Conversion from analogue to digital phone systems brings many benefits, from enabling voice communication on a common network to programming data applications. The transition also has its share of challenges, such as making use of analogue devices within digital voice environments. This includes enabling IP-based voice paging over existing analogue speakers.
IP audio and control specialist Barix now collaborates with Enghouse Interactive, an enterprise-level communications software and services company, to eliminate this challenge in schools, hospitals, warehouses and other facilities transitioning to digital phone systems.
The solution extends the power of Enghouse Interactive Applications for Avaya CS 1000 (formerly Datapulse Progression), which enables IP voice paging in leading digital phone systems, to analogue speakers using low-cost Barix IP audio hardware to receive and decode live voice. This adds functionality without forcing end users to discard speaker systems — thereby reducing costs and simplifying installations. The solution is also viable for decoding pre-recorded emergency notifications and data-centric audio applications, like bell schedules in K-12 schools.
“We’re essentially turning an analogue speaker into an IP speaker with Barix,” said Dane Smith, technical services engineer, Enghouse Interactive. “It’s ideal in situations where it’s difficult or unsuitable to add phones, such as in school and hospital hallways. Instead, our customers can use existing systems by removing ceiling tiles and placing a Barix decoder between the Ethernet cable and the speaker.”
Enghouse Interactive Applications for Avaya CS 1000 were developed to enable organizations to make use of their investment in IP by delivering practical, converged business applications to Avaya IP telephones. Applications include voice paging, pre-recorded announcements, broadcast alerts and RSS feeds on IP phones for the Avaya CS1000 PBX system. The software is added to existing IP phone systems instead of requiring end users to purchase a separate paging system. Enghouse Interactive Applications for Avaya CS 1000 customers can subsequently pick up any receiver and page to single points or multiple zones; or initiate pre-recorded announcements from the IP phone or the Applications for Avaya CS 1000 web-based administration page. This enables remote activation of audio warnings in emergency situations.
Enghouse Interactive brings Barix into projects that extend IP voice paging and pre-recorded announcement capability to analogue speakers. Barix Exstreamer IP decoders are shipped direct to the end user; Enghouse Interactive simply registers each device’s corresponding IP address to the network. All Barix devices are configured to receive multiple multicast streams, ensuring reliable delivery and minimal network traffic congestion.
Smith notes that the Barix interface is simple to learn and easy to use. “We investigated several IP speaker solutions, and chose the Barix Exstreamer for its simplicity and reliability,” he said. “One of the first questions asked when talking to new customers is whether they intend to send voice or pre-recorded audio announcements to IP speakers. The Exstreamers are easy to set up and once installed, listen for multicast streams on a specific port and reliably play out any messages that are sent out across those multicast addresses.”
Smith adds that more than one multicast address can be assigned to the same speaker for maximum impact. “The customer can have IT support, sales and finance as different zones, yet pages to any of the three will still go to the same speaker using Barix, which makes it so easy to deploy,” he said.