Tag Archives: Video Conference
Can a conference room truly be “intelligent,” to accommodate your connection, communication, and collaboration needs? Does such a conference room actually exist?
A conference room has to accommodate people at different levels, different skill sets, with different types of connection and communication needs – it could be a local connection point to locally present from your own device, or to bridge someone at a remote location for audio/video conferencing. The life of a conference room is always busy…it must be set up efficiently to accommodate a variety of user needs. This new conference room model has become known in the industry as the “all-in-one conference room”.
As an AV Integrator, what does it take to cover all these possibly functions of the all-in-one conference room? You may want to ask yourself the following questions:
In-Room Local Meetings
One of the major applications of these all-in-one conference rooms is local, in-room presentations and sharing. Wired connections are a thing of the past, legacy systems which also have the challenges of different formats, types of connectors, etc. Wireless collaboration technology has taken over the way participants share and collaborate information.
• Does your conference room support cross-platform Windows, Mac, iOS, Android devices for presentation?
• Can multiple users share and collaborate information simultaneously? 4-6 simultaneous participant connectivity is common.
• Do you need white boarding / annotation functions?
• Is your conference room content secured? Can it generate a dynamic PIN for your session?
• Can your conference room capture the content from this meeting? Does this capture include audio, video camera and data for future use?
• Can your room stream this content live and/or on-demand?
Audio calls are still a favored method of communication, to join a webinar or to connect with someone who does not have a video-enabled device.
• Do you have a professional audio system to handle modern room acoustic challenges?
• Is it designed to cover participants who stand/sit away from the conference room table?
• Does it support PSTN and/or VOIP Connectivity?
Can this all-in-one conference room host a web conference? Times have changed. Web conferencing is now much more productive with video and media collaboration, rather than simply being an audio call. The true advantage of web conferencing is its ability to accommodate a large number of participants.
• Does your room support simple plug-and-play connectivity from your laptop to host a conference?
• Does your cloud application support cross-platform BYOD?
• Do you have a professional camera and professional audio support to deliver your message loud and clear?
Video conferencing adoption has grown immensely in recent years and it will continue to do so. All of us are aware of the benefits of video conferencing.
• Your room must be capable of interoperating with other manufacturer’s solutions.
• H.323/SIP and H.460 support is required to ensure a smooth connectivity to legacy systems.
• Modern-age conference rooms require recording and archiving of conferences for future use.
• Streaming of conferences is often required for overflow rooms.
• Conference rooms must be equipped with multi-party capability to connect multiple locations at the same time.
ClearOne COLLABORATE® Pro 900 offers a complete media collaboration solution to meet today’s diverse organizational demands for conferencing, collaboration, and communication.
Its versatile design makes it ideal for multiple applications including videoconferencing, professional audio conferencing, wireless presentations and collaborations, training, corporate announcements, etc.
• Brings traditional SIP/H.323 videoconferencing and cloud video collaboration into a single appliance for multi-site collaboration with up to 25 sites.
• Award-winning Beamforming Microphone Array and market-leading CONVERGE® Pro DSP mixer for best-in-class professional audio.
• Perfect for both single-site and multi-site interactive collaboration.
• Multi-purpose solution for multiple applications – videoconferencing, professional audio conferencing, wireless presentation and collaboration, capture and recording station, streaming and distribution.
• Multi-source collaboration with simultaneous capture of up to 4 video input sources.
• Single point of support and maintenance for your complete collaboration and conferencing needs.
This post continues our discussion on addressing what needs to be done with audio to make it effective in all situations so users can clearly hear everyone involved in audio and video conferencing calls.
Audio Is The Foundation
Humans can tolerate visual interference – a grainy image, untrue colors, and jerky images. But, the audio must be high quality in order for listeners to perceive the words. Decades of research have shown how specific types of signal degradation affect perception. This research has been used to produce telecommunications networks that are optimized for transmission of high quality human speech.
One study, conducted by TRI, had 100 participants view video and evaluate the quality of the image as they thought the bandwidth of the video was being altered. In reality, the bandwidth allotted to audio was changed. The participants perceived the video improving as the audio improved, even though no changes were made to the video quality.
Audio must be high quality in order for people to perceive the words. Speech can tolerate some clipping or the loss of an occasional syllable, but time lag is intolerable to listeners during conversation. When the range in the voice is muffled and speaker identity and intelligibility are affected, calls are no longer understandable. All these factors make audio quality an extremely important component of a video conference. Lowered speech intelligibility will inevitably obscure natural communication, take focus away from important aspects of the meeting, and cause fatigue.
The way audio is handled in a video call can also be an issue. The quality of speech transmitted over a local area network (LAN) or wide area network (WAN) can be impacted by the way audio packets are handled. Compression and decompression of audio is a standard part of a video conferencing system, and can be a source of reduction in audio quality. Complete loss of some audio packets during transmission over the pubic Internet may also occur. As a result, the audio signal may suffer in quality and delay. In some instances, to optimize audio in a video conference, a full duplex voice telephone circuit is used to carry the audio portion of the conference. The independent channel can also be helpful for troubleshooting if participants have difficulty with the LAN or collaboration applications during a meeting. As an alternative, a company can pay a service provider with Quality of Service (QoS) technologies like Multiprotocol Label Switching (MPLS) and Differentiated Services or DiffServ, which allow audio and video data to be transmitted with a guaranteed level of quality.
Achieving Audio Quality
The goal in any video conference is for the participants to feel they are in a meeting room with good acoustics and do not feel distracted when others whisper, tap pens or rustle papers. If a room is properly equipped and designed, meeting participants should not have to worry where they sit or stand in order to be heard. They should feel as if everyone is in the same room, even when communicating from a distance. Achieving quality audio is dependent on both the right equipment and the proper environment.
Room design is an important component for quality audio. A room with hard surfaces everywhere results in too much echo. When setting up a room for a video conference, consideration must be given to whether there are reflective surfaces near the microphones and speakers, whether there are sources of noise coming from other equipment or SS systems, and how well the room is sound-insulated from adjoining rooms. For some rooms, a premium or installed audio system may be appropriate.
Check for symptoms of bad acoustics by clapping your hands. If it sounds like you are in an empty barrel, garage or basement, you need acoustical treatment of the room. Your goal is to achieve a sound that is relaxing and inviting. The next step is to look at your meeting room and check for hard floors, hard walls and the presence of undraped windows. Hard surfaces are part of the cause of bad acoustics. The secret to making your room better for audio or video calls is to have soft surfaces that absorb sound. Carpeting, upholstered surfaces, and draperies are examples of how to soften a room to achieve better audio. But changing a room is not always practical or desired. A professionally installed system is designed by an integrator to mitigate noise and echo while optimizing desired sound.
Acoustical wall panels will also help achieve proper sound in a room. Never let two opposing walls remain without absorption. Acoustical treatment attenuates the reflected sound and increases the usable distance between sound sources and receivers. This will increase the audio quality over a wider seating area.
ClearOne’s new Beamforming Microphone Array automatically configures to room acoustics with twenty-four microphone elements, steering its pickup pattern towards participants in the room and rejecting unwanted noise and reflections.
Many systems today use simple microphones with little directional sensitivity. While these microphones capture sound from all directions, they do not adequately suppress ambient noise. New microphones are being developed to optimize directional sensitivity. Installing the right audio equipment and treating the room will help optimize audio quality.
This process does not have to be expensive. One end user solved the audio problems in a room located in a parking garage inexpensively by hanging lined draperies on the wall. The small changes worked and resulted in acceptable audio during a video conference. Small adjustments to the room can make slight audio improvements, while solutions ranging from speakerphones to professionally installed systems can bring the greatest improvements to conferencing sound.
Finally, there is no substitute for proper speech etiquette. Anyone speaking should use a normal speaking voice, with no need to shout or whisper, and always direct his or her voice at a microphone. The right audio system, with intelligence provided to automatically correct microphone gain without causing unnecessary pumping noise, is the approach to take for optimized audio. With intelligent systems presenters are able to stand or walk around a room without being tied to a lavaliere microphone or having to directly speak into a microphone.
Awareness of what needs to be done to achieve good quality audio is the key to video conferencing success. Good audio solutions for every conferencing application – with or without video – are important to successful calls.
S. Ann Earon, Ph.D., is president of Telemanagement Resources International Inc. and Founding Chairperson of IMCCA, the non-profit industry association for collaborative conferencing. She can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
ClearOne invites you to attend the FREE webinar “Hard Facts about the Software Age – Video Conferencing Evolution” on Thursday, August 1st at 1:00-2:00 EST with Adi Regev ClearOne, Vice President, Video Conferencing Business.
Video Conferencing continues to evolve. Knowing today’s trends and tomorrow’s direction is the key to providing future-proof solutions. It’s all about the user perspective – the roadblocks to adoptions and the solutions to true ROI. Software-based solutions provide affordability and flexibility beyond hardware-based counterparts; opening the way future-proof scalability – the solutions ClearOne offers. Register to attend for FREE at: http://www.vci-group.org/events/vcigspot.aspx
For more information about how your organization can benefit from video conferencing, visit us at: http://www.clearone.com/products_video_conferencing or read about the top benefits of video conferencing for your business.