Recently we evaluated how video conferencing hardware measures up to the usefulness aspect of the UX honeycomb. We talked about how the ability to remotely connect with colleagues and channel partners via audiovisual technology creates a demonstrably useful user experience. Up next is the concept of usability.
According to Usability Body of Knowledge, “Usability is the degree to which something—software, hardware or anything else—is easy to use and a good fit for the people who use it.”
Video conferencing is the embodiment of easy to use. It’s so simple that your toddlers probably do it every time they play with your tablet. That simplicity extends beyond consumer products, reaching right into the conference room, where higher quality and more advanced features than are available via the Skype app and your device’s embedded camera are required. USB plug-and-play capability with room-specific designs, smart functions, and simple management features make professional video conferencing highly usable.
USB conference cameras are as easy to use as any webcam. Just plug them into your laptop or PC, pull up Microsoft Teams or Zoom (or whatever platform you use), and start collaborating. No complex installation or configuration necessary.
What really sets professional cameras apart from webcams is advanced quality and functions designed with various meeting situations in mind. If you want to have a one-on-one with your best salesperson while she’s on a business trip, there’s a super-portable, wide-angle USB option for her, and the same or a video soundbar for you in your huddle room. When it’s time to hold a company-wide meeting with attendees spread across multiple contents, there are PTZ cameras with awe-inspiring zoom power and highly-expandable speakerphones for headquarters, and all manner of personal and professional devices for remote participants.
AI is removing many of the pain points that once made video conferencing usability questionable. Here are a few examples:
- Auto framing – Before automatic framing was a thing, users had to manually pan, tilt, and zoom the camera to find the perfect frame to start meetings or adjust when attendance changed mid-collaboration. Auto Framing solves that problem with a simple press of a button that activates facial recognition, which lets the device know to change the field of view accordingly.
- Speaker tracking – A manual PTZ nightmare similar to the one described above takes place when you want to move the camera back and forth between multiple speakers. The latest USB conferencing cameras use voice tracking technology that automatically switches to apply another layer of ease to the user experience.
- True WDR – Bad lighting conditions once made video conferencing cameras troublesome to use in many situations. Too much sunlight pouring in through windows or a broken light making the room too dim could entirely remove the video component from remote meetings. Now there’s True WDR that automatically adjusts to the environmental lighting and delivers a clear image to far-end viewers.
Another aspect of video conferencing UX that can be evaluated for usability is device management. Do you have to download updates and upgrade firmware for each device separately or can it be done for all devices at once? Can you access devices for settings adjustment remotely, or do you have to send technicians to physically connect to the devices in their respective meeting rooms?
Forward-thinking VC providers create software that ensures their USB cameras can be updated and maintained in groups, and even operated from afar via web UI. Such management systems—like AVer’s EZManager Central Management System—make video conferencing equipment extremely usable.
USB cameras with AI features and convenient management systems make remote connection more usable than it’s ever been, and it’s only going to get easier. Recent social distancing trends indicate video conferencing usability will increase rapidly in the coming years as demand rises. Get in on the action now!