Audio innovations that sound intriguing for schools

At InfoComm, Califone demonstrated a wireless PA upgrade kit intended to help schools and colleges still operating on the 700 MHz frequency band move to the 900 MHz band without a costly investment in new equipment. At $350, the product also can be used as an assistive listening system or to make a wired PA system wireless, said Tim Ridgway, vice president of marketing for Califone.

Extron Electronics unveiled new classroom speakers with grooved channels on the back, allowing them to slide easily on or off a fixed wall mount. This design allows schools to swap out individual speakers as necessary, avoiding the need for a costly upgrade, Extron said. The speakers also include an anti-theft mechanism to keep them from being stolen.

In addition, both Extron and Panasonic demonstrated products that build security into wireless microphones used for classroom instruction.

At last year’s InfoComm, Panasonic introduced the first wireless microphone that combines classroom audio and emergency alert in a single system. The Panasonic Security Alert system features a button on a microphone worn around the instructor’s neck that, when pressed, sends a silent alarm to school administrators. Once alerted, school leaders have access to a live video feed courtesy of a networked camera inside the classroom, as well as to the audio feed captured on the microphone—so they can immediately monitor the emergency that is unfolding.

During InfoComm 2011, Panasonic demonstrated the latest advancements to the system, which uses IP cameras made by the company. The cameras—which also can be used for lecture capture and review—can be controlled via a touch-screen interface that lets authorized users pan, tilt, and zoom from within any internet browser.