Like many of you, we’ve decided to keep THE rAVe Agency’s physical offices closed at least through the end of the summer, but I think it’s unlikely that we will actually gather our team together, physically, fall. In fact, nearly every business will face the significant hurdle of dealing with people who are creeped out by having to touch things. (Door handles, light switches, toilet flushers, the copier buttons — heck, even the soap dispensers, ironically.)
Pre-COVID, we integrated two Zoom Rooms here at THE rAVe Agency. And, both have nifty touch-based panels to launch into a meeting anywhere in the world. Everyone loved the simplicity, reliability and quality of the Zoom Room experience. However, making Microsoft Teams calls was tough in those rooms — it required me, Jacob, or someone technical to “pre” set up the room. Then came Barco’s ClickShare Conference in February — launched with a creative story, too — if you haven’t seen the video, do yourself a favor and watch it now. It’s hilarious:
ClickShare Conference eliminates the need to touch anything in a meeting room and removes the need for me to manually convert a Zoom Room into one that can handle a BlueJeans meeting! It’s as if the Barco engineers who designed it saw COVID-19 coming.
Marketed as BYOM (Bring Your Own Meeting), you walk into any meeting room, plug in the Conferencing Button, and effortlessly host a video conference from your own device. Within seconds, you benefit from the AV setup of the room you are in. Of course, you are using your preferred conferencing solution (e.g., Microsoft Teams, Webex, Zoom or any others). Remote working was already on the rise, and the new ClickShare technology enables a truly flexible way of working. Oh, and you do it all using your laptop, iPad or, eventually, iPhone!
It’s clear to me that many of you readers agree, as it just won two rAVe’s Readers’ Choice Awards for 2020 including Favorite Overall New Product and Favorite Conferencing / Collaboration Hardware Product.
If you missed the U.S. debut of this product, we were there live — here’s the broadcast of it:
I’m sure every major wireless sharing company out there will add the BYOM feature to their products, eventually. But, I wonder whether or not BYOM will set a more significant trend in AV overall. I mean, companies like Crestron and Extron have been offering personal-device-based control for years of their control systems. You can control an entire Extron-enabled classroom using an iPhone App or the phone’s Safari browser. But, nearly no one does it except IT people. Most of us would rather touch the buttons of the MediaLink keypad or the TouchLink product screen. It’s quicker and has a better UI.
At any rate, this needs to be solved. The UI and UX of the web-based controllers and to control AV, in general, is a band-aid fix for right now. Teachers in classrooms, salespeople in meeting rooms and execs in the C-suites will not want to be touching this stuff when they return to the offices this fall. This is a no-brainer.
Another option for these offices and classrooms would be to integrate Alexa — no, not voice control, Alexa. Voice control sucks, Alexa doesn’t. And, Amazon has opened the Alexa API to professional developers with a host of new security features. This isn’t a should-we-do-it. This is a “WE NEED TO DO THIS, NOW” kind of thing, food for thought.