In the ten years since I started my career in the audio visual industry I have seen the technology used in meeting rooms change pretty dramatically. The most noticeable to me include methods of connectivity, the shift away from a dedicated room PC, an increase in the number and types of devices, requirements for wireless presentation, and the rise in popularity of unified communication platforms.
Even five to six years ago I found it difficult to believe that the HD-15 connector commonly referred to as VGA would basically be on the verge of becoming extinct and even more surprising that HDMI would become the standard video connector for professional audio video applications. While HDMI is still not the most ideal connector for commercial applications, companies like Comprehensive Cable have introduced high grade HDMI cables with tensioned connectors to reduce the possibility of cables being unplugged unintentionally. Thankfully, many of the dreaded EDID issues associated with HDMI have also been reduced with improvements in switching and distribution equipment from companies like Kramer and ATEN. While Display Port is a very attractive format for commercial installs it just has not yet been as widely adopted.
While many meeting rooms still have a dedicated room PC it is rarely used as the main presentation source in the room. Meetings, from a technology standpoint have become more collaborative often with several presentation sources present. Sleek table connectivity solutions like the HydraPort® suite of products from AMX provide more flexibility to have multiple presenters in a meeting space while at the same time providing additional power outlets, network connectivity, along with a wide host of other connectivity options. Consider though that with all of the mobile devices that have become commonplace today there are limitations with hardwired systems.
Just about everyone now walks around with at least one presentation device on their person at all times including smart phones and tablets and as these devices have become more powerful the small and portable form factor have made them extremely attractive as an alternative to PC’s for presenting content. The challenge here is you have devices from many different manufactures running on multiple different platforms, some with proprietary connections.
Effective meeting spaces now need to be able to handle both wired and wireless devices seamlessly regardless if they are running Windows, iOS, or Android. Technology products like the Barco Clickshare, Kramer VIA, and AMX Enzo are great options to add this functionality to any meeting space, small or large. You will also find some great budget friendly options like the iProjection App which is provided free from Epson and is available on both the iOS and Android platform. The Epson iProjection App allows users to wirelessly project documents, photos, and web pages from your iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch, or Android mobile device as well as providing annotation capabilities.
Another interesting trend is the rise in popularity of unified communication platforms like Spontania from ClearOne. Picture instant messaging, but add the capability of video calling and on top of that add the ability to share your desktop or specific applications in a private virtual meeting room allowing users to join or host from multiple devices including PC’s, smartphones, tablets and more. There is no substitution for a fully integrated VTC system with high end cameras and multiple large displays, however the costs and complexity of those systems don’t work for everyone, and these types of cloud based systems alleviate the need for a dedicated room.