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Five videoconferencing tools for your organisation

Videoconferencing is no longer limited to boardroom-to-boardroom sessions. With the proliferation of BYOD and a rise in the number of people working from home, VC has moved beyond these corporate spaces

Videoconferencing is no longer limited to boardroom-to-boardroom sessions. With the proliferation of BYOD and a rise in the number of people working from home, VC has moved beyond these corporate spaces. Here’s a selection of what’s currently on the market.

Polycom RealPresence Immersive Studio

A host of new videoconferencing solutions introduced by video comms specialist Polycom has eased the strain on organisations when it comes to selecting the most suitable product for their budget.

The most comprehensive of those newly introduced solutions is the RealPresence Immersive Studio. The next-generation collaboration environment is geared towards providing the complete solution for companies by offering a floor-to-ceiling videoconferencing system. It is said to make an ideal think-tank for the meetings that matter the most, including creative brainstorms or crisis management sessions.

Three 84in ultra HD screens are fitted at the front of a room to display material in 1080p60 that can be collaborated over between parties at (possibly) opposite sides of the world. Polycom says the choice of UHD ensures the studio is future proof, as it can harness additions and modifications to visual technology.

A 55in content-display monitor is installed above the three-screen layout so that the other immersive VC room is in sight – something that the company believes will allow the sharing and collaborating process to be a natural one.

Sound wise, Polycom operates its 3D voice technology, which is rendered from microphones fitted in the ceiling, delivering audio ‘far more life-like than stereo “spatial” audio’. This setup removes anything that may make the room appear less organic by eliminating the need for any intrusive microphones.

Like all Polycom products, the system’s open standards-based technology and native interoperability simplifies integration with existing video solutions and UC platforms. Polycom offers the industry’s broadest portfolio of over 40 video and voice solutions that integrate natively with Microsoft Lync. This means that Lync-enabled desktop or room clients can join video calls with the studio, and can share content back and forth with Lync via the optional Content Sharing Suite.

Flexible configuration lets users see content on any of the large displays in the studio, and support for BYOD enables the sharing of content from mobile devices such as tables and laptops.

Polycom VisualBoard virtual whiteboard also lets users engage in interactive note taking on critical content such as business documents CAD drawings, blueprints or maps.

Crestron RL

Crestron RL combines the intuitive room control solutions of Crestron with the full collaboration features of Microsoft Lync 2013. The system includes high-definition multiparty video and powerful collaboration capabilities like presenting PowerPoint, sharing of desktops and applications as well as interactive whiteboarding.

Crestron RL is the only fully integrated LRS solution. As well as providing the full Microsoft Lync experience, users can create the system to match their needs by choosing specialist audio solutions, different cameras and displays (as opposed to being required to select only from predefined manufacturer packs).

Thanks to Crestron’s expertise in room control, RL also integrates with additional AV equipment as well as HVAC controls, blinds and lighting – to provide full control from a tabletop touchpanel.

As a scalable, appliance grade, turnkey solution, Crestron RL can be implemented in practically every conference room across a global enterprise.

With just one touch of a button, anyone can walk into a conference room and instantly start a collaboration session. This full-featured Lync-based system enables video, voice, Lync meetings or Instant Messaging from multiple devices.

Users can view, edit or annotate any document, file or video remotely. Share ideas and notes collaboratively with partners, colleagues and clients anytime, anywhere with any device.

Lifesize Cloud

This month Lifesize launched a new approach to HD videoconferencing, the Lifesize Cloud. The solution, which is modeled on SaaS, was developed after research revealed companies are taking a more flexible approach when it comes to IT and communication deployments company-wide.

Lifesize Cloud is based on a yearly subscription to a service that allows companies to deploy a central system and then offer remote access via desktop, mobile or any other smart-enabled device.

Central to the system is the ICON unit, which will typically be installed into the company’s boardroom. This comprises a 10x Zoom camera or a 3x Zoom camera; a codec capable of delivering images a 1080p60 resolution; and a sleek remote control to operate the unit.

Remote participants have the Lifesize Cloud software installed onto their device and can dial into a videoconferencing session ad hoc – a factor the company says distinguishes its solution from other similar ones already on the market, as these other systems often need VC meetings to have syncrohnised starts.

Another key component to the system is the incorporation of a directory which allows users to see the availability of others i.e. who is offline, who is available for VC meetings and who is currently engaged in a call.

The system uses compression technology to allow stable connections from 500kb of internet connection.

Lifesize stresses the important role its partners will have in helping this solution reach its potential: integrators and resellers can add to the VC room experience by adding AV with screens, audio capture and speakers – something that is becoming more integral to VC deployments as customers demand immersive, real-to-life meeting experiences.

In addition, Lifesize says integrators can achieve similar margins as on-premise VC solutions with the Cloud service. Integrators will have ownership of renewals (as it’s based on a yearly subscription licensing model), recurring revenue streams through the availability of stats, which can then be relayed to the end user.

Distributor partners of the company will have control over the lead process and can add value by demoing the product.

Imago VaaS-t

Last year, European video solutions distributor Imago simplified its VaaS-t Cloud-based videoconferencing service by making it a monthly subscription package.

Much like a mobile phone contract, the service offers flexibility in that Imago offers videoconferencing at a flat monthly subscription charge, meaning users can deploy the service as often as necessary without incurring any additional costs. Not only does this offer ease of access, it also means companies won’t have to shell out for upfront systems.

In terms of what’s in it for the integrator, resellers can offer the new subscription packages to customers of all sizes with a range of videoconferencing needs. The solution is available in three tastes: the VaaS-t 8, which enables the subscriber to invite up to eight individuals into a videoconference from both inside or outside their organisation; then there are the Vaas-t 16 and VaaS-t 25 packages, which (quite obviously) support 16 and 25 VC meeting participants, respectively.

The hosted service is based on award-winning video collaboration technology from Vidyo, which ensures that the service is available through virtually any internet or 3G connection anywhere in the world. This enables the web-link accessible solution to deliver telepresence-quality videoconferencing to devices including desktop or laptop PCs, tablets, iPhones and android mobiles.

WolfVision VZ-C6

It’s all well and good for organisations to implement top-of-the-range videoconferencing systems for employees to communicate and share knowledge effectively, but what about when material such as products, designs and prototypes are central to the VC discussion?

It simply isn’t good enough to purely hold the object up to the videoconferencing camera; images become distorted and the true detail of the object is lost. Plus it may interfere with the session’s natural progression. This is precisely why WolfVision has developed the VZ-C6 Ceiling Visualiser – to enable companies to share such material live in Full HD quality during VC sessions.

The Austrian company is in a prime position to mark its territory in the VC market with this product. It has a complete line of ceiling and desktop visualiser systems for lectures, seminars and education purposes, and has transferred that knowledge into the realms of VC to ensure companies have an optional accessory that could be seen as a critical piece to the VC jigsaw. This is especially pertinent if a company often relies on physical documents/objects i.e. motor vehicle companies.

As for the device itself, the VZ-C6 is the newest addition to WolfVision’s specialist range of visualisation equipment. The award-winning elegantly designed ceiling device features high performance imaging capability.

The device is ceiling mountable, and can be recessed into a suspended ceiling. Other features include synchronised light field to make it easy to operate during VC; onboard HD recording facility for easy archiving of material; and the ability to record hand written notes and annotations, and more.