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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).

The AV Golden Ticket: Listen Technologies Tours the Adobe Building

Imagine, if you will, being a working member of the AV industry and having the opportunity to tour one of the most advanced AV spaces in the world. You’d feel as excited as Charlie Bucket pulling a golden ticket out of a Wonka Bar.

As one of the final events of AV Week, Listen Technologies, along with many others in the AV Industry, had the opportunity to take our tour guide equipment on the road and use it to tour the incredibly impressive Adobe building in Lehi, Utah. The space is so impressive that it feels odd to call it a mere building; it works more like a big, creative campus where employees are encouraged to eat, drink, rock climb, play, think, collaborate, and yes…even get work done from time to time.
There are probably many people who would love to wander through the incredible spaces at Adobe, especially on a guided tour using Listen equipment—it’s a great experience! But for those of you who haven’t had the opportunity yet, please sit back and enjoy my description.

First Impressions

When first entering Adobe, you’re taken through what is known as the Customer Experience Center. This is an area that highlights all of Adobe’s clients with 40, 10.2” video monitors. Each monitor digitally displays a client’s logo along a long hallway; the videos are on a continual loop throughout the day along with interesting statistics provided by Adobe. Visitors can have an interactive experience using the three 2 x 2 video walls and touch screens to find information of their liking. This was a very interesting way to start the tour as it highlighted some of the things that Adobe provides clients that many people don’t often consider. In other words, Adobe isn’t just about software updates; they also provide their clients with serious marketing research and data.

Once you are through the hallway, you reach the Network Operation Center, or as they refer to it NOC! NOC houses 24 NEC LCD displays, which are wall mounted with RP Visuals swing wide mounts. The video routing and room control is accomplished using Crestron Digital Media and control products. The Crestron touch panels allow employees to monitor specific company systems and other important statistics that are essential for daily operations at Adobe. For example, an employee can monitor anything like how many hits the Adobe site is getting per day to specific #hashtags being used on various social media sites.

Collaborative Efforts

There are many other incredible spaces at Adobe, as well. Their training rooms and collaborative meeting rooms (all named after creative geniuses, artists, or sports legends) are all equipped with state-of-the-art technology. All of these rooms have a combination of a number of projectors, monitors, PC’s, Blu-Ray player, connections for VGA, HDMI, and mini HDMI, gooseneck and wireless microphones, and a touch panel to control the system. The rooms also have Polycom audio and video conferencing systems and Ploycom EagleEye Director cameras that allow others to learn from other Adobe locations all over the world.

The more collaborative spaces are less formal and lend themselves to more creative thinking. These rooms all house a Wink paint surface, which allows a user to write and draw their meeting ideas on the wall with markers. If the user wants to save his or her notes, there is E-Beam technology build into the projector, which will capture what has been written or drawn on the wall and save it to the PC in the room.

All Fun and Games

Adobe employees also have the benefit of an onsite fitness center, a café, and many different game rooms. Televisions showing satellite programming are installed throughout these spaces for employees to catch up on news. Digital Signage monitors are placed throughout delivering employee communications created by Adobe employees. From menu items and specials to upcoming fitness classes AV is a part of their communication. Although it was closed during the tour, the lower level boasts a serious gamer room (I’m not sure what serious gamer means, as I’ve never been serious about video games, but it sounds pretty intense). And the upper level has a room with ping pong and billiards tables, as well as some old school arcade games. There’s also a basketball court and outdoor spaces for employees to relax or play sports.

There are also some incredible art pieces located throughout the building, the most notable of which was the spray painted mural by El Mac, which is located near the most communal area of the building. Andrew Smith was commissioned to install another great piece in the stairwell. It’s a 50 foot, interactive, metal sculpture that climbs up the open space of the main between the main and top levels. Between floors employees and visitors can take various colored balls found in baskets and feed them into the sculpture. The balls them zoom down to the main level. I think I’d spend more time with the art than in the serious gamer room, but to each their own, right?

Even as a new member of the AV industry, I felt like I’d won a golden ticket while touring the Adobe building. While I didn’t understand all of the impressive technical terms, I knew that what I was experiencing made for a great environment in which to work. It is definitely a space where technology works seamlessly hand-in-hand with collaboration and creativity.

Listens Portable RF Device Helps Users Hear During Factory Tours

If you have ever been on a tour of a manufacturing facility, you’ve probably experienced difficulty hearing your tour guide. To make sure you heard what was happening on the tour, you might have had to stay too close to your guide or your guide might have had to scream at the top of his or her lungs to be heard. Neither of these things creates a great tour experience.

Focusing this much on a tour guide may have made you potentially miss out on some of the interesting things happening around you. So, what’s the point of going on a tour when you can’t hear and you miss out on all of the interesting things?
Listen Technologies’ portable RF equipment solves these issues. You don’t have to stand too close to your tour guide and your tour guide doesn’t have to risk losing his or her voice. The tour guide simply uses a microphone that is plugged into the speaker which wirelessly broadcasts his or her voice to people going on the tour. This allows visitors to both hear all the facts being said without interruption, as well as focus on what’s actually happening on the tour.
Even though the settings or surroundings might change, the consistent, high quality sound won’t. In other words, you’re not going to miss out on anything!

The video below follows Oldcastle Precast during a factory tour as they use Listen’s portable RF equipment. If you have questions about our portable RF product, let us know in the comments below.

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!

The tastiest tours in Portland, Maine are at the Allagash Brewing Company thanks to Listen

Located on the outskirts of Portland, Maine, the Allagash Brewing Company started as a one-man operation in 1995. Founder and beer enthusiast, Rob Tod, had noticed that while both British and German styles of beer were prevalently represented among the craft brewing movement, there was a style that was missing and he was thirsty for it. Through his travels and adventures, Tod had grown quite fond of Belgian-style beer and he felt that it was high-time that the American drinking public had a taste.

Fast forward a few years and the Allagash Brewing Company has six styles of Belgian beer offered year round, as well as numerous other, more exclusive offerings. Last fall, the brewery decided to expand their original space. This expansion, while fantastic for business growth, left Allagash faced with a particular problem in regards to one of the benefits they offer their onsite visitors: their guided tours were simply too noisy and people who went on them would often stand around and not experience it the way it was meant to be experienced. The reason for this was that tour-goers couldn’t hear what was being said. There is a great deal of ambient noise from the brewery itself, as well as a combination of sounds from the employees’ music and the bottles in the bottling room—you can imagine how noisy the sound of bottle after bottle being filled with delicious Belgian-style beer can get! “The brewery can be a very loud place,” says Jill Sacco of Allagash. “Guests often missed much of what was being said and it was exhausting for the guides, as well.”

This conundrum led Sacco to seek out David Keely of Headlight AV for a solution. “Originally, Allagash wanted to have a system that broadcast sound throughout the brewery on speakers, but with all of the ambient noise, I knew that wasn’t the ideal way to go,” said Keely when asked about the initial stages of solving the brewery tour problem. “I knew there was a much better solution, so I suggested they consider equipment from Listen.” That solution turned out to be our tour group equipment.

Listen’s Portable RF products allow Allagash Brewery’s visitors to understand every word their guides say. During the summer months, the brewery has as many as 1500 people per week that visit their facility. Their new Listen equipment has made obvious improvements for their guests, as well as their tour guides. “The fact that all of our guests can easily hear the guide at all times is wonderful, as well as much safer. The guides love it, because they can talk in a normal voice, so it is much more relaxing for them. And the guys who work in the brewhouse love it, because they don’t have to listen to us yell at a group of people multiple times per day,” Sacco says.  Since receiving their Listen equipment, the employees at Allagash have also built a special stand to hold their tour group system to make it easier for visitors to pick up and return their receivers.
Allagash has a clear commitment to their customers, from the incredible beers they craft, to the positive experiences they create while guests visit their brewery facilities. We are very happy they chose Listen to be a part of their ongoing efforts to create better experiences for their visitors. Cheers to you, Allagash!

Listen Technologies goes on tour with Oldcastle Precast

Cement supports civilization

People tend to have preconceived notions about cement. It’s heavy, and boring, and gray, and just sort of sits there, right? But as the hospitable employees of Oldcastle Precast in Ogden, Utah will tell you, cement literally supports civilization. Oldcastle Precast is the leading manufacturer of precast concrete, polymer concrete, and plastic products in the US. They provide solutions for all kinds of structures, including: entire buildings, walls, floors, stairs, elevators shafts, bridges, underground vaults, manholes, storm boxes, pipes, drainage products, and customizable pieces, as well. When they say cement supports civilization, they really mean it!

Going on tour with Listen Tour Guide Gear

Listen along with some of our colleagues with GenComm recently had to opportunity to take some of our tour group gear up to Oldcastle to participate in part of a tour of their facility for an event that was sponsored by the Utah Manufacturers Association. The participants of this event came from all sorts of industries and many of them were familiar with what it was like to go on a tour of a facility like Oldcastle Precast. In other words, they’d previously been on tours with a lot of background noise from machinery, trucks, and a noisy highway where it was essentially impossible to hear anything about the process of manufacturing a product.
Going on a tour in a facility like Oldcastle without being able to hear anything can definitely lead one to believe that cement is just cement. If you can’t hear what your tour guide is telling you, all you can see are a bunch of molds and large pieces of things that are meant to build some kind of structure somewhere. Not having the opportunity to hear what specific pieces are being built and why, would absolutely lead a person on the tour with a feeling of boredom and disjointedness. And this might be even worse if you were there in a professional capacity.
Imagine being a manufacturer touring another manufacturer’s facility. Wouldn’t you want to hear about how things are done? Wouldn’t you want to know about the processes put in place? You can’t glean these things with your eyes alone. While watching cement being poured from large machines into large molds is fascinating, it becomes infinitely more interesting when you know what the mold is for and what the process is. It is also more interesting when you know about the specific projects. Knowing these things could improve upon the processes you use at your own work facility and the only way you’d learn about these, is if you have the opportunity to hear what is happening during the tour.
It made a remarkable difference

Having the Listen equipment made a remarkable difference on the tour of the Oldcastle Precast facility. Even during the portions of the tour in which earplugs were required, the Listen equipment provided clear sound, so that everyone could hear and learn what was happening during the noisiest parts.

When the tour was finished, many members of the Utah Manufacturers Association approached us to tell us how valuable it was to have the Listen equipment on the tour. We heard comments as varied as “That was so cool,” to “Thank you, that made me pay attention to every single word,” from different participants. The employees at Precast were also very satisfied with the equipment, because they found that they didn’t have to shout for the entire tour.

Not only did we have a great time at Oldcastle Precast, but we enjoyed hearing how our Tour Guide gear made such a difference for everyone involved. At the end of the day, that’s what we love doing: delivering great, positive listening experiences whether it’s at a sports venue, the symphony, or a cement facility.

Begin a Tour with the End in Mind

Who says “show and tell” has to just be for kids? Being able to provide a live, behind the scenes look at what makes your company work can be an effective and exciting marketing tool when done correctly.

 
In my last post for manufacturers, I discussed tips for a successful facility tour here: Group Tours Speaking Up.
 
As you prepare to conduct a tour of your facility, consider why you’re doing it and who your audience will be. When you know this, you can create a successful tour that blows away the participants’ expectations.
 
The purposes for conducting a tour include: 
  • Show off the company and products: Giving people a behind the scenes look at your company, manufacturing facility and products can help build stronger brand affinity and appreciation among participants. When people have a better understanding of who you are on the inside, they will be brand champions.
  • Demonstrate processes and technologies:  People are naturally curious and want to know how things are made and what makes them tick. Demonstrating your processes and technologies is a strong way help tour participants connect with your company and products through a greater understanding of how they’re developed.
  • Community Relations:  Building strong relationships with the community is essential for any manufacturing facility. This includes people who live nearby, government officials and other community leaders and tourists who are looking for something interesting to do while in town.
  • Investor relations:  Keeping investors happy can be a full-time job. Taking investors on a VIP tour can increase understanding of who you are and what they’re investing in, which can effectively increase their passion and support of your company and products. 
  • Orient new employees: When you bring on new employees, giving them a tour of the facility will help them know and appreciate the work they’re doing, and give them greater insight into the overall vision of the company.
Manufacturing tours are an effective marketing tool because people can immediately see the value and utility of your products and processes. But that’s only when tours are done right. If you keep your audience in mind and plan accordingly, you’ll find tours to be one of your most successful and rewarding promotional activities.
 
To learn more about our products and how they can make your guided tour more positive and memorable, head here http://bit.ly/LTManufacturing or call 1.877.760.9271.

How To Use And Sanitize An Earspeaker

I recently attended a Women Tech Council event where attendees were able to tour the beautiful new Adobe building in Lehi, UT. We supported the event with a loaner equipment sponsorship of our portable RF equipment to ensure that not a single sound was missed.

Each tour member was given a receiver and an LA-164 ear speaker. The great thing about an ear speaker as opposed to traditional headphones is you can easily sanitize between uses. Additionally, it is only over one ear, allowing you to hear the audio while also being aware of your surroundings. The first time you put an ear speaker on it can be a little tricky, but once you see the proper position it’s easy!

This video shows just how easy it is to use and sanitize:

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