Innovations in collaboration solutions

In the last couple of months, leading UC developers BlueJeans and Zoom have announced significant advances in meeting solutions. BlueJeans has re imagined meeting practice and procedures. Zoom has added functionality to its solution and addressed the company’s relationship with the channel.

Smart Meetings: more effective meetings even when you are not there!

BlueJeans Smart Meetings brings improvement in three areas. The first deals with the problem of maintaining a consistent presence in a series of related meetings. In the past, structured meetings generated agendas, meetings and actions with matters arising.

With hardware solutions increasing in numbers and scope. Innovation in meeting practice and procedure has been the focus of recent innovations by some of the industry leaders. Blue Jeans Network call these innovations BlueJeans Smart Meetings.

The new developments were designed with reference to a recent survey of 700 professionals including managers and individual contributors. Some 67% state that meetings are on the rise and that 1/3 of the meetings are a waste of time. Meeting waste is set to cost the UK economy more than £45 billion this year, according to a report by Doodle.

Improving the experience

BlueJeans Smart Meetings brings improvement in three areas. The first deals with the problem of maintaining a consistent presence in a series of related meetings. In the past, structured meetings generated agendas, meetings and actions with matters arising. BlueJeans has developed a modern approach for documenting meeting minutes combining artificial intelligence (AI) with crowdsourcing to compile the most useful and actionable record of the important topics discussed during a meeting. This ensures that everyone’s point-of-view is captured, even if some participants are not active speakers during the meeting or cannot attend and want to contribute to the dialog after the meeting.

Staying in touch with the proceedings of a series Smart Meetings is supported by generating automatic email summaries that contain tailored meeting highlights and action points. Transcripts, highlights and video content can be downloaded and viewed offline. Meeting highlights can be replayed with 40 seconds of live meeting transcription to augment the commentary provided by meeting attendees.

Ensuring that meeting participants pick-up on action points is important aspect of a successful and productive meeting. BlueJeans’ Smart Meetings generate ‘in-line action-items’ to ensure that, when to-dos are identified during a meeting, they can be quickly tagged and assigned owners on the spot. Automatic alerts and follow-up flags increase visibility and enable organisations to develop a culture of accountability.

The fear factor

Proliferation I meeting number has resulted in staff members being double-and-triple booked during the workday. Why go they feel the need to go to everything? BlueJeans suggest that they are concerned about meeting FOMO (fear of missing out). Smart Meetings makes it possible to skip meetings. Confident that a transcript and video highlights will be available offline. Interactive meetings summaries make it easy to watch a highlight reel, turning an hour-long meeting recording into a seven-minute meeting recap.

Stayaway meeting participants can access a persistent, dynamic meeting repository that presents a complete meeting register, a consolidated set of meeting highlights, and an access point for consuming meeting summaries.

For those who demand an enhanced level of security, BlueJeans highlights and recordings are stored in secure containers in the cloud. These videos are encrypted and are only accessible to the recording originator. They may be shared by the recording originator using email addresses through the web user interface. These can be viewed as an encrypted playback stream using a web browser or downloaded to an on-premise media server or storage device. Users may choose to delete their recordings from BlueJeans at any time, again using the web user interface.

Accountability

With automatically archived video and transcripts taking the place of verified traditional techniques questions are bound to arise about admissibility in compliance applications. Guillaume Vives, chief product officer, at BlueJeans argues that Smart Meeting technology will even stand up to objections in legal applications.

“The way we do it will stand up in court, let me explain why: Traditional machine generated transcription creates a “book” at the end of the meeting, so you end up with a 30-page document and with a typically accuracy of 90% to 93%. You would not be able to guarantee any sort of accuracy legal standards.”

“BUT we do it differently. We synchronize the video, audio and transcription and when you create a highlight, it creates a 40 second segment with Video, Audio and transcriptions all together, so if there is a word that is not transcribed correctly, you can play the audio and video.”

Zoomtopia 2019: New Zoom Room capabilities and Channel Support

Zoom Video Communications annual shindig Zoomtopia flagged up major expansions to its video-first unified communications platform, deep integrations and partnerships to grow its ecosystem and the

laying of a foundation for empowered communications. Adding over 300 features since that last Zoomtopia, 2018, the company has increased its already cracking pace of innovation over the previous year. All of the capabilities announced in this release will be available by the end of January 2020, with many available now.

Zoom’s unified communications platform provides video meetings, voice, webinars, and chat across desktops, phones, mobile devices, and conference room systems in a single client experience. Of most interest to AV News readers are Zoom Rooms in the context of the conference room market, with appliances developed by industry-leading hardware providers, alongside its existing fully open hardware ecosystem.

Zoom Room Appliances

Zoom Rooms Appliances are purpose-built Zoom Room hardware for simplified procurement, installation and full-stack manageability. These appliances provide these immediate benefits for large scale room deployments while setting the stage for a new wave of room intelligence, analytics, and manageability. Building Zoom Rooms on a platform of strong co-development with select partners allows customers to scale video to more use cases and environments than ever possible.

For example, Neat designs and engineers video devices for Zoom. The company was founded in Oslo, Norway by a team that for decades has shaped game-changing innovations for some of the most recognised brands in video communications. Neat Bar is a purpose-built, compact meeting room system that delivers superior quality for huddle rooms and small meeting spaces. It comes with a dedicated controller and optional scheduling display and costs $2,500 in the US.

Zoom users can pre-order Neat Bar online, with shipping slated for late December. Neat Board is a 65-inch touch collaboration board, delivering the ultimate modern collaboration experience in the meeting space and available to pre-order in January. All Neat products are available to buy directly online from neat. No and ship globally. Offering unique features, they are easy to set-up and use, making Zoom Rooms the smoothest and best it’s ever been.

Poly Studio X

The Poly Studio X Series is a new purpose-built range of all-in-one video bars that dramatically simplify the Zoom Rooms experience and feature Poly MeetingAI capabilities for breakthrough audio and video quality. The Poly Studio X30 and Poly Studio X50 pack call on decades of engineering expertise, with easy to install, easy to manage, and easy to use video conferencing hardware that runs Zoom Rooms without the need for a PC or Mac.

Poly’s G7500 video endpoint for mid- to large-sized conference rooms will also run the Zoom Rooms app natively. The Poly Studio X30 and Poly Studio X50 will be priced at $2,199 and $3,499 respectively and will be available for pre-order in November with general availability in North America, Europe, and select additional countries by December 2019. The Poly G7500 for Zoom will be available as a software update for the G7500 in December 2019.

DTEN

Functioning as a Zoom Rooms for Touch Appliance, the DTEN ON 55” is a single device that can enable video conferencing and interactive whiteboarding for small to mid-sized rooms.

The DTEN ON provides flexible payment options that make high-quality video conference rooms more accessible than ever. Customers can choose from $149 per month (no contract or down payment required and the option to cancel at any time) to as low as $79 a month with multi-year commitment. The subscription comes with 24/7 customer support and 30-minutes response time.

This hardware-as-a-service solution is equipped with all the components needed right out of the box to connect and create more productively. The DTEN ON also has a 27″ version, perfect for smaller spaces such as home offices. It is equipped with 3 cameras and 8-microphone array, costing $599.

The Zoom Room experience

While purpose-built hardware simplifies and improves the Zoom Room Experience, Zoom has made a number of other innovations to take the whole meeting experience a step further. For example, the “Find a Room” function on scheduling displays enables users to see upcoming meetings and to schedule meetings on-the-fly. Scheduling displays also let users see and book spaces ad hoc through an availability map of nearby rooms.

Deploying an accompanying Zoom Rooms for Touch device in an existing Zoom Room provides users with a dedicated whiteboard without additional licenses. Companion whiteboards simply use an interactive display and a computer – no room controller, camera, and audio components are required.

To provide a better experience in large rooms, Zoom Rooms now supports up two room controllers and scheduling displays per room. The Zoom Rooms camera can be set to switch to one of three presets based on microphone pick-up using select supported microphones.

Zoom Rooms and the enterprise

Administrators can now create Zoom Room A/V and display settings under profiles, allowing in-room attendees to switch between different profiles based on room use cases. including lecture mode, single presenter mode, and panel mode.

The Zoom Rooms controller will natively support customisable IP-based commands. This allows customers to manage lighting, window shades, or any other IP-controlled devices directly from the controller. Administrators may remotely manage Zoom Rooms iOS, Mac OS, and Windows OS devices without a third-party MDM from the Zoom Admin Portal, simplifying device deployment and ongoing management.

Where a Zoom Meeting is open to participants with numerous nationalities and languages, a Zoom Meeting can now feature simultaneous translation. Users bring their own interpreters and Zoom provides multiple audio channels. These mix the original and interpreter audio at an optimal ratio that enables the listener to understand the interpreter but also hear the tone of the original speaker.

The Zoom Ecosystem

Zoom has built a robust ecosystem of deep integrations and relationships with hardware, software, and channel partners to create the best experiences for its users. Zoom brings together integrations built by Zoom, its partners and third-party developers, extending the platform with new functionalities.

Marketplace apps are vetted by Zoom for security and user experience. Since it launched at Zoomtopia 2018, developers have published over 160 apps to the Marketplace. These include new integrations within Microsoft Teams and feature the ability to start and schedule Zoom meetings from the Teams interface with a single click.

Zoom has prioritised security with a set of integrations into security-related services such as NICE.

Zoom channel support

Perhaps of paramount interest to the AV News audience is clarification of Zoom’s relationship with the channel. “Zoom is committed to assisting our channel partners in increasing their sales and revenues of our joint solutions.” In pursuit of this objective, Zoom has launched three programs:

· Reseller Partners Marketing Development Funds (MDF) Program: This program is designed to help key channel partners drive demand generation and go-to-market activities.

· Updated Certified Integrator Program: To guarantee the continued quality of Zoom Rooms implementations globally, the Zoom Certified Integrator Program is introducing a recertification process as well as a tier system to ensure that our partners are equipped with the knowledge they need to deploy Zoom Rooms and deliver customer happiness, while also recognising those who excel in designing and installing Zoom Rooms.

· Updated Certified Hardware Program: Zoom’s Hardware Partner Program will now offer hardware partners the opportunity to demonstrate interoperability to businesses and value-added resellers. Zoom’s team works alongside established third-party test labs and hardware partners to conduct extensive testing to ensure the delivery of optimal performance and seamless interoperability for our customers. The Zoom Certified badge lets customers know they can expect a high-quality, reliable communications experience.

Going forward

Frictionless communications empowers users with technology. Zoom has accomplished this from the beginning with an intuitive UI and feature set, and a reliable, scalable video architecture. Now, the company is adding the use of technologies such as artificial intelligence, machine learning, proximity and location-based services, face detection, and personalisation to pull the friction from meetings and provide an empowering communications experience.

Zoom Meetings will see the addition of live transcripts, following the success of recorded transcripts. This AI-based functionality, powered by Otter.ai, transcribes Zoom meetings in real-time and saves transcripts for future reference. Also schedule for inclusion are the automatic generation of neeting notes, action items, and timelines: Users may take notes directly in the Zoom interface or use Zoom’s live transcription for voice note taking. Notes and AI-derived action-items are automatically made available to invited meeting participants after the meeting via the Meeting Timelines.

Finally, capabilities for mixed-reality virtual backgrounds include support for videos and Microsoft PowerPoint files, in addition to the existing JPEG support. Joining existing mixed-reality virtual backgrounds for mobile and desktop, Zoom will introduce virtual backgrounds for Zoom Rooms Using AI-based face detection, Zoom gives account administrators counts of attendees in Zoom Rooms meetings from the Zoom Admin Dashboard

Zoomtopia – Zoom’s annual partner event spells out the company’s roadmap and opportunities within its ecosystem.

Neat’s hardware solution for Zoom.

Poly’s Studio X Series video bars for small to medium Zoom Rooms.

New collaborative hardware announcements

The last month has seen the formal launch of Microsoft’s Surface Hub 2S in the UK am the preview of new ranges of both corporate and education touchscreens from Clevertouch. Having elbowed our way through the extinction rebellion protestors at the Microsoft Store in Oxford Circus, and enjoyed the rather more tranquil surroundings of Hanbury Manor with Clevertouch, we take a look at both offerings.

With a Microsoft pre-announcement of Microsoft Hub 2S several months ago, and a tantalising pre-launch video taking a hands-on look at the Hub 2S could have been a huge let-down. Fortunately, even though only the 50.5 inch, landscape-only model was available, the huddle-space version still had a lot to offer, and will only get better for team working when the 86-inch flexibly mounted Hub 2X version is launched early next year

So what has the Surface Hub 2S have to offer? Surface Hub 2S can transform from a static, fixed device to a mobile, large screen collaborative device. Hub 2S is a modern, all-in-one collaborative canvas and meetings platform that brings the power of Windows 10 to teams. The 50.5-inch 4K+ screen with a slim design with thin bezel. The screen offers a 4K camera, far-field mics and crystal-clear speakers.

It is designed to provide a great platform for Microsoft Teams. next level brainstorming with Microsoft Whiteboard and a persistent digital canvas to interact naturally with Surface Hub 2S Pen and touch functionality. It is Fully integrated Windows 10 device that runs native must-have Microsoft and third-party apps

To support the ultimate in agile working, the Microsoft Hub 2S offers mobile, cordless teamwork with Steelcase Roam Mobile Stand and APC Charge Mobile Battery so you can even disconnect the screen from the mains in transit.

Clevertouch

Within a matter of days, the Microsoft announcement was matched by the latest touch screen releases by Clevertouch. The UX Pro and IMPACT Series were unveiled at the Sahara Tech Showcase and Partner Event.

Sahara sales and marketing director Shaun Marklew explained: “At Clevertouch, we’ve always led the touchscreen market through innovation and the new generation will certainly continue to disrupt the industry with new built in technology. We have improved connectivity with 3 x HDMI as standard and also the first to add 2 x USB C connections allowing single cable connection for video, audio and touch.  Clevertouch IMPACT series is now a truly integrated solution with the addition of built in proximity sensors, near field communication sensors, array microphone, Wi-Fi/Bluetooth module access point, android module expansion slot and an embedded 4K User Interface.”

Today’s enterprise users are looking for a standardised approach across multiple sites that is easy to use. Recent advances in touchscreen technology mean that this expectation has been realised and can be surpassed. Manufacturers such as Clevertouch have built solutions around the end-users’ requirements, which also ticks the boxes for the AV teams who want to remote-manage them.

The idea of an Enterprise Ecosystem that can be used in any environment and is adaptable to existing businesses requirements and demand is exactly the direction the industry needs to go in. Organisations want freedom and flexibility. This can be achieved with a catalogue of different brands and products, but that creates its own set of challenges. Who takes the blame if something is not working? Is it the control, the screen, the network? The list goes on. In order to futureproof their working environment, companies are looking to incorporate more agile solutions.

So, what does the latest and greatest meeting solution need? Decision-makers are demanding a walk-up-and-use solution which:

l Maintains a secure environment and provides an area where visitors can work without worrying about corporate security and connectivity, favouring the cloud over reliance on external hard drives

l A 4K monitor that can display content from any brand of device and run all day, every day, in a bright light workspace, without the worry of it failing or the warranty not covering it

l Gives clear audio and video for Unified Communications

l Permits users to wirelessly present with any device, on any platform

l Can be synced to calendars for Room Booking on the screen

l Allows users to get out of the room with video, voice, desktop share and multiway inking, allowing collaboration between the home user, remote worker and other people outside the business, without the need for software or files to be installed

l Meets the increasing need for a solution that updates itself, can be fully managed remotely, with a comprehensive five-year warranty

Clevertouch has created the all-in-one Enterprise Ecosystem for the agile workplace, combining our new UX Pro touchscreen, integrated room booking and UC platform – one cost, no ongoing subscriptions and it will fit seamlessly into your existing set-up. A real-time collaborative workspace that enables participants to work together, in an open environment, whilst ensuring that the collaboration systems and the underlying networks remain totally secure.

UX Pro is designed around enabling team collaboration regardless of the location. With new built-in touch-back mirroring from any device, UC platform, proximity sensors, Intel OPS PC slot, superior connectivity with USB C charging and 45W max power sound.

To support the ultimate in agile working, the Microsoft Hub 2S offers mobile, cordless teamwork with Steelcase Roam Mobile Stand and APC Charge Mobile Battery so you can even disconnect the screen from the mains in transit.

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