Anyone who has sat through multi-person conferences using any number of cloud-based services is familiar with the problems of basic intelligibility. Too often users find themselves accidentally using the built-in microphone of a laptop instead of an external device, or are attempting to understand a group of people at the other end as they shout through a tiny, distorted speaker that is stuck at the far end of a long table.
Static conferencing setups can help to keep connections stable, but many companies and users stick with a BYOC model that means that multiple laptops are being connected and disconnected from conference room equipment all day. When there are problems, the IT department can’t help because they can’t “see” into the myriad USB and analog connections and configurations that are causing trouble. Now someone has to hurry to the conference room and fix a problem that arguably shouldn’t exist.
Networked AV provides a better way to manage these connections. Instead of relying upon entirely local devices such as USB microphones and speakers, all endpoints are part of a common network that is managed by IT. Administrators can quickly see if any given AV device is properly connected to any computer, and correct problems right away from their desk without having to visit the conference room itself.
USB connections are inherently limited to short distances, but not so with networked AV. Multiple microphones and speakers can be placed anywhere around the room for maximum intelligibility without stretching cables or requiring that a laptop sit in the middle of the table. Want to add more endpoints for even better sound? No need to run more special point-to-point cables, simply connect endpoints to any port on the network and it’s ready to use.
That’s great, you might say – but how will users configure this stuff when they arrive in the conference room, laptop in hand?
Here is where the work done in networked AV to automate discovery and configuration comes into play. When a computer is connected to the network in the conference room, pre-configured software can automatically detect and connect the “right” devices with no need for additional hardware. If a connection is changed inadvertently, a call to IT can remedy the problem in seconds.
As businesses require more and more face-to-face communication, the urgency of high-quality, low-friction conferencing will continue to increase. This is a space where the integration channel can add value immediately!
Networked AV opens doors to better, more flexible, more supportable audio for everyone – something we will discuss in additional posts soon to come!