Remote and hybrid-work solutions were in abundance at InfoComm 2023, as the tech industry continues to innovate to support organizations that are continuing to allow for flexible working arrangements.
Remote and hybrid-work solutions that were on display during InfoComm 2023 ran the gamut — they ranged from all-in-one video bars; to all-in-one collaboration displays; to headsets, cameras, microphones and other technology designed for the home office and small businesses.
A key theme among these devices were simplicity and ease of use. Many of these new collaboration devices are designed to be plug-and-play and incredibly simple to set up, manage and use. In addition, artificial intelligence (AI) is a core feature in these solutions, taking the complexity out of setup and configuration.
All-in-One Videoconferencing Bars
This is a category that is growing exponentially. Major manufacturers are joining the likes of Logitech, Poly and others in the all-in-one videoconferencing bar market. Not to be left behind, both Logitech and Poly leveraged InfoComm 2023 to show off new devices.
Logitech’s Rally Bar Huddle
Logitech’s main draw to its booth was the Rally Bar Huddle, released in the late spring, which it markets as a “premium all-in-one appliance-based video bar” designed for huddle rooms and small meeting rooms of up to six people.
Like others in the category, the device features built-in audio and video intelligence that block unwanted noise and intelligently frame in-room attendees and speakers. The Rally Bar Huddle works with both a dedicated Windows or ChromeOS computer or in a bring-your-own-device (BYOD) mode. Indeed, it runs supported videoconferencing applications on the device in appliance mode without an external computer.
Poly Studio X52
Poly, meanwhile, used the InfoComm 2023 platform to announce its new Poly Studio X52 all-in-one videobar for mid-sized meeting spaces. The company says its new Poly DirectorAI smart camera technology offers automated camera framing modes such as group, speaker and people framing. In addition, the device features the new Poly DirectorAI Perimeter feature for group and speaker framing.
Sennheiser TeamConnect Bar
Sennheiser took the occasion of InfoComm to launch the TeamConnect Bar, a new line of all-in-one collaboration bars designed for small and mid-sized collaboration spaces. According to Sennheiser, the TeamConnect Bar S features four microphones and two speakers. By contrast, the larger TeamConnect Bar M has six microphones and four speakers
Sennheiser is, of course, known for the exceptional audio quality of its headphones, microphones and conferencing solutions. Thus, the company highlights the audio features of the TeamConnect Bar. The company also notes a built-in DSP and the option of using Dante for adding external microphones or another camera.
Crestron Videobar 70
Sticking with the simplicity trend, several other titans of the AV industry typically known for more complex and integrated approaches to meeting rooms also debuted new all-in-one collaboration bars at InfoComm 2023. This aligns with the overarching goal of helping to take complexity out of meeting-room deployments.
That includes Crestron, which released the Crestron Videobar 70 for medium-to-large meeting rooms. Like the others in the category, this device is designed to be simple to deploy and features built-in UC computing and intelligent features. However, this device features four cameras that work together to intelligently frame meeting participants and frame the active speaker. The bar runs on Android, making set up and use simple.
Biamp Parlé VBC 2500 Conferencing Video Bar
Along the same lines, Biamp also used InfoComm 2023 to show off its Parlé VBC 2500 Conferencing Video Bar. With this offering, Biamp’s audio and video intelligence comes to small and medium-size meeting spaces. The bar features a 27-microphone array and Biamp Beamtracking technology to intelligently track and mix conversations from around the room. Smart speakers use distortion compensation and dynamic bass enhancement. The 4K camera uses auto-framing to identify meeting participants and adjust the focus.
However, the key feature is Biamp’s Launch, which takes the complexity out of configuring the device based on the room’s acoustics. It can be plugged directly into a UC system via USB or paired with Biamp’s Devio SCR-10 for a BYOD scenario.
Yamaha UC CS-800 & CS-500 Video Collaboration System
At InfoComm 2023, Yamaha Unified Communications showcased its new CS-800 and CS-500 video collaboration system. It utilizes the company’s patented AI technology to combine voice and video data to deliver accurate, real-time hybrid collaboration experiences. With its Easy Launch feature and multiple mounting options, the new CS Series products are made for use in any environment, the company says. The products are particularly useful in noisy, open-office spaces.
Boom UNO, an all-in-one videoconferencing solution for work from home, huddle rooms and small meeting spaces.
Boom AURA & Boom UNO
Boom Collaboration, the Austin, Texas-based videoconference manufacturer showed its Boom AURA and Boom UNO all-in-one solutions for videoconference calls. The Boom AURA features 4K Ultra HD, 10x digital zoom and built-in AI functions that include highly facial detection and sound source localization providing intelligent auto-framing and voice-tracking. It also includes six digital array mics with 20-feet of pickup range. Boom Collaboration’s Boom AURA combines audio and video delivering an all-in-one solution for work from home, huddle rooms and small meeting spaces. It includes an HD video and omnidirectional speakerphone in a compact, stylish package.
Holly Hulett, co-founder of Boom Collaboration, says, “People want something that’s easy to use. You’ve got a lot of big fancy devices that start to just collect dust because they’re so complex — it’s that ease of use paired with quality. You want to look good on camera, you want to be able to read people’s expressions, but you also need to be heard clearly and be able to hear very well. For [Boom Collaboration] really marrying that with that simplicity is something that’s very important for our clients and for us.”
Owl Labs, the Boston-based provider of AI-powered, 360-degree videoconferencing solutions for hybrid organizations, showcased its new Owl Bar. The solution is a front-of-room camera, mic and speaker that allows remote participants to see all the action at once. It pairs with other Owl Labs products, including the Meeting Owl, Whiteboard Owl and Expansion Mic, to make hybrid meetings more immersive. It also works as a standalone product.
In a manner reminiscent of simple, plug-and-play videoconferencing bars, display manufacturers have been launching new displays that are purpose built for collaboration. Indeed, some of them incorporate display, camera, microphone and speaker. This enables the products to help support hybrid-work and videoconferencing needs.
Integrating display, camera, microphone and speaker helps create a true all-in-one videoconferencing solution. Manufacturers such as Avocor, Neat, Yealink and many others are showing off their simple-to-deploy, complete conferencing solutions.
LG All-in-One Displays
Display manufacturer LG released seized on InfoComm 2023 to show off its new 75-inch One:Quick Works, an all-in-one solution featuring a built-in Windows PC, 4K UHD camera, microphone, speaker and digital whiteboard. Like others in the all-in-one category, the display’s microphone and camera offer intelligent framing to track the current speaker.
Samsung Interactive Displays
Samsung, meanwhile, showcased its new Samsung Interactive Display. The WAC model, which leverages Android OS, is designed for the education market. The company showed how the display can work with the Logitech Rally Bar Huddle, bringing an integrated camera, speaker and microphone to the interactive display and creating a complete hybrid-meeting solution.
Epson BrightLink Interactive Displays
In addition, Epson showcased its BrightLink interactive displays that transform meeting spaces and classrooms into immersive collaborative environments. With images up to 120 inches, flexible displays breathe new life into ordinary walls and dry erase boards, eliminating the need for dedicated electronic boards or space consuming flatpanels.
Meanwhile, Absen, often known for its all-in-one platform for virtual production, as well as for serving the high-end rental-and-staging market, showed its Absenicon all-in-one LED screen for conferencing. The all-in-one LED screen features a 16:9 standard aspect ratio which helps users better facilitate presentations, says the company. Absenicon supports screen cast through computer, mobile phone and PAD screen. The screen shares up to four devices at one time wirelessly, allowing creativity display simultaneously. The mobile phone/PAD screen can work as a writing board, enabling online editing. Absenicon can be used for multiple applications including meeting rooms, lecture halls, auditorium, showroom and other large event spaces.
Hot Desking and Scheduling
For resimercial integrators being asked to introduce more flexibility into their customers’ small offices, several manufacturers highlighted new hot-desking solutions designed to help businesses maintain open, flexible floor plans and maximize their existing real estate investments.
Logitech’s Logi Dock Flex
These solutions include the Logi Dock Flex from Logitech, a managed docking station built for shared desks in flexible office spaces that runs the company’s new desk booking service. The device features an eight-inch display, six USB ports, dual display support, network connection and up to 100 watts of power. These are designed to be deployed at scale and allow employees to personalize their workstation with their own background photo, away message, and easily join meetings. The panel will also signal whether the desk is available or not for ad-hoc booking.
Crestron Desk Q & Desk Touch
Crestron is also adding to its line of scheduling solutions with two new products: the Crestron Desk Q and Crestron Desk Touch. Crestron markets the Desk Q with QR-code-based reservations for community workstations, hot desks and hoteling. However, the Desk Touch, a mini touchscreen scheduling panel, is designed for semi-private offices, cubicles and even some stand-up spaces.
Appspace Space Reservation
Additionally, Appspace, the workplace experience provider, connects people, places and spaces all under one platform. Appspace’s hot desking and desk hoteling allows users to book from anywhere, whenever, whether that’s through intranet, email, Microsoft Teams or the Appspace Employee App. Appspace’s partnership with Metrikus also allows insight into building data, such as occupancy, energy usage and room usage. Integrators can resell the Appspace software and bundle it with different things that can help make the customer experience stronger.
Throughout the exhibit halls, InfoComm show-goers saw dozens of manufacturers saying a lot of the same things: devices and solutions need to be easier to deploy, manage and use. In fact, audio manufacturer Shure will tell you that is essentially why they acquired Stem Audio a few years back. The Stem brand includes a customizable lineup of microphones, speakers, speakerphones and control systems that allow organizations to mix and match devices, taking the complexity out of typically complicated meeting room deployments.
Nearly every manufacturer that touches the collaboration and conferencing space pledged to make deploying and using conferencing systems more seamless. The idea is that by giving employees an office experience similar to that of working from home, where getting to work and firing up a Zoom or Teams meeting from a laptop is as simple as it gets, they will begin to come back to the office. To accomplish that feat, the AV industry has begun leveraging AI, especially in the meeting room space.
AI is now a core component of hybrid meetings, helping to eliminate unwanted noise and keep the camera focused on the speaker or focused on each in-room meeting participant to give remote workers more equitable meeting experiences. Every manufacturer of an all-in-one device we covered in this article offers some variation of AI-enabled audio and video capabilities that are designed to keep meetings productive and distraction-free.
This is a trend we’ve seen for some time, but it has been accelerated since the COVID-19 pandemic and onset of remote and hybrid work. Since many organizations are still embracing distributed work arrangements, we expect the AV industry to continue embracing simplicity and AI in its products.
Another version of this article originally appeared on our sister-site CE Pro on June 21, 2023. It has since been updated for Commercial Integrator’s audience.
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