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Office Design
Make Video Conferencing Work For You
9 Ways to Improve Your Tech & Meeting Space



“The lighting for videoconferencing—which increases relative illumination on the participants and contrast between participants and their surroundings—is and should be supplemental as, typically, its too bright for normal video use,” advises Brock McGinnis, sales manager, Westbury National Show Systems Audio and Visual Solutions Division. “VTC-specific lighting is now easier to find, specify and implement and the number of camera choices, particularly those that don’t come bundled with VTC codecs, is far better.”



“Since HD cameras/VTC systems came out, it’s become necessary to take greater consideration with cameras and lighting due to the huge increase in detail that was being captured,” notes Jason Breska, design engineer with AVI Systems. “AV engineers need to work closely with interior designers and lighting designers in order for a room to be properly designed for VTC use. Improper lighting can cause people to look like zombies if the wrong color temperature of light and wrong lighting angles are used."



“With the development of more flexible and energy efficient lighting systems (such as LED technologies), lighting solutions are now being used to modify environments in a manner that was, up to a few years ago, only available for very few, due to expense and time necessary to implement,” observes EB Dangerfield, system sales representative for AVI Systems. “Now it’s easier to create spaces that enhance productivity, impact mood, and provide more flexibility in control of light output and color.”



Jeff Stoebner, CEO of AVI Systems zooms in on this angle: “Cameras are getting wider and wider viewing angles, reducing the need for panning and tilting.”



That little trend called convergence has made it much easier to design a room for communicating with the larger world. “Today’s communication technology systems have become much more agnostic, providing communication between a variety of technologies, such as H.323 and software-based communication systems like Lync,” according to Dangerfield.  

Breska too notes this expansion, saying, “VTC rooms used to be dedicated for VTC use only. They would require dedicated/expensive ISDN lines and could only call other ISDN based endpoints. Once everything became IP/cloud based, VTC systems became much more flexible. Room systems are no longer limited to calling other room systems. A room can now communicate with participants on desktop PCs, smartphones, tablets, etc.”



Following on the convergence trend, there’s another one that has simplified conference room setup. “Videoconferencing is moving much more toward the soft videoconferencing, which utilizes more bring-your-



Don’t forget that conference rooms are designed for people, and the people who are using them are changing. “It’s our job as an integrator to keep designs intuitive, simple, and to understand what our audience is,” Shor says. “In fact, the workforce is changing. Millennials understand video and have that background. They’re not going to want to work for a company that doesn’t have the technologies they’ve learned to expect from their earliest days in the classroom. It’s up to us to keep up with those trends and design a system with an emphasis on ease of use instead of black boxes and appliances.”



Tell the interior designer that you’re not just being arbitrary. “Patterned wallpaper can freak out the camera’s ability to auto focus on the subjects, and bright exterior windows can throw off the overall exposure of the scene by interfering with the camera’s auto-iris ability,” Breska cautions.

The table design/shape can also make or break an effective video conferencing call. Some of the classic shapes such as rectangular and boat shaped tables may be ideal for face-to-face interaction but seriously inhibit the ability for viewers to see every face during a video conference. For this reason, there has been a rise in popularity of the trapezoidal and bullet shaped tables. These designs allow for user to sit comfortably around the table and have each face clearly visible.



Certain clients will always want technology to be invisible, but there are a growing number of projects where it’s actually beneficial to put the gear front and center, observes Mark DeQuinzio, managing director for AV Engineering at Diversified Systems. “We’re working with some of the major technology companies, and the whole approach is different. The finishes they use are very minimal, but all of the technology is very proudly displayed on the wall as part of the environment. And it’s not just the display, the camera and the speakers, but also the microphones don’t need to be hidden. It’s just a different aesthetic, and that tech aesthetic does make our life a whole lot easier.”

own-device concepts as opposed to having an appliance codec in the room,” says Jonathan Shor, senior sales account executive with Verrex. “We’re designing rooms that are more based around USB connectivity so that people can bring in their own laptop, work in their own software domain and feel much more comfortable.”