Commercial Integrator + Security Sales Sept/Oct 2023 - 54

TECH UPDATE
C llab rati n
TODAY and TOMORROW
3. Artificial Intelligence (AI): A few years ago, I thought
that " smart cameras " (as we called them then) were cool and
interesting. Now, I think that they're essential. As noted, flex
workers who call in from their home offices generally look
good, if not great, in video meetings. A big part of this is that
we generally have proper framing at home. After all, we're
sitting right in front of the camera.
We've always needed better framing in meeting-room
solutions, and all these properly framed flex workers just
made the problem more obvious. AI technologies like voice
tracking or facial recognition are now being used in a variety
of approaches to improve meeting-room-participant framing.
Today's cameras/systems are also able to pass information to
software services to further improve the experience.
4. Affordability and Design: Although this isn't often
discussed, our video-system vendors deserve some credit for
the look and lower cost of today's systems. When I first started
writing about meeting-room video systems, they could be
a bit boxy and expensive. They were generally reserved for
high-end boardrooms, where the cost could be justified, and
where the bulk of the hardware could be hidden in custom
furniture. Today's systems are priced for mass deployment
in small and medium-sized meeting rooms. They also tend
to have a more modern, sleeker, more approachable design.
We've evolved past the point of mere functionality. You can
choose a system that matches your space's look and aesthetic,
and it's priced so that it can be in all your meeting rooms.
Meeting-Room-System Form Factors
Keeping these features in mind, you have several choices of
form factor for your meeting-room system. The market has not
yet settled on one and only one way for a meeting-room system
to look. Keep in mind that any of the systems we cite can be
installed as part of a room-system solution, with integrated
room-system software, or as a DIY installation, where you provide
a PC running the software separately.
1. PTZ Cameras: This is where it all began. PTZ cameras continue
to be the workhorse of business video. Fortunately, they
have come a long way. The power, quality and resolution have
gone way up, while prices and device sizes have come down.
Even better, the biggest downside of PTZ cameras - namely,
that no one wants to use the remote control to pan, tilt and
zoom - has finally been addressed by AI, which can provide
automatic framing. Today, they are often great options.
2. Video Bars: The video bar makes such obvious sense for
today's meeting rooms that it hardly requires discussion. If
your IT team has to outfit 2,000 meeting rooms for Zoom, you
could install 2,000 cameras and 2,000 soundbars and 2,000
mini-PCs running the software. Or, conversely, you could
just install 2,000 video bars running Zoom Room software. It
helps that today's video bars tend to look really nice. They're
actually something you want to see in your meeting rooms.
It's no surprise that video bars are a big winner in the current
meeting-room-video marketplace.
3. Center-of-Table Cameras: Center-of-table cameras are a
controversial entry on this list. On one hand, we've tried this
concept in the past, and it didn't take off. On the other hand,
today's technology and AI can do a much better job with the
concept, and, in theory, it addresses some very real meetingroom-experience
issues. By having a camera (or cameras) at
the center of the table, you effectively get something similar
to the remote-worker experience: There is a camera right
in front of each participant's face to get that ideal framing
of each person. This solution can theoretically also provide
better eye contact for in-room participants.
Videoconferencing is now
a normal part of our daily
workflow, and vendors are
rapidly innovating to improve
the experience.
4. Mobile Videoconferencing Carts: With the need to
provide video in more spaces at the office, facilities are looking
for more flexible solutions. Although videoconferencing
carts are literally just a way to roll around the other solutions,
they are still worthy of mention. Some vendors provide a lot
more than a simple rack on wheels; some design all-in-one
units that have everything from cable management to touch
controls carefully planned out. It might seem like a silly thing
to say about a cart, but, actually, some of them are modern,
feature-rich and really cool.
5. All-in-One Display Solutions: The five things you need
for video are a camera, a mic, a speaker, a display and software
to run it all. Video bars, the current market darling, have
four of the five. A true all-in-one would be a display/monitor
(ideally, touch/interactive) with integrated audio/video/PC.
Although only a few vendors are focusing on these right now,
it is an area with a lot of potential.
Conclusion
There has never been a more exciting time in the businessvideo
space. Videoconferencing is now a normal part of our
daily workflow, and vendors are rapidly innovating. As a result,
we see not only constant improvements to existing products
but also new approaches and technologies. The bottom line
is that you can expect a far better meeting-room experience
today than ever before, and it's only going to get better.
David Maldow is president and CEO of Let's Do Video.
54 Commercial Integrator+Security Sales & Integration | Sept/Oct 2023

Commercial Integrator + Security Sales Sept/Oct 2023

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