Meetings are a core component of any company’s workflow. They unite people around shared ideas, inspire innovation, and facilitate knowledge sharing. Studies show around 55 million meetings are held every week (that’s about 11 million meetings per day).
Meetings have been around since the dawn of the very first business. However, how we enable and optimize meetings has changed somewhat over the years.
As trends like hybrid and remote work have grown increasingly common in recent years, companies have begun searching for tools and services designed to take the meeting out of the standard office space and into the cloud. Meeting room technology, a combination of hardware and software components created to connect distributed workers, is a crucial part of this new landscape.
What is Meeting Room Technology? An Introduction
meeting room technology is an umbrella term that can refer to any tool or solution designed to facilitate the creation of meeting space. In the past, “meeting room technology” consisted of relatively expensive, complex technology, from comprehensive speaker systems and cameras, to screens, booking technology, and microphones.
Today, meeting room technology can come in various sizes and shapes to suit various business needs. There are “huddle room” meeting tools that are made up of plug-and-play solutions capable of transforming any small space into a conferencing room.
Some vendors even offer video bars, which include everything a company needs to launch an effective meeting in one compact solution. While the versatility of meeting rooms has evolved, the core components of meeting room technology remain the same. Any effective meeting room is equipped with a combination of hardware and software.
Meeting Room Technology: The Hardware
The hardware or “endpoints” in the meeting room technology landscape are the solutions that facilitate the capture of voice and video, as well as allow employees to communicate and manage meeting rooms via laptops, screens, and mobile devices.
Some of the most common hardware components of meeting room technology include:
- Visual displays: Visual displays are one of the most essential parts of the meeting technology landscape. They provide visual access to information relevant to a meeting, including documents, screen shares, virtual whiteboards, and even camera feeds. Visual displays can also be used to organize and manage a meeting, with access to booking and scheduling software.
- Cameras: Cameras for meeting rooms can come in various shapes and sizes, from small plug-and-play webcams to comprehensive systems with multiple lenses and field-of-view options. Increasingly, companies are investing more heavily in high-quality cameras capable of offering high-definition pictures for the age of video conferencing.
- Microphones and speakers: Microphones and speaker systems can either be built into a video conferencing tool like a video bar or come as a standalone solution. There are various different options available, from speakerphones to omnidirectional microphones capable of cancelling out excess noise and echo. They contribute to better vocal conversations.
- Laptops and other peripherals: Laptops and computers allow companies to connect to their meeting room software and manage various aspects of a meeting. They can also be used for sharing content and files between different users over the internet. Some companies also invest in other peripherals to facilitate different kinds of meetings, such as whiteboards that automatically upload images to the cloud for instant collaboration.
Meeting Room Technology: The Software
The software component of the meeting room technology landscape refers to the applications and services companies use to facilitate meetings. These solutions work alongside hardware in the meeting room to help bridge connections between employees, schedule meetings and enable collaboration. Common forms of meeting room software include:
- Booking and scheduling software: Booking and scheduling software provides companies with the tools they need to ensure employees can access the meeting room spaces they need at the correct time. The right tools can help with distributing resources evenly among team members. Plus, these tools can sometimes offer insights into data about meeting room utilization,n meeting room health, and other details.
- Video conferencing software: Video conferencing software allows employees to meet and collaborate in an almost “face-to-face” manner. Images are captured by a camera and streamed to contacts over the internet. Today’s video conferencing software can offer a range of features, from automatic framing and speaker tracking to virtual background capabilities, intended to make team members look more professional in meetings.
- Audio software: Audio software helps companies to enhance and manage voice-based conversations in a meeting room. The right software can assist with streaming content to contacts without lag and latency. Some solutions can also cancel out echo and external noise, which might cause meeting distractions.
- Team collaboration tools: Team collaboration tools are software solutions that facilitate better meetings by allowing users to share information and screens, work collaboratively on projects, and complete various other tasks. Solutions like Microsoft Teams, for instance, allow users to set up meetings, schedule conversations, and share information during a meeting or presentation.
- Artificial Intelligence: AI software is quickly becoming a more common component of the meeting room technology landscape. AI cameras can track speakers in a meeting to improve productivity and meeting efficiency. The right tools can also automatically transcribe and translate meetings, create summaries, and surface information rapidly during a discussion.
The Rise of Meeting Room Technology
Meeting room technology has come a long way over the years. Today’s tools are designed to be simpler, more flexible, and more innovative than ever before. However, one thing remains the same, all meeting rooms rely on the right combination of hardware and software to enable powerful, meaningful, and efficient meeting experiences.