Polycom + StarLeaf + LifeSize + Zoom +Skype for Business Integration

Video Conferencing

The right video conferencing solution can change the way you work. We design fully integrated conference rooms around leading video conferencing platforms like  Skype for Business, Polycom, StarLeaf,  Zoom and Lifesize.

How it Works

Video conferencing can happen in two ways; either point-to-point, or multi-point communication.  Point-to-point video-enabled meetings are when one person or group is connected to another.  The individual or party often uses hardware such as a laptop or a desktop with an integrated camera and microphone or a room-based solution where the video conferencing equipment is stationary to that setting. 

Multi-point video conferencing is similar to point-to-point in terms of hardware but enables three or more locations to be connected together.  All video call participants can see, speak, and listen to each other during the session, as well as share content if needed.  Users have a “grid” view of the entire group on the call. Using a technology called voice activated switching (or VAS), the system distinguishes who the speaker is and displays a larger image of that person on the screen. 

Our systems can connect a multi-screen conference room to users on their mobile phone, tablet, computer or in another conference room. We integrate systems around platforms like Polycom, Lifesize, StarLeaf, Skype for Business and Zoom. These robust systems are making virtual communication more effective and efficient than ever before. The flexibility in video conferencing makes it a viable solution for an array of business needs.

Video conferencing can be enhanced with screen sharing, messaging, and real-time file transfers. You can find more information about our custom solutions here.

Video Conferencing Platforms

The video conferencing platform is the first layer of video conferencing experience. It plays a significant role in the user experience and employee adoption. Each platform has different benefits and limitations. Likewise, what’s right for one company can be a disastrous experience for another.

Hard Codec & Soft Codec

One differentiation in video conference systems is whether they run on a hard codec or soft codec.

A codec is a piece of software or hardware used to transmit AV communication. The word codec is an abbreviation of the words “coder” and “decoder” or “compressor” and “decompressor.” When you send a transmission (like live video) it is encoded. When the person on the other side receives a transmission, it is decoded. Any tool that does both, is a codec.

The soft codec is a software-based and typically runs on a  PC or Mac. A hard codec uses hardware that is engineered specifically for video conferencing.

Soft codecs now offer flexibility to call to different platforms, for example from mobile phone to conference room.  However, early versions of soft codecs faced difficulties. While they worked with computer to computer communication there were obstacles when calling into groups of people. Leading soft codecs have addressed many of these issues, allowing individuals to call from a personal device to the group.

Hard codecs are dedicated for video conferencing use. The specialized systems are designed to support video conferencing exclusively, so there are less system variables which could impact conference quality. Since it’s not PC-based, it’s more difficult for end users to manipulate setting and create different user experiences.

Platforms like Zoom and Skype for Business are cloud-based options that offer users flexibility and scalability. While they may feature ‘freemium’ versions, the paid versions are often more appropriate for business settings. Which is the best? It depends on your business, workflow, and what platform you’re working with.

Video Conferencing Hardware

We help you take the basic platform and pair it with the hardware needed for a meeting room video conferencing.

Generally, a video conferencing solution involves but is not limited to the following:

  • Display
  • Camera or Webcam
  • Microphone & Speakers
  • Codec Unit
  • Control Panel

In short, the solution requires five basic pieces of video conferencing hardware and a software platform to tie everything together.  Each piece of hardware will have an important role in your conference room AV experience.

The first piece of video conferencing hardware is the display. The display acts as a “window,” and allows you to see the party you are communicating with.  In a business environment, it is best to use professional grade HD LCD Displays in your conference room or boardroom instead of their consumer counterparts.  Depending on how you want to use your video conferencing system, your integrator may recommend a second display to allow for content sharing while still viewing far-end participants. 

The camera allows the group you are communicating with to see your team.  This is mounted either above or below the display depending on where participants will be in the room (your AV integrator can provide a recommendation on camera location).  The goal is to make the experience as natural as possible.

Users will communicate with the other party via their microphone and speakers. This can be incorporated into a single piece of hardware or stand-alone technologies for large conference rooms. You can learn more about conference room audio here.

A codec takes audio or video feed, compresses and transmits the data over a network.  The Codec can be a piece of hardware or software depending on use and compatibility.  For your project, we will discuss options, pros and cons of different platforms and provide a recommendation that aligns with your business needs.

Last is the control panel, which controls the room. It lets you start a conference, adjust the volume, and share your screen. It may integrate with a scheduling system and feature a push-to-join option, or users can type in the meeting number on the interface to join the call.

Choosing a Custom Solution

All hardware integration is not created equal. There is a big difference between a custom approach and a cookie cutter room.

Think of the last time you purchased a house. It might include a kitchen, garage and backyard. However, you want a kitchen designed for entertaining, three-car garage to work on your dirtbike and a big backyard for summer barbecues. You want a house that fits to your specific needs.

It’s the same thing with video conferencing. You want a system designed for your space. We help you identify which platform (hard or soft codec) fits your needs. Unlike a cookie-cutter system, we design solutions focused on speaker coverage to fit your particular room, microphones designed to pick up voice instead of background noise, and displays that are readable for everyone in the meeting.  The emphasis on detail morphs the experience into something employees want to use.