Medialon Inc are providing the audio-visual control solutions for a major redesign of Verizon retail stores across the US.
The new-look stores will feature interactive media walls where customers can access information about products, features, and service plans. Verizon and their experience design firm, Chute Gerdeman, worked closely wih McCann Systems to create an engaging, media environment for the stores. All of the AV equipment is controlled, monitored, and scheduled by Medialon Manager V6 show control software running on a PC provided by Verizon’s IT department.
One example is a “Wall of Sound” that visually mimics a graphic equalizer and showcases a range of Bluetooth speakers. Audio is played via Bluetooth from a phone at the display and sales associates can control which speakers to play using a custom iPad app. Store managers can use the app to control audio routing, volume or lighting levels in each zone in the entire store.
Josh Navarro of McCann Systems developed an API for communication between the Verizon app and the Medialon Manager system. He reports that one of the benefits of using a Medialon system is its flexibility. “We knew they wanted to do a lot of unique things, ” comments Navaro, “Medialon Manager natively controls BSS Soundweb London systems and is flexible with regard to being able to handle as many iPad apps connecting to it as we want. That can be difficult with other control systems.”
Verizon has set up a test site in Hilliard, Ohio to trial new technology and media content before it goes live. “The Ohio test site is the proving ground, so to speak, for Verizon. Any of the technology and all content must run in the Ohio lab prior to implementation in a store, ” explains Stephen Keppler, Vice President and Senior Sales Executive with McCann Systems. “The Medialon systems in each store communicate with the Medialon system at the test site in Ohio, where equipment status can be monitored and technicians can remotely troubleshoot issues.”
“Every store’s IP address range is exactly the same, and we use NAT (Network Address Translation) if we need to manage devices remotely, ” adds Navarro. This has enabled McCann to create all the drawings, paperwork, and programming for one store and then roll it out in multiple locations with minimal adjustments. The advantage of this is that it keeps the systems consistent and easy to troubleshoot remotely.
Keppler comments that the security challenges were huge. “They put an LTE network in these stores, and a lot of our equipment and theirs was interfering with the LTE network. We had to do a lot of troubleshooting and shielding of certain products to reduce interference.”
Smaller “Smart Store Plus” locations that showcase some of the new features of the flagship stores will be launching around the United States, starting in Seattle.