Hybrid work devices and solutions for virtual meetings by Jabra

Flying to Bangkok was nowhere in my post-pandemic plans, but that’s exactly what I was doing on a weekday morning, thanks to Jabra.

Jabra is no stranger to the name of audiophiles and, more recently, technicians in the hybrid work scene.

The Danish brand has long specialized in audio equipment (me and my colleagues being loyal fans of its headphones), and in recent years it has branched out into creating video conferencing systems.

The reason for the trip, InfoComm Southeast Asia 2022 (InfoComm), was a place where all the latest audio visual (A/V) technology was showcased by different brands.

Among the different concepts discussed, the one that seemed extremely relevant to us was hybrid work.

This is what many of us are experiencing today in a post-pandemic period. In short, it refers to flexible working models that can combine telecommuting, remote working, working on the go and working in the office.

As the concept has become more widely recognized, the issues surrounding it, which generally fall under communication, have also increased.

With that in mind, here are the technological solutions that already exist to deal with it.

In the Telework and Remote Work Scenario

The results of remote working, and by extension of teleworking, have not been studied enough to arrive at conclusive results.

However, studies have shown that a portion of the population feels disconnected when working remotely for an extended period of time.

Even with frequent virtual meetings, Jabra believes that without the right and effective tools, this disconnect can get worse.

To that end, they designed the PanaCast 20, a personal webcam with 4K video and AI capabilities. These are meant to give your co-workers a clearer picture of you, with AI keeping you in the center of the frame to capture every expression and optimizing lighting to ensure you’re always seen.

It also has Picture-in-Picture mode, which lets you share something close-up while presenting it in a smaller window, although it only works when using Jabra with a UC platform.

Dictionary time: Unified communication is a system that enables collaboration with multiple functions, including chat, video, voice, and conferencing. UC platforms include Zoom, Microsoft Teams, and Google Meet.

Sangoma

As someone who doesn’t particularly have high-stakes virtual meetings, these are all nice things to have rather than necessities.

But for someone who often talks to customers, investors and other stakeholders, I understand the need to look professional, even on a webcam, and that’s exactly what Jabra’s technology is supposed to help with.

In the meeting room

Cramming into a meeting room to participate in a virtual meeting with another party has been around since even before the pandemic. What the pandemic has introduced is the need for social distancing.

That posed a bigger challenge then, because if we were already pushing to be seen before the pandemic, how would our virtual meetings be when we are more spread out?

During our own large group meetings, we’d pass the main laptop used for the call, which is admittedly inefficient, even though it does the job.

A more efficient solution would actually be to use the PanaCast, of which we have a unit in the office. We just tend to forget as it’s kept in our call booth for one, as one-on-one virtual meetings tend to happen more regularly than group meetings for us.

However, the times we used it, its 180° field of view proved the most useful. This allows everyone (whether spread out on a table parallel to the camera or around a U-shaped table) to fit into the virtual meeting screen without sticking together.

Jabra describes this as a wall-to-wall view, and it’s intended to help companies overcome the space limitations of their meeting rooms.

This is something that is still quite unique to Jabra, as other options on the market seem to be limited to a 120° field of view, such as webcams from Yealink and Logitech.

Using PanaCast’s three cameras, Jabra is able to create a 180° field of view by performing real-time stitching of overlapping areas of the video. We made an entire video exploring its capabilities here.

The PanaCast also has smart zoom, which means it will automatically frame who is talking and groups of people (if some are standing and others are sitting), ensuring everyone stays in view.

The combination of all these elements is also the PanaCast 50, a reinvented video bar, but it takes the virtual meeting experience up a notch with Jabra’s new whiteboard streaming technology.

The way this technology works is definitely a “seeing is believing” moment, because it wasn’t until in person at InfoComm that we were able to understand how it worked and how fast it worked.

At InfoComm, the setup was a traditional whiteboard positioned on a wall perpendicular to the PanaCast 50.

A Jabra representative then used a bold marker to write something on the board, and once the PanaCast 50 detected it, it “raised” the words onto a translucent virtual whiteboard, exactly in the color, the size and style in which they were written.

Aurangzeb Khan, Senior Vice President, Intelligent Vision Systems at Jabra, talks to us

Using this technology, ideas can be shared and saved effortlessly and directly with everyone in the virtual meeting.

There’s no need for bulkier software add-ons, or even whiteboards specifically designed to detect pen pressure.

Something that would make this feature even better would be if Jabra developed software to easily capture and store recordings of these virtual whiteboards.

Since Jabra got its start with audio devices and expanded to develop professional and enterprise audio gear, one can expect the PanaCasts to detect and deliver great sound as well.

The take-out sale

Since our time at InfoComm, we’ve learned that many solutions still require a bunch of different technologies to achieve ideal performance, but Jabra has designed its devices so that you only need one thing for the most part. hybrid work scenarios.

Naturally, that drives up the price of each of its enterprise-grade devices, which could pose a challenge for SMBs hoping to join the hybrid working trend.

But Jabra thinks the move is a worthwhile investment, especially for businesses that want to stay one step ahead.

With hybrid still operating in its infancy, we’re sure to see more tech companies following suit to develop solutions to future problems and inefficiencies, with Jabra likely taking the lead.

  • Read more of our Jabra reviews here.
  • Read more hybrid work content here.

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