• Increasing Productivity with Crestron PinPoint

  • Stephen Hill, CTS-D, Technical Solutions Engineer

    In a previous blog, I talked about a new product from Crestron – Mercury (you can read the previous blog post here). Mercury is labeled as a ‘tabletop conferencing device’, but it’s actually much more. For this week’s Experts’ Corner, I’d like to dive into the details of a particular feature offered by Crestron Mercury that allows fast, easy planning for collaboration and resource management – PinPoint.

    PinPoint is a creative solution to resource management that most companies and schools (particularly institutions of higher learning) have viewed as a necessary evil, rather than a problem in need of a solution. In part, this problem stems from the want and need to collaborate, regardless of vertical market.

    Today, collaboration, or the desire to collaborate, among peers in a variety of markets – education, commercial, healthcare – is at an all-time high. Additionally, more facilities are moving away from the open space concept and investing in smaller huddle spaces, lounges, and flexible office layouts. Many are even opting for shared work space. And, while the data shows this shift within work spaces is a growing trend, many facilities are no longer as concerned with efficiency (doing the same with less) as they are with productivity (doing more with the same).1

    A “doing more with the same” concept creates a new problem within facilities – resource management. Resource management within facilities is an extremely broad topic that includes: Room scheduling, automation, and maintenance; AV technology scheduling, control, maintenance, and refresh; Helpdesk services; Overall system health. Overall, technology resource management is a major undertaking for even the most well-trained staff.

    Enter PinPoint.

    PinPoint is labeled as ‘the first personal productivity app for employees’. That particular label can be debated, but the technology and implementation make up for any short-comings the label may have. The core of PinPoint is the iOS app (yes, the app is iOS only – no word on an Android app just yet). The app works in conjunction with the PinPoint Beacon and Crestron Fusion. This trifecta of control components, when fully integrated, provides an improved user experience, complete technology management, complete resource allocation, reporting functions, and remote helpdesk – including remote system control.

    The technology is a merging of Bluetooth wireless, Wi-Fi, and Video/Audio transport. At the heart of PinPoint hardware is the beacon – a USB-powered device with an adjustable range of 1-10 meters. Each beacon is individually addressed/configured within the appropriate setup app. Once configured, the beacon communicates via Bluetooth with each device running the PinPoint app. By using the strength of the Bluetooth signal, relative to the beacon location, the app can determine the location of the user within a given area. This wayfinding technology, combined with the resource management in Crestron Fusion, allow the user to see what rooms/spaces are nearby, what technology is in them and when they are available. Additionally, a user can reserve the room via the app, request specific technology needed for the meeting and invite participants.

    Crestron PinPoint goes beyond mere wayfinding and room scheduling. For example: I reserve a room at 1:00pm to review engineering drawings. As part of my reservation, I have requested use of the LCD display in the room and the AirMedia wireless presentation gateway as my source. Additionally, I have invited three of my colleagues (who all accept my invitation).

    Upon entering the requested room at 12:57pm, the lights automatically come up, the LCD display comes on, and I am greeted with a message on the display that says, “Welcome, Stephen.” The welcome screen on the display also shows a countdown to the meeting start time and the title of the meeting. At the meeting start time, my requested source is displayed on the screen and I am able to share (wirelessly) the content of my laptop, phone or tablet (Windows, MacOS, iOS and Android are all supported for presentations). As the meeting gets started, only two of my colleagues arrive. Upon completion of the meeting, as I exit the room, the display shuts down and the lights turn off.

    All of this happened because my iOS device (running the PinPoint app) recognized I was in proximity of the appropriate beacon, and notified the Fusion server I was present. The Fusion server then turned on the requested devices and displayed a countdown to the meeting start time. Upon the arrival of my colleagues, Fusion takes note of who attended the meeting – again, based on the Bluetooth and wi-fi communication between the PinPoint app of my colleagues, the PinPoint Beacon, and the Fusion Server. Upon exiting, the system knows the room and its’ devices need to be shut down.

    The automation is fantastic. Productivity is increased simply because there’s no searching for available space or spending time trying to wrangle the necessary technology needed for a meeting. You can see immediately what technology is available within a given room and when that room is available. Resources (in the form of time, rooms and energy) are no longer wasted because of the advanced communication and automation. Fusion also provides in-depth reporting of all equipment and features for end-users to better understand how often each device is used, when it is used, how long is it used for, how many hours do the projector lams have on them, how many hours has a display been used, who uses the rooms and/or technology, what kind of device is most often used — quite literally, the list can continue to go on.

    This technology isn’t limited to conference rooms and corporations. It isn’t proprietary and won’t force you to change your current scheduling software (On the contrary, Fusion will integrate with Exchange, Office 365, CollegeNet R25, Google Calendar, and others). Crestron Mercury with PinPoint will help you to be more productive in your daily work ,and better equipped to make data-driven decisions regarding your AV technology and space usage.