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Putting a Shine on Video Meetings

  • Video meeting space
    With the annual Infocomm AV and integration event nearing its close, news out of the videoconferencing ecosystem is coming fast and furious. Simplicity and improved meeting experiences are the overarching goals, manifest in a variety of new products, enhanced features and functionalities, and partnerships from a slew of vendors -- from Blue Jeans Network to Zoom.
    Click through the slideshow for a sampling of what’s new in videoconferencing (and read my earlier post on Logitech’s video device management update here, as well as an on-the-scene report from my colleague Eric Krapf, No Jitter publisher and Enterprise Connect program co-chair, here).
  • Livestreaming with BlueJeans Events
    Blue Jeans: Improvements, Two Ways
    Blue Jeans Network came to Infocomm with two series of updates in tow, one for mobility and the other for livestreaming (shown above).
    For on-the-go professionals, so often challenged by changing meeting environments, the company has:
    • Integrated the Voice audio stack from its partner Dolby into the BlueJeans Mobile meeting app, available for Android and Apple iOS devices. The Dolby technology enhances the mobile app experience with HD voice; noise reduction; voice placement, which presents the speaking voice from a distinct location, such as the remote participant would hear in person; and more, Blue Jeans said.
    • Initiated quality alerts and automated performance management adjustments via BlueJeans Mobile to account for current call conditions. For example, the app may turn video off to boost audio quality or recommend that the user switch to a PSTN connection. In the latter case, users will now be able to continue receiving video and content so they can remain engaged.
    • Enabled the ability for the BlueJeans Mobile app to dial meeting attendees directly
    • Developed BlueJeans Transit Mode, coming soon, to streamline the user experience and “keep meeting participants focused on the road and not on their phones,” Blue Jeans said. This mode is intended to minimize distractions when users are taking meetings while in transit by increasing the size of the Join, Mute, and other essential buttons, and shrinking disruptive features like video and content sharing.
    For large-scale meetings, Blue Jeans has unveiled its next-generation BlueJeans Events livestreaming platform. Among other updates, BlueJeans Events now includes an integration with Interprefy’s real-time language translation platform; improved audio quality and noise reduction through support for Dolby Voice technology; and an embeddable HTML video player so administrators can copy and paste embed code for upcoming events on company websites or intranets, Blue Jeans said.
  • Jabra PanaCast
    Go Panoramic with Jabra
    Jabra this week announced a panoramic 4K plug-and-play -- via USB -- video collaboration device, called Jabra PanaCast, for wall-to-wall coverage in meeting spaces. Delivery of this immersive video solution follows on the March acquisition of Altia Systems, and its panoramic video technology, by Jabra parent company GN Audio.
    With its three 13-megapixel cameras that work together as one, PanaCast provides a 180-degree panoramic view to facilitate engagement during meetings in huddle spaces and elsewhere, Jabra said. In addition, PanaCast features people detection technologies for capturing usage and occupancy information – and on tap is an API that will allow developers and partners to request such data, in real time, from the device.
    PanaCast integrates with Jabra’s Speak speakerphones and is compatible with cloud communications solutions from Blue Jeans Network, Cisco, Microsoft, Slack, Zoom, and others.
    PanaCast will be available by the end of August, for $895, Jabra said.
  • Lifesize Go
    Lifesize Adds Freebie WebRTC-Powered Service
    Capitalizing on the advancing state of WebRTC, Lifesize now offers a free videoconferencing service that allows meeting hosts to share one-time links for click-to-join efficiency from Chrome and Safari browsers on iOS, Android, Mac, and Windows devices.
    “This is the year where WebRTC kind of catches up across the board, and we wanted to build a product that showed what you could really do inside the browser,” said Bobby Beckmann, Lifesize CTO, in a No Jitter briefing.
    The product, Lifesize Go, supports secure group videoconferencing and content sharing for meetings with up to eight participants, Beckmann said. There’s no limitation on meeting duration or the number of video calls a host can launch.
    Go is the latest WebRTC product from Lifesize, which already uses WebRTC for its conference room devices, its video app, and a full-featured Chrome client, Beckmann noted.
    “Having a standards-based stack that lets folks figure out how to communicate lets the whole industry move the technology forward,” he said. Interoperability issues notwithstanding, what WebRTC does is help vendors jointly address hard video problems like bandwidth management and negotiation between different clients and servers, he added.
    Go is available now for all.
  • LogMeIn's Dolby for GoToRoom
    LogMeIn Partners with Dolby for GoToRoom
    LogMeIn has followed on the March announcement of its basic GoToRoom conference room kit, featuring Poly and other gear, with news this week that it now has support from Dolby Laboratories. Via this new partnership, Logitech is combining its conferencing solution with Dolby hardware for a premium voice and video GoToRoom offering, said Mark Strassman, who joined LogMeIn six months ago as senior vice president and general manager, UCC, with the promise of creating a unified portfolio.
    Strassman touted Dolby Voice Room features such as a 4K camera with auto-framing for the space and/or whiteboard, when in use; simple touchscreen user interface, sans the need to run multiple cables; and noise reduction and other advanced audio technology.
    This GoToRoom-Dolby experience will be available in a room-as-a-service (RaaS) model, for a monthly hardware and software fee. LogMeIn is still finalizing pricing with Dolby, but shared the following: The price will include the GoToRoom seat cost of $29 per month plus the yet-to-be-determined cost of the hardware. Total price will likely come in at less than $200, Strassman said.
    Should a company not want to go with the RaaS model, Logitech is offering the option of purchasing the hardware up front and paying monthly for the GoToRoom seat.
  • Poly suite, including new G7500
    Poly Combo Marries Content & Video
    Poly (formerly Plantronics and Polycom) this week fleshed out its Group product series with the G7500, a device that brings together content sharing and video conferencing in one device. Specifically, the G7500 combines the company’s Pano content sharing and wireless presentation system with its video codec, the goal being to allow seamless interaction with content during video calls, said Chris Thorson, senior director of global solutions marketing, at Poly.
    In developing the G7500, Poly started with the content sharing in mind, Thorson said. “So much of what people are doing these days is about making content the center of our communications and conversations, rather than just focusing on higher-performance video.”
    While the G7500 supports the latest in HD 4K video, improved compression, and standards-based connectivity to cloud-based video platforms through the Poly RealConnect Service, for example, the emphasis is on the content sharing.
    Participants can push content onto the screen for everybody to see, annotate on top of the content, capture snapshots, and save it for later viewings, Thorson said.
    As shown above, the G7500 is part of Poly’s latest suite, which also includes the new EagleEye Cube camera, Poly Studio camera and sound-bar system, and Microsoft Teams on Polycom Trio. The G7500 is available now in North America and Europe, with availability in other countries targeted for later this year.

    Pricing varies based on configurement. The G7500 with EagleEye Cube, for small meeting spaces accommodating four to eight participants, costs $6,400. The G7500 with EagleEye IV – 4x, for medium-sized rooms suitable for six to 10 participants, costs $8,800. And the G7500 with EagleEye IV – 12x, for large rooms serving meetings of up to 14 participants, costs $9,800.

  • Meeting with Zoom Rooms
    Zoom Expands Rooms
    Zoom Video Communications is beefing up its Rooms platform with several technology enhancements and hardware partnerships, reflecting the company’s goal to simplify deployment, said Laura Padilla, head of business development and channels for Zoom.
    On the technology front, Zoom is adding a people counting capability for Rooms, a device manager, and support for multisharing, automatic shape detection, and pen thickness adjustments through touch. The touch enhancements are available now, while people counting will be available by the end of the month, as will the beta version of the Zoom Device Manager. With this solution, administrators will be able to initiate batch updates of Rooms iOS controllers and scheduling displays from within the management portal, Padilla said.
    Single-vendor kits, which ensure hardware compatibility with the Rooms software and facilitate out-of-the-box installation, are a big part of Zoom’s strategy, Padilla said. Toward that end, Zoom announced that Crestron, Logitech, and Yealink are now shipping Zoom Rooms kits globally.
    Additionally, Zoom has forged four new hardware partnerships:
    • DTEN, offering its D7 75-inch display pre-configured with Rooms
    • Lenovo, offering the ThinkSmart Hub 500 for Rooms
    • Poly, offering an integration between its Trio conferencing system and Rooms
    • Shure, offering an audio digital signal processor system with Rooms certification, enabling mute sync integration
    As part of this week’s announcement, Zoom also revealed new education programs for channel partners, as well as additional resources, extended support, and a marketing development funds program.
  • WorkSpace Connect logo
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With an eye on improved meeting experiences, video providers showed off their latest offerings at this week’s Infocomm event.