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Assistive Listening Technologies and Wi-Fi – How They Work Together

For the more than 360 million people worldwide who suffer moderate to profound hearing loss, venues must create a listening experience that is equal to that available to the general public. It’s not only the right way to accommodate hearing-impaired parishioners, patrons, and customers—it’s the law.

 

Today we’re seeing public demand for listening solutions that extend beyond the traditional assistive listening market. Wi-Fi-based personal listening solutions, while delivering excellent sound quality, are designed for the convenience of the venue—owners and managers no longer need to purchase and maintain devices. Instead, users download an iPhone or Android app to their smartphone and then select the audio channel that corresponds with the video they want to watch in a multi-display setting.

 

While these types of solutions can be used by the general public as well as the hearing impaired, it’s important to note that they were not designed to meet the ADA standards for assistive listening or comparable laws outside of the U.S., which require venues to provide an equivalent listening experience for the hearing impaired. While the audio latency associated with Wi-Fi technology is negligible, it cannot provide an equal experience for people with hearing loss. This limitation combined with the requirement to provide a specific number of assistive listening devices means that Wi-Fi is not an ideal solution for compliance. That said, there are applications where Wi-Fi-based solutions can complement an existing assistive listening system (ALS) that uses RF, IR, or induction loop technologies, giving all patrons or customers the best possible listening experience.

 

How does that work? Let’s take a quick look at the best applications for Wi-Fi based solutions and then discuss when they make a great addition to your assistive listening solution.

 

Applications for Wi-Fi Based Solutions for Personal Listening

Wi-Fi for personal listening is an exciting, emerging area that has a growing list of applications and the potential for many more. We are seeing ListenWiFi being adopted in venues for:

  • Higher education, particularly in student unions, where multiple televisions are available and the student wants to select the audio channel for listening.
  • Corporate fitness centers or lobbies with video walls. Employees or visitors choose the audio channel for the video they want to watch.
  • Museums with multiple video displays throughout the exhibit. Visitors can select the audio channel that corresponds with the video that piques their interest.

 

The Right Listening Options for Any Audience

When you need to provide both hearing and hearing impaired audiences with audio options, adding a Wi-Fi personal listening solution to a venue with an existing ALS can be a cost-effective approach.

 

For example, a theater may offer a movie in multiple languages. As a theater, the venue is required to provide an assistive listening device to any hearing-impaired person. The ALS device provides equal access to the movie audio, but what about translations for the general public? Purchasing transmitters and receivers for the full audience that doesn’t need a device for assistive listening is quite an investment. But adding a Wi-Fi-based solution gives the ability to access different audio channels to anyone with an iPhone or Android device. This cost-effective strategy allows the venue to remain fully compliant and provides options that create exceptional—and equal—experiences for all moviegoers.

 

To learn more about ALS and Wi-Fi solutions and to determine which is appropriate for your venue, please contact us at Sales@listentech.com or by phone at +1.801.233.8992 or 1.800.330.0891 (toll-free in USA & Canada).

Listen Goes On Tour At The Ely Cathedral

The Ely Cathedral is steeped in history. Originally, the site of a monastery founded by a runaway princess turned nun, the cathedral grew from a rather humble site to an awe-inspiring site that covers over 46,000 square feet, including the famous Ely octagon measuring at 170 feet in height and 742 feet in width.

Although the cathedral has had its fair share of pilgrims, it’s highly unlikely that its original purpose was to host bus-loads of tour groups snapping photos of its famous stained glass and restored stonework. Nevertheless, around 250,000 contemporary pilgrimages are made to the Ely Cathedral every year, which makes for some very busy (and possibly hoarse) tour guides.

Cathedrals, while being wonderful places to worship have rather specific challenges when it comes to the subject of acoustics. While some of them offer wonderful places to sit and listen to choral arrangements or reflect on the soul, they aren’t really built to be tour group or tour guide friendly: a small footstep can carry from one end of a nave to the other, mere whispers can echo, and the smallest giggle can be carried from the floor all the way up to heaven. So, how is a tour guide supposed to relay information, without shouting or whispering? And how is a tour group supposed to hear their guide without being shouted at or straining to hear?

Instead of spending pounds of sterling on honey and tea to sooth the sore throats of their busy guides, the Ely Cathedral thought of a better idea to solve their tour acoustics situation, they invested in Tour Group equipment from Listen Technologies. Listen’s Portable RF products allow a tour group user to simply plug into a small receiver that they carry with them throughout a tour, in this case the tour of the magnificent Ely Cathedral. A tour group member can adjust his or her own volume and will receive clear and consistent sound from the guide for the duration, so they don’t have to miss a single word of what’s said, even while other tours are happening simultaneously. The products are also a miracle for the tour guides as they allow them the opportunity to use a normal speaking voice, which is broadcast from a transmitter to each and every tour guest, so there’s no need for tea, unless it’s actually tea time.


Although it’s a place with a past, the Ely Cathedral is definitely looking at the present. Including a little technology from Listen to improve guided tours has made the cathedral a better place to visit, whether a guest is there on a personal pilgrimage or merely there to enjoy the beautiful stained glass.

Capturing and Maintaining a Tour Group’s Attention With the Help of Listen’s Portable RF System

This blog post has been repurposed from an anonymous customer write-up from a university in the Pacific Northwest on their experience with Listen Technologies Tour Group products.

 

We recently became aware of some great things a large state university in the Pacific Northwest is doing with our Portable RF System. More specifically, it’s the university’s off-campus community extension locations using our system. And while we can’t share the name the university at this time, we’re so thrilled with the results they’re achieving we can’t help but share.

 

The university’s extension facilities are located throughout the state and have a mission to “engage people, organizations and communities to advance knowledge, economic well-being and quality of life by fostering inquiry, learning and the application of research.”

As a part of this mission, several locations regularly conduct educational field tours at locations such as apple orchards and agriculture packing houses and processing facilities. Depending on the tour, they are attended by growers, crop consultants, managers of other agricultural facilities and even scientists.

 

The problem with doing tours in such locations, however, is the noise. For example, imagine a tour of a busy apple packing house where conveyor belts and machinery are constantly running. To add to the problem, tours of such potentially dangerous facilities often require attendees to gather in single file lines behind barricades for safety reasons.

 

These are just some of the challenges the university was facing. In an attempt to overcome them, university officials first tried a microphone system connected to a loud speaker. However, they soon found that such a system had two primary faults:

 

First, the sound projected from the speaker was unidirectional, meaning attendees had to stand in just the right place to hear. This was a significant a problem when dealing with a large group or a group that had to be spaced out single file.

 

Second, they discovered that despite the increased volume of the tour guide’s voice, environmental distractions were still an issue. This was particularly true in outdoor locations, such as apple orchards, where it was easier for a group to disperse and hold side conversations.

 

As a result, they went in search of a better solution that would allow guides to truly capture the attention of tour attendees. They found Listen’s Portable RF System.

 

Listen’s Portable RF System is ideal for tour groups. It has the capability to scale from one user to hundreds and can operate across multiple groups; ensuring interference from neighboring systems is kept to a minimum. 

 

The technology is also very easy to use. Tour guides simply clip on a small microphone and transmitter and then set the device to the desired channel. It’s even simpler for audience members, who have to simply slip on a headset that can be pre-set to the correct channel and waiting for them.

 

The technology is very easy to use. In most cases, especially when it comes to portable radio frequency-based systems, it’s as simple as clipping on a small microphone and transmitter and then setting the device to the desired channel. It’s even simpler for audience members, who simply have to slip on a headset that can be on waiting for them and pre-set to the correct channel.

 

With our system in place, the university is now able to ensure that all participants can not only hear every word the guides speak, but that guides no longer have to compete with environmental distractions for the attention of the attendees.

 

More information about Listen Technologies’ Portable RF Systems can be found here: https://www.listentech.com/products/portable-rf.html

Touring Seattle, One Bite At A Time

When in New Orleans, try the gumbo. Visiting Philly? Cheesesteak, of course.  Seattle? Try the Fish! What better way to explore a city than by sampling its culinary masterpieces?

Seattle Bites Food Tour does just that. For three hours, tourists, both vacationers and locals, experience the rich history and culture of Seattle’s famous Pike Place Market while sampling the crème de la crème.

Jan Marie Johnson and her husband, Mark Brietfuss wanted to create a tour that caters to the participant and creates an unforgettable experience. Since 2008, the couple has worked together to build what is “There’s more to the market than just food, fish and flowers,” Jan Marie Johnson said. “It’s not only the culinary heartbeat, but it’s really the soul of what makes Seattle a great city.”

I had the privilege of experiencing the tour first hand with my family this summer as we spent time in Seattle on our way to a family reunion. Meeting just inside the Seattle Art Museum we were greeted by the energetic Anna Oeste, our host for the day. We each received a bag with the materials we would need. Among the napkins, map, and plastic ware was a Listen Technologies receiver and ear speaker.
Anna easily walked us through how to use the equipment while weaving in snippets of what we would be experiencing. As we began walking towards the Pike Place, it quickly became apparent that not only were the receivers a nice touch, but they were a necessity. You see, the market was bustling with activity, but since Anna was using the transmitter, we didn’t miss a single word. And even when we lost sight of Anna in the busy crowd we could follow the directions she relayed.

Braden, my eight year old son, became fast friends with Anna and was by her side for most of the tour! Anna’s easy demeanor and enthusiasm made for a delightful experience. We quickly soaked up the history of the market and sampled Seattle’s finest. Here’s just a taste (pun intended) of what we tried …

  • Lummi Island smoked salmon flatbread with crème fraîche and fine herbs – a culinary masterpiece!
  • Fresh gourmet sausages hand-crafted by a German master butcher.  Sehr Gut!
  • Paris-inspired fruit and Nutella crepes by an Indonesian beauty.
  • “America’s Best Clam Chowder” – just ask New England’s Chowder Hall of Fame!
  • Authentic Mexican tacos or tamales made fresh from a US culinary graduate born and inspired in Mexico City!
  • Decadent Alaskan king salmon, fresh and house-smoked for 12 hours by “The Cod Father”.
  • Mom-inspired chicken Tikka Masala from a classically French-trained South Indian chef.
  • Fresh and exotic produce of the season from our boys on “The Corner”.
  • Seattle’s coffee at its best – expertly sourced, blended and roasted.  Simply Seattle, simply delicious!
  • Special home-made desserts using some of the world’s most unique cooking oils!
Surprisingly enough, one of my personal favorites was from Saffron Spice, a unique Indian food stand. My husband was delighted to see how much I enjoyed the Chicken Tikka Masala. You see, normally I stay away from most could-possibly-be-spicy foods while he loves trying new tastes.
Bree, discovered that she loves clam chowder (she’s a picky eater like her mother!)
Braden loved the last stop, the Olive Oil Balsamic Vinegar Tasting Room, where he learned how to mix specialty oils and vinegar creating tasty combinations.
As their website states this “tour of The Market is more than simply a sampling of big and delicious bites. Seattle Bites Food Tour will share with you the complex and fascinating tales of how and why The Market got started, the heroes that created and saved it and the beloved merchants who have made The Market their home.” Thanks Mark and Anna for a great day and a up-close look at our technology at work!

Hear Ye! Hear Ye! Listen Attends an Official AV Week Proclamation Signing

As a proud participant of InfoComm International’s annual AV Week, Listen Technologies was happy to attend a ceremony along with some of our fellow colleagues in the AV industry from GENCOMM.  We also had a representative from the office of Salt Lake County Mayor Ben McAdams joins us to officially proclaim that October 13 – 19, 2013 will be AV Week in the state of Utah.

Each year, AV Week celebrates the AV industry during a week in October in order to bring more awareness to the industry. Not only does the AV industry provide end users better experiences in their homes, but it also touches them in their workplaces, at schools, and all kinds of entertainment venues.
It even influences people when they put gas in their cars at the gas pump, as Kristin Rector, Director of Marketing Services at Listen Technologies, pointed out during the proclamation ceremony. She was thinking of GENCOMM’s innovative work done last year for the Draper, Utah ProStop Convenience Store. Read about their ProStop work in the Salt Lake Tribune >>>

The AV industry certainly surrounds people and enhances their lives constantly.
We at Listen are looking forward to this upcoming week in October very much. We’d also like to thank the representatives from Mayor McAdams’s office and all of those who were involved for signing this Proclamation to make it official.
Local InfoComm members have some very exciting things planned and can’t wait to share them with you during AV Week.
To date Avidex is planning a Technology Tour of Adobe on October 17, 2013 from 3:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. GENCOMM is planning their annual Tech Show for October 16, 2013 from 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at the Hilton Garden Inn Downtown. The show will include instructional sessions, vendor booths, and networking with AV professionals.

Stay tuned; Listen will be announcing a formal schedule of all of our 2013 AV Week events soon.

Induction Loops In Museums

Utilising induction loops for applications such as museum exhibits where attendees tend to be moving through a space in a short period of time and therefore cannot easily access loan equipment, is a common practice.  Since the majority of new hearing aids have T-coils installed, users equipped with these do not need to request extra equipment to receive the signal.  The only requirement being  to simply move a switch from ‘M’ to ‘T’ (mic’ to T-Coil) on the hearing  aid.

In a museum, where the user will be moving across a number of exhibits, assistive listening solutions using RF/FM which by its nature is a “broadcast medium” require users ask for equipment and be directed to change frequencies to pick up a specific audio feeds or areas.
Hearing loops can be designed to confine their coverage to tightly defined local areas for the benefit of both the hearing impaired and non-hearing impaired, by delivering audio for an exhibit to the viewer/attendee by having them simply move into that loop area.
The normally abled user would be provided with a loop-listener which works on the same principal as the T-Coil in the hearing aid.  For this type of application a low overspill area coverage system would be designed. This noticeably improves the user experience and eliminates the possibility of user error.
Another significant benefit with these types of induction loop systems is the ability for addition of further looped areas at a later date.  Low overspill induction loop systems provide an opportunity for further expansion without tearing out existing systems with the related cost and disruption. For example; when an exhibit is added locally within the museum, the field from the existing loop(s) is already localised to the specific area of the current exhibit(s) and therefore no issue with cross talk or addition of more RF channels has to be addressed.
In order for a system like this to work satisfactorily the electromagnetic noise floor must be clear of background noise produced by units such as transformers. Occasionally people complain that induction loops are noisy when you step outside the looped area. This is not noise produced by the loop but rather, electromagnetic background noise produced by noisy transformers or bad wiring practice within the building, such as live and neutral power being separated by a long distance and forming a loop, causing the signal to noise ratio to be much higher than is acceptable. In most situations where a buildings electrical wiring is modern and the loop is positioned away from any noisy transformers this noise outside a low overspill loop is too low to notice.
The following is an example of a museum system  that utilises a combination of localised systems and low overspill induction loops to provide a free moving ‘guided tour’ to its patrons allowing them to move seamlessly between exhibits without having to conform to a pre meditated tour or change between channels when moving between exhibits. As you can see a large number of areas are covered simultaneously.

AV Week – Tour Of The LDS Conference Center Part 3

This blog is the third in a three part series. To read part two click here  >>> To read part one click here >>>

The LDS Church has a history of embracing technology to communicate its message to the community with its first radio broadcast in 1922 and first video satellite broadcast in 1972. Presently, in addition to its semi-annual General Conference and many independent productions, the church produces and broadcasts “Music and The Spoken Word” live to BYU TV and KSL TV every Sunday morning and later distributed to more than 2200 TV and radio stations. If you’ve ever seen a broadcast, you know that in addition to the beautiful words and music, it is visually inspiring.
During our tour of the LDS Conference Center which was part of our AV Week (a week set aside for the audiovisual community to celebrate, promote and share the impacts of the AV industry across the world) activities, we were able to get a firsthand look at the video production process.
 
Guy and Jeff testing out the robotic cameras
While I’ve talked a lot about the audio installations (after all we are all about audio here at Listen), but the video installation is second to none in producing feature films and educational videos. Using Sony digital HD technology, there are more than 120 fiber drops throughout the campus. Several control rooms handle all the steps of production. The video capture control room could easily be confused with a teenagers gaming room. We had a chance to play around with the mounted cameras using the joystick fashioned control. I was amazed to see how a camera that was mounted on the top balcony of the 1+ million square foot building could zoom in on the wall at the front of the room, showing the texture details in the paint.
In the video control room everything comes together. During a production, the director calls the shots on everything. All of the camera, lighting and audio are choreographed ahead of time, but there are constantly changes and mishaps that need to be taken into account.
Let’s talk lighting for a minute. With 70 dimmer racks and approximately 100 dimmers in each one, there are over 6000 controllable outlets and dimmers. There are stage lights, lights that project images on the walls and lights that change the look of the famous organ pipes. When you are in the audience of a major production, it’s as if you are center stage. From the lighting control room the computer has a map of the stage allowing you to easily use pre-programmed settings or to try your own. Once again, we were allowed to have a little fun as we experimented with the controls (you should have seen the 70’s Technicolor transformation the organ pipes made)!
Amanda testing out the lighting controls
Now for a little more audio talk! From the audio mix room they run 2 HD systems simultaneously. Everything is multi-tracked through Pro Tools so that if they get to the end of a show and need to redo a piece, they can pull that mix and it is recorded and mixed again within 5 minutes. While it is currently a digital set up, they are actually in the process of going back to analog with and API Legacy Vision consul. Digital audio just doesn’t have the same quality as analog and doesn’t offer the flexibility that is necessary. We listened to a recording of the Tabernacle Choir accompanied by the Orchestra at Temple Square and I really noticed all of the layers of sound that contributed to the piece.
Thanks again to Jason McFarland and his team for providing this tour. Being new to the audiovisual industry, I am so glad that I could experience such an impressive display of AV at its best.

Multiple Identities at Hale Center Theater

 

This blog post has been re-purposed from a “Listen User Profile” of actual Listen customers detailing their experience with Listen Solutions.
The Hale Center Theater just outside of Salt Lake City had been filling its seats each night with the uproarious British farce, “One For the Pot.”
In this fast-moving tale of mistaken identity, one actor plays young Hickory Wood and his three identical quadruplets, each of whom is unaware of any others’ existence, but all of whom want to claim the inheritance of a rich business associate of their late father.

The delightful deceits of “Pot” require the actor who plays the young would-be heir and his siblings to make 50 entrances, speaking in four accents and portraying four different personas.
All went hilariously well at the Hale Center Theater until the main actor injured himself during one of the performances. The understudy, who had not had the chance to run through the whole show or even all of the scenes, was suddenly called into action.

“We felt this actor would end up playing the show with a script in hand so that we would be able to keep him straight,” said Michael Fox, the assistant box office manager at Hale Center. “We didn’t want to do it that way, of course.”

Fox said that’s when they remembered the Listen Technologies Corp. (ListenÆ) system for assistive listening that Hale Center uses to help patrons who are hard-of-hearing. The system transmitter plugs into the amplification system, with the sound wirelessly sent over FM radio waves to each patron wearing a discreet Listen battery-powered receiver and headset. They hear the sound clearly and without interference.

“We dreamed of a system that would allow our understudy to wear a listening device into which we could feed him his lines,” Fox said. “It would be akin to what a television news anchor wears on TV.” Fox called Listen, an international company that is headquartered near the Hale Center Theater in Sandy, Utah and a wireless audio system was delivered that afternoon.
Backstage that evening, the director was able to speak quietly into the Listen microphone, sending the signal to the actor wearing a tiny earpiece and wireless, concealable battery pack and receiver.
So while the four identical quadruplets and other parties to their folly became more confused as the play progressed, the actor himself was able to remain clear-headed and on cue, knowing his lines and proper identity were just a whisper away.

“Listen met all of our needs,” said Fox. And the show went on.

A New Day at Caesar’s Palace

Caesar’s Palace is home to one of the newest and most elaborately constructed theaters that is devoted to a single show. The Colosseum is a 4,100 seat theater and home to the new show featuring one of the world’s top selling female recording artists, Celine Dion. 

Construction of the $95 million theater began in Spring of 2001 and was completed when the show opened in March of 2003. “A New Day” was created by Franco Dragone, known for his work with Cirque du Solei. The 58 member cast performs on a 22,450 square foot stage with a state of the art sound and video system. Outside Caesar’s Palace is a giant 120 foot Mitsubishi LED wall marquee. In the theater, the show takes advantage of a video wall made up of 12 50-inch video cubes behind the stage, a state of the art 5.1 Meyer Sound System, and a Listen Technologies Corporation assistive listening system.
Listen products are ideal for the Grammy Award winner’s live performance. With a Listen LT-800 Stationary Transmitter installed with the main sound system, guests use individual LR-400 Display Receivers to hear the audio anywhere in the theater. Guests simply check out a receiver from guest services free of charge and find their seats. The units are electronically locked on channel, so the guest simply puts on the earphones and adjusts the volume to a comfortable level.
 
Listen products are widely used for live performances, theater productions, and other presentations due to its exceptional audio quality, ease of use, and simple maintenance. For more information on Listen products and their applications, check the web site at https://www.listentech.com

This blog post has been re-purposed from a “Listen User Profile” of actual Listen customers detailing their experience with Listen Solutions.

Smooth’s New Listen System

Some say success in the restaurant business is hard to come by. But like any other business, branding can be the play that cinches the game. Just ask the folks at Smooth’s Sports Grille in Long Beach, California, who got a winning assist from Listen Technologies. 

With a taste for fine cuisine and a love of the game – baseball, hoops, football, rugby and more – the restaurant’s owner stepped solidly into the 21st century, installing 27 plasma televisions – 26 50-inch, and one 65-inch – along with six 8-foot projectors. They also have two cases of Listen personal wireless audio receivers that enable patrons to tune in to their favorite color commentary and instant replays while enjoying the catch of the day.
 
According to Banquet Manager, Robyn Joyce, there are always multiple games and multiple stations tuned in. With the Listen solution, what could have been a cacophony of sounds is simply the muted hustle bustle of any busy restaurant.
 
The system, designed by Listen dealer A-Vidd Electronics, has proved a great move for the establishment. The earpieces are widely used (by request) and have become a great selling point. They are wildly popular though Smooth’s does not advertise them at all. “It’s all word of mouth,” says Joyce.
 
Offering something for each segment of their market, Smooth’s is a little bit fine dining, a little bit sports bar and grille, with an undefeated record for foodies and sports fans alike, thanks to adding Listen Technologies to the team.
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