Connectivity, Control, and Collaboration- Creating a Meeting Space People Can Easily Use
When we designed TSAChoice’s large conference room back in 2007, our primary goal was simple; to enable our managers to see various spreadsheets and company data on something a little larger than a piece of paper. Since then, the technology requirements for a room like this have grown exponentially.
We’ve added video conferencing, wireless and wired connectivity systems, environmental controls, network management, and a graphical user control interface. With this new technology, the primary challenge has been this: How do we keep this simple and easy to use?
This is the same challenge that our audio-visual services group helps customers around the region solve daily. Here are some tips to keep your conference or training room user friendly.
Whether we like it or not, we live in a world where everyone carries a potential presentation device. Whether it’s a laptop, phone, or tablet, meeting rooms MUST ready to send content from any device up to the big screen at a moment’s notice.
One way to do this is through wired connectivity. Elegant furniture cubbies with retractable cables make it very easy to plug MACs or PCs in for display. The key here is to make sure your connections are universal and that you avoid cable spaghetti. Hardwiring a connection is still the most reliable way to send video and audio signals to a projection screen or display.
Wireless is also an option. Some systems use your building WiFi to send AV signals. Other systems use Bluetooth. These are both great options as long as WiFi or Bluetooth signal is reliable in the area, and as long as IT support is available should problems arise.
Once devices are connected, a critical point of success or failure is your user control interface design. You can see from our 7” touch screen that we’ve tried to make the design as clean and straightforward as possible. Users touch the screen, decide which device they’d like to present, select, and the system automatically turns on to those pre-defined settings. We’ve done away with the many remote controls that would otherwise be necessary to operate projectors, amplifiers, screens, and conferencing PCs. We’ve also added environmental controls for easy control of the lighting.
Please don’t overlook this step. If your user interface is not discussed and approved in advance, a poor design will intimidate users and push them away from using these spaces, effectively wasting money and time spent on these very important meeting spaces.
Meetings are changing as well. Instead of a CEO or executive commandeering multi-hour meetings with a few minutes for questions at the end, meetings these days are collaborative experiences.
Participants often brainstorm together, and often, many devices are used simultaneously during a discussion. At TSA, we can share up to 8 devices on the same screen, with additional abilities to record these meetings for later or annotate and save or print “on the fly” meeting notes.
Furthermore, meetings are no longer confined to one room anymore. Video conferencing is finally here, becoming more ubiquitous as team members connect remotely to meetings via mobile devices and from their personal offices and homes.
Meeting spaces need to connect seamlessly to software platforms from Google, Mitel, Microsoft, and Zoom, to name a few. Audio, video, and lighting conditions must be considered with launching video conference calls. Perfect call clarity and high-resolution video are of the utmost importance here.
And entire room systems can now be scheduled in Outlook, leveraging that platform as well.
Thanks for reading! Conference and training rooms, when appropriately utilized, can revolutionize business communications. The true art form, however, is maximizing technology while simplifying the user experience.
To learn more about how TSAChoice can help create a smart and easy to use collaboration space for your team, click here.