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        Video Conferencing System Solutions, Technology, and Equipment
        Modern business and communication thrive off of video conferencing systems 
and the different technologies that enhance remote connection and collaboration
        September 27

        Video has set the new standard for communication in our personal lives and in business. It’s become so prominent that specific legislation is being created to ensure these technologies are used responsibly (say goodbye to work calls during your commute). This can be attributed to the rapid explosion of innovative technologies that have made these systems more affordable, more reliable, easier to use, and offer many user benefits beyond traditional video calling.

        So naturally, everyone is looking for a personalized video conferencing system for office spaces, classrooms, lecture halls, and more. And there is simply no one-size-fits-all system. This can complicate things further when deciding which video conferencing platforms to standardize or which cameras work best for your space. But some important considerations can get you started down the right path when you’re ready to upgrade your space or implement your first video conferencing system.

        Exploring Video Conferencing

        Benefits of Professional Video Conferencing Systems

        A video conferencing system is created by connecting several separate components into a unified solution to capture and transmit video, audio, digital files, digital screen sharing, and more to facilitate long-distance communications and collaboration between individuals and groups.

        While most modern smartphones and personal computers can accomplish all of this with built-in and add-on devices, a professional video conferencing system must meet a higher standard of video/audio quality, security, connectivity, system management, and scalability.

        Meeting those higher standards provides users with several notable benefits.

        Enhanced Remote Collaboration

        According to findings from Forbes® magazine, over 40% of the global workforce is now on a remote or hybrid working status. Even 10 years ago, it would have been difficult to imagine many workers having access to the right tools to collaborate well enough remotely. Fortunately, there have been numerous innovations in collaboration technology in recent years.

        Now, it is possible to host interactive virtual meetings in real-time with several people located in different geographical areas through many popular video collaboration solutions such as Microsoft Teams® software, Zoom®, Slack®, Webex®, and other software platforms. These web-based video meeting platforms use screen-sharing capabilities to enable users to share working documents with any sized group, present content, and even perform live edits while receiving peer feedback.

        And with new technologies coming into play, collaboration is enhanced further with features like automatic speaker framing and group framing to increase meeting equity among all members.

        Increased Productivity and Efficiency

        Most major professional video conferencing platforms have added features to help users stay productive most efficiently. For example, Microsoft Teams® software and Zoom® software use their own self-contained file storage solution. When users share a file, the system stores it natively so it can be easily recalled later without leaving the platform. Many of these platforms also offer other built-in features such as calendars, chats, and other applications allowing users to do multiple tasks within one solution.

        On the hardware side, professional video conferencing systems are becoming more user-friendly. Features like one-touch meetings and occupancy sensors remove friction from the physical meeting experience, saving the user time and hassle.

        Cost Savings of Video Conferencing

        While the initial costs of professional video conferencing equipment might feel like a big investment, the overall savings are hard to ignore over time. You might be surprised at the long-term affordability when compared to cheaper components. The cost savings of these systems come from:

        • Reduced travel expenses with remote dial-in
        • Reduced travel time allows employees to redirect time to projects
        • Reduced facility costs — with more remote workers, the need for more physical facilites decreases
        • Purchase less equipment over time — more reliable system components that last longer
        • Pay for less system servicing — better support and assistance to solve problems that do arise
        • A 25% lower turnover rate for remote employees (according to Forbes)

        Video Conferencing Hardware and Technology

        The technology and equipment needed for a professional video conferencing system varies depending on the users' needs and the different spaces being used. However, some foundational devices are essential to video conferencing:

        • Internet Connections: A good internet connection is required to communicate with others in remote areas, especially while streaming video. According to a study by the University of Chicago, most video conferencing platforms require an average of 1-2 megabits per second (Mbps) of download bandwidth and 0.75-1.4 Mbps of upload bandwidth for a single video call.
        • Wired vs. Wireless: Do you want people to enter your conference space and physically plug into the system, or would you prefer a seamless wireless interaction? You can go both routes; however, there are some notable benefits to going wireless.
        • Conferencing Software: A few trusted video conferencing software platforms offer the features and functionality for almost any type of video call. The most popular of those are Microsoft Teams, Zoom, and Google Meet™ software.
        • Cameras: At least one camera is required for video conferencing. Most laptops and phones have these built into the hardware. However, external webcams and professional video conferencing cameras work as well, with features like speaker tracking and auto-framing for more high-definition video calls.
        • Microphone: Again, most PCs have a built-in microphone that works great. These can be upgraded with higher-quality external microphones ranging from noise-canceling headset microphones to in-ceiling microphones for conference rooms.
        • Speakers: For a single user, a simple pair of headphones or built-in laptop speakers may get the job done. But for group conferencing in larger rooms, you’ll need to consider room speakers. These can vary from built-in ceiling speakers to more flexible solutions such as Crestron Flex Pods for spaces that may change from meeting to meeting.
        • Displays and Projectors: Video conferencing requires displaying the video on a screen. This is especially helpful for larger group conferences and when sharing informative documents. In most smaller rooms, a simple wall-mounted LED display will suffice. For much larger spaces like lecture rooms or conference halls, projectors are far superior to ensure the content is large enough to see.

        By combining the technologies and equipment listed above, you can create the foundation of your professional video conferencing system. Depending on your room size and layout, you may even be able to kill three birds with one stone and opt for an all-in-one video conferencing system. Crestron Videobar 70 combines cameras, microphones, and speakers into one product.

        That said, different types of system applications may call for additional hardware and software. Here are the main types of video conferencing systems applications and the different equipment associated with each:

        • Desktop Video Conferencing: This is the simplest form of video communication requiring the least equipment, planning, and configuration. All you need is a laptop or PC with a webcam. You may need to install additional video conferencing software as well. But once the software is configured, you can conference with nearly anyone worldwide, including individuals and large groups.
        • Native In-Room Conferencing (Conference Room Systems): This is the most traditional approach to video conferencing. In this scenario, there is typically a conference room designated for the video conferencing system. This room will contain all the technologies outlined in the section above.
        • VR Video Conferencing: Virtual reality companies are investing more in conferencing applications to create collaborative virtual spaces where users can use unique avatars to show up in a more fun and engaging way. The most popular of these systems is typically self-contained in the hardware, which includes a headset and hand controllers. Once the user logs into the conferencing application, they can talk, listen, and present information.

        While these applications are possible, traditional video conferencing systems are still the most popular. Most users will use a desktop conferencing solution or an in-room setup.

        When it comes to both of those types of systems, Crestron provides a complete end-to-end solution for video conferencing. From large meeting spaces to conference rooms or small huddle spaces and BYOD scenarios, Crestron specializes in creating flexible room solutions to power your video conferencing needs with one touch.

        Choosing The Right Video Conferencing Solutions

        If you’re considering upgrading your video conferencing system or need to set up a new one, it’s best to speak directly to a systems integrator about your needs. These professionals understand the latest trends, technology, and equipment available in the market, and know what it takes to install it and what it will cost.

        However, if you want to get a good idea of what to expect before speaking with a professional systems integrator, here are some things you may want to consider:

        • Application: What is the video conferencing system being used for? Mostly one-on-one meetings? Team meetings? All-hands meetings? Small groups? Large groups?
        • Scalability: How will your needs change in the next three to 10 years? Will you hire more employees who will need access to these systems? Are you going to hire more remote talent who won’t be using your facilities as much?
        • Compatibility: If you already have some equipment in your conference rooms that you’d like to integrate into a video conferencing system, ensure anything you add is compatible with your current gear. If you’re starting with a brand-new system, make sure the brand you choose has a reputation for integrating well with other brands in case you want to add more later.
        • Security: When video conferencing for business, you’ll likely be sharing a lot of confidential information. You need to ensure your conference systems are secure. Look for equipment with security protocols such as AES Encryption, TLS, 802.1X Authentication, or SSH Network Protocol. These are all common security protocols used to protect your privacy and data. You can learn more about these here.
        • Ease of Setup: Try to go with equipment and systems that are easy to set up. This can save you upfront costs of installation as well as troubleshooting costs down the road.
        • Intuitive User Interface: Your video conferencing system should be easy for anyone to use. Imagine a guest coming into your office space to give a presentation. They have never been to your office before. They should be able to get their presentation up quickly and easily and running on your systems.
        • Software Options: Do a little homework on the different conferencing software platforms that are available. Which ones have all the features your teams will need? Which ones integrate well with the hardware? Which ones integrate with other software platforms that may be important to your teams? All these questions are important when deciding on a unified communications platform.
        • Hardware Brand Reputation: It’s always a good idea to go with a well-trusted brand name. While lesser-known brands may save you money upfront, they may also cost you more in service visits and repairs down the line.
        Meta Horizon Workrooms
        Meta Quest 3 - VR Headset

        Future Trends in Video Conferencing

        We’ve already seen how fast these technologies can innovate over the past few years. And now that the train is rolling, it’s not showing any signs of slowing any time soon. So, that begs the question — what can we expect to see for future trends and video conferencing systems? While we can’t know for sure, a few trends on the rise might give us some insights.

        Automation

        Automation technology is beginning to spark many innovative ways to enhance the video conferencing experience. Crestron is on the leading edge with new camera technology to increase meeting equity. It’s been a game changer for many organizations looking for a better way to maintain high levels of collaboration and inclusion in hybrid or remote situations.

        Video Conferencing in Virtual Reality

        The technology for virtual meeting solutions is here now. However, user adoption has yet to take off. At first glance, VR video conferencing comes off as a bit gimmicky. But for those seeking a more immersive, creative, interactive, and fun way to increase remote team collaboration, it might be a good idea to dig deeper into VR conferencing.

        Mobile Video Conferencing Enhancements

        We’ve all been at a video conference with a team member calling in from the driver’s seat on their way to pick up their kids from school. While we don’t condone participating while driving, it shows the power and flexibility of our mobile devices to keep us connected to our teams no matter where we are. It’s not a far stretch to imagine those mobile video conferencing tools continually getting better features and enhancements. Possibly universal integrations with vehicle displays or maybe the opposite route — safety features to shut down your conference if driving is detected.

         

        Frequently Asked Questions

        What are the main video conferencing software platforms?

        There are a number of different video conferencing software platforms available. Some of the most recognizable are Zoom Rooms®, Microsoft Teams, Google Meet, Skype®, and Webex software platforms. While these options serve as viable video conferencing solutions, they each offer different features and integrations with other services.

        What is the difference between a virtual meeting and video conferencing?

        The terms virtual meeting and video conferencing are often used interchangeably. However, there are some key differences. A virtual meeting implies more than simply face-chatting via video. A virtual meeting leverages other features and tools such as screen sharing, file sharing, text chatting, and more to enable more collaboration than a simple video conference.

        Is Zoom a video conferencing system?

        Yes, Zoom software is considered a video conferencing system. However, it is also much more powerful than simple video conferencing. Zoom software offers a rich feature set that gives participants more power for creativity and collaboration. While it is a video conferencing system, it can also be referred to as a virtual meeting platform.

        What is the difference between video calling and conferencing?

        Video calling is a tool that gives one person the ability to directly contact another person through a set direct number or line. A video conference allows a host to create a virtual meeting space with a unique identification number that can be accessed by multiple participants at once.

        What is the difference between VoIP and video conferencing?

        VoIP is a system designed for voice communication by transmitting audio over a network. Video conferencing utilizes audio, video, and other features such as chat, file sharing, screen recording, and more.

        What is the difference between a webcam and a conference camera?

        Most standard webcams have lower resolution than a professional conference camera. Conference cameras can also utilize more technology to enhance the meeting experience, such as speaker tracking, auto-framing, auto-switching, and group framing.

        What is the price of video conferencing equipment?

        Video conferencing equipment can vary drastically in price depending on brand and application. It is best to speak with a professional system integrator to determine what equipment is required for your specific space and how much that will cost.

        What equipment do I need for a Zoom meeting?

        Anyone can participate in a meeting using Zoom® software on a smartphone, PC, or similar devices. Some devices may require you to download the Zoom application; however, you can usually join a Zoom meeting from a web browser as well.

        What is the best video conferencing equipment for Microsoft Teams?

        To ensure the best video conferencing experience using the Microsoft Teams® platform, it is best to use only Microsoft Teams Rooms certified systems and peripherals. Visit Microsoft's website for a full list of certified products.

        Crestron can help you find the right video conferencing system for you. From small huddle spaces to large conference rooms and event halls, our solutions can be scaled to meet all your needs. Our technology is used as the backbone in many organizations around the globe, including X’s (formerly Twitter) headquarters, the University of Notre Dame, University of Southern California, PUMA’s headquarters, and more.

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