Customers at The Maple Leaf, a busy sports bar in Covent Garden, London are watching a replay of an ice hockey match while they have lunch. The bar is playing music on the sound system but these particular diners are still managing to follow the match commentary by using a free app on their smartphones. With a single ear bud plugged in to one ear and banter flowing into the other, they are satisfied customers. The app they are using is AudioZone.
“We developed AudioZone after supplying Walkabout sites with silent disco equipment to transmit TV audio to customers wearing headsets,”says AudioZone Sales Director, Richard Konig. “They used that equipment to create virtual audio zones for customers when commentary from a different match was on the main sound system, when a band or DJ was playing at the time or when someone had popped in during the day to catch up on a replay while there was background music playing in the venue. It was all about being able to give the customer what they wanted more often.”
“The problem with the silent disco kit was that it was up to the venue to manage the headsets. Keeping them charged, keeping them clean and keeping them in good shape was an ongoing hassle. The idea behind AudioZone is that venues can still offer this service but that the customers now use their own device and headsets so the hassle is removed.”
A demonstration of the system immediately reveals that it is very easy to install. The small server is connected to the Sky decoder with the supplied audio leads, the power supply is plugged in and that is it! The device is already broadcasting its own WiFi signal for users to connect to. A customer now only has to install the app on their phone, connect to the WiFi,and start the stream by pressing the speaker icon on the app. Actually, they also have to connect their headsets because AudioZone does not let you listen via the phone’s speaker which cleverly maintains the ambience for everyone else in the venue.
The audio stream is clear and in synch with the video on the TV. There is a drop down list of available TV broadcasts to choose between – one for each decoder attached to the server. Switching between them allows customers to select the audio for the TV they are watching. This is a great feature for sports bars and fitness clubs with multiple TV broadcasts running in the same room.
While the system was developed with sports bars in mind, there has also been interest from airport lounge operators. It seems that the era of guessing what is being discussed on a muted TV news broadcast while you wait for a flight may soon be behind us. Fitness clubs, hotels and retail bookmakers are also installing AudioZone where they have silent televisions. A lot of the international interest comes from expat bars where football fans have the choice of several simultaneous 3pm Premier League games to choose between.
AudioZone costs £189 for a single channel server and there are no ongoing costs after the initial purchase. The app is totally free with no paid features, no advertising and no intrusive permissions required.
The system is available online at: