Video conferencing (Zoom) has now become a necessity of almost every corporate enterprise. However now what’s even more popular is the term ‘Huddle Room’.
So what exactly is a huddle room? As the day and age of the monotonous Monday meeting is becoming out of date. The hip corporate enterprises and the trendy tech start ups are opting for the fast paced, more efficient ‘huddle’ meeting. Essentially an open meeting room that enables the team to quickly join, participate, contribute. Thus meaning one can get onto more important daily objectives.
To assist with the productivity of these meeting rooms, newer technology is needed. No longer with a projector and a laptop suffice for these remote style of collaborations. Boardroom audio visual now consists of clear video conferencing, wireless content sharing and integrated audio. Essentially bringing people from all over the world into one room.
But which technology is going to be the best? Let’s have a look at one of the companies that build the world’s best music streaming product. Sonos.
In a video testimonial, Sonos claimed they have used Zoom video conferencing whilst in their product development. In the video they disassemble a Sonos playbase and within the meeting room. Next they use high resolution cameras overhead to collaborate with engineers in Santa Barbara and also in Boston. They have 2 project rooms. The overhead cameras show the technicians in each location a close up overview of the printed circuit boards. “The rooms are used to give the projects a physical room. Where we can spread the parts around for research and design”. It is clear that having this type of Zoom video conferencing in real time shortens the communication gap. In turn helping engineers make design changes immediately.
In this example we talked about video conferencing using Zoom Rooms, one of the 3 options in this article. Let’s dive a little deeper into the benefits and features of Zoom Video conferencing. We should also assess any potential problems associated with the technology.
History of Zoom
The company Zoom Video Communications came from the development team of Cisco Webex (claims CEO Eric S. Yuan). Zoom claimed to be the next generation Webex. Because the Zoom conferencing software integrates with other third party applications. Apps such as Zendesk, Slack, Skype Business and Microsoft team integrations.
Zoom rooms combine video conferencing, wireless content sharing and integrated audio all into the one easy to use platform. There are two installation solutions. The first being turnkey do-it-yourself package that includes all the hardware and set-up procedures. Although from reports, this requires some technical knowledge. There are some security issues if you are not familiar with enterprise software and networks.
The User Experience of Zoom Video Conferencing
The simple tablet interface means you can start any meeting with a single touch. In addition you can wirelessly and securely share content from any device, tablet, or laptop. Moreover you don’t even have to be in the room to attend the meeting. An employee can join remotely via their mobile if they are unable to attend in person.
Another great feature of Zoom video conferencing is the interactive touch screen software. For example, if the TV screen has interactive capabilities the people in the meeting can ideate ideas. Content is presented on screen by making annotations quick changes can be made. This type of screen sharing can be viewed from any location. This live collaboration speeds up the delivery of software based projects, web design, mobile app interfaces. As well as more traditional mediums like proofs of print and copy.
Zoom video conferencing has a unique room scheduling display. The use of a Galaxy Tab/Crestron Mercury or Ipad is suggested here and app is clean and simple to understand. You can look at upcoming meetings with the interactive display, schedule your own meeting. Moreover, to further enhance the corporate communication you can push your meeting agenda to an external TV screen. Although free, this requires the additional use of Zoom Room digital Signage.
Installation of the Zoom Huddle Room
On the surface the installation is relatively straight forward. First, install the ZR Software on Windows PC or Mac, ZR app for ipad. Then add the devices (PC/Tablet/NUC) to a Zoom account and then connect to Office 365 or Google calendar.… Providing you don’t need an additional security infrastructure around your corporate network, this only takes a few minutes.
One of the benefits of Zoom rooms is that it automatically detects the touch display. Then it initializes the ‘Touch User Interface’ which includes the rooms calendar and start buttons for all scheduled zoom meetings. Again, you can use the iPad for the meeting room display by attaching the tablet to the wall. For this you will need a custom AV installer. In brief you will see a simple green display for available meeting rooms. And red display for meetings that are under way.
The Touch UI also lets users schedule meetings and start meetings with a touch of a single button. Additionally you can mute/unmute the mic, start and stop the camera, share content, annotate content, start recording etc.
To elaborate on this further, the share content button prompts an easy to follow set of instructions for uploading new content and it also has an electronic whiteboard feature within the Zoom Rooms Touch UI. Thus meaning if users shared some content, it can be annotated over the top during the meeting and users from all locations can collaborate on the same shared piece of content simultaneously. Effectively turning your boardroom into a productivity powerhouse
Previously we mentioned the Digital Signage capabilities with Zoom Rooms and this feature is free with any paid ZR licence. Providing you have your own host PC and display you can distribute your corporate branding very easily and there is no need to upload images or specific URLs. Essentially within a few minutes you have your own digital signage carousel.
In addition the office admin can configure settings such as when to display content and how long for. Also, within the same settings the user can define a group of displays across multiple locations or floors to have a customized installation. Moreover, all of this content management capability is for free within the ZR licence.
In summary, once the Zoom Room is installed and configured the UX is really easy. However what has been reported are the problems that arise when devices go to sleep. For example, when the room is left for some time the experience become unpredictable, the NUC may go to sleep subsequently disconnects with the Ipad. Then the user needs to reboot the system. Generally speaking most CEO’s probably do not want to go through a reboot process in front of clients, but we believe that the benefits of the Zoom room far outweigh this small inconvenience.
Cisco Webex Room Kit
In comparison to the Zoom Room kits available, the Cisco Webex Room Kit costs about the same with some additional benefits. Uniquely Cisco Webex is a closed system and because of this, the multiple electronic devices in the kit essentially act like one when configuring the system. In addition to installation, you do not need to worry about auto-login, devices going to sleep or system management during operation. Essentially it is CEO proof!
Cisco Webex has a nice wake up feature with a single button press. Or with the proximity feature where the the system automatically recognises a user within the vicinity of a system, this is a really easy to use auto login experience.
With ZR Rooms, the security risk of auto-login is the PC or NUC needs to join to the corporate domain. Where as Cisco have sold this issue with their Webex kit by making it a plug and play system. With Zoom Rooms the AV installer needs to build another domain. Or perhaps another option is to create a local account to login so there is no need for the PC machine to join the main domain. Therefore with Zoom Rooms the AV installer needs some knowledge of networking to configure auto login.
Webex ease of use
The usability of Cisco has great audio with integrated microphones and speakers. The display
supports both single and dual screens for video and content sharing. We have already covered some of the flexible installation features, additionally we should point out that Cisco Webex is built for cloud and premises servers. The hardware is of a high standard with a 5K Ultra HD camera with 3x zoom and supports up to 60 fps.
One of the really cool features is the camera has the ability to track the person in view and crop the image (live) to give the perfect shot. In essence you have a digital director.
Last but not least let’s discuss the more cost effective Logitech Skype Room System. This is bundled room solution from Logitech SmartDock and it is designed for Microsoft Skype® for Business. And although it is cheaper than the aforementioned conferencing solutions, it is still quite an investment if you are to get the same performance as Logitech’s higher end competitors.
Logitech have always worked hard on their user experience and the SmartDock is easy to use and transforms your meeting room with HD-quality video by collaborating with Skype for Business.
SmartDock is Logitech’s AV meeting room solution. It has been designed in conjunction with Microsoft and therefore is used with Skype® for Business. In addition you can install qualified devices, including Logitech ConferenceCams, which claim to provide a seamless, user-friendly touch-screen console.
With Logitech SmartDock, the user can start meetings on time with one-touch join which is very similar to Zoom Room and Webex. Additionally there is the ability to instantly project to the display in the room and share to remote participants via their Skype for Business account.The Skype Room System (SRS) also includes the ability to place or join an audio-only call and clients on their smartphone or laptop and allows users to launch and manage video calls in any meeting space – from the huddle room to the large conference room.
Video Conferencing In summary
All things considered, there are advantages and disadvantages to each of these application but as with any brand preference, you must assess which benefits suit your business environment best and with disadvantages are not applicable. Given these points and the investment involved it is advisable to use professional installation and be guided by the experience of the AV installer. By and large we hope that by sharing this information the reader is now more informed about which option is best suited for their application and as the technology evolves our support department will be doing the same.
Good luck and ‘huddle’ successfully!