BYOD Collaboration Takes Center Stage

byod-exec-0613One of the most visible themes at this year’s Projection Summit and InfoComm was the emergence of multiple solutions aimed at Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) collaboration.  Companies we talked with that are supporting this trend included Barco, Mersive, TideBreak, Christie, Epson, and Mitsubishi – but there are many more.  What is clear is that BYOD collaboration in the corporate and education markets is becoming a mainstream force, which is likely to spill over into additional ProAV sectors soon.

At Projection Summit, Mersive teamed up to showcase its Solstice collaboration software coupled to a WX display solution from Delta. This single hardware/software solution includes a PC installed with Mersive’s Solstice software and a display solution from Delta. At Projection Summit, this consisted of two short throw projectors mounted above a very wide aspect ratio screen. A camera mounted in the same area, looks at this screen and runs Mersive warp and blend software, Sol, to align and blend these two overlapped projectors. The image quality looked great.

Solstice was launched in February and a 1.1 update was announced at InfoComm (see my video interview with CTO Chris Jaynes here). Solstice is a sophisticated yet easy to use solution where meeting participants can share content on a common screen sourcing content from their handheld devices, corporate servers, the Internet or even Blu-ray players or video conferencing equipment. Android and iOS devices are supported though wireless connections.  There are also a number of modes to govern how content is shared. As Jaynes puts it, “Any collaborative solution must meet three critical requirements: connect, share, control.”

Tidebreak has developed a BYOD package called TeamSpot. At Projection Summit, the company used a Mac mini to create a local area network in the room and CEO Andrew Milne gave his presentation from a tablet.  He also asked several company employees to join the demonstration as they all worked together on a spreadsheet in real time.

With roots from Stanford University, the company wants to develop sophisticated full-participation, collaboration tools. To get there, Milne offered a useful definition of collaboration: “A group of interdependent individuals who may have shared or differing goals who must bargain/negotiate to achieve their desired outcome(s).”  He then went on to describe the layers of collaboration (conferencing) as:

  • Video Conferencing
  • Wired Collaboration
  • Wireless Collaboration
  • Multi-screen Group Meeting Systems
  • UC / Remote Collaboration
  • Collaboration Apps

To date, each of these modes has typically generated its own hardware and software solutions that were typically not interoperable. Going forward, many users will be looking to tie all of these modes together, which is the need that TeamSpot and the company’s other solution, ClassSpot, seek to address.

The third presenter at Projection Summit was Barco with its ClickShare BYOD solution. This is also a hardware/software package with a hardware box providing the “glue” to connect devices and sources of content in a wired or wireless manner, then output it to any of four different screens. These screens can be discrete devices or blended projectors.

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ClickShare is a little more limited than the previous two solutions but it is also dead simple to use. Users for the meeting simply plug in a USB device to their laptop or connect wirelessly to the shared network. A one button “click” brings up your content on the shared screen. Several display modes are available with support for various OS platforms ready this summer.

At InfoComm, one of the more visible announcements came from Christie with its introduction of the Brio platform aimed at BYOD collaboration. The solution requires hardware, but for Windows-based devices, no software is needed as it uses the Projector Network feature that is built into the Windows OS to initiate the collaboration.

Christie has adapted their Phoenix box for BYOD collaboration. Instead of streaming a number of sources over a network, they use the Brio box to encode and share a couple of sources of content between multiple nodes, which can be in the same room or located remotely. Brio allows connection of up to 5 different devices that can be output onto two screens (projectors or flat panels). The five devices can connect wirelessly or by a wire, with the latter providing high quality video capabilities.

This solution is clearly aimed at in-room collaboration as content only for the participants devices can be shared (no external data).  This is useful, but may not satisfy all customers’ needs (see video interview here).

Epson takes a different approach choosing to embed a basic processor in their new BrightLink Pro projector.  This is aimed at digital white board collaboration, supporting image, movie and some drawing files, but there is no support for Office docs. For that, you need to run the applications on your tablet or laptop, then share it on the screen (see video interview here).

Mitsubishi introduced what it calls a workstation projector that includes a thin client stack in the projector itself.  To facilitate sharing of content, they have two apps. One, called SidePad, is a mirror of the device shown on the screen.  This reflects interaction on the tablet, phone or PC and is supported on Android and iOS platforms.

A second free app is called Wifi Doc. This connects a mobile device to the projector as long as they are in the same network (see the video interview here).

Sony also said it will have a new BYOD solution that will include several modes including a “moderator” mode that allows for better control of what content is displayed on common screens.

So there you have it. I think you will agree that BYOD collaboration will have an impact on many industries going forward.