Case Study | Pratt Institute | Tech Electronics
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Pratt Institute

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CHALLENGE
It is ubiquitous: the dreaded “user error.” Most technicians would scoff, dusting off their hands after a fresh smartroom install: even the best installation with the best equipment will get an unstoppable flow of calls over minor issues. We always expect a certain “background noise” made up of user error calls, but increasingly in the last few years we’ve been fighting a rising tide: user problems that are increasingly vague, easily solvable, and often due to lax training. We couldn’t find a way of stemming this oncoming tide, nor could we find its source. We weren’t adding new rooms, we didn’t have an increase in new users… but still, calls kept increasing. Why? Then we realized: we are filled to the brim with visual learners who are at the top of their fields in design, architecture and fine art and sensitive to shifts in design paradigms. Unboxing a new gadget or computer doesn’t involve opening a manual, apps don’t interrupt phone calls, and crisp minimalism rules the day.

SOLUTION
Our response was to install new DVX systems in all our rooms, which brought with them an array of new coding possibilities. DXLink also let us re-purpose existing cabling and go full HD without any costly infrastructural alterations, letting us show every detail of a Picasso or a Rembrant down to the brushstrokes. We simultaneously began developing new Netlinx master code and TP4 layouts in-house, which our graphic designer learned in only a few weeks. This kept the dev team small, freeing the other two team members to deal with the rising tide of service calls until the solution was ready to roll out. We decided to go wireless with our touch-panels: iPad Airs communicating to the DVX over campus WiFi. The result was a light, minimalist installation that was a perfect accompaniment to our GUI. The DVX is “all-in-one”, and the GUI took full advantage of that to keep constant tabs on what the user was doing and how the equipment was performing. Has the projector overheated? The touchpanel informs the user discreetly, alerts a field technician, and doesn’t embarrass the user by making them fumble around wondering what the problem is. This transparency builds trust, and began repairing the divide that had grown between Tech Support and Faculty. The functionality was reinforced by crisp, clear iconography conveying far more than words could, and made the design intuitive and familiar: training no longer is required, and most problems are solved automatically and without the necessity of a phone call. Why isn’t the projection showing up? A hint fades in: “Please remember to plug in your laptop.” This isn’t a feature. It’s expected.

IMPACT
"Our staff has time to pivot from from reactionary to preventative maintenance, and the goodwill from faculty across campus is creating an amazing new dialog on features to add, not problems to fix. Most importantly, managing these rooms is no longer a hassle… it is a pleasure."

– Daniel Hetteix, TEC Design & Operation