My background is in computer science, but my professional career took me into the world of AV. I quickly learned that AV, like IT, has its own set of standards, technical jargon, and hotly debated subjects that, at times, can be confusing.
For an IT professional, it’s particularly challenging to understand these technical aspects when tasked with selecting, installing, and configuring conferencing technology for today’s meeting rooms.
With the proliferation of a new generation of conferencing rooms that demand tighter integration of IT and AV systems, these rooms must provide a seamless, easy-to -operate, and great audio, video, and computational experience for users.
One area where strides have been made in this regard is the availability of IT-friendly conferencing solutions for small meeting rooms or huddle rooms.
The latest huddle room soundbars and speakerphones provide everything that’s needed for crisp, clear audio: multiple microphones, high-quality speakers, and built-in audio processing to eliminate background noise. And they only take a simple USB or Bluetooth connection to get started and feature network-based monitoring, allowing them to be easily added into IT responsibilities.
Unfortunately, larger conferencing rooms — given the number of people they need to support, size, as well as the typical nature of their design, which include a lot of hard reflective surfaces — require more components and more AV expertise.
There are microphones, speakers, and digital signal processors that must all work together to achieve a great sounding room and overcome the audio and acoustic challenges present.
This requires configuration and careful tuning that takes a lot of skill and time even for AV professionals to get right because it varies from room-to-room. It’s a task that most certainly reaches far beyond the scope of IT expertise.
There is good news: The latest range of conferencing systems for midsize and large meeting rooms are engineered to be just as intuitive to install, configure, and use as the audio technology going into huddle rooms.
Once connected, these solutions automatically discover all the devices within the system. Next, it configures them to be optimized for the room environment, accounting for the location of speakers and microphones.
You do not need to know about reverberation, echo behavior, auto gain control, adaptive echo cancellation, noise reduction, reverberation suppression or any other of these “fun” AV terms.
These conferencing systems automatically configure all components for optimal collaboration experiences in your environment. What’s more, they also feature voice tracking so that users have the freedom to move around the room and still be heard.
In a matter of just a few quick steps, the room is ready. IT professionals don’t have to have AV or acoustic knowledge. They follow a familiar plug-and-play process that not only fits into the IT workflow but also prevents frustrating user experiences and help tickets.
It’s a technology paradigm shift that closely resembles how when residential Dolby 5.1 systems came out, manufacturers made it possible for consumers to tune them to get that much-desired level of Dolby presence at home.
Consumers weren’t expected to have prior knowledge or skill setting up a surround sound system, but they could still achieve it with new tools and system intelligence that steps in without an expert in the room.
Now we’re seeing it in the business world, where these new conferencing products come to the rescue to provide specialized tuning of audio in larger rooms.