A Multi-Room Zoom System Doesn’t Have to be a Pain in the Tooth

by Nate Purscelley

When Oregon Academy of General Dentistry (OAGD) contacted us, we knew this was going to be an exciting project. Their vision was to build a world-class training facility for continuing education, with the latest in communication technology for maximizing immersion and retention of the curriculum. In addition, they needed the space to be attractive to outside groups hosting special events.

“We wanted it to be really high quality, and we wanted it to be easy to use,” summarizes, OAGD Executive Director Laura Seurynck.

Needless to say, we couldn’t wait to get operating.

The Need

Before building their new facility Seurynck describes a frustrating experience with audio visual technology.

“We did what I would call ‘pop up dentistry’. We would go to various schools, hotels and other venues and use their equipment. The technology and requirements of our dentist was way beyond the systems we were able to secure in most venues we went to. We would have to go to a specialized company and have equipment brought in. You pay a premium…a huge hassle. The transportation, not understanding the equipment.”

The Decisions

OAGD Divide Combine Room
Wall-mounted Clear One PTZ cameras for Zoom training sessions

A challenge with large audio visual systems is integrating advanced communication technology without an advanced user training requirement. In other words, limit the learning curve, not the capabilities. This requires a lot of feedback from our clients, and plenty of decision making. For example, OAGD’s choice to use Zoom helped to guide our design. They didn’t have a dedicated camera crew to manage production of training events. As a solution, the four ClearOne PTZ cameras in their facility were each linked directly to a dedicated host PC via USB. Camera angles could be pre-programmed with presets at a wall controller. No camera operators or control room engineers would be required. This design simplified the process, giving trainers the ability to start and operate an entire meeting without assistance.

Upon Further Examination

An interactive exam room with 4 60″ Sharp commercial displays and 2-way Q&A audio system

An important feature of the OAGD facility is the interactive exam room. Inside, the room features a dentistry chair and is surrounded on three sides by windowed walls. This allows trainees to watch procedures from outside the clean room. For communication between trainees and the dentist, Projectus installed an Audix ceiling-mounted microphone and JBL surface-mount speaker inside the room. Additionally, the ‘gallery’ outside the room features wireless handheld microphones and recessed ceiling speakers.

Four 60″ Sharp flat-panel displays are mounted above the windows with a direct camera feed from the dentist’s head-worn camera. As a result, trainees can simply look across the room for a closeup view of the procedure.

At a recent event, a combination of in-person and remote students were able to watch multiple trainers perform surgeries. To avoid drilling and suction noise interference, an assistant provided narration of the procedures with a wireless handheld microphone in the room. A head-worn camera displayed high-detail imagery to the class.

Seurynck recalls, “we had 5 or 6 dentists who came in and did surgeries in that room….and we streamed it both to the classroom, but the majority of the participants for the class that day were offsite. The course got really great reviews for the technology.”

Divide and Conquer

Our touch panel wall controller showing Rooms A and B in combined mode, Room C shut off

OAGD’s main meeting area features divide and combine functionality. That is, it can be divided physically with moveable partitions, creating smaller spaces. Therefore, the A/V system needs the ability to follow each space arrangement. We couldn’t have sound from room A going into room B or vice versa.

To accomplish this, we used an Extron Crosspoint matrix switcher with two Extron DMP 128 Plus audio processors. These devices can route any source (laptop, microphone etc.) to any display (projector, speaker, etc.). This advanced capability can be daunting for users. A touch panel controller in each room was needed to simplify operation.

Enter Projectus ace programmer Josh Haley.

“Our graphical user interface (GUI) needed to be simple and clean enough for a non-technical user to be able to look at the screen and operate basic system functions,” recalled Haley. “Simultaneously, a more advanced user needed to have access to higher-level routing and adjustment. Fitting these dual needs within the confines of a 10″ touch screen is the challenge.”

A Simple Matter

A theme of this project, and mentioned ad nauseum in this article, is the ease of use of the system. Why mention it so often? Because it is often the number one complaint heard in the A/V world. ‘I don’t even know how to turn this on’ or ‘this stupid system never works right’ are utterances we hear from frustrated potential clients lamenting their old, clunky A/V systems. Our mission is to fix that.

OAGD event coordinator, Grace Johnson describes training new users on their advanced system. “If we’re not able to sit in the room ourselves we’ll give someone that 3 to 5 minutes ‘here’s how this works…here’s what buttons to press’  sort of rundown. Yes it’s a very easy-to-use system. If they click something, or if something goes down it’s an easy recall to get it back up.’

An Unexpected Benefit

OAGD had always intended to bridge the gap between the in-person and remote learning experience with A/V technology. As their facility was reaching completion in early 2020, this seemed like a nice feature to have.

Then Covid 19 hit the world. Companies under-equipped struggled to adapt to new remote hurdles. Luckily, for OAGD, their investment became invaluable.

Johnson said “students could be in the classroom with speakers, microphone and projectors. But also, with the cameras and ability to do multiple screens while in the same room, we’re able to give people the same experience while in the classroom, as well as those participants that are far away in states all the way across the country.”

“Through Covid, if we didn’t have this system, we would have had to pretty much shut down,” said Seurynck. “With the technology we have, we’ve been able to continue with really advanced participation-based training to dentists.”

Moving Forward

According to Seurynck, OAGD is back to feeling like pre-covid ‘normal’ is in sight. With a solid A/V backbone, their technology will be able to expand and adapt to new needs as they arise. With their collaboration and input, we were able to implement a training tool that could be a model for continuing education programs in fields beyond dentistry.

Article written by Nate Purscelley, Projectus.
Special thanks to Laura Seurynck and Grace Johnson of Oregon Academy of General Dentistry

If you’re interested in renting the OAGD space for your next event, contact OAGD at events@oragd.org

OAGD Project Summary

Completion: 2020
Location: Tigard, Oregon
Value: $180,000
Client: Oregon Academy of General Dentistry
Category: Education, Medical

Multi-room divide-combine training facility featuring live streaming capabilities via Zoom. An exam room with real-time Q&A between instructor and class.

Space Details

• Large space, divisible into three smaller training rooms, or combined for large group sessions
• A small exam room for training

What They Needed

• A large projection image in well-lit room large, short throw distance
• 2 medium projection images in well-lit divided rooms
• A large flat panel for meetings
• HD pan-tilt-zoom Zoom cameras capable of capturing presenters and audience from back of the room
• Wireless microphones for both sound reinforcement and transmitting to Zoom attendees
• Wireless and wired connections for guest presenters
• Exam room with two-way audio visual communication between instructor and students and streaming capabilities
• Simple, but advanced control of system from wall-mount touchscreens and iPads

What We Delivered

• Epson 12000 lumen laser projector with ambient light rejecting screen for large room configuration
• Two Epson 6000 lumen laser projectors for divided rooms
• Sharp commercial 98″ flat display for smallest divided room
ClearOne Unite 200 pan/tilt/zoom (PTZ) cameras with long zoom lenses and HD resolution
Extron DTP Crosspoint HD matrix switcher with advanced routing of video for each room mode
Extron DMP128Plus audio processors for routing microphones to room speakers and Zoom streams
Audix wireless microphones for crisp, pristine sound
Extron touch controllers in each room