There’s an app for everything these days, as Apple is fond of reminding us. And that includes apps for professional quality conferencing, of both the video and audio varieties.
It wasn’t all that long ago that video conferencing required everyone to pile into a meeting room and wait while the IT team established a connection on the imposing-looking kit that looked like it had been borrowed from NASA. And when the first desktop solutions came along that allowed you to make group video calls from your PC, the quality was invariably so terrible everyone wondered why they bothered.
US vendor Lifesize has dedicated most of its 10-year existence to developing video and audio conferencing equipment that doesn’t take a rocket scientist to set up and use. Its Icon range of meeting room endpoints are both HD camera and conferencing broadcast system in one. Compact, discreet and with an eye-catching design, they plug easily into screens and the internet to deliver high-quality video communication with minimum fuss.
Paired with the Lifesize Phone HD touchscreen conference phone, Icon cameras provide a complete conference room solution. The Phone HD provides top quality audio and can be used as a standalone conference phone, while the touchscreen provides the simplest of interfaces for launching and managing calls.
So much for the hardware. The final piece of the Lifesize jigsaw has been the development of its own software platform to run its room-based solutions on. But the Lifesize app does much more than provide the engine for video conferences. A cloud-based service, it functions as a complete video, audio and web conference solution for business, linking mobile into the architecture and also allowing for browser-based communications from your desktop.
What can it do?
The Lifesize app is a cloud-based conferencing and collaboration platform designed to provide an all-in-one solution for a business’s video and audio needs. It turns any device or system with a camera, microphone and screen into a viable video conferencing endpoint. Available on desktop and mobile, it can be plugged into the Lifestyle Icon meeting room systems, it can run video calls on laptops or smartphones, and it can even be accessed on the move from a Google Chrome or Microsoft Explorer web browsers.
Whatever device you use, the Lifesize app is built to deliver a simple, consistent experience. It is just as useful for making one-to-one video or audio calls as it is full-scale formal video conferences, with easy one-touch escalation to add new participants or move from audio to video. In addition to cloud-based conferencing, every user gets access to an audio bridge for making conference calls for up to 50 participants via PSTN.
The interface is designed with simplicity and functionality in mind. It includes a search-based directory, which gathers all contacts within your organisation and outside in one place. Audio and video calls can be launched instantly by selecting names and clicking the call button. Alternatively, you can schedule calls in advance via a shared calendar. There is no limit on the number of participants who can take part.
During calls, users can also share their screen or particular apps or files they have open so teams can collaborate as well as talk.
The app includes an Admin Console designed to streamline management of conferencing and collaboration across a business. As well as allowing authorised personnel to manage directories and account-level options, the Admin Console provides an analytics dashboard. This tracks all system users across all devices and provides data on the number of calls made, call times, averages across different devices and so on.
On certain plans, the Lifesize app also provides the option to stream and record video meetings or conferences. Streaming creates the opportunity to vastly increase the audience even if they cannot actively participate, and is especially useful for webinars and presentations. All recordings will be stored and archived in a private, secure library to be shared for playback as required, allowing businesses to capture ideas discussed in meetings in their entirety.
To maintain the highest standards of quality and security, Lifesize uses the IBM Cloud for ultra-reliable connectivity at enterprise standards. It delivers end-to-end encryption on all communications, while the app is designed to operate within your own company firewall. Lifesize also promises three 9s availability, backed up by a contractual SLA.
What do we like?
Business-standard video conferencing, or audio for that matter, should not be kept locked away in a meeting room any more. With all the mobile technology available, flexibility is the future of communications. Lifesize’s room solutions are great, but it is even better that the company embraces other conferencing options with its app. The combination of room system support, mobile and desktop app plus browser access gives Lifestyle users complete agility over how, when and where the use conferencing in their business.
What is it compatible with?
The Lifestyle app connects to a number of other conferencing platforms to broaden the scope of who can join in on conferences. These include Skype for Business, IBM Sametime, and integrations with team collaboration apps like Slack and HipChat. It also links to SIP phone systems from Polycom, Cisco, Mitel, ShoreTel and Avaya. The inbuilt calendar is compatible with Microsoft Outlook and Google Calendar.
Where can I buy it?
The Lifesize app is available in three plans. The cheapest caps the number of participants in conferences to 25 and offers no support for third party platforms like Skype for Business. The highest tier includes up to 10 hours recording and provides unlimited meeting rooms, meaning there is effectively no cap on how many people can connect.
Lifesize products are distributed in the UK through Nuvias, the company which bought long-standing Lifesize partner Zycko in 2016. For more information about Lifesize products available through Nuvias, click here.
Before cloud computing came along, products like the Lifestyle video conferencing app simply wouldn’t have been possible. Imagine the time it would take to install the entire software programme needed to run an enterprise-standard live video platform on every PC, every laptop, and every smartphone employees across a business might use. Imagine the cost. And that’s before we even consider the wonders of HD quality video streaming via a web browser.
Certain products really do demonstrate just how far we have come since the Cloud came along, and the Lifestyle app is one of them. Simple, reliable, high quality and effective, the beauty of the Lifestyle app is just how versatile it is. Once you have signed up, you have the ability to make video calls, launch conferences, share with groups and collaborate with people even outside your organisation literally in the palm of your hands, whatever device you happen to be using. As adept at enabling video conferencing in the meeting room as it is tapping in on the move on a mobile device, Lifestyle shows why so many people believe the future of UC is video.
Look & Feel
A fully agile conferencing platform for all needs.