This is the second, and final, part of our 2017 InfoComm preview guide. In the first part, we looked at the sessions. Now, we’ll preview what some of the industry’s leading vendors plan on displaying at this year’s show. There are far too many vendors to possibly cover them all, but we hope this list will be a good start for you.
While most vendors are keeping their bigger announcements under wraps, I’ve been lucky enough to attend many pre-InfoComm briefings and can share some of what we should expect to see at the show. I can also provide a few hints at where to look for some surprises, based on my briefings.
We’ll do our best to hit the booths most relevant to our typical coverage here at Let’s Do Video. Be sure to check out my post-InfoComm coverage for a complete wrap-up. That being said, here is some of what I hope to see, in alphabetical order.
At Enterprise Connect I got a quick look at their new CAM340 for the huddle room. I hope to get a more in-depth demo, as well as a look at their product and market roadmaps.
The industry leading integrator can be a bellwether for technology trends. I’m always interested in the latest developments to their Symphony Management Platform, which they use to support customer collaboration environments. However, I am more interested in what they are hearing from their massive customer base of enterprise working teams. Which technologies are really being used in today’s meeting spaces and huddle rooms and which are just hype? No one is in a better position to know than AVI-SPL
At Enterprise Connect I enjoyed a special demo of the new BlueJeans experience powered by Dolby Audio. As we all know, the audio quality can have a massive effect on the success of a video meeting. I look forward to learning how their customers are appreciating the improved experience, and how well their new BlueJeans Huddle package is being adopted by their enterprise customers.
Cisco garnered many accolades and awards at Enterprise Connect for their new Spark Board and Spark Room Kit. While Cisco appears to be on a winning streak with hardware, I am just as interested in the continued development of their cloud strategy. While continued consolidation of Spark, WebEx, Jabber, and the Cisco Meeting Server (aka Acano) is inevitable, the path to do so isn’t clear or easy by any means.
While ClearOne is primarily known for their leading audio peripherals and infrastructure, I’ve been taking a closer look at their Spontania video cloud offering. I particularly appreciate the ability to support up to four cameras per participant. This is yet another approach to solving the pan/tilt/zoom problem that the industry is currently facing. If, for example, a classroom has one camera on the professor, another on the whiteboard, and two more on the students, a remote student would be able to flip between the views, or put them all on his/her screen at once, to effectively be able to look around the classroom without ever having to use a pan/tilt/zoom control.
This innovative company is always trying to stay ahead of the curve with its Ubiety offering. The Ubiety service is based around the Cisco Meeting Server and Spark services. I’m hoping to hear about new developments, interesting use cases with their customers, and any plans around Cisco’s new Spark Board and Spark Room Kit.
I was recently briefed about a new market entry in the collaboration space. The Huddle Hub One is a different approach to meeting room videoconferencing. Each person in the room wirelessly connects their personal device (laptop, tablet, mobile), to the Huddle Hub One device. Their video signals are then merged into a single signal which connects to your cloud video service of choice. Remote participants see the active speaker in the room, or a gallery view of everyone in the room. Those in the meeting room can all view the remote video participants on their own personal device. If everyone is looking down at their screens during a meeting anyway, we might as well put the meeting there. Also, that way everyone gets a good, face to face, experience. It is like a desktop experience in the meeting room. I hope to learn about their current plans and market strategy.
The new BRIO has proven to be very popular with customers. It’s new big brother, the MeetUp is sure to get the industry’s attention as well. When I was first briefed on the BRIO, the Logitech team told me that they were concerned customers would be using them in huddle spaces, even though the device is designed for desktop and laptop use. That raised a question in my mind. What does Logitech want its customers to use in huddle spaces? The answer is the MeetUp. I’m a big fan of the speaker bar design as it removes wires and clutter from the tabletop for a clean room setup. Looking forward to checking out the experience firsthand.
As of this March, the new Microsoft Teams solution has been available to all Office 365 users. Microsoft Teams is certainly something to keep our eyes on, due to the incredible growth and popularity of persistent team messaging solutions, and the tendency of Microsoft to dominate market segments by integrating products into Windows and Office. I hope to get an opportunity to learn if there is a strategy in place to merge Skype with Microsoft Teams.
I recently was invited to an online demo of the Nureva Span solution. As a fan of modern workflows, I’m intrigued by this somewhat unique approach to shared workspaces. It is simple in its essence; a virtual canvas where your team can share files and work on them together. However, some market approaches have been too complicated for many users. Nureva Span appears to be intuitive enough to allow for real growth. They shared some notable new customers with me, so I hope to learn about how actual working teams are using the solution.
Update: Nureva just announced the availability of its HDL300 audio system. This solution has gotten a lot of attention, and even won awards, during its development. I love these kinds of solutions, and I find it interesting when a team known for innovation in visualization and display technologies jumps into the audio game.
The Oblong booth is always a draw at these events. Their Mezzanine solution demos exceptionally well with its ability to smoothly throw content on various screens and easily move things around. It just looks really cool in action. They recently announced an expanded product range, including more affordable options. I’m wondering how they expect these new options to be deployed and which variants they expect will get the most uptake.
PanaCast (Altia Systems)
When I met with Aurangzeb Khan (President and CEO of Altia Systems), he shared some NDA information with me regarding the continued development of the PanaCast platform. I’ve always been a fan of PanaCast’s high resolution capture and digital PTZ approach. We are now seeing other vendors developing similar technologies, so it will be interesting to see how the PanaCast development team is working to stay ahead of the curve.
Phoenix Audio Technologies
The Phoenix team recently released the Stingray, a smart mixer for meeting room audio. In any video meeting room, audio has to be a no-compromise consideration. Phoenix has been adding new products to its line-up pretty regularly over the last few years. I am very interested to learn which lines are getting the most traction with customers.
Polycom’s recent big partnership with Zoom gives us a lot to think about. First, it shows the days of walled environments are completely behind us. The benefit to Polycom of having their leading endpoints connect seamless to the Zoom cloud service is significant as it opens up Zooms massive, and growing, customer base to Polycom’s video endpoint sales. Limiting their endpoints to only have that level of connectivity to Polycom’s infrastructure would give a competitive edge to that infrastructure. However, it is worth giving up that edge to boost the marketability of their endpoints. The transition from a hardware infrastructure market, to a software cloud video market, has not been easy for any of the industry mainstays. Cisco, Polycom, and Lifesize all had to find their own paths through these rough waters. For now, Polycom’s endpoints are doing very well for them, so it makes sense to clear the path for further market success.
The new Yamaha CS 700 is turning a lot of heads. As I’ve said before, I am a big fan of the speaker bar configuration for meeting room video endpoints. I want to get a closer look at the Yamaha CS 700 and to catch up on new developments with their line of microphones.
StarLeaf has something big to share with us at InfoComm. I’m not at liberty to give out any details, but it right up my productivity-focused alley. I might be as excited as the Starleaf team about this one! I also want to hear about the market adoption of their free Medley service. It isn’t every day that a vendor offers the world (not just StarLeaf customers) a free way to connect traditional video endpoints to standard Skype meetings. If users have gotten the message, I would expect them to be taking serious advantage of this free service.
Update: StarLeaf has announced the release of their new StarLeaf App. I’m looking forward to seeing their take on today’s workflow based collaboration apps.
The team at VDO360 will be debuting a new addition to their line of cameras with the TeamCam. It has the same friendly and distinctive shape of their Compass series, but is optimized for small huddle spaces with a wider view and a $389 MSRP. They will also be demonstrating the latest version of their auto-tracking functionality. I know users are looking for options to manual pan/tilt/zoom so I definitely want to see this in action.
Videxio has had a series of recent developments, including new streaming/recording support and a completely new web experience. I know their development team never stops, so I expect they will have something new to share at InfoComm.
We have a bunch of new solutions with capabilities to pull more data and analytics than ever before. Some of the new camera solutions not only know if a room is in use, but how many people are in the room, with the potential to even know who those people are. Companies like Vyopta will have to develop quickly to ensure their customers can leverage this new data quickly and effectively. I can’t wait to learn how Vyopta is approaching these new opportunities.
The partnership with Polycom gives Zoom some serious credibility where it matters the most, the enterprise video market. While Zoom’s viral growth among SMBs has been the envy of the industry, they have been working hard to fight the perception that they are a “consumer play” and not competitive among enterprise ready solutions. With a ton of new recent features, as well as a massive influx of cash, Zoom may be looking at their previous success as a mere warm-up for what lies ahead of them.