Web Based Video Conferencing for Larger Rooms (The Big Room Quandary): Control Systems

Web based video conferencing was designed to be easy. Turn on the laptop or pick up the smartphone, make sure there is internet access, open the calendar app, go to the calendar event, and click the “Join Meeting” button. The device starts up the needed application, asks you what camera and audio devices you are using, and just like that, the meeting starts up with audio and video. The audio, video, and even the content intended to be shared at the meeting is integrated and accessible by a single device. As discussed in previous installations of this article, in larger rooms, there are many devices that are required to work together to make it all work. Separate microphones, speaker system, processors, cameras, displays or projectors, screens, and a presentation computer all work together to give the users of the system, near and far end, a successful meeting experience. Additionally, the lighting, shades, and the environmental HVAC system have a role in making the meeting look and sound good. How do we integrate these systems so the person using it can just click the “Join Meeting” button on their calendar event and make it work? It is time to introduce a control system to the room.

Control systems are designed and programmed to manage, command, direct, and or regulate the behavior of other devices or systems. A simple example is a universal remote control for your home theater system. One remote can operate your TV, Blu-ray player, audio receiver, satellite or cable box, and other devices allowing them all to be turned on and off with a push of one button instead of 4. In the commercial control system realm, you may have heard of or seen Crestron or AMX touch panels or controllers. These companies have been around for decades manufacturing products that integrate thousands of devices and systems using dozens of methods and protocols from simple relay closures to IR and RS-232 to Ethernet and MODBUS protocol to communicate with these devices. Audio digital signal processing manufacturers are increasingly integrating control system behavior within their ecosystem along with video. The goal is to have a graphical user control interface that controls all the separate devices and systems in the room as though they were one device. A well programmed control system pulls all of this together to make a daunting larger room system easy to use.

There are many details to consider when configuring and deploying web-based video conferencing in larger meeting spaces. Hopefully, you have read through this entire series of articles to get an idea about what it takes to accomplish a successful audio, video conference in a larger room. At the very least it requires more hardware and integration. Not all rooms are the same and the requirements vary greatly between them. A proper needs analysis is required to determine that the correct system is going to work. There isn’t a one-size-fits-all when the room gets to certain size and complexity.

Consider consulting with Electronic Design Company for your Audio & Video needs. We have years of experience. We are manufacturer agnostic. We focus on making the meeting experience; easy, impactful, and reliable.