Plantronics Elara 60: Under the Microscope
UC Today bring you an in-depth preview of Plantronics' latest innovation, Elara, the mobile phone station
The way many of us work is changing. For many professionals the days of sitting at their desks for weeks on end have gone. The rise of the mobile worker is transforming user’s hardware requirements and Plantronics Polycom, a company on the pioneering edge of hardware development, have realised that.
Last year we bought you news, from the Microsoft Ignite event, that Plantronics have announced the dawn of a new hardware age with the Plantronics Elara 60 Series. The next generation device transforms and enhances the capabilities of a mobile phone and will offer users a whole new wave of options when it comes to enhancing their mobile productivity.
UC Today were lucky enough to be given an in-depth demonstration of the new Elara so we could bring you all of the details on the next device that will be hitting your desktop. Plantronics’ Robert Manassero, Global Product Marketing Manager, and John Ledingham, Director of Design for User Experience, were both on hand to take us through all the features and the ideology behind Elara.
Firstly Robert explains that Plantronics latest innovation is based on the results of detailed research conducted in conjunction with their customers, and the industry as a whole, to gage how they can best enhance user performance.
“What we have noticed is this rise in this new user, what we are calling the mobile-first user. They are using their mobile phone over and above any device out there. They’re usually on the go and when they actually come into a workstation they are going to be experiencing some different communication challenges when trying to use their mobile phone as their primary device. So, we are looking to solve the challenges that this type of user is having.”
John, who specialises in how users manage technology, explains that overcoming any usage issues is key to technology adoption.
“I think the biggest issue for mobile-first workers is that traction point, when you come into the office and you are almost forced to move to another platform. Your mobile is your portal to the world and then you have this other set of equipment you have to then use, so there is all of this friction moving from one to the other and that is what the Elara solves.”
Robert, John and Plantronics Polycom are acutely aware that their technologies, which formulate the last bridge from any tech platform to the end user, are critical to communication and collaboration experiences as a whole. If an endpoint fails in its goals, offers poor performance or usability then a whole stack of technological cards come tumbling down. With this in mind they are keen to ensure that mobile users can enjoy the same great experience, in terms of ease of use and performance, that any other user enjoys.
Many mobile, or mobile-first, users will be aware of the process. You return from your meeting, drop your mobile on your desk and effectively it becomes redundant as you return to use the traditional desktop tools. The Elara 60 series changes that process and Robert take us through it.
“If you are coming back into your workspace, maybe it’s your home office, you would be able to place your phone onto the station and instantly it’s going to start to wirelessly charge (If your phone supports it, if not there is a USB port for a corded option). Then you can actually extend your conversation to a more enterprise grade audio experience using a selection of different headsets we offer with the Elara.”
Plantronics are offering the Elara 60 series with a host of different customisable options to suit all mobile-first workers. Options will be available with different headsets included and wireless charging if required.
Robert explains that as soon as you are within range, the Elara 60 series will instantly connect via Bluetooth offering you all of the functionality of Elara including optional corded handset, speakerphone or integration with platforms such as Microsoft Teams. They have left no stone, or even the device itself, unturned when considering the most innovative ways to design the Elara device to provide an optimal experience. John demonstrates that the even the underside of the Elara has been sculpted to provide users with the best experience.
“Underneath the device we use a 50mm speaker which is downward firing. They are interesting because they take advantage of the surface that they are placed on to amplify the audio. We have sculpted a channel to conduct the audio to the best location, it also protects the microphone from the sound of the speakers giving you a really wonderful duplex audio experience.”
The Elara 60 series could well be the device with the most development time dedicated to its unseen areas, but it was all necessary to provide the optimum experience for users. There will be at least four different base models of the Elara. Entry level with no wireless charging, speakerphone or handset, an option with wireless charging, one with wireless charging and speakerphone, and the final option with all of the features including a handset.
Elara 60 series supports all mobile phones that offer Bluetooth and also will be able to manage even the largest phones in either portrait or landscape so the mobile can be utilised, with a front facing camera, for video meetings, videos or webinars. Integration with collaboration platforms like Microsoft Teams is also enabled and Elara will also offer LED notifications depending on the different statuses or notifications taking place within a Teams environment.
For the mobile workforce the Elara 60 series represents a new generation of work tools, where the mobile phone becomes the centre piece of communication in the office, just as it is out in the field. The bad news?…You will have to wait until later this year to get your hands on your preferred model.