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Video conferencing technology has surged in popularity primarily through necessity over the last 18 months. As remote and hybrid work become a permanent feature of the workforce, it became critical to deploy webcams and conference room systems that encourage collaboration, engagement and productivity wherever colleagues are located. Higher quality conference systems enable next-gen meetings that offer significant business benefits, such as saving money on real estate and overhead costs.

The use of web conferencing increased exponentially in 2020-2021 and 90 percent of North American businesses plan to spend more on video conferencing solutions in 2022, according to Trust Radius. However, while remote working has proven benefits, it requires the right technology and tools to optimize collaboration and engagement levels between your teams. 

Standard, low-quality cameras and conference systems will no longer suffice as new conference room camera systems offer more advanced capabilities. And, as products like Cisco Room Kits, Poly Video Bar and Neat Bars increase in popularity, it's vital to understand how to deploy this technology.

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How conference room cameras are being used

Conference room systems are increasingly used to connect office-based employees and teams with remote workers. This is crucial to maintaining engagement levels and enabling people in disparate locations to remain connected.

The hybrid work model blends remote and on-site work and employees. Teams need to collaborate from disparate locations and video plays a vital role to keep engagement and collaboration levels high. To do that, you need to ensure employees work with the right tools and technology that support the highest quality video conferencing.

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Conference room cameras vs. camera systems

Conference rooms can be outfitted with cameras that are standalone and simpler gear.  The Owl and the Logitech Meetup are two examples where, with USB and HDMI input, an employee can walk-in, plug-in a laptop and start a video meeting.  The employee's laptop essentially provides the processing power to start and run the meeting.  With these standalone conference room cameras, IT might opt to place external microphones on the table or a remote control to enhance the sound quality and direction of the camera.  It's less than optimal, but it's less expensive.

Conference room systems are more robust, have better processing power and include features like voice activation, speaker tracking and the ability to separate multiple participants into a single video frame so that remote attendees can see everyone in the room individually.  More importantly, camera systems like Poly Bar, Neat Bar Pro and Cisco Room Kits are registered to a meeting service - like Microsoft Teams, Zoom or Webex - so that employees can start a meeting without touching or adjusting anything.  

Which issues affect conference call quality?

Video meetings are now mainstream but continue to be blighted by issues that affect video call performance. Without the correct setup and video conferencing tech in place, conference calls can suffer challenges including:

Poor video quality: Standard built-in webcams or cameras that connect to a computer's USB port typically offer low-quality video images. They are often difficult to position in an ideal location, offer poor views to attendees, and struggle to fit more than two people into the picture on a call.

Poor connectivity: Video conferencing technology and platforms should make it easy for your employees to collaborate, regardless of where they connect from. But that depends on having a reliable internet connection that prevents lag, which makes calls challenging to follow and frustrates all meeting participants.

Software incompatibility: Remote work sees people using different devices and operating systems, inevitably leading to software struggles. All-in-one platforms and solutions that allow attendees to join calls via their web browser help you provide one place for people to access video calls. This means they no longer must download new software or juggle multiple apps and logins.  

Security: Attackers have used video conferencing tools to hack into video calls and harass meeting attendees or steal their data. Virtual meeting software needs to be secured through password-protected meetings. It also needs to offer features that enable people to be muted or removed from conversations and allow discussions to be locked when all attendees have arrived.

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What benefits do conference room cameras and camera systems offer?

Conference room cameras offer a wide range of features that enable you to optimize the quality of your video meetings. Benefits you should consider with conference room cameras and camera systems include:

High-quality video resolution: A key feature of conference room cameras is high-quality resolution. Taking the resolution of your calls up to 1080p HD or 4K sees video detail and smoothness increase exponentially. However, it's worth remembering that this boost in image resolution relies on having the necessary network infrastructure to handle this streaming quality.

Setup process: Standalone conference room cameras like the Owl or Logitech Meetup should be quick and easy to set up. There is less planning and configuration required than with camera systems. However, for every meeting, employees must enter the room, connect their laptops to start the meeting and share screens. With camera systems like the Poly Bar, Neat Bar Pro or Cisco Room Kits, there is more advanced planning, cabling and configuration. At installation, these camera systems get registered to specific meeting platform services like Webex, Zoom or Microsoft Teams. The time spent planning and registering conference room camera systems, however, gets paid back many times over by enabling a seamless start to every meeting. With one-button-to-push to start meetings - or now with voice assistants - one command to start a meeting or share a screen is a feature that many reopened offices will value. With camera systems, you remove the hassle of prepping devices for meetings and eliminate the frustration of wasting time to get a video call started. Whether it's a standalone camera or camera system, a good conference room camera should go virtually unnoticed while maximizing the quality of your meetings.

Automatic speaker recognition: For any conference room camera, it's important that it recognizes and displays the meeting participant who is speaking using a built-in image sensor. This helps make your meetings more natural, productive and more accessible for attendees to follow. Furthermore, these cameras also highlight in-room participants dynamically, which helps remote attendees follow discussions with multiple people.

Flexibility features: Video conference cameras offer features like adjustable viewpoints, remote controls and wide-angle views that improve the viewing experience for remote attendees.

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What options are there for conference room camera systems?

There are plenty of conference room camera systems options available to bring your virtual meetings to life. The best video conferencing experience relies on selecting a device from a trusted provider and includes rich features that optimize the quality of your video calls.

Cisco conference room cameras

Cisco video conferencing cameras like Cisco Room Kit offer advanced features that transform the quality of your video conferencing interactions. This includes:

Advanced attendee capabilities: Cisco conference room cameras enable speaker tracking and the ability to focus on individuals in a virtual meeting. The cameras also allow you to take meeting attendees' images and deliver insights like their LinkedIn profile attributes. You can also use the WebEx video feed to split all participants into individual squares, ensuring all attendees have equal standing.

Automated prompts: Cisco cameras utilize voice activation to automatically start meetings or call additional participants into a conference.  

Smart assistant capabilities: Cisco cameras enable you to transcribe and take notes of meeting highlights through Webex Assistant. This artificial intelligence (AI) tool ensures you never miss any details of a meeting or webinar by providing automated closed captions and real-time transcription to make calls accessible to all attendees. You can also configure the camera to the central Cisco Control Hub dashboard, enabling you to provision devices, access detailed analytics and reporting, and meet security and compliance policies.

Central configuration and updating: Cisco's Control Hub also enables your IT team to manage your video conference rooms centrally; they can update cameras and configure their settings to ensure the devices are secure and always updated.

Advanced analytics: Cisco's cameras are supported by analytics into how the devices are used, the number of participants attending virtual meetings, and how often features like screen sharing or whiteboard features are accessed. This allows you to analyze the usage of cameras, understand how best to engage your employees and customers in virtual meetings, and how to optimize your virtual conferencing.  

Poly conference room cameras

Poly provides leading conference room cameras that enables your teams to interact naturally through high-quality audio and video connections. Benefits of Poly solutions include:

Simple video conferencing: Poly's video bar cameras are simple to use as they have built-in support for leading cloud video services. This means there's no need for a laptop or computer to run the hardware, and they provide crisp, clear audio and video, and enable wireless content sharing.

Seamless collaboration in any room: Poly provides a range of cameras for individual users through options for large rooms. This offers collaboration experiences that help your employees host meetings with their internal teams and customers and deliver presentations to large audiences.

Simple content sharing: Poly conference room cameras enable you to easily and wirelessly share content without requiring additional apps or specialist tools. It supports multiple streams alongside features like content annotation and digital whiteboarding that allow you to make notes and mark up documents during video calls.  

High-resolution calls: Poly solutions offer video resolution up to 4K Ultra HD alongside rich audio. Cameras also provide features like Acoustic Fence and NoiseBlock AI that minimize background noise and other distractions.

Personalized video conferencing: Poly conference video cameras utilize features like automatic speaker tracking and group framing to cultivate personal connections on calls. This ensures all attendees can see vital details, such as body language and facial expressions. Cameras also feature a Presenter Mode that follows the lead conference presenter in real-time, just as a camera operator would.

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Delight users and customers with optimal video calls

As hybrid work becomes the norm and people become increasingly comfortable working together from disparate locations, it's vital to maintain seamless collaboration and engagement levels. The conference room camera or system you choose is a key element to deliver optimal video and audio quality and advanced features that enhance team productivity.  

 

Optimize your meetings with the right conference room cameras.