Audio Visual Solutions
Remote work is becoming more common especially since the pandemic hit, giving employees more work-life balance but putting pressure on companies to provide more comprehensive and modern audio and visual technology for video conferencing with their employees. A lot of employees work part time remotely and return to the office when they need to meet with others meaning a greater emphasis than ever before on high quality audio visual solutions especially with collaborative features.
Audio Visual Solutions for your Meeting Spaces
A high quality display can help people collaborate by displaying presentations for the attendees to see, connecting them with other conference rooms, and view the screen from their own devices.
While 4K UHD has become the norm, just because a display is 4K it doesn’t guarantee a high-quality image or experience. The content being shown on the screen as well as how quickly a user can send content to a monitor all factors into the quality of experience with network connectivity playing a large part.
Single displays can be useful for smaller conference rooms, but dual displays are often more popular. Having two displays for video conferencing will allow somebody to share the screen with someone on the other end. There are specific calculations needed depending on the size of a room which will help to guide your audio visual contractor or consultant to recommend which display size is best for the space.
Video Conferencing Platforms and Compatibility
Video conferencing is becoming more business critical than ever, there are also multiple competing platforms in the market including Zoom, Teams (Microsoft), Polycom, StarLeaf and LifeSize meaning a company using Zoom may need to work with partners who use other video conferencing systems. Fortunately, most of these systems can be integrated together without any problems as long as your systems are correctly chosen and configured.
There is also an increasing trend of large scale web conferencing / presentations by companies for either internal town halls or presentations to clients. This can typically be achieved by using Zoom or Teams using the appropriate conference room audio visual equipment.
Crestron and StarLeaf are examples of manufacturers that offer hardware to scale these platforms in conference rooms. If this is something that you are looking to design for then your audio visual consultant should offer solution designs which will enable you to host these kinds of webinars.
Audio and Acoustics
It is vitally important to use microphones and speakers in a conference room which are designed for the space they need to operate in. These can be either in-ceiling, on-table, or mounted below the display. Arguably acoustics are more important than video quality but often overlooked, with poor quality video the call can carry on, but with poor audio the experience is worse or unusable.
Based on your purposes and room design, your audio visual integration partner will help you to select the right mix of microphones and speakers as well as advise on room acoustics.
The sound system of a conference will have a large impact on the overall conferencing experience. The right set-up can reduce echoes and feedback as well as other noises which may degrade the experience for everyone.
Obviously video quality is an important factor in any audio visual solution, cameras can range widely in sophistication and cost. The choice of camera is very important for the layout, lighting and design of your specific rooms, it needs to be able to take in the whole room and be of sufficient resolution and optical quality that the picture is clear.
If you are considering which camera to purchase for a huddle or small room, a wide angle model such as a Panacast may be well suited as there may not be a lot of space for the camera and it affords a very wide angle of view so that all people remain visible and in frame.
Pan-tilt-zoom cameras are commonly used in larger conference rooms. These cameras can automatically zoom in or out on any speaker. There are many choices of cameras for large conference rooms like this, your video conferencing system may dictate a particular type or a professional AV contractor or consultant will help you to specify options based on your design.
In order to find a control panel with an easy-to-use interface, take into consideration the desired features and any possible future system upgrades or integrations. Some systems may use on table iPads for controls while others have built in touch screen panels.
Whatever the choice, there should be a simple and easy to navigate interface for your users. Screen sharing becomes video conferencing with the tap of one button and then there’s the ability to transfer to other systems seamlessly.
A control panel may need to be programmed specifically to work with the conference room equipment. If an AV contractor is not certified by the AV vendor such as Crestron or Extron for example, it is possible that the system could have issues and may not function as intended.
The control panel is a vital aspect of the overall system design as it will be the primary way users operate the system, a poorly designed experience can lead to significant complications and frustration for users.
Wireless and Network Connectivity for Conference Rooms
There are three types of connectivity available: wired, wireless, or a mixed combination of both. While there are pros and cons to each type of connection, it ultimately comes down to personal preference and your use cases and technical design.
Bear in mind that network speed and stability is critical to maintain high quality HD video and audio conferencing without a degradation of image or audio which is a major frustration for users.
While many people prefer wireless connectivity because it eliminates the clutter of cords, table inserts offer a more discrete option for wired connections which are typically of higher quality and stability. Wired connections can also be much less problematic for users who may simply plug in a laptop instead of using a dongle or app.
Some table mounted systems may also come with electrical outlets for charging your devices and a wired connections for plug and play to laptops.
If you want to be able to share screens without cables, wireless presentation solutions might be the right choice for you. Otherwise you may need to specify which connectivity options you need for your users, don’t assume every system has display port or USB-C for example.
How to Improve Collaboration with Audio-Visual Enhancements
Interactive whiteboards can be valuable within organisations. Some AV solutions, permit drawing and writing on the surface with different colours, perfect for brainstorming sessions that involve people who need a visual illustration. They are also effective when used to view web pages or documents on the board.
Video conferencing platforms like Zoom have the functionality to share a whiteboard, which enables people on the call to interact with graphically oriented content. This can be useful if their employees present, collaborate or teach over video conferencing.
Meeting Room Booking Systems
External scheduling hardware is an opportunity for a business to increase efficiency and analyse data in a workplace setting as well as adding convenience for users. Crestron’s room schedulers for example include a touch-panel display outside the room as well as an LED that shows the room’s availability. When the room is booked, it turns red; otherwise, it stays green.
People can see which conference rooms have available space to have a spontaneous meeting by looking at the external scheduling system. The display also details what each conference room is being used for and who has been invited.
The room’s analytics show the number of hours it was booked, frequency of use at certain times of the day, and the average length of meetings so the business can understand the room usage and plan accordingly.
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