I’ve spent the last couple days at the InfoComm event for the AV industry, a community that’s increasingly overlapping with IT. Many AV teams are being subsumed into IT departments, while enterprise AV applications like videoconferencing have gone from boutique in-house services for the lucky few top execs to readily accessible tools that all employees are able to use on personal devices as well as in spaces throughout their workplaces. As video democratizes and runs as just an application on IP networks, it’s natural for IT to take over its purchase and management.
While here, I ran into Ira Weinstein, the founder and managing partner of Recon Research, as well as chair of our Video/AV track at Enterprise Connect. Ira volunteered that the most popular session he’d led was on a topic that hasn’t always had the most buzz: wireless presentation systems.
Once Ira mentioned this, I recalled stumbling onto one of those booth demos you see at an event like this, where attendees are spilling out into the aisle, jockeying for position to see better, clamoring to listen in. The booth wasn’t one of the jazzy high-end multiscreen video displays you see so much at InfoComm; instead I’d found myself at the booth for Mersive, one of the leaders in the wireless presentation space. Mersive was showing off the latest version of its Solstice software and Gen3 hardware systems, but it’s far from the only company, large or small, staking its claim in this corner of the meeting-room technology market.
I also saw an interesting system that takes a very different approach than Mersive does with Gen3, but essentially tries to fill a similar need: Making it simpler and more intuitive for people to share content with colleagues, classes, or other types of audiences. Crowdbeamer uses a small Wi-Fi device and accompanying app to let meeting participants see a presentation (or other media) on their personal devices as it’s being displayed on the room monitor. With the app, remote participants can take screenshots of the slides and add notations.
Wireless presentation systems aren’t the newest idea in the meeting room environment, so why are they now seemingly attracting more intense interest than previously? From a technical perspective, Ira suggested the features and functions available in these products are evolving to keep up with the changes in the computing devices that people use for their presentations. For example, these products must now account for the disappearance of USB ports, traditionally one of the interfaces for wireless presentation system dongles, from some classes of laptops.
I have to think that the ever-growing appetite for simpler, more intuitive ways to make collaboration happen is fueling such change. People are doing a lot more sharing of their screens—all the major unified communications clients offer screen sharing, so that it’s much more natural to escalate a messaging session or a voice or video call to do a quick desktop-share.
As these types of capabilities become less novel and more routine for group collaboration, it makes sense that an intuitive, feature-rich wireless presentation system may be an even more compelling element of enterprise meeting room deployment strategies.