Good things may come in small packages but there’s a practical limit to how much you can pack into a confined area.
It’s a dilemma that continues to impact the video conferencing world as demand increases for ever more advanced hardware packed into diminishing spaces. The continual evolution of the modern office to accommodate more flexible and remote working conditions has birthed a trend toward using so-called huddle rooms as multi-purpose communication areas.
These small meeting/working rooms have to act as video conferencing venues for small groups of often remotely located teams. They have to be ready at a moment’s notice, be user-friendly enough to support everyone’s needs, and be flexible enough to accommodate a variety of meeting types.
This fact has forced hardware manufacturers to make systems designed for large boardrooms function within spaces that are little more than cupboards by comparison. Thankfully, they’re getting pretty good at it. Kinly video conferencing is a good example.
It’s Not a Meeting, It’s a Huddle
The move toward compact huddle rooms rather than more formal spaces is driven in part by the growing practicality and popularity of video conferencing itself. The technology is now accessible and affordable enough to fall well within the price range of even small businesses–you can get a complete, state-of-the-art 4K video setup for around $2,000. Video conferencing has become so widely used that it’s now a “must-have” form of communication, with 86% of respondents to a recent survey of U.S. businesses saying they incorporate video into their unified communications.
The availability of video has also produced an increase in telecommuting employees. Despite concerns that the practice isn’t good for corporate culture, almost five percent of U.S. employees currently work from home, a 115% increase in little more than a decade.
All this enthusiasm for video conferencing hasn’t, however, increased the size of the average office. Small businesses don’t have room for an immersive video system, and even bigger players don’t always have ready access to extra space to accommodate the increasing number of virtual meetings.
And so, we get huddle rooms, which introduce the dilemma of how to fit quality video equipment into a compromise location.
That’s where Kinly comes in.
Infographic: What to Look For in Video Conferencing for Huddle Rooms
Huddle rooms are on the rise as more companies deploy video in small conference rooms. This infographic explains the rise and lists 5 benefits of small room VC systems.
Kinly Video Conferencing
Europe-based Kinly uses its own and other companies’ products to build a video conferencing system that suits the room around it. Its range of Smart Rooms can be customized to include the features of a boardroom installation sized for the realities of an office environment. It’s a way of offering a host of monitors, cameras, microphones, and touch panels for as few as one or two video callers. The emphasis is on vivid digital displays–Kinly just acquired AV specialist MK2 to boost its presentation offerings–and high-end functionality that give even the smallest meeting a professional feel. You even get a smartphone meeting assistant to help you join and stage a meeting.
This modular approach also lends itself to the flexibility of the modern office by being available under a device-as-a-service monthly subscription plan. The drawback of placing all this tech into a huddle room is that you may be pressed for physical space–you’ll almost certainly have to be seated for the entire conversation–and there’s little scope for adding many more attendees than the room was designed for. Also, once such a permanent space is occupied there’s little chance of using it for anything beyond a video call.
However, erring on the side of heavy but feature-rich technology is still better than compromising on visuals and functionality.
Other Approaches to the Huddle Room Dilemma
The alternative to the Kinly video conferencing approach is to reduce the size and amount of hardware needed to hold a video meeting. This has led to the proliferation of all-in-one webcams designed to perform in a limited space.
One such model made its public debut at the recent CES 2019 convention in Las Vegas. The Lenovo Mini Video Conferencing Speaker is a compact, 360-degree device that attaches to a laptop to provide all the visuals and audio for a huddle room video meeting. It is small enough to fit in your laptop bag and powerful enough to host a group chat.
And there are others. Logitech has the cylindrical and portable ConferenceCam Connect, Owl Labs has a 360-degree video conferencing huddle cam called the Meeting Owl, and StarLeaf came out with its own compact huddle room video conferencing console in the summer of 2016.
None of these units, however, have the power or presence of a complete room system. They are compromises that will get the job done if speed, flexibility, and mobility are higher priorities than overall comfort and functionality.
Depending on your teams’ needs and how flexible your meeting rooms must be, Kinly’s solution may well be a more attractive option than a small portable conference cam. As long as employees can adapt to the technology and find a workable room schedule, it’s often more efficient to scale down a permanent setup than to settle for a compressed version.
After all, the people on the other end of your video call don’t know how big your room is–all they care about is the clarity and content of the conversation.