Next Generation of Video Conferencing Endpoints Using Interactive TouchBoards
In the visual communications field, historically video conferencing has been conducted with traditional H.323 or SIP endpoints. An endpoint includes a CODEC which connects the device to a network via Ethernet terminations and converts the analog audio and video signals to digital ones which can go through an IP based networks. Attached to the CODEC is a fixed or PTZ (Pan-Tilt-Zoom) camera and a speakerphone. This package would typically be provided by a manufacturer such as Cisco/Tandberg, Polycom, or LifeSize with the image displayed on a connection from the CODEC to a display or projector. An instance of the deployment described above would be provided for each conference room or location that an organization had the need to connect virtually and collaborate in virtual conferences.
Although traditional endpoints still exist, more and more there are new and innovative forward looking devices that are self-contained with multiple applications packed into a single powerful platform. Some examples would be a NewLine Interactive TouchBoard, a Microsoft Surface, or Sharp Aquos Series. These devices have an interactive touch screen which negates the need for a touch panel or remote control, and built-in HD cameras and speaker bars. Most importantly these devices have modular onboard PCs or Macs built-in so the unit acts as a large tablet device. They can be configured as just another PC or Mac in the IT department’s eco-system. The sizes range anywhere from 32” devices all the way to 90”+ devices and static wall-mounted or affixed to a mobile cart.
The entire visual communications industry and Information Technology field has been moving towards software and cloud-based applications for nearly a generation now since the turn of the century. Video conferencing and collaboration is no exception. Newcomers Vidyo, LIfeSize Cloud, GoToMeeting, and Zoom are just a few examples. A license can be downloaded to the modular computer described above on one of the interactive touch displays and then have the device deployed as a stand-alone, self-contained video conferencing platform. The devices function as essentially giant tablets so all other functionality is still available such as on-screen recording, web-surfing, local presentations, and analyzing documents. One example of an application that customers are using is a local zoning board using Google Maps to zoom in on a part of a city or municipality and annotating on screen or an architectural firm utilizing the HD screen to zoom in and share blueprints on building designs. Finally the interactive devices feature numerous USB and A/V inputs and outputs which allow further customization. This could be an enhanced speaker bar, second camera, wireless keyboard and mouse, and any of an array of other devices.
The visual communications industry is changing for the better. Costs are dropping and setups are easier than ever. Additionally management is easier than ever, and a less cumbersome setup allows for a more streamlined user experience that enhances the user experience and increases utilization and supports a higher ROI.