Video Conferencing in the ‘20s
By Abrie du Plooy
The term Video Conferencing has been a scary word to consumers for many years and more often than not, even the odd technician. Conventional systems required quite a few individual pieces of hardware, operating in concert to provide a functional solution.
These components would be; a hardware codec to handle all the processing, PTZ (Pan Tilt Zoom) camera to capture video, boundary or ceiling microphones to record voice, an amplifier and speakers to reproduce the incoming audio, an echo-cancellation system for users not to hear themselves, single or dual display screens for the actual video,
A touch keypad to dial from and finally a remote control to operate the camera.Then one needed the connectivity required in order to connect with other offices and I am sure many players in the audiovisual industry remember the 4x line ISDN systems that were used. With all these in place, there was the limitation of only being able to conference with proprietary products as manufacturers weren’t keen on open platform systems for client retention purposes.
It is important to keep in mind that the quality of the audio in a Video Conferencing system takes priority over the quality of the video. In a meeting where video completely fails but the remote participants are still clearly audible, the context of the meeting will not be lost and the meeting can continue. If the audio is poor or fails even though the video remains to be displayed in the highest resolution, the communication will be lost and the users won’t be able to proceed. Connectivity is equally important. It is essential to have a reliable, high bandwidth connection for a smooth uninterrupted meeting. To echo the previous statement, if bandwidth limitations interfere with meeting quality, the video can be switched off and only audio is required for the meeting to continue.
Luckily for us, technology improves on a daily basis and systems have evolved into software codecs on a personal device using the internal camera and microphones connected to the internet. If multiple participants use bigger systems such as huddle or meeting rooms, each system would still only need a processor with a software codec of your choice such as Microsoft Teams, or Zoom. Whether it is a room based processor or a BYOD/BYOM (Bring Your Own Device/Meeting) setup, it can be connected with USB to compact professional products to turn an entire room or a small gathering around a table into a professional Video Conferencing solution.
An example would be the MAXHUB UCM40, a single device jam packed with features. The UCM40 provides a 360 degree view to include all the participants. It uses an integrated microphone array to detect the direction of speech and capture only that voice whilst the remaining microphones automatically mutes to eliminate ambient noise. The camera will follow suit and switch to display the speaker. Various alternative configurations can be selected to display individual people’s head and shoulders and / or an overview of all participants. The UCM40 even includes a high end sound system to provide that crisp clear audio that we mentioned above.
For larger rooms, MAXHUB offers a UC Video Sound Bar that connects to any display. The single video-sound bar includes the required, high quality, video and audio components such as a 4K resolution camera, 6x microphone array and an integrated active speaker. Further to this, the video-sound bar offers an on-board Android processor. Any software codec application such as Microsoft Teams or Zoom can be installed on the device itself to facilitate a meeting without connecting to an external device. The Android processor further allows the user to wirelessly present and share content with remote as well as local participants.
These are just two of the Video Conferencing devices in Electrosonic’s extensive arsenal of products. Many additional products are available because all systems are unique and a custom approach is needed to provide the correct solution for each venue and its hosts. Electrosonic offers a range of professional brands, each providing quality solutions to meet the user’s needs. Whether it is a large 86” ProSpectre display with an internal i5 PC or an interactive Maxhub display which incorporates many additional functions over and above video conferencing. The Maxhub screens include a 4K resolution camera, 6x microphone array and 2.1 audio system. The interactive screens also provide functionality to present and share wirelessly, teach online or collaborate with a different office via remote whiteboarding. These features compliment the video conferencing solution and a single screen thus provides an end-to-end solution for a fully functional room. On the Kramer side, a range of unified communication products are available that can easily be used as stand-alone or incorporated with existing rooms when being upgraded to modern specifications.
The proof is in the pudding though and in order to put our money where our mouths are we gladly invite you to bring your clients around and experience these amazing products first hand. We will have our technical experts available to discuss your requirements and design custom solutions to meet your needs.