Video and audio conferencing solutions fit in any organization, no matter what that organization’s mission is. In business settings, video and audio conferencing drives communication, connects teams, allows for long-distance meetings between partners and supports a remote workforce. In schools, video conferencing connects teachers to administrators, parents and students.
Already a proven solution, video and audio conferencing has undergone extensive development in just the last few years. Some standout features of a modern conferencing solution include:
- Touchless controls - Organizations have made health and safety a focus, and this focus extends to modern video conferencing solutions. Several top manufacturers have released wireless presentation systems, and with one in place, users can control the system from their own device, without touching a shared surface. If needed, these solutions allow users to wire their device in.
- Interactivity - Video conferencing solutions can accommodate interactive flat panels for enhanced utility during a presentation. For example, the presenter can start a whiteboarding session using the interactive flat panel, share content, and anyone participating in the meeting can annotate where needed.
- Compatibility with major conferencing platforms - More and more organizations are turning to mainstream conferencing platforms like Zoom, Microsoft Teams, GoToMeeting and Cisco Webex for reliability and usability reasons. In response, respected conference system manufacturers have designed their technology for compatibility across multiple platforms.
What are some leading video conferencing solutions?
There are several manufacturers worth pointing out in the video conferencing space. Some of them include:
Poly (formerly Polycom) has produced industry-leading video conferencing solutions for decades, so it has adapted with time. Though the manufacturer offers a deep and diverse product portfolio, Poly’s flagship solutions include its Poly Studio, its room solutions, and its immersive telepresence solutions.
The Poly Studio is an all-in-one USB conferencing bar, with camera and speakers built in. It can be used with a pair of 4K displays, so participants and content can be seen with complete clarity. It’s designed for out-of-the-box compatibility with Microsoft Teams and Zoom, and the Poly Studio is built on open standards, so it can connect to nearly any cloud conferencing service.
Poly’s room solutions are designed for organizations running Microsoft Teams and provide a hassle-free means of running meetings through the platform. Every room solution comes with Poly’s on-point camera and speaker technology, with TV-level production, face tracking and noise reduction software.
Poly’s immersive telepresence is exactly what it sounds like - an immersive video conferencing experience that’s as close as it gets to being in the same room. This effect is driven by multiple ultra-thin bezel 65-inch displays, so there’s no limit to what can be presented.
Crestron is another decades-old conferencing hardware manufacturer, and like Poly, Crestron has kept its solutions current by working with popular platforms. Its standout video conferencing solution, the Crestron Flex, can be used with nearly any platform, but can also be configured for a simple Zoom or Microsoft Teams room experience.
The Flex is more than just a conferencing solution because it can be integrated with room controls, room scheduling and wireless presentation systems for centralized meeting management. Further, the Flex is easy to configure and manage, as thousands of Flexes can be provisioned at once and managed from a single backend.
Crestron’s AirMedia line of wireless presentation products is also a popular choice, and can be used with every device OS on the market. With AirMedia, users can connect their device to the room’s conferencing equipment without interfacing with anything else. Occupancy sensors detect when someone has entered the room and the room’s displays provide instructions on how to connect. Multiple devices can be connected via AirMedia, too, and anyone who is connected can share content from their device when prompted. The classroom and conference room applications are endless.
Barco emphasizes compatibility with its products, and especially in its ClickShare Conference solution. The ClickShare Conference is built on two primary components. The first is the base unit, which connects all of the room’s conferencing peripherals together, such as cameras and speakers. The base unit can handle audio through USB, HDMI or SPDIF, and it can output 4K UHD video through HDMI. In addition to the base unit, Barco includes two ClickShare Buttons with the system. Each button facilitates easy connectivity with the room’s technology. All the user has to do is connect the button to their laptop and press the button. Within 10 seconds, the user’s device is connected and ready to go.
The ClickShare Conference is also triple agnostic, so it can be used with any device, any conferencing platform and with any conferencing hardware. It’s the ultimate in usability.
Mersive’s primary video conferencing solution is its Solstice product line. Like other wireless presentation systems, users don’t have to touch anything other than their own device to connect to the solution. Further, the Solstice was built for organizations that blend onsite and remote teams, as the Solstice’s drag and drop interface makes it a snap to share content. Also, like the Barco ClickShare, Mersive’s conferencing solution is agnostic, so it can be paired with any conferencing platform, whether it’s Zoom, Microsoft Teams or another preferred option.
In a smart move, Mersive has designed the Solstice to run conferencing on the company’s network and its guest network simultaneously, which ensures there is extra bandwidth if needed. Finally, Mersive takes security seriously, which is why the Solstice’s security measures are tested by a third party every year.
Video and audio conferencing technology has improved greatly since its introduction decades ago, and many of those improvements have been implemented in just the last five or so years. Video and audio quality issues have long since been resolved, usability issues are no longer a concern, and with the rise of remote work, it’s time for organizations to consider the technology. With it, businesses, schools and other institutions can keep their teams connected and enhance their productivity and collaboration, no matter where they are.