We spoke to eight of the leading AV scheduling technology providers to discuss how their solutions are helping to ease (eradicate?) some of the frustrations often experienced by many businesses when doing something as simple as booking a room for that important meeting
Condeco Meeting Room Booking Software
Description: Described as a full meeting room booking solution, Condeco’s offering includes integrated modules for visitor management, vendor management, video and Skype for Business video meeting bookings, as well as desk and workspace scheduling. The visitor management feature is designed to give guests a hassle-free experience upon arrival, including the automatic printing of passes and notification of the host when visitors arrive. It can also integrate with existing security systems to speed up visitor check-in. As well as simple room reservation, needed resources such as AV equipment or catering can be ordered. The solution also provides mobile apps to book rooms and desks on the go.
In addition to the software, Condeco also manufactures and supports its own workspace digital signage for meeting rooms and desks, offering meeting room touch panel displays, wayfinder and desk-mounted digital signage.
The SaaS or PaaS solution provides detailed reporting on how space is used, allowing for users to better understand their meeting room space requirements and offering the potential for reduced costs.
The company believes that the advantage of its solution is that it does not require the involvement of third parties, offering a dedicated workspace management tool with integrated hardware.
Compatibility: Microsoft Office 365 and Outlook calendars, G Suite (Connect solution only)
Enterprise Room Scheduling Platform
Description: Said to be highly scalable, Crestron hardware allows the user to choose the scheduling provider that best meets the organisation’s needs. This includes room availability hallway signs, room scheduling touch screens, on-screen display (via Crestron Mercury, Air Media Presentation System and so on), and On the Go (via Crestron Pinpoint).
Given the company’s focus on the enterprise market, Crestron has prioritised security, with features including network access control, integrated password management, centralised deployment and enforcement of security settings with XIO Cloud, change management control with audit logging. TSS scheduling panels support 802.1x authentication, TLS encryption, HTTPS connectivity and integrate with active directory.
The TSS-7 and TSS-10 panels can be mounted either in-wall or on-wall. Where other room scheduling panels have room availability lights fitted to the sides, Crestron provides the choice of fitting a light bar which surrounds the panel or a separate wall/ceiling-mounted light indicator which can also have the room’s name custom-engraved.
According to Crestron, the fact that its solution does not require custom software or ongoing software licence charges means that cost of ownership is exceptionally competitive, with the cost of panels comparable to that of an iPad.
Compatibility: Microsoft Exchange/Office 365, G Suite
Description: Combining Evoko Home software with Liso hardware, the goal of Evoko Liso is to remove the hassle from booking meeting rooms while providing insight into how effectively meeting room space is being utilised. Rooms can be reserved either via the central calendar, or individually at the room itself.
Each room panel is equipped with what the company describes as red, orange or green ‘aura’ to communicate the status of the room as it is being approached. Motion detection is featured to display the most relevant room information when someone approaches it for enhanced convenience. Where an impromptu booking needs to be made, Liso can be used to search for other rooms based on their availability, size and the available equipment directly from the panel.
Liso also facilitates the reporting of any technical issues, with users able to quickly identify and report isolated faults such as projectors or Wi-Fi with three taps directly on the panel.
The inclusion of Evoko Home provides management reporting, including the ability to determine which rooms are oversubscribed or being underutilised.
Evoko notes that its solution is in use by Volkswagen, Coca Cola, McDonald’s and the US Senate, among others.
Compatibility: Microsoft Exchange 2010, Office 365, G Suite, IBM/Lotus Domino Smartcloud, IBM/Lotus Domino 8.5.3 – 9.x
Extron Room Scheduling
Description: A standalone system built around Extron’s TouchLink room scheduling panels, Extron Room Scheduling users can make reservations directly from the panels, a computer, smartphone, or tablet. TLS panels come in three sizes – 5-inch, 7-inch and 10-inch – are connected directly to the organisation’s mail/calendar server, and are customisable according to the user’s requirements. Multiple mounting choices are available for the panels, including on-wall, in-wall and secure mounting to almost any flat surface. PoE minimises cabling.
Acquiring the panels is the only cost involved: there are no recurring licence fees for the solution.
Room availability can also be managed with occupancy sensors by combining TouchLink panels with occupancy sensors to reduce the risk that rooms are booked, but unused – and can be shown as available after a user-defined time.
Room scheduling analytics provide the information needed to analyse room usage, activity patterns and occupancy trends across the organisation: activity files provide at-a-glance room usage and meeting data for each panel. This readily-available information, says Extron, can be transformed using data analytics tools to create powerful reports.
Extron Room Scheduling provides encrypted communications across the ecosystem, and access to panel configurations and resource calendars is secured according to organisation-defined credentials.
Compatibility: Microsoft Exchange, Office 365, CollegeNET 25Live, Google Calendar
Acendo Book Scheduling Panel
Description: AMX by Harman’s Acendo Book Scheduling standalone panels are available in 7-inch and 10.1-inch versions, with their slim design said to make them simple to install anywhere on any flat surface, including glass or stone. Both integrate directly with popular room scheduling software such as Microsoft Exchange, Office 365, and Google Calendar without additional system hardware requirements.
The user interface background colour and built-in room availability bars change between red and green to show room availability, so that users can easily locate and book an available room directly from the panel. If that room is currently booked, users can quickly locate the nearest available room or the next available time.
The panels are similar in style to Harman/AMX’s Modero S Series Touch Panel and feature a full-colour high-resolution (1,024 x 600 for the 7-inch version; 1,280 x 800 for the 10.1-inch version) display. Both include the company’s proprietary SmoothTouch technology.
Installation and set-up are said to be straightforward, involving simply plugging in an Ethernet cable and running the one-time, panel-based configuration wizard to get the panel operational in a matter of minutes with minimal training.
Compatibility: Microsoft Exchange, Office 365, Google Calendar
Description: Joan’s distinguishing feature is its use of a range of e-ink displays that minimise power consumption and thus cost of ownership, as well as making it a sustainable solution. This also means that the displays are rechargeable (up to 12 months from just a single charge) which, with the inclusion of Wi-Fi, means that cabling is eliminated. Ease of installation is further enhanced by its ‘peel and press’ mount.
Available in a range of sizes and versions – 6-inch (Meeting and Executive) and 13-inch (Premium, Board and Classroom) tablets – Joan also supports a mobile app for on-the-go room reservation, while its online platform enables management of devices. This allows the user to choose different settings for different devices – turning features on and off, for example – and to check battery level and Wi-Fi signal, as well as to obtain a complete overview of the installation.
Executive and above versions provide a weekly analytics report, sent directly to designated email accounts. It shows usage, occupancy, number of meetings, booked on the spot or via calendar meetings and more.
Joan offers customers standard Wi-Fi security with WPA2-PSK encryption and enterprise Wi-Fi security with WPA2-EAP encryption.
Joan’s customers include BMW, Cisco, Dell, Microsoft, NASA, Panasonic, Samsung, Sony and Virgin.
Compatibility: Microsoft Exchange, Office 365, G Suite, iCalendar, Slack
Sedao Digital Signage
Description: Given Sedao’s background, it’s no surprise that RoomXchange can be used either standalone, or Integrated with its digital signage platform – SedaoLive CLOUD – for more feature options. The integration capability enables instant messages such as notifications and alarms to be sent to RoomXchange screens along with digital signage and collaborative screens at any time. It also enables RoomXchange screens to be used to display promotional or internal communications messages when not in use – which, the company believes, adds value to the investment and flexibility to the solution.
The included 10-inch panels can be wall-mounted, and feature built-in 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi. Support is provided for two USB ports to allow the addition of Ethernet/USB adaptors for hard wired LAN if required. There are three display states for each screen in RoomXchange, so those looking for an empty room can easily identify the status of the room. Rooms can be in use / booked, or available: in the latter case, the panel can either show a room free message, or be used for digital signage.
The combined hardware)/software solution includes rebranding software to personalise the display with the organisation’s logo and brand colours.
Compatibility: Microsoft Exchange, Office 265
Description: Described as a space scheduling and workplace analytics platform, Teem is designed to simultaneously improve workplace experiences for an organisation’s employees while offering IT and real estate professionals with useful data insights to optimise their use of space. Beyond this, it is said to be able to provide an understanding of the impact of meetings on an organisation’s productivity.
A cloud-based – and thus scalable – software solution, Teem includes software for room displays, hallway navigation, mobile indoor way-finding, and calendar plug-ins to show images and the amenities of spaces. It also offers visitor management software to securely and efficiently welcome visitors to an organisation’s facilities. In a hot desking environment, Teem can also identify available desks, while in an organisation using non-bookable huddle rooms, occupancy sensors can automatically show which spaces are available. Voice interaction is possible for Teem’s integration with Alexa for Business.
The solution is said to bridge the gap between employees’ mobile technologies and their office space, operating not only on displays in the office environment, but travelling with employees on their mobile devices.
The Teem Partner Network enables Teem to integrate with other workplace technology solutions, including those from Aruba, Crestron, Currents by GE, Enlighted and more.
Compatibility: Microsoft Exchange, Office 365, Google Calendar