Silicon Valley Research Center Unlocks Collaboration with Oblong Mezzanine

Visitors to NTT Group’s new customer experience center are immersed in latest digital products and solutions, experience a new kind of workplace collaboration.

CI Staff
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NTT I³, or the NTT Innovation Institute, is the new research and development arm of the NTT Group, a global leader in information and communications technology.

Situated in the heart of Silicon Valley, Calif., is its new 28,000 square-foot facility, a high-tech complex for applied research and development. Inside the building is the customer experience center (CXC), a state-of-the-art interactive area designed to showcase NTT’s latest digital products and solutions to clients and customers.

CXC is one of the most technologically advanced R&D and executive briefing centers in the world. Although part of a fast-track construction fit-out, the thinking behind it was long term.

The result is an innovative, immersive and collaborative environment, that also provides global corporate and government leaders with a professional and comfortable setting to learn about the latest industry and technology developments. As NTT Group recognized when they were planning the facility, the people who create technology love technology and they want to be surrounded by it, immerse themselves in it, use it, experiment with it and show it to others.

Photos: Go Inside the NTT Customer Experience Center

“We were building the Centre and looking for the latest technologies out there, as we wanted to challenge the way our customers would think when they came in,” says Srini Koushik, president and CEO of NTT Group. “We saw the Oblong technology and it was so impressive that we immediately put our original plans on hold. In fact, we were about 30 days away from launching with a different technology. We stopped that—and we worked with the Oblong team to be able to put Mezzanine into our center.”

NTT I³ strives to set a new global standard of agility, quality, and value creation in pursuit of open service innovation. To do this, the company needed to collaborate across multiple geographies. That’s where the Oblong Mezzanine System comes in; now the central element of the Overbridge suite.

Mezzanine is a collaborative conference room solution that brings together people, screens, devices, applications and data in a shared workspace. It is designed to blend physical and digital environments across distributed locations and goes well beyond videoconferencing to accelerate a company’s ability to share content, boost productivity and unlock innovation.

Mezzanine is an entirely new way of bringing people together to solve problems: teams meet more efficiently; customer engagement is maximized and decisions are made faster.

“When we bring our customers in to the Mezzanine Room for the first time, generally their reaction is of awe, of shock, that actually something like that exists!” says Cindy Lui, Director of IT Portfolio and Operations Analysis, NTT Group.

Mezzanine expands on existing technology by providing info-presence—the incorporation of multiple users, multiple devices, and multiple streams of information in a shared pane of glass. Mezzanine at CXC features six 65″ screens to provide the workspace for presentations and info-presence collaborations.

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A three-screen presentation wall controlled by the wireless wand lets users move ideas, slides, photos, and information to any of the three “cork board” displays on the left. Remote attendees can get a video view of the whiteboard on the right wall, as well as access to any of the main screens.

Oblong’s CEO and founder, John Underkoffler, designed the gestural systems depicted in the film and Mezzanine is a realization of the ideas conveyed in the Tom Cruise flick Minority Report.

“All the screens in that room are connected,” says Underkoffler. “The team has come together to have a meeting to sift through information and make a time critical decision and that’s what Mezzanine provides for our customer’s today.”

David O’Hara, Senior Program Manager is aware of how different Mezzanine is. “Everybody has seen a server and everybody has seen a typical video conferencing set-up, but this one is actually a lot more interactive, where you can actually collaborate – move video screens around.”

Collaboration in the working environment requires a flexible workspace that allows ideas to flow and evolve. Mezzanine provides abundant screen real estate and brings multiple locations and devices into a shared canvas; images can enlarge, diagrams can expand, and ideas can develop.

“In the last two months we’ve had about 50 clients come through,” says Koushik. “Every one of them has walked away impressed at what’s in that room.”