By Andy Kriege, YSN
Kanto is a BrandSource vendor that specializes in TV mounting solutions ranging from wall mounts to mobile carts for both commercial and residential use.
In late March the Kanto team was invited by one of its digital signage partners, 10Net Managed Solutions, to assist in a project to help families connect virtually with elderly parents and grandparents who are quarantined in nursing homes. Kanto’s role: to provide video carts upon which display screens could be mounted and rolled into care facilities for a pre-configured virtual visit on wheels.
Kanto was eager to share the story with AVB members because, as Senior Account Executive and BrandSource rep Geoff Ireland explained, “We all need to think about what we can do to help others at this time.” And Kanto, he said, could think of no better way to leverage the company’s assets than to help people connect with loved ones who are quarantined in nursing homes.
“The isolation that nursing home residents feel is tough enough in ordinary times,” Ireland said. “It borders on unbearable during the current crisis. We felt honored to be asked to do our small part to help alleviate just a little of this isolation in nursing homes in our communities.”
But videoconferencing in nursing homes presents many challenges. First and foremost, many seniors are unfamiliar with or uncomfortable using current technologies, especially handheld devices. Besides not knowing how to operate the equipment, the various platforms (Skype, Zoom, FaceTime) are also foreign to them. In addition, small screens and speakers are hard to see and hear, and keeping the camera trained on themselves can be a great challenge, whether through a phone, tablet or laptop.
The solution came when 10Net Founding Partner Trevor Nutall reached out to a group of vendors including Kanto, and applied his A/V background to design a self-contained mobile videoconference system that can be rolled into a resident’s room and automatically power up and load a conference platform of choice. The host — in this case the relatives at home — provides the 9-digit meeting number to the staff, which then launches the virtual visit, bringing separated families as close as possible while sheltering in place.
The carts are fitted with large-format display screens that are big enough for elderly people to clearly see; commercial grade “Huddle Bars” that include a high-quality camera; an ultra-clear noise- and echo-cancelling mic array; a speaker system that can go loud enough for the hearing impaired; and a personal computer that can be accessed remotely if support is required. Remote capabilities also allow for changes to the display, software or Huddle Bar settings without visiting onsite. The Kanto carts accommodate all of the components and conceal all the electrical cords, making for a completely self-contained mobile solution.
In order to reach as many of the quarantined as possible, 10Net opted to “freecycle” all that it could by pooling resources with vendors. Besides Kanto and its video carts, several suppliers stepped up with donations including KalTire (retired computers); Century Group’s Coast Hotel Tsawwassen, (large-screen displays); and Logitech, Yamaha and AVerMedia, which provided special pricing for their Huddle Bar components.
So hats off to Kanto, 10Net and all the vendor partners for connecting nursing home residents with their friends and families once again.
BrandSource is a unit of YSN parent AVB Inc.