Commercial Integrator 2023 - 67

C llab rati n
TODAY and TOMORROW
Drop-in Video-Bar Appliance with Built-in Codec
Businesses of all sizes might find that BYOD won't provide a
good enough experience for many rooms; however, integrated
systems might be out of budget. Fortunately, we have
affordable appliances running room software. Although there
are several options as regards appliance type, video bars are
dominating the market.
This is not surprising if you look at the history of the room
video market. The first room video software was sold with
hardware kits consisting of a speakerphone, a webcam and
a minicomputer. As the market grew, these kits expanded to
include various options, as well as different kinds of cameras,
speakers and microphones.
Customers immediately preferred the kits with speaker
bars over the kits with center-of-the-table speakerphones.
It felt more natural to hear the voice coming from the same
direction as the video. So, with speaker bar-based kits selling
well, it was only a matter of time before someone devised
the idea of embedding the webcam into the speaker bar. This
brought our kits down to just two components: a video bar
and a minicomputer running the software. It doesn't take a
genius to see where this went next.
A video bar with your room software of choice pre-installed
really hits almost everything on your video-meeting-room
wish list. These devices get all the benefits of room software,
as mentioned above. The cameras are generally a bit higher
quality than your typical webcams are. As home sound bar
owners know, the audio quality on these kinds of speakers
can be surprisingly good. They are also relatively easy to
install and manage.
Some might question the microphone coverage of a video
bar. We are used to having speakerphones in the middle of
the table and having to speak right into the phone in order to
be heard. With today's microphone technology, a mid-range
video bar at one end of the room can do the job for a typical
five- to 10-person meeting room. More powerful video bars
and extender mics can be used to cover bigger rooms.
The one downside to video bars is that, in many cases, the
software is locked down with only one room video service
installed. In other words, if it's sold as a Zoom Room device,
it will only run Zoom Rooms. The result is this: Many meeting
rooms out there with multiple systems. They literally have
one video bar stacked on top of another, one of them running
Zoom and the other one running Microsoft Teams.
Here's the good news: The market is moving toward interoperability.
Some video bars can run multiple services; however,
that isn't the case for all devices, and it isn't always every
service. We are in the beginning stages, but I am hopeful.
Make sure your video bar of choice will not only make calls on
your internal service of choice but also receive calls from your
external contacts. If your top clients always call you on Webex,
your meeting room video bar had better support Webex.
commercialintegrator.com
Integrated Systems
We have some fancy meeting rooms out there. We've seen
meeting rooms where the curtains rise up by themselves,
where the lighting changes by voice command, and where
video screens magically drop down from the sky. We expect
rooms like this to have " integrated audio. " They don't just
have an old speaker on the floor at one end of the room;
instead, they have a sound system with woofers hidden in
the furniture and tweeters mounted in acoustically optimized
locations. They have mics placed and configured perfectly to
capture everyone in the room. Obviously, we would prefer to
use this audio over the audio in our video bar or BYOD setup.
For this kind of room, our video must be integrated with
the same level of forethought and detail as our sound system
is. We can't just hang a video bar under a monitor and hope to
meet boardroom-level expectations. We might need multiple,
higher-powered cameras to cover larger spaces or multiple
cameras to cover different sides of the meeting-room table.
In other words, for your fancy meeting rooms, video is now
another element of your meeting-room integrator's responsibilities.
That is, it isn't a separate add on that you handle yourself.
When the room is being designed and configured, your
integrator must make sure that the room's inherent design
supports a superb experience when making and receiving
video calls on any and all video services you might use.
Although integrated systems are potentially capable of providing
the best performance of the three options, they also
have two significant downsides - namely, complexity and
cost. Whenever a system is this tightly integrated into a room,
it runs the risk of being too difficult for the average user to
operate. Technical staff is often required to operate the room,
or, at the very least, keep it in good shape. The intricacies
of the components working in conjunction also sometimes
require control systems with unique programming. That's a
complex process in and of itself. All this complexity and the
multiple components significantly increases the cost of such
systems as compared to drop-in solutions like video bars.
Conclusion
As we shift from " using video for just about everything " to
using video for even more, we want our meeting experiences
to be productive and comfortable. Having the right setup for
our meeting rooms is a great step toward accomplishing this.
That means picking the solution that provides the best ease
of use and the highest quality you can afford. When you have
a no-compromise boardroom budget, an integrated system is
the solution. When you have no budget, BYOD does the job.
For what I believe to be the vast majority of rooms in the middle,
a drop-in video-bar appliance with built-in codec could
often be described as the " Goldilocks " choice - just right.
David Maldow is the founder and CEO of Let's Do Video.
JUNE 2023 Commercial Integrator 67
http://www.commercialintegrator.com

Commercial Integrator 2023

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