Q&A: VP of Product Development Shaun Fagan Introduces the Instructional Audio Solutions platform
Q: What prompted Lightspeed to update its products?
A: We are constantly looking at new ways to improve the functionality and performance of our offerings. It’s important that each product aligns with the latest developments in instructional and classroom technology.
Behind the scenes, we keep track of potential improvements we can implement to ensure the needs of educators and students are met. There’s also a larger modernization piece at play. Updating our product line enabled us to launch the Instructional Audio Solutions platform, which can be scaled and enhanced over time.
In the end, what we’ve developed is a more modern, versatile, and robust hardware platform.
Q: What are the three product changes users will notice the most?
A: First and foremost, the microphones. This is the number one user interface point for teachers, so it’s something we’re always working to improve. Our teacher and student microphones were completely redesigned, and the result is smaller, slimmer and lighter-weight mics. We also improved the charging interface, which is now more reliable.
Second, we added key integrations with other technologies – most notably with life-safety solutions. Whether it’s a page coming through to a classroom, a fire alarm, or another alert, the Instructional Audio system completely mutes to ensure these alerts are not missed. In addition, we added a feature to the teacher microphone that allows the user to initiate an alert notification through a 3rd party system.
Last but not least is an improved user interface. Controls have been modernized and simplified, ensuring users can experience instructional audio at its fullest potential.
Q: How do the updated products compare to other audio technology on the market today?
A: Lightspeed continues to push the envelope and lead the industry in overall functionality. Our products have outstanding performance, wireless range and allow for a wide variety of wireless connections to meet the specific instructional and technology requirement of any classroom. We have the unique ability to support small group instruction with our instructional audio products, revealing new insights into learning.
Our flat-panel speaker technology produces clear, intelligible sound – and drastically reduces installation costs in the classroom. And, our microphones are now the smallest, lightest-weight classroom mics available in the market.
Q: Was user input part of the product development process?
A: Yes, absolutely. That’s the regular rhythm at Lightspeed – we’re constantly collecting improvement opportunities. We receive input through direct conversations with customers, our sales team, and through our technical support department.
Soliciting input through multiple channels doesn’t just help us confirm our products are hitting the mark – it also allows us to see the impactful, unique ways educators are using instructional audio in the classroom.
Lightspeed’s model of direct sales and support is a huge advantage here. By nature, we’re very close and oriented to our customers. We’re well positioned to receive consistent, high-quality feedback.
Q: How did you test the updated products? What did the results show?
A: From the very first prototype to the final product, testing is part of the process. There are three important rounds of testing that we do:
- Technical testing. Our engineering group validates that products function as they’re defined, which includes coding, designing, and examining the product to ensure it checks every box.
- Customer site testing. We partner with customers to see how the product functions in a traditional classroom environment. During this step, we’re carefully monitoring for bugs and evaluating if the product works for the user – the educator, and the student.
- Quality testing. We use a variety of tests, including temperature, drop, and salt fog to evaluate product performance after it’s exposed to the elements.
We’re incredibly pleased with the results. One improvement we’re especially proud of is the upgraded microphone cradle chargers. Improving the reliability and durability of the chargers means that they are built to withstand continuous insertion/removal cycles and debris floating around in the air – we have great confidence that these are built to last.
Q: Why are the products now collectively referred to as the Instructional Audio Platform?
A: It’s a far better description of how the products are used together. It more accurately describes how integral our solutions are to the instructional space. The Instructional Audio Platform emphasizes our focus as a company, which is to impact the learning environment.
Classroom audio is traditionally thought of as a speaker in the ceiling. And, while whole class audio is still at the core of what we do, Lightspeed’s solutions are so much more than that. We support modern instructional strategies, including student sharing and participation, small group instruction, and distance learning.
The Instructional Audio Platform integrates with a variety of classroom technology and multimedia, including a school or district’s life-safety system, as I mentioned earlier. Educators can be reassured that they won’t miss important notifications, plus the added benefit of alert notification, if needed.
Q: When will the Instructional Audio Platform be available for purchase and installation?
A: The Instructional Audio Platform officially launched on June 22, 2021, and many of the products are shipping as soon as July. The rest of the line will begin shipping through August and September.
Those who are ready to upgrade their existing instructional audio system are encouraged to take advantage of our trade-in program. Turn in your old system, we’ll recycle it (free of charge) and provide credit toward your new Lightspeed system.