-Holst engaged long-time technology evangelist Greg Harper, president of Harpervision Associates, vice president of infrastructure for Shorelight Education, and technology advisor for several highly regarded companies and financial institutions. Harper embraced the idea, and subsequently pitched it to Sennheiser, Barco, and QSC.

Swedish American Chamber of Commerce

The "showcase" room within the 20,000-square-foot facility provides seating and videoconferencing space for up to 12 people. (Image credit: Sennheiser)

The "showcase" room within the facility is known as "Room with a View," which provides seating and videoconferencing space for up to 12 people. It features a Sennheiser TeamConnect Ceiling 2 (TCC2) microphone, which incorporates beamforming technology that enables the microphone to follow the speaker. 

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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 which 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 thing people notice when walking into Room with a View conference space is the bright 14-foot Barco X 1.2 LED video wall, which is driven by a Barco E2 Gen 2 that handles all the processing and offers flexible layouts. 

Barco's ClickShare technology allows for seamless, engaging wireless conferencing in Gateway’s meeting rooms. In Room with a View, ClickShare Conference enables truly agnostic BYOM (Bring Your Own Meeting) capabilities, allowing users easy access to the advanced AV present in the room.

Barco's ClickShare Conference enables wireless universal sharing of information from the user’s own device across presentation platforms.

Barco's ClickShare Conference enables wireless universal sharing of information from the user’s own device across presentation platforms. (Image credit: Sennheiser)

“We have a QSC touch panel, so guests can come in there and say, ‘I want to do a Teams meeting’ or 'I want to do a Zoom meeting.' Or they can just bring in their own laptop with preferred VC solution,” Harper explained. Since ClickShare is installed and ubiquitous throughout the space, users can connect and present wirelessly—no matter where they are located in the chamber offices. Meanwhile, the inbound audio in Room with a View is reproduced through two pairs of QSC speakers—two in the front and two in the rear. 

While Room with a View offers breathtaking views of New York City, the bountiful glass and hardwood floors and a hard ceiling presented several acoustic challenges. The Sennheiser TCC2 helped mitigate undesirable sound reflections since the microphone is designed to pick up the subject rather than the room itself. By creating "exclusion zones," users can eliminate sounds coming from HVAC systems, or other noise sources. 

“We tried several different microphones in there and as soon as we used the TCC2, it just sounded better,” said Harper. "I am very familiar with acoustics and how things sound, and I think this is among the best ceiling microphones out there. Sennheiser has a unique capability of sounding really good while giving me very accurate positioning control, with the ability of creating exclusion zones.” 

The Board Room

The Board Room is one of Gateway’s larger rooms, providing seating for 18 people. The space is accented with several tables measuring roughly 5-foot square, which can be moved around to accommodate different types of meetings. It also features a Barco 16-foot UniSee video wall with multiple LCD panels, which delivers a uniform degree of brightness and color throughout, as well as two Sennheiser TCC2s. Everything is connected to a QSC Core 110f processor, which serves as the primary technology interface, and Barco's ClickShare Conference enables wireless universal sharing of information from the user’s own device across presentation platforms.

Swedish Chamber of Commerce

Sennheiser’s TCC2 microphone helped mitigate undesirable sound reflections. (Image credit: Sennheiser)

In the Board Room, the Sennheiser TCC2s are used to drive a 1 Beyond Autotracker system, which has seven built-in cameras—two cameras on the left side of the room, two on the right side, and three in the center—and is able to track and switch cameras based on the location of the audio source. “The Sennheiser TCC2 has XYZ data coming out of it that is very accurate, so it can actually detect whether someone is standing or sitting," explained Harper. "Once this data is extrapolated, the system can automatically direct the camera where it needs to go among hundreds of possible locations.” 

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“Our collaboration with Barco, QSC and the SACCNY really demonstrates the power of combining our respective best-of-breed communications technologies,” said Charlie Jones, global business development manager of Sennheiser. ”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 videoconferencing solution for SACCNY and its members.” 

“This unique cooperation demonstrates the breadth which Barco can offer in high-end meeting rooms with the best in both collaboration and visualization. We’re excited to offer SACCNY true, engaging meeting experiences with BYOM in an outstanding audio environment and with the best-in-class control and tracking cameras.” said David Fitzgerald, vice president of global alliances at Barco.

Now that Throne-Holst has a robust, state of the art videoconferencing capability in place, she is anxious to augment this capability with in-person events—which before the pandemic, were held up to three times per week.

Harper said that while the technology in Gateway most effective when it is invisible. "Executives don't want to have to think about the technology—they want a videoconferencing experience to be as authentic as possible," he offered. "Our setup is truly BYOD—this is extremely powerful, and you don’t get that in many places. And you are taking advantage of this beautiful Barco LED wall, Sennheiser microphones, and QSC speakers. You get the whole package: high-quality audio, stunning visual communication, lots of control, remote capability—what else could you want?"

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