There is nothing more exciting than rolling out new technology to your team. You strive to provide your team with an excellent collaboration experience that is easy to use. So it is expected that the new AV meeting room technology will enable your team to be productive and meet business outcomes.
So what happens when the latest and greatest AV technology solution doesn’t do what you expect? The manufacturer told you it would work, but when you integrate it into your AV system with other hardware and software, you suddenly have partial functionality. This leaves everyone frustrated and inhibits productivity.
You want to make the most of your technology investment because you’ve spent a lot of time and energy researching it.
In this article we’ll discuss how manufacturer hardware specifications don’t always match real-world conditions. You’ll learn why this happens and what to consider so your technology works as expected, every time.
Why Doesn’t My Technology Work?
Jobs are becoming more digital, more connected, and more automated. Because of this, you rely heavily on technology for day-to-day communications with your teams. Your teams may substitute face-to-face meetings with high-quality video conferencing. And your teams want ways to connect their mobile devices in real time to video calls to take part in the meeting and share content.
When your AV technology system doesn’t function as expected, it is easy to blame the device or even the person who installed the system. But often the issue is following manufacturer specs that are based on ideal conditions.
Let’s look at a few common examples of technology issues in meeting rooms.
- Hardware doesn’t perform the same for different software. You purchase a piece of hardware because it provides four features you need to make video calls. One meeting uses Zoom video conferencing software and can only access two of the four features. The next meeting uses Microsoft Teams® video conferencing software and can only access the other two of the four features.
Solution: Technically the hardware can provide the four features you are looking for, but not in all configurations. Review with your team what video conferencing software they expect to use in the room (e.g. Zoom vs Teams) to determine if they are compatible with the hardware. Once you understand how your team expects to work, look at the hardware again to see if it meets your meeting space needs.
- Microphone doesn’t pick up all meeting participants. The manufacturer says the microphone has a range of 20 ft. A meeting participant in the room is sitting at the edge of the microphone range and the HVAC system turns on. Unfortunately, the participants at the far end of the video conferencing call can’t understand what is being said.
Solution: manufacturers will say you can capture audio in a certain range, but you need to confirm if that range is realistic to your meeting room. Instead of turning up the gain of the microphones to drown out background conversations or the HVAC system, shorten the distance from your participants to the microphone. Microphones have a variety of pick up patterns and it is important to pick the correct pattern for where the microphone will be located. The larger the room and/or the more echo the room has, it is important that the microphone and AEC is closer to the participants so it can perform properly.
You may also consider adding acoustic properties to the room on the floor, ceiling, walls, windows, and table. Adding acoustical treatments like carpet, drapes, and sound absorption panels will help the sound from reflecting in the room.
Acoustic Echo Cancellation (AEC) can greatly enhance the audio quality of a multi-point call. When setting up AEC, it is important to properly tune the system and have the microphone and speakers in the right placement for the room.
- HDMI signal loss to the display. The manufacturer of a video switcher may tell you it will send a HDMI signal over 4K. The spec sheet may not mention that the distance to send the HDMI signal is only 12 ft.
The spec sheet also may not mention that if you have an HDMI source, then the HDMI output will only work for 35 ft. and any distance after that will show signal loss. Because of these HDMI cable limitations, the room display won’t display content properly, if at all.
Solution: Review the size of the room and the business needs you are trying to solve. HDMI signals will show degradation at lengths beyond 35ft. Confirm if you can use HDMI cables or if you need another solution to solve your problem.
It is also important to note that just because a piece of hardware is 4K rated, it doesn’t mean it will provide 4K resolution at the expected refresh rates. This can result in viewing content in a lower resolution in order to achieve smoother video.
- Infrastructure. Having the correct infrastructure in place to support your modern workforce needs is crucial. Here are a couple of quick questions to ask yourself:
- Do you need to upgrade your broadband to support adding video to your meetings?
- Do you have a long-term AV infrastructure plan in place to support future technology?
- Do you have a designed network for your AV devices? Will the AV devices sit on their own network or on the IT network? Will VLANs be used and are they segmented to enable the cross-VLAN communications necessary for devices to function correctly? An example would be a wireless presentation system that is on the same VLAN as the user Wifi network, enabling the system to be accessed and used by personal devices.
How To Get Help
If you’re having issues with your conference room technology not performing the way you think it should, we can help.
AV Solutions has a strong research and development practice of putting our hands on new equipment in-house and testing it for functionality and specification issues before we recommend the equipment to our clients.
AV Solutions has a standard process of fully building, programming, and testing each AV technology system in-house before packing it up for deployment. These practices ensure that we catch most—if not all—issues before they impact our clients during deployment.
Talk to AV Solutions about issues you are having with manufacturer specs. We know that the right solution for you depends on your unique use case. We’ll discuss your business needs and objectives, your current video conferencing solution, and help you make the best choice for your business.