Monday, 23 April 2018

Meeting Room Technology

Technology is by its very nature a fast-moving industry.  As it constantly
evolves, so does how we interact with it, both at home and at work.  As
such the requirements for meeting rooms are changing quickly, with a
growing focus on much more visual and video content being demanded
across a wide spectrum of events & devices.


During meetings, delegates need to connect and collaborate on screen,
in real time and at the highest quality.  They need to be able to move
seamlessly across a range of AV and connectivity solutions, which in
turn need to be available in each, and sometimes multiple, meeting room
areas.


In addition to a main room, delegates need quality break out areas to
develop ideas from the main meeting.  These also need to be spaces
where they can relax and process new information or network and bond
with team members & their clients whilst still being supported by the AV
they need.


These meeting room requirements can be delivered by addressing six
main technological areas; HDMI, BYOD (bring your own device),
Connectivity, Video & Voice Conferencing, Speakers and Digital Control.


HDMI Connectivity
As we start seeing 4k TV’s at home, the minimum quality expected in
meeting rooms is now HD (1080p) resolution.  Most new laptops and
video devices are based on the HDMI connector that delivers digital
quality in high resolution.  Upgrading the connectivity in all meeting
rooms to HDMI is essential, although unfortunately VGA connectivity
is still required for legacy equipment.


BYOD
Delegates no longer just have a laptop which they wish to present from.
BYOD facilitates presentation on screen of content from iPads, iPhones,
Android devices, Chrome devices, Macbooks and laptops, all wirelessly,
from anywhere in the room.


With delegates regularly working in the Cloud and not actually having a
device that stores all their information, this does mean that the need for
a good or preferably impressive internet connection into meeting rooms
becomes essential.  


Delegates can then connect and present quickly and easily using
Chromecast and Airplay as they might at home, or through a useful app
quickly downloaded to their device.  BYOD also facilitates wirelessly
delivered screen sharing; enabling two or more users to present their
content on screen for comparison and review.


Connectivity; touch screens
We are all too familiar with the touch screen functionality of our portable
devices, phones and tablets.  Once delegates have their presentation or
image on screen in a meeting room, they want to be able to touch it and
move, explore, explode or manipulate what they are presenting.  All of
this is possible with a simple USB connection to the screen. Once this is
applied, suddenly the screen can be an extension of their Windows or
IOS operating experience, allowing full interaction on the screen.


Video & Voice Conferencing
Historically dedicated equipment was needed to launch a video
conference (VC) call, this needed to be used by all parties involved
and the telecoms provider needed to provide a solid connection or
bandwidth between all the locations.  But now VC has become ‘the
norm’, and Skype, webex and a range of other video and voice
conferencing facilities are now available in the Cloud.


This means that if a key delegate is unable to travel but wants to
attend a meeting and actively participate in discussions, it is possible
to use such services to bring remote delegates up onto the screen
and hear them clearly through speakers.  In addition, they can share
their desktop computer on the meeting room screen, as described in
BYOD above, enabling them to make a presentation and discuss this
with the other meeting delegates as if they were in the same room.
In a more advanced or larger conference suite it is also possible to
bring remote delegates up on a separate screen to the data, so that
you can see more of the individual, including their body language and
hand gestures.


The move to the Cloud makes it much easier for venues to offer VC
connectivity. A simple USB & video connection to the delegates
Windows laptop or Mac, connects the in-room speakers, microphone,
camera and screen to the delegates call on their VC software.  This
ensures that the delegates has the company IT security that they need,
with the ability to share the call with all in the meeting room. The same
can also be done with a voice call from a mobile phone and all delegates
can be heard, and hear, through the installed ceiling microphone and
speakers.


Installed Quality Speakers
With video content and conferencing, you need both the correct image,
and quality sound which can be heard throughout the room. Speakers
on a television or a sound bar underneath it, are often only enough for
a small room.  If content is to be heard throughout a room, there is a
requirement for quality ceiling mounted speakers throughout. If rooms
are also to be used as private dining spaces, quality speakers are
essential to deliver ambient sound at a quality that reflects the food &
service of the venue to all diners.


Digital Control
As mentioned above, we are all now familiar with touchscreen control.
Centralising the control of the meeting room functionality; screen,
source, lights, AC, VC, etc, can all be pulled back onto one control
platform.  This gives venues and their delegates a tailored, branded
controlled experience, which does not rely on ‘finding the remote
control’ or physically finding a button to press.


Most of the modern display technology and certainly the screen
sharing products all offer the ability to personalise the display of the
system.  This allows venues to add their own Branding and personalise
any login instructions for delegates, making their systems clear and
easy to use. When delegates enter a room the screen can show any
message, logo, room name and instructions on how the delegates
can connect their device to work in the space.

A digital control platform does require some IT backbone, but not
only does it offer the client a better experience, but enables the
venue’s AV integrator to connect and diagnose any problems in real
time and enables the system to proactively send out warnings and
alerts before any hardware fails.