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Video Innovations Keep Coming

The Infocomm 2019 A/V conference held earlier this month provided more validation that video communications is undergoing a new wave of innovation. This isn’t exactly a new concept; in fact, visual communications has already experienced several waves of innovation.
Previously, these bursts have usually been associated with a tech cycle such as the shift from H.323 to SIP or rise of high-definition cameras and displays. But the innovation I saw at Infocomm didn’t fall into a simple category or two. Each announcement seemed as unique as a snowflake. This burst of innovation is more Cambrian. I’m referring to the Cambrian Explosion, an unknown event that accelerated the emergence of animals from single-celled organisms about 540 million years ago. The video industry is rapidly evolving with a diversity of innovation.
And, that’s a good thing. Never before has video communications been so important and pervasive in the way we collaborate (see my related No Jitter post, “The Future of UCaaS Can Be ‘Seen’”). It’s now unusual to participate in an audio-only conference. It also feels more common to talk to family and friends over video. Virtual meetings seem to be more popular than in-person meetings, and even primarily in-person meetings commonly have at least one remote participant.
Video is central, even critical, to modern enterprise collaboration. Meetings were in fact the common theme among every vendor keynote presentation at Enterprise Connect 2019 in March. Video use is familiar and frequent, the technology itself is more intuitive, teams are more distributed, and the cost has become negligible or zero.
In mature industries, vendors and providers seek growth in diverse ways. The innovations are unique to each vendor’s needs and opportunities.
For example, Logitech announced a management platform called Sync (see No Jitter post). In the past, Logitech deferred the advanced software applications to partners such as Microsoft and Zoom. That’s been slowly changing as innovation moves to the edge. For example, AI capabilities such as auto-framing are typically edge-based solutions. Sync, a cloud-delivered service, facilitates room-based device management and allows IT administrators to manage, upgrade, and analyze Logitech room systems centrally. It’s exactly what Logitech needed.
Poly used Infocomm to introduce its newest room system, the G7500 (see No Jitter slideshow). Its Group series portfolio was needing an update. The G7500 offers an ultra-high-def 4K camera, provides all-in-one packaging options, and addresses how cloud services are changing meeting room requirements. Customers want the flexibility to use different services, so unlike prior Group systems, the G7500 is cloud-ready. Customers can use it as a full-fledged RealPresence device or as a USB peripheral to a laptop with a meeting link. As a platform, the G7500 also will enable many new services from Poly. It’s exactly what Poly needed.
LogMeIn announced a partnership with Dolby Laboratories that combines its GoToRoom conferencing solution with Dolby room system hardware. GoTo is the newly launched brand of UCaaS and conferencing services from LogMeIn, and GoTo Room is a new room hardware-as-a-service option. Dolby started in voice and expanded to video, and I suspect LogMeIn will expand this partnership in the opposite order. A compelling and differentiated experience is exactly what LogMeIn needed for its GoTo brand.
Speaking of Dolby, Blue Jeans Network announced a mobile client experience that leverages the company’s audio technology. This experience addresses the reality that many people attend meetings remotely, and often from noisy locations. BlueJeans integrated the Dolby Voice solution into its mobile apps in order to support HD audio, noise reduction, and spatial audio. Separately, BlueJeans announced an improved events and livestreaming service that can support up to 15,000 participants across browsers, apps, and room systems. These features are exactly what BlueJeans needed.
Cisco also made a series of announcements at Infocomm (and at the Cisco Live event that took place the same week), including integrated calling and transcription for meetings. I covered this in more detail in this No Jitter post.
The video industry has conquered the mechanics of audio and video and is now focusing on engagement. Moves aimed at making collaboration more effective and productive, and expanding beyond meetings into workflows and use cases, will continue for several more years.
Dave Michels is a contributing editor and analyst at TalkingPointz.