Staying in the Picture: How to Navigate Meeting Room Camera Options

The last few years have brought about a lot of change in how we are seen and heard in meetings, especially now that many offices are adopting a hybrid work model. Meeting participants are no longer calling in remotely using their own individual cameras – Instead, there are varying combinations of remote and in-person meeting participants, all needing screen time. Camera manufacturers have had to rethink the way their devices include all meeting participants in an effort to create a homogeneous environment for everyone.

Several new terms have become popular to describe the effort to ensure a consistent experience for all meeting attendees… In brief, there are two main terms to keep in mind, meeting equity & video equity.  Meeting Equity is centered around an individual’s meeting experience and aims to provide an equitable experience for all meeting attendees both remote and in-person. Video Equity describes the technological capabilities of solutions that aid in creating meeting equity. As different technologies rapidly enter the market it can be difficult to not only keep up, but to also understand the advantages of each solution. But don’t worry, we’ve got you covered! In this segment we will focus on some of the different camera capabilities that are currently available on the market and how they can help to address the challenge of meeting equity.

  • Presenter Tracking – This was the first type of camera technology to hit the market and has been around in one form or another for decades. This technology evolved from early tracking technologies that required the presenter to wear a lanyard that was “tracked” by the camera. The cameras were typically optical zoom cameras with a motorized base that could pan, tilt, and zoom (PTZ camera) to follow the presenter. As the technology evolved, manufacturers started using better techniques like audio triangulation and facial recognition to track individuals. The advent of 4k and higher resolution CCD chips led to the emergence of a new technology called ROI (Region of Interest). ROI allowed manufacturers to create cameras that not only could use a PTZ camera to track individuals but could now use a combination of digital zoom and artificial intelligence to follow an individual without any movement of the camera. Today, Presenter Tracking, is still used in many cameras to track an individual throughout a meeting space with continued advancements in the technology behind it.
  • Speaker Framing – Now that technology could identify a face with Artificial intelligence and a camera could isolate a specific region of an image. The next logical progression in camera framing technology was Speaker Tracking or Speaker Framing. Speaker Tracking is where an individual face is framed to what was considered in the industry as a “head and shoulders” shot. This provides an isolated image of a person while they are speaking and then shifts focus to the next person speaking. This can be especially helpful in a conference room with multiple people sitting around the table. It allows remote users to better see the individual talking and they can interpret facial expressions and body language.
  • Group Framing – The next progression brings us to group framing. Group Framing transitions the focus from an individual to include multiple people in a room as they enter the conversation. This differs from the full view of an entire room because it zooms in to include only those that are participating in the conversation.
  • Personal Framing – For companies that truly want to achieve video equity, personal framing capabilities can bring that goal much closer to reality. Technology such as Poly’s People Framing Mode, and Neat’s Auto-Framing allow for an experience much like a fully remote meeting (minus the dogs and toddlers) by capturing each in-room participant and displaying them in a different box on remote attendees’ screens.

Of course, the tool you employ for your meeting rooms will vary based on how you want to use the room, the room’s environment with its various limitations, and more. If the room is being used for a single speaker, you’ll likely want a good Speaker Tracking tool, while a larger conference may call for Group Framing with an optical zoom. If you want to use the old standby of following a presenter around a room, Presenter Tracking is still a go to. Even with an understanding of the capabilities out there, selecting the right camera to capture your entire room can be tricky because of additional considerations about the room itself. Is the room long and narrow, or is it wide? How close or far away is the subject to the camera? What are the lighting conditions? And are they adequate? Is there a mix of natural lighting and artificial lighting? Will the presenter be backlit by projection, displays or windows? Even the color of the walls can impact your camera’s ability to capture a decent image to the viewer. These are all variables you’ll need to consider make when designing a new system and selecting the right camera for your needs and the space.

Have questions about selecting the right camera capabilities for your space? The RoomReady team is here to help. Contact us today!

David Petrelle

Solutions Architect