When is a video conferencing screen no longer a video conferencing screen? When it’s being used as a digital signpost. Or a digital whiteboard. Or a Bluetooth beacon, for that matter.
Video conferencing has become a familiar enough part of the everyday office environment that we’re no longer impressed with the ability to hold a face-to-face conversation with someone miles away. To impress us now, video hardware and software makers must add additional functionality to their products.
On the software side of things, that means being able to take advantage of what the internet and AI can add to our calls by enabling virtual assistants, chatbots, and voice recognition. On the hardware side, it means building devices that can put our digital screens and cameras to better and more varied uses.
Lifesize video conferencing hardware, for example, means that a screen is no longer just a means to display your smiling face. Enhancements to the company’s Share platform allow you to turn your video screen into a digital whiteboard, Bluetooth connector, and signpost.
This kind of multi-functional offering is going to become standard among video hardware as the video call rises to become a dominant business tool and video conferencing equipment becomes ubiquitous. Why limit the use of your hardware to basic video conferencing when it can do so much more?
Versatile Lifesize Video Conferencing Hardware
The same forces of convergence that caused your phone to become your singular connection to the wider digital world are coming to bear on video equipment. The conversion to digital delivery of everything from food to stock tips to healthcare that was enabled by the internet has created an expectation in consumers that tech devices have multiple purposes.
The Share improvements could turn any digital screen into a multipurpose piece of hardware.
That is exactly what Lifesize has done with its latest updates announced at the end of January. The improvements build on the wireless screen sharing functionality of the company’s Share platform to enhance the capabilities of connected screens.
It centers on three key features and the ability to switch between them and a video call:
Whiteboarding: In collaboration with Kaptivo, you can capture and share whiteboard content across a video conferencing connection.
Bluetooth: Launch a Lifesize room system and join a meeting from a mobile device.
Digital Signage: Using ScreenCloud services, you can display content across any connected screen in your network.
In a perfect world–as shown in the video below–these new features let you use any digital screen around the office for any of the listed purposes, including, of course, making a video call.
Assuming you have a stable and reliable connection across your network and a steady rate of transfer, the Share improvements could turn any digital screen into a multipurpose piece of hardware, streamlining your communications and expanding the use of limited resources.
What Lifesize’s Tech Means for the Office
Sharing functionality across the office means you don’t have to prioritize your video conferencing resources across departments and venues. All the video conferencing “wow-factor” you’d normally reserve for the main boardroom–the digital whiteboard or the advanced presentation display, for instance–can be portioned out to more functional areas, like the huddle rooms small teams use for impromptu internal meetings.
Every team, no matter where their connected screen resides, can benefit from the visual, hand-drawn brainstorming potential of digital whiteboarding.
Digital whiteboarding, for one, has become extremely specialized in high-cost devices like the much anticipated Microsoft Surface Hub 2, which means it isn’t going to be allocated to a low-priority area. But being able to share a virtual service across the office opens its practical benefits to everyone. Every team, no matter where their connected screen resides, can benefit from the visual, hand-drawn brainstorming potential of digital whiteboarding.
Alternatively, you could relocate and repurpose screens for short-term use. A digital screen in a small huddle room, for example, could be moved to a public-facing area and used temporarily as a digital sign. You could run promotional videos in your waiting area, share a slideshow in advance of an external seminar, or simply post directions in the foyer for the job applicants due that day.
There are potential dollar savings to be had with such a system as well. Lifesize’s hardware does away with the need to invest in dedicated display hardware for separate purposes or to build out displays in each area of the office to handle distinct tasks.
It’s a streamlined vision of the future office that will soon become a reality.
More Than Video Chat
Two distinct strands make up video conferencing’s immediate future. The first is the spread of the no-longer-nascent technology into everyday use in companies of all sizes as the tech continues to gain popularity. The second is the expansion of the technology beyond basic video chat.
The act of replicating a face-to-face conversation is no longer the sole purpose of a video call or the hardware that enables it.
Lifesize’s video conferencing hardware fits into the second category. That category itself can be further split in two. There are the emerging technologies that improve the video conferencing experience: smart cameras that can perform functions such as auto tracking and auto cropping, one-touch hubs that start and control a meeting, and automated software that records meeting notes. And then there are the technologies, like the Lifesize Share enhancements, that expand what can be done with video conferencing in the office by introducing whiteboarding, better integrating external devices, and offering advanced screen sharing.
The result of these advances is that the act of replicating a face-to-face conversation is no longer the sole purpose of a video call or the hardware that enables it. We are right to start expecting more from our video conferencing software and devices. The technology is moving from being a simple way to have a meeting to being a way to have a better meeting.