The Past and Future of the Videoconference room, Part 3: The User Interface

The user interface for videoconference rooms has come a long way – and has a brighter, simpler future.

Story by David Danto, Network World

In the first of this series of blogs, I discussed the history and future of videoconferencing cameras, in the second I discussed the hierarchy of rooms/spaces/environments for visual collaboration. This – part three – is about how to use the darned things.

From the earliest days of technology in enterprise conference rooms the user interface (UI) has been a contentious, problematic and difficult part of users’ satisfaction with that technology. All UIs have to achieve a balance between simplicity and power. The more that they can do, the harder they are to operate. So because videoconferencing has traditionally been hard, the UI has needed to do a lot to meet the needs.

When I worked for Michael Bloomberg he once described to me his vision of a perfect UI as consisting of two buttons. Pressing the first would read his mind and do whatever he was thinking he wanted. Pressing the second would make both buttons go away till he needed them again. While I’ve been striving for that simplicity for the many years since he mentioned it, we’re not quite there yet – but we’re closer now than ever.

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