Steerable AV Conferencing Microphones catches up with Tom Colman of Shure Microphones UK who presented 'Steerable AV Conferencing Microphones' as part of the InfoComm Application Labs at ISE 2017.

Steerable conference mircophonesWhat are the challenges of meeting rooms and the acoustics?

The challenge really is just natural meeting room behaviour. In a typical AV environment the users in that room are not trained to use microphones properly, they just expect microphones to work. We know we have to have a microphone in front of us and keep a nice distance from it and talk into the microphone directly and not put binders or laptops on or in front of the microphones. 

How does steerable microphone technology work?

Motorised Retractable Ceiling Microphone available at CIEIt works by having a number of microphone capsules within a microphone and then by using clever DSP technology, we’re able to beam form and create lobes around the room. For example you might have a cardioid polar pattern pointing at 12 o’clock and then in 15 degree increments you can steer that around the room to pick up different people without changing any of the hardware aspects at all. The same is true for the ceiling array, there are a number of microphone capsules inside of that and they all pick up the same sound in the room but it’s down to the processing that happens in the microphone. That means we can start to form beams or pockets of sound to create pickup areas throughout the boardroom.

Steerable Microphone technology is about hardware and software - but what about the entire system?

There’s a web browser which is served up as in a GUI by the actual microphone itself. There’s only one connector on a microphone, which provides the power to control and also the user control interface for the microphone to. Embedded software on the microphone and processing in the microphone as well all that route audio can be routed via Dante to the next device in the audio chain.

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