For most businesses and schools, 2020 was the year of COVID, and the pandemic forced organizations to transform the way they do business or education. AV solutions were and continue to be the engine behind these efforts, as they simplify remote work, promote social distancing, enhance online education, and help organizations keep their spaces clean and their teams healthy.
Video conferencing platforms, presentation systems, better lighting, document cameras and various health and safety technologies are among the AV solutions that organizations have integrated into their workflow, in response to the pandemic.
Video conferencing and presentation systems are making remote learning and working possible
Video conferencing was already a top AV target for businesses, government, and school districts alike, but with the COVID pandemic, they have also become irreplaceable in how they support remote workforces. Even better, though, is that video conferencing and other AV systems are now being built with simple, wireless operation. Wireless presentation systems minimize physical contact, which is good for physical hygiene, and minimizes frustration, which is good for mental hygiene.
Some notable wireless presentation solutions include:
Crestron is a trusted brand in conferencing systems and its AirMedia products facilitate wireless presentation. Just enter the room, connect wirelessly, put in a code and being a meeting. This can all be done from the user’s own device, too, so there is zero contact with shared surfaces. The AirMedia can also be connected to the room’s controls, so it can bring up lighting and greet people as they walk in.
The Barco Clickshare also allows people to present with zero contact and is engineered for ease of use. For example, the ClickShare is triple agnostic, so it can work with any device, any AV peripheral brand and any unified communications technology.
ScreenBeam is another wireless presentation solution, but one that’s also designed for education. It can switch between wired and wireless mode instantly, so students can connect nearly any type of device when sharing work. It also comes with Ghost Inking, which removes the lag between finger and annotation, and allows educators to make notes cleanly.
The Mersive Solstice allows users to connect via Miracast, AirPlay, Solstice’s own app, using an HDMI cable or through a browser. That’s because the Solstice is meant to be as intuitive as possible for streamlined team conferencing. It’s also optimized for performance, as the system can utilize both the corporate network and guest network to draw resources from. This is done with maximum security in mind, and Mersive subjects its technology to third-party penetration testing to ensure security.
Improved lighting is also improving workspaces, both remote and in office
Video conferencing and collaboration is tough to do in the dark, and many professionals have found that their home’s ambient lighting isn’t enough for their workspace. One simple solution to this is the LumeCube. Originally engineered as a photography accessory, the LumeCube is ideal for providing additional illumination for better clarity and communication. It can be mounted to a monitor or on a mini tripod so it can be positioned anywhere.
Certain forms of lighting, specifically UV-C lighting, also has potential in combating COVID. According to the national Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine, UV light is likely effective against COVID as it is a proven weapon against other coronaviruses. Now, it is being used in some offices to sanitize work surfaces periodically. One product that uses this technology is the Nemesis Hydra, which comes with various controls and timers to detail exactly when sanitation occurs. Outside of these times, the Nemesis functions like a normal office light.
Better cameras and audio ensure everyone can be seen and heard
Professionals and educators are also improving their conferencing capabilities with better audio and camera technology. Some examples include:
Poly is a leader in the conferencing industry, with decades of experience in connecting professional teams. Much of Poly’s renown is due to its excellent handling of audio, and its headsets take full advantage of this. For instance, Poly’s headsets are designed with ambient noise suppression, which helps block out distracting noise. They’re also durable and intercompatible, as they can be used with Zoom, Microsoft Teams, RingCentral, 8×8, WebEx, and GoToMeeting.
Logitech manufactures a variety of cameras for every professional environment. This includes everything from its Poly Eagle Eye Mini, which can be quickly mounted to a laptop or PC monitor, to its sophisticated PTZ cameras. Many of Logitech’s PTZ models are designed with face detection and framing technology, so it tracks whoever is speaking, even if they are moving around the room.
Biamp’s products include some of the industry’s best microphones, and its CrowdMics technology allows people to utilize any smartphone as a microphone. If granted permission, users can connect their device to the system and run their audio through the room’s PA system. With CrowdMics, there is no need to pass a microphone around the room, which keeps things cleaner.
Some 2020 technology solutions were aimed at better workplace hygiene and safety
A handful of 2020 solutions were aimed at controlling the spread of COVID itself. Some of them include:
Keeping sick people at home is essential, and Protect98 makes it easier for businesses to protect their employees. The app can be used with most devices and scans body temperature with excellent accuracy and speed. It only takes a couple seconds per person, and pass or fail indication is done with sound and light. People are guided through the process with visual instructions, too, so it’s also simple.
Creston’s meeting room flags
Crestron’s meeting flags are already used to help with room booking and faster meetings, but now they can also guide cleaning teams to rooms that require sanitation. Designed to provide simple information quickly, Creston’s flags can be color-coded to denote whether a room is in need of cleaning, is already clean, or is occupied.
iCloth isn’t an AV solution, but it does keep AV solutions clean. iCloths are pre-moistened with a 70-percent isopropyl solution, which is what the CDC recommends for disinfection. They are approved for aerospace use, as well, because they will not scratch surfaces and are individually packaged.
2020 was the year of COVID, but it was also a year of innovation to ensure safer workplaces that could still be productive when teams work remotely. With some of the industry’s best AV manufacturers put to the task, they were able to develop many technologies that are helping companies and schools maintain safe operations, even in the face of a global pandemic.