Pan Tilt Zoom

vtc-1114We tend to forget that video conferences are supposed to be a technological way to have meetings.

Gadgets, gadgets, more gadgets and expensive widgets are getting in the way of us just sitting down and having a meeting. The worst culprit of all is the PTZ camera. The PTZ, by its name alone reminds us that we’re going to have a meeting that is interruptible and without flow. Combine the ability to pan, tilt and zoom with the (let’s face it) poor acting automated abilities that some of them have, you get to zoom in on someone who just sneezed. Worse yet is the slow acting nature of the switching capabilities. These take upwards of five seconds to switch to whoever just started talking. This is absolutely inappropriate for a meeting.

I look at it like this: In a room full of people having a meeting there is rarely an instance when only one person speaks, then stops so someone else can talk. Meetings are dynamic in nature, with bouncing ideas off of your coworkers, having heated arguments, and side conversations. None of which can happen with any sort of flow using an auto-switching camera.

One is bad, so let’s use two!

I’m not sure what Cisco was thinking. With Speaker Track, they copied Polycom’s years old Eagle Eye Director which no one I know of likes. Why? Lack of critical thinking about what a video conference actually is. Instead of one huge camera, we get two? In sitting for a demo of both products at InfoComm, I couldn’t help but get really distracted when the camera whirred and pointed at me. This ‘feature’ alone will force shy, introverted people into silence during a meeting. What’s worse than being on the spot in a meeting? Having some mechanical device remind you of that fact every time you talk (or cough, or sneeze).

The industry keeps cranking out these cameras though. It’s like the old saying about telling a lie long enough it becomes the truth. It’s time for the lie to be exposed and the PTZ to go away.

See, one whole blog without mentioning eye contact.