Conference rooms play a major role in any organization. They’re where presentations are made, ideas are formed and innovation happens. Management teams go to discuss business strategy, work teams go to collaborate on projects, business partners go to discuss relationships, and sales representatives go to court clients. The bottom line is conference rooms are where business happens. Therefore, it is very important to consider the factors that make a space conducive to meetings.

Before designing and implementing an audio/visual integrated room it is important to take some time to consider the meeting space itself, where the room will be located in your building, and some of the key components of the room:

Location: Conference rooms should be located in low-traffic areas to minimize background distractions and maintain confidentiality. Soundproofing or speech privacy solutions can be used in busy areas to mitigate unwanted noise and preserve privacy.

Acoustics: A conference room’s acoustics ensure an optimal audio experience for both in-room and remote participants. The room’s size and shape, as well as, surface materials (walls/floor/ceiling) can lead to reverberations or echo. In some cases, noise cancellation devices may be needed to improve audio quality.

Doors & Windows: Too much direct sunlight can become uncomfortable, not to mention blinding, for participants. Additionally, glass windows and doors tend to let in more outside noise which can disrupt a meeting. Blackout shades and solid doors can be used to minimize light and background noise.

Furniture: Proper seating arrangements must be designed to provide optimal viewing and comfort for each participant. If video conferencing will be integrated, furniture should be chosen that minimizes the glare on cameras.

Power: A conference room should have a few dedicated circuits to power all equipment (displays, projectors, video conferencing, etc) along with convenient ports for participants to plug in personal devices.  There should also be enough power to handle any HVAC systems that will need to be added to the room to support larger numbers of participants.

Many of these areas of concern can be adjusted in the selected room space, However, selecting a room space that meets many of the above criteria can help to reduce costly room remediation and provide an environment that will be far more conducive to meetings.

Learn more about creating an optimal collaboration environment from our Audio Visual Buyers Guide.

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iPads are everywhere! Enterprise. Education. Not-for-profit. The place I get burritos…

Due to the iPad explosion, more and more organizations are looking to create iPad  applications that can help run their business. IVCi’s team of AV gurus has taken it one step further, creating an iPad application that can actually run your conference room or boardroom. Through some clever programing and a deep understanding of AV technologies, it is now possible to control every aspect of an AV integrated room from the touch screen of the iPad. Need to adjust the lighting or shades? No problem!

What happens when you put a Cisco CTS 1300 and a couple of super genius IVCi audio visual designers in the same room?

A panoramic camera view that allows all three room segments to be captured, as well as, auto switches to the person speaking for a close up view.

With the help of several magic boxes, a few third party tools, and a whole lot of IVCi ingenuity, this truly unique design enables collaboration by not only allowing participants to view the presenter, but to view the other participants reactions.

Now you can easily bounce back and forth between meeting participants without losing sight of what really matters!

There are several components that go into designing an optimal collaboration: space, displays, speakers, microphones, video switching, control systems, the list goes on. But what about the lighting; how does it fit into the mix? Believe it or not, room lighting plays a dramatic role in the image quality being displayed to remote conference participants.

Amount of Light:

Remember, there is such a thing as too much light. Meeting participants do not want to feel like they stepped into an operating room any more than stepping into a romantic restaurant. In addition to being uncomfortable for local participants, too much light can leave remote participants communicating with washed out, ghost-like figures. Conversely, not enough light can cause dark shadows and possibly distorted images for remote viewers. Finding the perfect balance of lights is imperative for displaying crisp, clear images over video.

Direct vs. Indirect Light:

Simply put, direct lighting is where camera can see a hotspot or the light causes sharp shadows or highlights, is directed toward the participants. Indirect lighting will fill or flood the space with light, prevents excessive brightness or contrast and prevents casting shadows on the participants. Indirect lighting is often configured with reflectors that direct the light toward participants faces creating a more natural appearance by defining facial features.

While indirect lighting simulates a more natural view, it can be problematic when projected displays are used in the video conferencing environment as it may put too much light on the display if not configured correctly. In these instances more controlled, direct lighting fixtures should be used.

Other Tips:

  1. All lamps should be changed at the same time for even light color distribution and to maintain consistency
  2. Down can lighting should be avoided as it causes shadows on participants’ faces.
  3. Recessed lighting on walls within camera view can help differentiate between the participant and the background.
  4. Use neutral non-white wall colors, such as light blues or grays, with a satin or flat finish to disperse the light evenly.
  5. If there are windows in the background use vertical blinds over horizontal blinds as they have a lesser effect on the transmitted camera image.

Learn more about creating an optimal collaboration environment from our Audio Visual Buyers Guide.

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Many people take for granted the ease of which they collaborate in a conference room.  With the touch of a button participants can switch between content from a PC, projector or interactive whiteboard; mute and unmute microphones; and pan, tilt, or zoom the camera on a video conferencing system.  The technology simply fades into the background while meeting participants focus on the business matters at hand.  Thinking about all of the different components required for effective collaboration can be exhausting; so, how is it that collaboration can be so easy and so effortless?

Simple:  the room’s control system programming.  The backbone of any audio visual integrated room, the control system provides an easy to use interface to manage the room’s functionality.   Instead of having one remote to operate the telepresence system, one to operate the plasma display and yet another remote to operate the projector or interactive whiteboard; organizations can simply invest in a Crestron or AMX Control System.

Gone are the days where participants have to spend fifteen minutes prior to a meeting figuring out how everything works.  With the help of expert programmers, organizations can create a standardized user interface to operate all of their conference rooms in all of their locations.  From a small room with a projector to an immersive telepresence room with three cameras and five displays; the control system ensures participants can collaborate effortlessly.

Advanced programming also allows organizations to push technology boundaries by customizing the video experience to fit their unique requirements.   A custom control program can be designed to display content from multiple different sources, arrange participants in a particular order on screen or manage the speaking privileges of numerous participants.   Essentially, an organization can use a control system to create a visual collaboration solution that is perfectly aligned with its needs.

So, the next time you have an effective collaboration session; give your control system a slight nod, a high five or even a fist bump – just show the little guy some love, he deserves it.