• Wednesday , 23 January 2019

ISE 2018: the race to collaborate

Martin Wagner of technical consultants macon wrote, in his report on trends at ISE 2018: “The spectrum of collaboration solutions at this year’s ISE was huge. There was hardly a display manufacturer who did not present at least one co-working solution on their stands”. So having established that it’s not just AV News that is obsessed with collaborative technology, we thought that we would take a look at some the new and lesser known solutions.

In Unified Collaboration circles, the concept of collaboration has a much broader definition than in AV, where it has become almost synonymous with video conferencing, albeit augmented with file sharing and whiteboarding, Prior to ISE 2018, we saw significant opportunities for sales of interactive touch panels, firstly as interactive white board replacements, and then as corporate collaboration appliances

Many of the latest generation of these appliances were on show, including the capacitive version of the Clevertouch Pro series, the latest Avocor range and even the 65” LG panel that will apparently be used in the forthcoming Cisco board. Add to these the MicroLED wall designed to be used in meeting room applications, and for those who need a really big canvas, Prysm announced the availability of new Microsoft Windows 10-based and IOS apps.

But what about applications that demand collaboration in a wider context? Martin Wagner again: “Manufacturers are basically following two different approaches: Some focus on hardware and open interfaces to be able to implement software clients or operating systems for the different use cases. The other approach is that in addition to the display hardware, the manufacturers also produce the software for the different use cases and offer everything from a single source, concluding that: “For smaller companies, with just a few meeting rooms, it may make more sense to purchase source displays and software from a single source. This guarantees uniform user interfaces in all rooms. For larger companies, with different user needs, display solutions from different manufacturers may be better suited, however, this may make the user experience a little more difficult and require larger changes in management processes.”


Collaboration choices

Wagner continues: “In the Unified Communication sector, the trend is towards compact and scalable all-in-one solutions that combine camera, microphone audio and video output in an appealing design. Software-based UC clients such as Skype for Business or Cisco Spark are gaining ground.”

With trend also in favour of Out-of-Office or decentralised working on mobile devices, several software manufacturers presented cloud-based systems with apps at ISE 2018 for different devices. To use the software, the app can be installed on laptop or smartphone. The advantage of these solutions are their ease-of-use. “Regardless of the room in which the UC participants are located, the communication is controlled via the personal devices. The users are well versed in those devices and this lowers the initial user barrier. The meeting rooms here only provide the infrastructure for communication.”

While there is considerable end-user appeal to solutions that offer agile connectivity to meetings from remote locations, the market is still convinced of the potential for multi-participant hubs or meeting room solutions. For example, Biamp Systems, announced a new generation of its Devio collaboration platform. New features and patented capabilities that are said to further improve audio quality, while also simplifying installation and programming for integrators.

Rob Houston, unified communications product manager at Biamp Systems explains: “The rapid adoption of open-plan offices – in combination with an increasingly dispersed workforce – is driving the need for more informal spaces that are equipped for effective conferencing and collaboration. We’ve developed our Devio collaboration platform to address this need, whether it is a small room equipped with a dedicated computer or designed for people to use their laptops when presenting content and joining web conferencing sessions. Companies can tailor the room experience to fit their culture and get audio quality that keeps remote participants engaged and productive.”

Many conference rooms feature microphones or integrated audio devices that are static in nature, restricting participants’ ability to move around a room and still be clearly heard by people joining remotely. Equipped with Biamp’s patented beam tracking technology, Devio microphones identify and lock onto a signal source, but also track that source as they move around the room.

This ability to capture participants’ conversation as they collaborate, while intelligently mixing conversations from around the table, obviously capitalises on one of Biamp’s strengths, and with collaboration solutions emanating from so many sources, the decision to deploy them depends on the specific use case of the end-user. One size doesn’t appear to fit all.


Diverse devices

And for those whose application can range from the desktop, to the huddle space and the meeting room. Prysm has announced the availability of two new native apps for its visual collaboration solutions: one for Microsoft Windows 10-based devices and the other for IOS. These two apps extend the power of the Prysm work experience seamlessly from mobile device to desktop to conference room.

You can bow connect your team with shared visual workspaces where everyone is empowered to bring relevant content and ideas into focus across virtually any screen size, from the corner coffee shop to the boardroom. You can collaborate with participants, regardless of their work location, and consolidate status updates, feedback and action items for subsequent review and prioritization according to your schedule. You can share any desktop or web application alongside files, notes and sketches and enable your team to focus on the information that matters to accelerate critical decisions.

With Prysm for iPhone users can engage in Prysm projects while mobile or in-room to speed decision making. They can easily share files, website content or other apps to the visual workspaces. They can also add ideas and notes directly to Prysm projects to enhance collaboration. They can quickly and securely log in to Prysm-enabled displays directly from an iPhone. The desktop app will support Microsoft Windows 10-powered devices with plans to expand to other devices in later in 2018. The apps will be free to download from the Windows 10 Microsoft Store and the Apple App Store. A subscription to Prysm’s digital workplace platform is required.

The apps build on Prysm’s Winter ’17 software release which features a next-generation digital sketchboard, Windows 10 support, and updated design and homepage capabilities. Prysm’s new sketchboard allows bi-directional, real-time collaboration for disparate meeting participants along with a natural writing experience, multi-directional resizing, and ability to zoom in and out of the experience for maximum use case flexibility.

“Many of today’s digital sketchboards offer aspects of the tools employees need, but they lack the surrounding digital workplace capabilities that can turn an ad-hoc brainstorm session into actionable progress,” said Paige O’Neill CMO at Prysm. “With today’s software release, we are not only solving those problems, we’re
upleveling sketch board collaboration by providing a space for users to work with multiple idea streams simultaneously in the context of the challenge being addressed. This, ultimately, helps users come to smarter conclusions, and faster.”


Too specific?

Just in case all these devices and solutions don’t meet your specific requirements, you might be in the market for a universal solution that can be adopted. That’s what DVDO aims to do, by unleashing Universal Casting to both professional and commercial integrators at ISE. The DVDO TILE simplifies the process of wirelessly connecting multiple users to an existing display system, enabling a one-of-a-kind collaboration experience by casting any desktop, application, video, image or other content to the shared screen.

Up to five different TILED windows can be displayed simultaneously, allowing multiple users to share content, compare videos and images, or to bring up websites alongside presentations. The TILE system offers five HDMI inputs including an HDMI 2.0a 4K pass-through, two USB inputs and two HDMI mirrored outputs.

Aimed at collaborative environments such as executive conference centres or huddle rooms, TILE users manage their experience with DVDO’s free and easy-to-use TILE app, which is available for iOS and Android mobile devices, as well as for Mac and Windows PC systems. Users simply download the app and begin to cast content through TILE to the connected display. A moderator mode can help approve and queue content before it is shown on screen.


More choice? They’re still coming!

Still not sure, and think there could still be something better out there? There could be – if not at ISE, Info COMM will undoubtedly see dozens more solutions announced and the recently announced Connect conference in September of this year (See box opposite) could be your chance to get alongside the collaboration heavy weights in London.

In the meantime, it is so apparent that the collaboration trend is sweeping the business community that the venture capitalists are humping in. Avedon Capital Partners have acquired VisionsConnected and Viju “to create a global provider of video conferencing, audio-visual and collaboration solutions.’

Odd Sverre Østlie, CEO at Viju, explains the rationale: “For the end user to be effective, they need a trusted partner to bring the world of different technologies together. Together with VisionsConnected we can provide our customers with a seamless ecosystem of personal and shared video and AV technologies as-a-service, covering every need from one-to-one and group collaboration, to internal all-hands and external events.”

Raymond Alves, CEO at VisionsConnected, concurred, saying: “We look forward to further developing our solutions and services, and continue to drive innovation by enabling effective collaboration between people and organizations.” At ISE we launched our new brand and some great new products.”

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