Zoom Video Conferencing Enhancements
Zoom recently announced some major enhancements to their already fantastic Zoom Rooms conference room solution, and we were pretty excited to put them to the test. These feature enhancements just show why Zoom’s constant push for genuine innovation and customer satisfaction has resulted in a 215% YOY growth in usage, mounting up to a whopping 15 Billion annual meeting minuets!
Below is a closer look at some of these and my view on how they stack up in practice.
Direct Share with Proximity Detection or Sharing Code.
This is a three-part update that makes it easier to share content into your Zoom Room meetings. They’ve added smoother options for wireless screen sharing and added a ‘direct connect’ method via a HDMI input.
The first and most exciting part of this update is the ‘Proximity Detection’ method. If you already have the Zoom client on your desktop you can walk into the meeting, open the app and with a simple click it will automatically share your screen into the meeting, it doesn’t get much easier than that! This also works outside of meetings for internal presentations too (like Airplay) which is awesome. No cords, no dongles, no meeting ID’s just click and share, perfect.
Zoom have also simplified wireless content sharing using a shorter ‘sharing code’ instead of having to enter the meeting ID, so if proximity detection is off, or for some reason it cannot be detected you can enter this code on the desktop app and your contents is pushed into the meeting. Overall just a subtle upgrade to the existing system in place.
The final update is allowing content sharing via HDMI. Now, the Zoom Room software isn’t quite powerful enough to encode & decode a direct HDMI feed, so an adaptor is required. (Zoom recommends a Magewell USB-HDMI capture dongle, but I assume any good quality dongle will work.)
These unfortunately aren’t cheap, somewhere around AUD $600 so it makes wireless screen sharing all the more attractive. But still, if you absolutely have to share via HDMI then you have the option.
Audio Echo Elimination With Proximity Detection
In short this feature uses ‘ultrasonic sound’ to detect a second device joining the ongoing Zoom Room meeting, from within the same room and automatically disabling the audio (both speaker and microphone) on that device without you lifting a finger.
But what does it mean in the real world? It’s very common (more often by habit than necessity) that someone needs to join the existing video call on their laptop or mobile device (to share content/chat/moderate etc), and when they do it’s almost inevitable that everyone in that meeting (including the remote participants) are going to experience a jarring burst of audio echo and feedback due to the speakers and microphone being connected to the call from the device. Usually, it takes at least 30 seconds, a whole heap of button bashing and some raised voices of frustration until everything’s muted correctly and you can continue your video call. It’s annoying, it sometimes hurts the ears but more importantly it’s disruptive to the call and overall productivity. It’s a bit like walking into an ongoing board meeting and sounding an air horn half way through!
Removing this happening in video meetings has to be one of my favourite updates so far, I’ve experienced this during many video calls in the past and this completely eradicates it. Thank you Zoom!
Remote Zoom Rooms Management
To me this is less of a new feature, but more of a noteworthy upgrade to the existing settings on the Zoom Rooms management tab. It now allows for admin users to remotely select and change the microphones and cameras in a Zoom Room, along with some of the settings of those devices.
I imagine there’s plenty more coming under this tab in the near future, likely with the help of the hardware vendors, but for now it just gives your admin users that extra little bit of control over the room without having to be there in person.
End-of-Meeting Attendee Feedback
This is a great addition to Zoom Rooms analytical reporting, allowing users (meeting attendees) to provide additional feedback to the admins on the overall meeting quality. It’s a little like what Skype have been doing for as long as I can remember, with the exception that is goes back to your internal admin team rather than a large corporation who will never action it, so you can make improvements internally, and immediately.
It has a simple thumbs up or thumbs down button at the end of the call, and if choosing thumbs down it gives you a number of check boxes on why the call wasn’t perfect so your admins can make steps to improve them. All this information is available in your dashboard so admins can see if it’s a one off or if it’s a re-occurring problem they can resolve.
Accessibility (Closed-Caption) Support
Native closed captioning has now been introduced to Zoom meetings allowing you or another attendee within a meeting to type the captioning during a meeting and it will be displayed to all the participants on screen (like subtitles).
This is a great feature for the deaf or hard-of-hearing users, translators or even teachers to reinforce learning and understanding. There’s a huge range of applications for this being used in some interesting ways, so I look forward to getting feedback on this feature in the near future from clients.
Contact IT Information for Alert Notification
This is a small feature but one I’m sure will please any meeting attendee (or admin) should any problems occur on your arrival to the Zoom Room. It allows you to enter an email address and contact number for IT support that will display on screen if there is something wrong with the Zoom Room. It also gives a little report on screen what time this fault occurred!
For example if you arrive to a meeting and there is a fault with the camera, it will display these details so you can contact the right person immediately to have the problem fixed.
There are a few other updates and enhancements that I haven’t mentioned here, if your interested to find out more please contact us and we will be happy to assist!