The latest and greatest trends in video conferencing at ISE 2019

February 27, 2019

As VP Strategic Alliances and Partnerships at Huddly, Fraser Park has his finger on the pulse of the video conferencing industry. Here are his thoughts on the big trends that came out of ISE, the world’s largest exhibition for AV and systems integration, which took place in Amsterdam in February. This content was originally published on LinkedIn.

It has been a few weeks since I attended ISE 2019 in the beautiful city of Amsterdam. As always, I have taken some time to reflect on what I saw and can now provide my personal thoughts on some trends I observed in the collaboration marketplace.

The show had its usual array of dazzling display innovation, with impressive video walls, curved displays, and even transparent OLED screens for delivering ultimate signage and gaming experiences. (As if my son needs any more reason to play Fortnite!)

In the collaboration space, the focus was on platforms.

Google

For our key strategic partner, Google, the show highlighted the growing maturity of their thinking in the collaboration space, with the Hangouts Meet platform providing deeper analytics, integration, and interoperability than ever. These are not limited to their own G Suite ecosystem but extend to existing standards based video environments thanks to their partnership with Pexip. 

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This article about the top 4 things to consider when choosing video solutions from Rany Ng, G Suite Director of Product Management, highlights the user thinking which drives the continued development of the Google collaboration experience and expansion of this ecosystem.

As a regular user of the Google Hangouts Meet platform, I can say that the quality of the video experience just keeps getting better and better. 

Microsoft

For Microsoft, this was very much the delivery show for the Microsoft Teams ecosystem. They had a number of partners launching new technology for the Microsoft Teams platform, including for Huddly the release of the new Crestron Flex solution series. Crestron Flex solutions deliver a consistent Microsoft Teams experience, no matter the space they are deployed in, from desks to huddle spaces, to more integrated and complex environments with the new B160 Soundbar and the C series integrator kits.

Crestron Collaboration with Microsoft Teams – ISE 2019

For other manufacturers in the ecosystem, ISE 2019 was the launch of their Microsoft Teams Rooms for general sale. These solutions include the new Windows Collaboration Display from Avocor, which is the first interactive solution to market in this category. Microsoft also provided further updates for key partners on the new Surface Hub due in the market later this year.

Overall, my impression of the Microsoft Teams platform is one of a very well executed group chat and collaboration application, available across any device and importantly with a vastly improved video collaboration experience for their customers. Coupled with the great choice of meeting room hardware from companies such as Crestron, Lenovo, HP, Polycom, Yealink and Logitech this will provide customers with a complete collaboration experience for their workplace.

Zoom

Finally on the platform side, although not present with their own booth, Zoom were represented at many stands. Again these showcased the connected thinking from Zoom in delivering simple-to-deploy and easy-to-use meeting environments for their platform. Zoom Room Kits and Zoom Room for Touch were showcased throughout the show, including the globally available offerings from Tech Data Maverick at their now famous Tiki Bar.

So, in summary, the video and collaboration experiences across the major collaboration platform providers are getting better. Approved/certified room solutions are becoming more consistent, more affordable and globally deliverable. Importantly these platforms are also now focusing on delivering real-time analytics and information from the meeting space.

Huddly’s real-time analytics

Huddly is at the forefront of this thinking with our new Huddly IQ camera which uses in-camera AI to understand people in the space. We use this intelligence initially for two functions: Genius Framing to automatically zoom in and frame the participants in a meeting space and a people counting feature to provide our platform partners with an open API to ingest real-time accurate data on the number of people using each meeting space.

The aim is provide end customers with accurate, real-time data on how spaces are being used.

We believe that this will help end customers better understand the actual traffic in their workplaces and thus provide the necessary insights to optimise their planning for these workplaces. At ISE a number of other manufacturers were starting to discuss intelligence from a camera perspective and our expectation is that in 2019 the ability to frame and count people using intelligence in the camera will become an industry standard.

What makes Huddly different is that we deliver all that intelligence on the camera itself with no reliance on the connected compute. In addition, our hardware is designed in a way that allows us to continually add more and more analytic and capture capability to our platform, providing end customers with more and more insights into their workplaces whilst respecting the privacy of the individual.

New form factors

Finally, on form factors for collaboration solutions, ISE showcased a number of new solutions. In the meeting room, new soundbar solutions were presented by Crestron with the B160, NEC with their new collaboration bar, Polycom with their new Studio device and Cisco with their new Webex Room Kit Mini. From a room control perspective, Lenovo presented their newly available ThinkSmart Hub700 and Logitech showcased their new Tap controller.

Overall these new form factors simply fed into the growing trend for well thought through room kit solutions built with the ability to support all of the major platform vendors with native user experiences for each collaboration platform solution. In 2019 we should see a move to allow simple deployment of platforms across hardware ecosystems via central management solutions such as the Crestron XiO cloud.

What this means for end customers

The good news for end customers is not only the continuing improvement in the quality of the platform solutions, as well as better meeting room kits and form factors to support these platforms, but also the greater simplicity in deploying these solutions globally and the growth in importance of the real-time analytics to drive the productivity and adoption of these platforms.

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Fraser Park
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