The Systems Integrator’s Guide to Replacing K-12 Gymnasium Technology

Gymnasiums act as auditoriums, host sporting events and are even used for instruction in many K-12 schools. Upgrading gyms with direct-fire LED screens can help schools save money and operate more efficiently.

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You are a system integrator. You perform work in schools. You want to lead your customers to the best solutions and you think you know where they are.

You also know that rapid advances in technology, emerging client needs and changing industry trends demand that you adapt to new realities, new systems and new opportunities.

If you do not do this – if you do not change and grow – it’s an almost certainty that others will step in ahead of you, leaving you with not only a missed opportunity, but a reduced position of strength and leadership in your marketplace.

Technology is a huge driver in the decisions schools make about the systems they purchase; specifiers, technologists and even whole departments spend a lot of time researching what is available to solve a need and to see what other leading schools are doing.

A strong AV integration partner should not only be aware of such technology drivers and the interest they create in the buyer’s mind, but must also take an authoritarian lead in recognizing and validating these new technologies or systems as they become apparent.

This could be referred to as thought leadership, or being an expert source of counsel, or even just being perceived as more ahead of the curve than other competitors in your marketplace.

Smart integrators probably already get this approach, managing new ideas against real needs, reliability, design appropriateness and just making sure a new cool idea works well.

The more difficult part is actually finding exciting new systems and solutions for your school clients that do a job better, faster, more technologically elegant, or less expensive than legacy systems and getting those offerings in your portfolio while permeating these new approaches into your stakeholder’s brains before everyone else does.

This is not proposing bringing “bleeding edge” risk into the equation, although anything new must be vetted against risk of not performing reliably to expectations.

This is more about paying attention to new solution offerings and learning about real beneficial advances; understanding the basic paradigm shifts involved, the risks and rewards of doing things in a new manner and then confirming performance and appropriateness as a proper solution for your school customers.

Here are two new technology approaches for replacing the current solutions in school gymnasiums that you, and your competitors, probably routinely utilize out of habit.

They both revolve around the emergence of direct-fire LED screens. These screens are essentially the same underpinning LED technology you see in sports venues and even car dealerships, but at resolutions that impress the eye and at costs that are rapidly becoming more affordable to school customers.

Replace Projectors and Screens with Appropriate Resolution LED Screens

Schools use their gymnasiums dynamically for more than just sports. These large venues are also teaching spaces and frequently employ very high-luminosity projectors to display content.

Such projectors, if appropriately sized for the room, are very expensive to purchase, require expensive periodic bulb replacement and still struggle to overcome natural light conditions.

This leads to having to turn out the lights – and perhaps employ expensive shades – just to make a somewhat viewable image. If you’ve installed projectors in a gym, you know about these painful issues, as well as others.

By contrast, consider replacing delicate projectors and screens with direct-fire large format LED screens, keeping in mind the benefits of LEDs such as very high direct light output (no need to dim the room) and an average functional life of up to 100,000 hours without the need to replace bulbs.

When exploring supplier options for this task, look for best value in price and performance, critical US safety certifications, modularity of screen building blocks and ease of installation.

Right-sized full-color modular display building blocks at a P5 or P3 resolution (5mm or 3mm spacing between pixels) work well for creating virtually any size displays for most gym functions and curriculum content.

Display sizes in the range of 170”-260” measured diagonally are excellent for most high school gyms and should be shaped in a roughly 16:9 aspect ratio for showing HD content.

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  • Erich Friend says:

    The author writes: “P5 or P3 resolution (5mm or 3mm spacing between pixels) work well . . .
    Display sizes in the range of 170”-260” measured diagonally …”

    These numbers don’t work: a 170”-260” (diagonal) 16:9 screen needs to be 2.00 – 2.85mm pitch to present a 1080 (1K, HD) image. Modern audiences are used to seeing a full HD image from their TV’s and Computers, so giving them a grainy low resolution version of ‘HD’ and calling it ‘HD’ is bait-and-switch marketing. Not an ethical thing to do with public tax dollars.

    Also, to say that “P3 or P5 . . . work well for creating virtually any size displays for most gym functions and curriculum content” is foolhardy. If they really are using this for movies or teaching, then a true HD image is much more important than if they are just showing game statistics and scores. In an assembly use function the audience may be much closer to the display than if they viewing it all the way across the room as a ‘score board’. Image size is determined by the farthest viewer, where image resolution is determined by the closest viewer (those closest to the screen shouldn’t have to suffer seeing the individual pixels that make-up an image.

    Please don’t misunderstand me, I’m a huge advocate of using direct view LED screens where the budget allows, however, providing a potential customer with an honest assessment of the Total Cost of Ownership is very important. Leaving out the ‘little things’ that make the project costs real is disingenuous at best. Will that LED screen hold-up to the constant ‘target practice’ of basket balls, volley balls, tennis balls, and hand balls? Better add a protective screen into that install cost (not to say a video projector wouldn’t need the same).

    Similarly, when comparing systems costs, the use of projectors, lenses, and screens that would provide a similar viewing experience for the audience is a worthy exercise — this alone is typically much different from what the school actually uses (successfully, or not). If they are accepting of a washed-out image provided by a 2000 lumen projector on a 12 foot (diagonal) matte white screen, then just the thought of the expense for a 12,000 lumen projector on a high contrast ratio ambient light rejecting 20 foot (diagonal) screen may be beyond their comprehension (and budget).

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