Some ideas are too big for your average video conference. Sometimes you need to throw your arms out in excitement at the scale of your idea. Sometimes you need the freedom of movement to walk your video callers through something complex.
In those moments, you need to consider not the space between you and your audience, but the space directly around you, the presenter. That means reconsidering your idea of what a video conference is. We have technologies now that allow webcams to follow us automatically around a room and to jump from one speaker to the next without human input. Just as importantly, we have versatile furniture and room design that act as performance platforms to enhance video calls, not just house them. Combine these two elements and you can build unique spaces for getting your message across.
Delta Airlines has embarked on just such a project, and the result is the creation of what could be the remote employee training room of the future.
Delta Airlines’ Remote Employee Training
Delta Airlines is the country’s second-largest commercial service. Its planes and crews are spread across dozens of airports in the U.S. as well as overseas. It takes an army of 10,000 maintenance staff to service the Delta fleet, and the ever-evolving technology of flight and the complex regulations of air safety mean those staff members need to be constantly updated on how best to keep the company flying.
To tackle that logistical challenge, Delta has turned to video conferencing. In the basic sense, this means replacing multiple training teams and near-constant road trips with single-source video calls. Ground crews can be gathered in front of digital screens at their home airports and guided through tasks by Delta’s TechOps division back at HQ. These are complex issues, however. A bunch of talking heads sitting around a conference table in front of a slide projector isn’t going to get the message across. So, the airline hired a team of video conferencing experts to improve their presentation.
What they got from video conferencing hardware provider Logitech and furniture designer Herman Miller is a virtual training room that encourages natural human motion.
Delta Air Lines Techops Division
The Delta Air Lines team envisioned a Distance Learning Classroom capable of delivering video conferencing excellence compatible with Zoom, their video conferencing application of choice, in an environment designed for flexibility, productivity and comfort. The combination of Logitech and Herman Miller was ideally suited to make this vision a reality.
High-Quality Cameras and Versatile Furniture
The keys to Delta’s new virtual room are automation and integration. The room features an assortment of Logitech cameras–including remote-controlled PTZ models–and furniture from Herman Miller that can be arranged to suit the surroundings.
You can get a look at it here:
The virtual training room is all about granting the TechOps group freedom of movement. Rather than sitting in front of a static camera, staff can move along the breadth of fuselage pieces and step back and speak freely, all while being tracked and kept in focus by pan-tilt-zoom cameras. Through a mixture of wall- and desk-mounted screens and cameras they can adjust their presentation to suit their audience. The very furniture the equipment rests on can be manipulated as well–a table becomes a lectern, a bench can be wheeled away, and the height of a table can be controlled by a smartphone.
Everything in the room is designed with movement in mind. And you can take that notion even further to create an ultimate video conferencing room of your own.
Building a Virtual Video Conferencing Room
You may not have to grapple with the complexity of an aircraft, but there’s room for movement in every conference call. You should think of your video conference room as a stage–and you wouldn’t waste a spotlight on a static sit-down interview.
You have the floor, use it. Have your conference camera track you as you go. While we’re talking about Logitech, their latest release, the Rally, features new auto cropping technology that automatically expands and contracts the picture to accommodate your every step around the room. You can also turn to something like Polycom’s Eagle-Eye Director series, which uses audio tracking to follow the presenter as they move.
Next, embrace the digital nature of video conferencing. Use multimedia video, audio, and images to enhance what you’re broadcasting. You can use screen sharing to seamlessly switch between a live video feed and the contents of your computer screen–and there are a range of remote devices that can let you control the display without having to walk over to your desktop.
As Delta discovered, the best video conferencing spaces are built with careful consideration of the technology that will be used, but that shouldn’t be your only concern. Smart furniture that integrates with your video conferencing setup is becoming increasingly common–and useful–in our IoT world. But not all your furniture necessarily needs to be connected to the internet. A basic starting point is to design your video conferencing room with an eye to flexibility, so that whether one person is giving a PowerPoint presentation to several remote employees, two large groups are meeting over video conference, or you’re just having a one-on-one chat with a traveling colleague, the room’s setup still makes sense.
Finally, immerse yourself in your surroundings. You don’t have to introduce lighting and special effects, but green screen technology is now being built into some webcams and it’s easier to access than you might imagine. When used together, all of these technologies can transform a mundane video call into a dynamic presentation, and even a small conference room into a powerful communications tool.
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