There are many aspects to designing a well-functioning video conference room. First, there is the hardware required for the video conferencing system, such as a projector and screen, or a display of some sort, the camera or cameras, microphones, interfaces for controlling the system and the hardware that stores the video conferencing software. Then there’s the furniture, maybe a large conference table (but can you be sure everyone can be seen?) or rows of desks, a cabinet to hide the clunky hardware, chairs, perhaps a table to set the projector on. You also can’t forget the decor–color palet, carpeting, wall hangings, plants and other decorations. And what about those windows? What kind of treatments should you put up? And as for artificial lights, there are a variety of light fixtures available.
Microphones. Most microphones designed for video conferencing are designed to pick you sound within eight feet. This means, with proper placement, most rooms won’t require multiple separate units to ensure good sound quality. This is especially true with the Polycom HDX ceiling microphone, which doesn’t even take up table space.
Cameras. My favorite is the Polycom EagleEye Director, which features fully automated camera pan, tilt and zoom motions. The EagleEye Director zooms in on active speakers, which shows facial expressions. Being able to see facial expressions is the whole point of video conferencing.
Interface. Although not always necessary, it can be nice to have a dedicated interface for your video conferencing system so you don’t have to rely on a laptop or dedicated desktop for adding call participants, controlling camera angles and switching to different input types.
Speakers. Good speakers are essential to ensure quality sound quality and an overall good communication experience. Polycom offers a good 20 Watt speaker solution, but it may not be compatible with all systems.
Software is available in many forms, and may be integrated within a hardware appliance or purchased in individual licenses, or may even be hosted in the cloud. TriTech partners with a variety of video conferencing system providers, including LifeSize, Polycom, and Cisco.
TriTech has a variety of Avteq carts, credenzas, mounting hardware and even specialty medical carts that have specific purposes for video communications.
Carts can be used for rooms where you may not want a permanent video installation, or may need to reconfigure the room as needs dictate. Carts designed for video conferencing generally mounting hardware to instal the codec, display and mount a camera.
Credenzas are a bit more permanent, but still don’t require drilling holes into a wall and are generally easier for moving. Credenzas oftentimes have more space for storing equipment and come in a variety of finishes to match or compliment the rest of your furniture.
Displays vary in size and type to accommodate a variety of functions. Whether you need a single 40″ display or a series of projectors and screens, TriTech can help you with determining your needs, installation and maintenance as it is needed.
Mounting Hardware is ideal for tighter spaces, or more permanent installations. Generally, you can mount the display, camera and microphones, but still need a cabinet or rack for storing the codec.
Much like the rest of your office, you’ll want to keep the room neutrally colored, not only to keep the room pleasant for those in it, but to minimize eye strain for remote participants as well. Any vibrant colors can also reflect off of the people, and give them a strange look on screen, which takes away from the lifelike feel you are striving for in video conferencing.
Walls should generally be a flat or matte finish, since gloss can reflect the light. Patterned finishes should also be avoided, particularly stripes, since that can produce a strange flickering when reproduced on a screen.
The Office Furniture you choose for your conference room should follow the same guidelines: minimal, muted, flat. A glass conference table, for example, can cause your video to have confusing reflections or glare.
If you can find a room without windows, that would be the best solution since sunlight can both interfere with the camera’s ability to capture an image and users ability to view the screen. However, oftentimes that is not possible and the best option is to use vertical blinds or blackout curtains that will uniformly block the sunlight.
With the artificial lighting, using a diffused or indirect light source is best. The goal is always to light the space as evenly as possible. Avoid spotlights.
Everything that must be considered to determine the proper equipment and design of your video conferencing room is a large undertaking, but you don’t need to do it alone. Call TriTech today to begin the design process. We can also install the necessary data cabling to a new room, or integrate new cabling for a room that may already be partially ready for the switch. The benefits of video communication are too great to ignore. Call TriTech, and we will help you find something that will fit into your budget and help streamline your business practices by reducing travel time and costs.