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Author: Graham Walsh, Crestron Technical Solutions Director
With the dramatic increase in the use of Microsoft Teams® software in meeting rooms, Microsoft felt the time was right to make locating, booking, and optimizing use of those meeting rooms as simple and seamless as the one-touch video conferencing and collaboration experience Microsoft Teams provides. To do that, they needed the right partner.
With our 15+ years of global leadership in design and manufacture of room scheduling touch screens, plus our successful strategic partnership of many years, it was a natural choice for Microsoft to partner with us. Our touch screens have evolved from providing simple connectivity to your mail server for room booking, to delivering much more advanced functionality, such as automatic check in/out of rooms, and integration with third-party solutions to assist with wayfinding, remote deployment, and analytics. And that’s just for starters.
So, what is the Microsoft Teams® Panel?
Microsoft Teams Rooms – MTRs for short – are the heart of the meeting collaboration space. Office workers enjoy the same consistent user interface and one-touch-to-join experience whether they’re in the room, on the desktop, or on the Microsoft Teams mobile client. Now, to help you find, book, and manage meeting rooms, there’s the new Microsoft Teams Panels, just announced by Microsoft. These devices deliver a native Microsoft Teams experience on Crestron’s industry-leading room scheduling touch screens.
Available in 7" and 10" models, black or white, and with many different mounting options for walls, glass etc., new Microsoft Teams Panels are powered using just a Power of Ethernet (PoE) connection. (Or a local PoE injector is available.) To get up and running, you simply sign into your Microsoft Teams account, and then you can use the data network as part of the PoE. The panels also have Wi-Fi® connectivity built-in, so they can easily join the necessary networks.
Microsoft Teams Panels offer a slew of features that help people make the most of their time. With the large, high-resolution screen, office workers can clearly see the room’s schedule and availability for the day. Need a room on short notice? Simple! Microsoft Teams Panels offer the convenience to book ad-hoc meetings on the spot. Simply walk up to the panel, press the Reserve button, and then select the required duration.
When you enter the meeting room, the MTR will have the meeting already scheduled on the device. Simply press the ‘Join’ button and you’re ready to start video conferencing and collaborating. You can then easily add any other participants using the MTR console.
Checkout a brief demonstration here and see how integration with Crestron Flex for MTR, Teams Panels brings optimization to your workspaces and workflows.
With their highly visible illuminated room status bars (red or purple for occupied, green for available), Microsoft Teams Panels eliminate time wasted wandering the halls looking for an available meeting room. With just a quick glance down the corridor you can tell which rooms are free or busy. And for organizations that have set up one-way movement around the office, the wayfinding functionality provides a safer and more efficient way of navigating your way around the building.
Even more productivity on the way
New Microsoft Teams Panels features coming soon from Microsoft include:
Easily view floor plans to book another meeting space from any Microsoft Teams Panel
See a notification on the panel and on the front of room display of an MTR when a room is at capacity (will require compatible camera, such as the Huddly IQ™ conference camera, as part of the Crestron Flex MTRs)
Receive an alert inside the room that next meeting attendees have arrived
heck In for your meeting – this will then send a notification to the front of room display, similar to the five-minute warning that you see on the Microsoft Teams desktop client today
Optimize your meeting rooms
Microsoft Teams Panels help the IT department ensure every room is used to its full potential.
In our current hybrid working environment, we may not always be in the office, so we’ll meet from other spaces and locations. However, we may not remember to remove a cancelled meeting from the schedule. The Microsoft Teams Panel, paired with an occupancy sensor from Crestron, solves this problem. The sensor can detect that the room is not in use and will then automatically communicate this to the panel. The room schedule will be updated, freeing up the room for anyone else to use. The panel also provides the ability to remove unused scheduled rooms, thereby freeing them up for booking. This typically occurs when meeting spaces are “ghosted,” i.e. when people don’t show up for a scheduled meeting.
Got an MTR license?
If you already have a Microsoft Teams Room license or Microsoft Teams Room Premium license, there’s no additional cost to license Microsoft Teams Panels. However, we all know that not all spaces have an MTR today, so if you have a meeting or collaboration space that doesn’t, you can still install a Microsoft Teams Panel; you just need to provide a license for the panel.
Ready to get yours?
Microsoft Teams Panels are available now from Crestron and the Microsoft Store. They’re also available from Microsoft under the Device-as-a-Service program. Already have Crestron 70 Series 7" or 10" touch screens? You can upgrade them to the native Microsoft Teams experience today with just a simple software download.
Visit our feature page to learn more about Microsoft Teams Panels and get in touch with a Crestron Trusted Advisor for more information or to get a demo.