Guest Blog by Anne Marie Ginn, Head of Video Collaboration, EMEA at Logitech
According to a recent research, the adoption of video conferencing is expected to grow by 20% by 2022, reaching $41 billion market value. This will make video communication the second most widely used channel after voice, alongside unified messaging and email. But while demand for video collaboration is growing, traditional video conferencing is quickly becoming a thing of the past. Gone are the days when video conferencing was only used in large boardrooms for formal presentations and meetings.
Today’s businesses are shifting their focus to create a flexible working environment, which includes huddle rooms and multi-purpose breakout areas that are equipped with video devices. Despite this, it is estimated that only a small percentage of the estimated 32.4 million huddle rooms available globally are video‑enabled.
With almost 50% of the UK workforce expected to work remotely in the next couple of years, video enabled communication will become a critical component of the productivity strategy for every organisation. But video enabling every room is only the first step to boosting productivity. As office spaces are evolving, collaboration technology is evolving too. One of the key innovations in this space is video conferencing powered by Artificial Intelligence (AI).
Advancements in AI can dramatically improve the user experience and drive incremental efficiencies by helping automate time-consuming collaboration tasks. In fact, AI can drive innovation in three key areas: natural language processing, meeting room analytics, and computer vision.
Natural Language Processing (NLP) can be used to improve video conferencing in a number of ways: from enabling the automated transcription of the meeting, through to sharing actions and notes, and translating the conversation into different languages. Natural language processing, combined with AI, can also enable virtual assistants and chatbots to start, join, and leave meetings through voice command.
There are further applications too – AI combined with NLP, will enable better audio quality by automatically suppressing echo and minimising background noise. For example, if someone happened to be eating a packet of crisps in a meeting, the technology is intelligent enough to muffle this background noise. This, coupled with evolving techniques such as automatic levelling and beamforming, will make everyone in the meeting easy to hear and understand.
In the future AI will be used to interact with users both inside and outside of the meeting room to drive productivity. In fact, AI-driven devices can make conference rooms smarter and your meetings better in ways that you may have never imagined. For instance, AI can drive significant improvements in video conferencing by enabling businesses to manage meetings more effectively and drive efficiency by automating simple tasks such as rescheduling calls and sending important notifications. This includes the ability to find and book available rooms, suggest relevant documents ahead of time, enable screen sharing and notify participants of changes in pre-scheduled meetings.
The data insights generated from AI can be a valuable tool for optimising facilities management and making the most of office space too. For instance, AI can use predictive analytics to enable businesses to understand how meeting rooms are being used to boost room occupancy levels. Data analytics and AI can also be used to track engagement during video conferencing calls, including participants’ mood and the share of voice among participants in the conversation.
However, none of this will be possible without the advancements in the use of computer vision in video conferencing. Computer vision can drive improvements in video meetings by allowing the camera to recognise who is speaking and zoom into the person. It could also track how many people are in the meeting and tag relevant participants. Other advanced uses of the technology include gaze correction and even controlling the background environment in the room to improve user experience.
For instance, computing vision, combined with AI, can help drive Intelligent colour and light correction. It can automatically detect visual issues and optimise light balance to emphasise faces, even in dim or backlit conditions. With smart camera control, video cams can track human figures in the room throughout the meeting, allowing the camera to automatically pan, tilt, and zoom to centre and comfortably frame participants. This could be particularly useful for more interactive meetings, for instance if someone moved in the room to draw a diagram on a flip chart.
AI has the potential to transform video conferencing and enable a much better user experience and more productive video meetings. However for all this to happen, the industry needs to ensure interoperability between video conferencing devices in a multi-vendor AI environment. All players in the marketplace will need to work together to make sure that new advancements in AI and computing vision are designed with the user’s privacy in mind. Only by improving the reliability of emerging video conferencing technologies and building trust in the ecosystem, will we be able to drive mainstream adoption of AI-based video collaboration. This will be key for ensuring all industry players can reap the productivity benefits of this technology.