Seeing a title like “The Look of Modern Meetings” in my news feed got me a little excited. Thinking that there would be some breakthrough and new level of interaction and control I clicked to find a (useful) summary of the USE of Video Conferencing today. Disappointed, I set pen to paper, ok fingers to keyboard, to begin talking about the limitations of traditional conferencing products as well as advancements in User Experience that exist today.
Don’t take the Blue Pill.
What if I said you can escape the Grid display in your Video meetings?
Why do Video conference meetings seem stuck in the 70’s…ok, maybe the 80’s?
The most common term for Videoconference display methods remains the ‘Brady Bunch’. You know, the grid display with Marcia and Bobby, and Alice in the middle from the 60’s and 70’s. Hollywood Squares used it for comedy as well. It’s just a tragedy that, with all the advancements in displays and capabilities, it’s still used in the preponderance of meeting equipment today.
The reason behind this is the codec and the encoding it performs. Basically taking many video feeds, adjusting the size and dimensions, and sending it back out to everyone in the meeting. There’s some compression and other good things that go on here that make this suitable and even beneficial – 20 years ago. Even 10 years ago. Today, not so much…
The limitations of this type of view in today's world of fast(er) everything and affordable screens and cameras is that it treats everyone the same. Poorly. Different people have varying abilities and layouts that they want to use. And they want to focus on different things, at the same time. So everyone gets one dumbed down display and no one gets what they really want to see.
The best example of this is when someone shares content from a Screen. SOME people lucky or well-heeled enough to have a second screen AND support for a protocol called H.239 can see the shared content separately, even well, IF the screen is large enough. Everyone else gets another, slightly larger but still shrunken, box in the grid. This is hardly useful, if at all, since the point of sharing is for people to see what you’re talking about.
Welcome to 2015!
The modern Video Collaboration Client has ‘Best Seat In The House’ attributes like:
- Individual Displays for each camera stream (call them Tiles)
- Re-arranging the Tiles based on your personal preference and focus at the moment
- Moving those Tiles outside the application to one or many Screens
- Magnifying any part of any Tile image
- EVERYONE shares, or at least can share both digital and non-digital content
- There’s more of course, but these are core functional areas.
“Just a minute - NON-DIGITAL CONTENT you say. In a Video Conference?”
Of course. Good cameras are easy to come by and inexpensive. Your Video Collaboration Client should support at least a couple of them turned ON at the same time. That way you can show anything in the meeting that you can capture with a Camera. (To have a BUNCH of active cameras, say 6 or 7, usually takes an external mux)
Here’s an example of a ‘room’ created using a free Client and a bunch of devices and displays. Note the front and rear camera images, simultaneously sent from the single client.