You are here

InfoComm 2018 - Video Solutions

The Wainhouse Research Blog

News & Views
on Unified Communications & Collaboration

 

InfoComm 2018 - Video Solutions
    

By: -
14 Jun 2018
-
0 Comments

What happens in Vegas does not always stay in Vegas. A trio of WR analysts (Andy Nilssen, Alan Greenberg and Steve Vonder Haar) descended upon the town last week for Infocomm 2018 and brought back a bushelful of insight gleaned from multiple days of meetings with vendors at what is arguably the most important trade show of the year for enterprise video resellers. Of course, the cabbies and Uber drivers we encountered during the week seemed more preoccupied with hockey’s Stanley Cup Finals featuring the Las Vegas Golden Knights and the Washington Capitals. The Capitals eventually won the series, which means that Alexander Ovechkin and his mates definitely had a better week in Vegas than the WR crew – but not by much.

In this post, Andy and Steve briefly roll through some of the highlights from video technology vendors at the show. In a separate post, Alan walks through some of the news emerging from the evolving world of ideation solutions. While rabid hockey fans would prefer to bring the Stanley Cup home from Vegas, these WR slapshots should result in quick scores for those eager to gain fresh points on enterprise communications technologies.

Group Video Conferencing / Rooms Highlights

Several of the following highlights are proof-points that “service-attached” endpoints (ex: endpoints optimized to work with Zoom, Lifesize, and other specific services) and “reference design kits” (ex: system bundles with a service-specified PC, touch panel, and USB room peripherals) are alive and well - and gaining acceptance. 

Zoom

Capitalizing on a claimed 250% growth in rooms over the past year, the Zoom ecosystem is on an expansion roll as evidenced by several InfoComm-timed announcements.

On the hardware side, Crestron, which has been targeting smaller rooms by offering the native Zoom Rooms UX on its entry Crestron Mercury touch screen, moved upstream by rolling out the Zoom Rooms UX on its TSW Touch Screen, for larger rooms.  Also on the hardware side is Polycom’s announcement of Zoom Rooms UX software for the Polycom Trio.  New Zoom Room bundles from Polycom for different-sized meeting rooms feature the Trio 8500 / 8800 sporting the Zoom Room UX with one of three of Polycom EagleEye cameras and a Dell Optiplex PC running the Zoom meeting application.

Not only are the system possibilities expanding, but also how users can buy them.  Zoom announced a new channel partner program with an expanded partner portal, product bundles, deal registration, joint marketing, and more – all with the goal of capturing traditional channels bandwidth.  Conversely (and perhaps a little strange until you think about it a bit), Zoom also announced their first Zoom Room bundle available on Amazon.  Capping off Zoom’s channel announcements is a newly-minted distribution deal with Tech Data - a key source for small to mid-tier resellers for select Zoom Room hardware bundles.

Logitech

Logic Rally components

The independent leader in room cameras, Logitech rolled not only a new camera, but also a few technologies  designed to help solidify its  market leadership position.  The Logitech Rally system is a new premium audio / video peripheral bundle targeted at driving sales into bigger rooms and auditoriums.  The Rally PTZ Camera features the largest lens the company has ever made coupled with a 4k image sensor, resulting in a 10x optical / 5x digital zoom.  The Rally audio components include a new display-side speaker with vibration-isolating baffles, table-top mic pods with beam-steering, and two hubs to simplify cabling.  The new Logitech RightSense technologies include RightSight, which finds and frames people within the camera’s field-of-view, RightLight, which optimizes light balance and color – with special treatment of skin-tones (faces are recognized and processed separately), and RightSound, which improves vocal clarity by suppressing noise and echo while prioritizing active speakers.  

Lenovo

Lenovo Hub 700

Lenovo joined the “reference design kit” fray last year with its roll-out of the ThinkSmart Hub 500.  Designed exclusively for Skype for Business rooms, the 500 is a Lenovo PC with an integrated touch display and speaker / mics – which made Lenovo a Microsoft-certified SfB rooms supplier.  The ThinkSmart Hub 700 goes in a different direction.  Announced at InfoComm, the 700 is a center-table round PC that contains speakers / mics – but no touch display.  Instead, pointer controls on the top of the device are used to interact with menus on the main room display.  IR detectors sense when people enter the room to wake up the device. Since this is a departure from the Microsoft-standard design, the Hub 700 is not SfB certified, but can be used with a variety of meeting services including Zoom and BlueJeans.  The 700 sports audio technology co-designed with Dolby (but it’s not Dolby Voice). Also of note: ThinkSmart Console, available as a subscription, is web service that enables IT to remotely deploy, setup, configure, monitor, and gather usage metrics on the Hub 700.

Lifesize

Lifesize also introduced a room system that takes the company a different direction by riding the “reference design kit” wave.  The newly-introduced Lifesize Dash is a software-driven (WebRTC) endpoint solution that runs on an inexpensive Chromebox with approved USB meeting peripherals (from Aver, Huddly, Jabra, Yamaha).   Intended to VC-enable small meeting spaces, Lifesize Dash works exclusively with the Lifesize meeting service.

Video-as-a-Service (VCaaS)

Pexip and Google

In one of the few major announcements at InfoComm, Google and Pexip jointly announced that the Pexip platform will provide native video, audio, and content interop capabilities for Hangouts Meet, thus accommodating participants using traditional SIP/H.323 systems and Skype for Business clients.  Google will not be selling either the Pexip platform software or interop services themselves under the Google name – instead, users that want interop services can either elect to host the Pexip platform within their own data centers or purchase interop services from Pexip-certified service providers.  By the end of InfoComm two of the largest VCaaS providers - Pinnaca and Videxio – announced they are offering the Pexip-based interop services.  We have used Pexip’s Skype for Business interop services in the past – the experience is full-featured with content and video work very close to a native implementation, with top-notch connectivity and performance.

The Pexip partnership is an excellent vehicle for Google to expand its beachhead into the enterprise. Hangouts Meet now has a cohesive, effective answer to end-users interested in experimenting with Google’s solutions but would be hesitant to implement solutions that could make legacy investments in video collaboration solutions obsolete. By enabling interoperability via Pexip, Google also levels the playing field by enabling participants from outside of the organization to join a meeting using non-Google endpoints.

For VCaaS providers like Pinnaca and Videxio, the Google interoperability represents just another step in one of the key battles likely to define the video collaboration segment over the next several years. At one level, VCaaS providers in general are scrambling to make sure that their solutions can work in conjunction with the dizzying array of video collaboration platforms offered by vendors of group video conferencing systems, UC solutions and web conferencing services. The goal of this interoperability for each of these VCaaS providers is to position themselves as the one application that enterprise users can rely upon to knit the complex world of video collaboration all together in a tidy hosted service. Adding Google to the interoperability roster makes this rationale for VCaaS implementation that much more compelling.  

As a side note, we got to hear about some of Google’s plans for the Jamboard.

Streaming Solutions

Vendors of one-to-many streaming video solutions typically do not shine in the InfoComm spotlight. The trade show is known as a haven for technology resellers who, historically, have shown more interest in selling video collaboration solutions rather than streaming alternatives.

That said, more streaming solution providers than ever before seemed be lurking at least on the fringes of the InfoComm scene. During our travels on the floor, we bumped into executives from a range of streaming providers including Qumu, Haivision, Hive, and Exterity.

Additionally, streaming providers strong in the education segment (the one area where resellers are apt to sell some streaming platforms) certainly worked to put their best foot forward at the show. Discover Video, for instance, showed off its new solution for using 3600 cameras in a way that allows users to pick their view of a room. Panopto highlighted its growing partner ecosystem that includes Matrox, Synergy SKY, WolfVision, Panasonic and Sony. Meanwhile, Sonic Foundry showcased updates to its Mediasite solution to include an integration with IBM’s Watson machine intelligence solution that will be used to enhance the platform’s speech-to-text capabilities. Sonic Foundry also updated how Mediasite handles video workflows, making it easier for users to share videos with a limited number of targeted users. Such capabilities will make it easier to review and approve videos prior to broader release, enhancing the platform’s viability for developing video to be submitted for peer review or as a homework assignment.

There you have it – our quick video-related takes – all delivered in less time than it took the Capitals to kill a Golden Knights power play.  Be sure to read up on the influx of Ideation solutions at Infocomm as well.

WR's Steve Vonder Haar comparing notes with Zoom's Janelle Raney at Infocomm18

There's more: InfoComm 2018 part 2 - Collaborative and Ideation Technologies