The presentation remote is quickly becoming a relic in video conferencing terms. Most of the major webcams and video conference systems still ship with a remote included, but the trend today is toward cameras that move by themselves, central hubs that control connections and room systems, not just cams, or smartphone apps that let you control things from your phone. There’s certainly no practical universal video remote that’ll let you control any and all systems the way you can replace your TV remote with a generic device.
But that doesn’t mean that the video conference remote control has gone–or should go–completely extinct. There’s one time in particular when you’ll really feel the need for a good remote device: when you’re making a presentation to both an in-room and online audience. A good video conferencing system presentation remote should let you slide seamlessly from the spoken word to a powerful multimedia presentation. In fact, combined with cameras possessing auto-zooming and framing abilities, a presentation remote will let you get through an entire conference call without having to touch your keyboard or mouse.
The Logitech Spotlight
Video conferencing may be intended as a replacement for in-room conversation, but it’s also an entirely digital medium that can produce a powerful multimedia presentation. More than just PowerPoint, you can use video, music, live streams, and more to get your message across. A good presentation remote like Logitech’s Spotlight remote ($129.99) was designed to keep those presentations hands-free and interactive.
The slim little control is like a supercharged laser pointer, able to highlight, magnify, and stop and start visual presentations. USB and Bluetooth connected, it has a range of up to 100 feet and is motion sensitive, so you don’t have to break stride and click a mouse to launch your visuals.
Spotlight represents something of a high point in functionality, but the good old-fashioned laser pointer still has its place. Just by way of comparison, Logitech makes a basic one of these as well; it’s called the R500 laser remote ($59.99). The R500 has a simple slide control for moving between screens and a red laser for pointing out the specifics of your work. It doesn’t have the bells and whistles of the Spotlight, but it’s simple, easy to use, will operate from 65 feet away, and is optimized for both Windows and Mac.
In between those two ends of the spectrum, though, there’s a lot of diversity.
Clickers, Pointers, and Rings: Other Video Conference Remote Controls
The point of a presentation remote is to keep you on your feet and away from your computer. It should make cycling through your presentation with gestures and unobtrusive clicks smooth and natural (as natural as possible while in front of a room of people). There are several different ways to achieve that level of comfort:
Amerteer Laser Pointer Flip Pen: As the name suggests, this pointer and slide controller in one is built into the cylindrical comfort of a pen, easy to hold and natural to point. It costs barely more than $10, so don’t expect too much high-tech wizardry, but it does still let you flip pages, activate hyperlinks, and point out the details in your presentation.
Satechi SP600 Smart Pointer: The Satechi costs a little more than the Amerteer pen, but then it does a little more as well. It’s fully programmable, so you can map the function of its buttons to make it as intuitive as possible, and it has a mouse function to give you more control. It’s a lightweight play on the traditional remote control look and feel, with a reach of up to 100 feet.
Amerteer Finger Ring: We return to Amerteer for the most discrete of video conference presentation controls. The Finger Ring ($19.99) slips over your index finger and is controlled by your thumb, giving you the opportunity to disguise your digital control like a magician hiding cards. The functionality of the Finger Ring doesn’t approach the Logitech devices described above, but if all you want to do is discreetly drive your multimedia presentation, it might just be the tool for the job.
BlueBeach Wireless Presenter: The appeal of the BlueBeach presenter is that it’ll work anywhere, with any device and any software. From traditional PC and Mac systems to Android and even tablets, BlueBeach is plug-n-play simple in its setup, and there are no downloads or waiting, although, again, it doesn’t have the functionality of the Spotlight–or that device’s high price tag.
All of these devices are simplistic in their design and function, but they bring great advantages in mobility and comfort during a presentation. Pair them with one of the leading camera video conferencing systems currently available with auto-framing and tracking–such as Cisco’s Spark Room Kit, which can recognize and track video callers as they speak–and you’ve got a modern, streamlined form of video presentation.
Now you can stand, walk around, gesticulate, and display streams of multimedia information without ever having to crouch awkwardly over your laptop. A webcam with smart technology will keep you in focus, and a video conference remote control keeps you in command.