The Quest for Huddle Room Hardware: Choosing the Perfect Collab System
How to equip your Huddle Room for success – 5 steps
The era of the large, complex conference space might finally be over. There’s a new solution available for today’s fast-paced and agile companies, and its name is the huddle room.
Over the past few years, as communication has become increasingly intimate, the AV and video industries have been focusing more heavily on the infiltration of the huddle room experience. After all, one report recently found that there are more than 50 million huddle rooms around the world. Not only are these spaces more informal and engaging than their counterparts, but they also eliminate the need for huge office overheads too – particularly when teams are interacting with a largely digital workforce.
The question is, what does it take to make a standard workspace into a quality huddle room experience?
Defining the Enterprise Huddle Room
If you’ve already begun to explore the benefits of the huddle room, then you might be a believer in the “Ringelmann” effect for productivity. Essentially, this is a psychological phenomenon that suggests that the more people in a meeting, the less productive that group becomes. Of course, just because huddle rooms are smaller than the standard conference room, doesn’t mean that your employees don’t need the same level of accessibility and performance.
Huddle rooms need to provide today’s staff with the opportunity to make rich audio calls, clear video calls, and share crucial content over screen and file sharing solutions. Unlike the traditional meeting room, huddle rooms are focused on easy installation, low cost, and availability.
One of the biggest issues of concern for huddle-room users is the camera technology. After all, deploying video conferencing services in a smaller room presents a set of challenges to the enterprise that they may not have encountered before. Companies need to find a solution that not only fits a smaller budget, but also accommodates a wider range of view, and all the features their huddle attendees need. Let’s look at some of the things firms will need to think about when choosing their huddle room hardware.
Step 1: Define your Budget
Huddle rooms are all about delivering efficiency, productivity, and collaboration on a budget. Unlike the huge conference rooms of days gone by, organisations can often afford to have dozens of huddle rooms throughout their enterprise, facilitating multiple smaller conversations at once.
Because huddle rooms focus on quantity and quality, there’s a focus on ensuring that the price tag for your video system suits your organisation’s spending capabilities. Of course, as with any major business investment, there’s more to choosing the perfect camera system than simply looking at the cost. You’ll also need to think about the return you can get from your investment in terms of functionality, features, and experience provided.
Step 2: Know Your Room
Most traditional conference rooms are large, rectangle spaces, designed to offer a complete overview of participants in video conferences. However, huddle rooms can come in various sizes and shapes. In many cases, the huddle participants will be seated very close to the front of the room, presenting a significant challenge for cameras that will require a more focused field of view.
Organisations searching to equip their huddle rooms with video conferencing features will need to seek solutions with a comprehensive horizontal field of view, wide enough to capture participants within a smaller area. The last thing you want is for people in your group not to show up on camera.
Step 3: Ensure Good Image Quality
In a standard call, the right audio quality can be the difference between a successful conversation, and a confusing experience. While audio still matters in video conferencing sessions, it’s crucial that the image provided from a camera is also clear enough to deliver a pleasant experience for all users. This often means choosing a high video resolution and framerate.
Pixel use might be another element worth considering, as cameras are often measured in their performance by the number of pixels they can sense, and accurately use to draw focus to people, rather than surrounding objects. Zoom quality may also be necessary, as well as light compensation features that allow the camera to accommodate rooms with very little backlighting.
Step 4: Consider Control and Flexibility
By nature, Huddle rooms don’t have the same degree of structure as the standard conference room. This means that companies need more flexibility and control over their camera experiences. Users will need to be able to direct the capture area of the camera and choose a device that can adapt to different room sizes and shapes.
Most often, huddle rooms make use of a combination of motorised, or fixed cameras. While fixed cameras are simple and focused, they don’t always capture as much of the space. On the other hand, motorized cameras can be tilted, panned, and zoomed to capture specific images. Of course, these solutions are often more expensive than their counterparts. Other options for control and flexibility might include:
- Speaker tracking systems: Some vendors have begun to introduce speaker tracking systems which allow the camera to automatically tilt, zoom, or pan to focus on the speaker in question. These solutions reduce the need for manual control over the camera.
- Room framing solutions: Room framing solutions are a more budget-friendly approach to camera control. These solutions detect where people are sitting in a room and adjust camera focus to ensure that all participants are active on camera.
- Ease of use: No matter how advanced the features on your huddle room camera might be, they won’t be much good unless they’re easy to understand and use. Adoption is key to any new initiative.
Step 5: Remember Integration
Finally, a few decades ago, every item within the business environment was designed specifically to do one thing – capture images, make calls, or record meetings. Now, the growing nature of APIs and Unified Communications has helped to ensure a collaboration between the devices in an enterprise space. If you want to get the most out of your huddle room system, you’ll need to make sure that the camera you choose integrates with the right solutions throughout your existing conferencing room experience. For instance, your camera might:
- Integrate with your enterprise calendars to ensure that when a person enters the huddle room, the space is automatically tagged as “in use”
- Analytics engines: So, you can assess the overall participation and results of meeting room experiences to improve engagement
- Corporate security features: Informing security teams that someone has entered he room to protect your physical assets.
You may even want your huddle room camera to integrate with other exciting tools for the huddle space, including digital whiteboards and UC solutions.
Bringing the Huddle Room to Life
As the meeting room environment continues to evolve, companies around the world have begun to discover just how valuable the huddle room can be to provide smaller, more intimate experiences for groups and teams. The huddle room can be a powerful addition to your workflow strategy, but the first step is finding the right technology to bring your implementation to life. Considering the issues above should make it easier for you to choose hardware that’s right for your huddle room.