SAN FRANCISCO—Logitech has announced a new conference room camera and a new release of the company’s RightSense conference system software that are designed to improve the meeting experience with better audio and video features.
Logitech has taken a different approach in how the conference room technology is deployed in its Logitech Rally audio and video system. Unlike traditional video conferencing systems, Logitech Rally separates the speakers from the microphones.
By mounting speakers near the display, Logitech said the audio is better aligned with video so that the voices of participants at the far end of the room come from the front of the room, which is what people intuitively expect—the voice coming from where they see the person talking on the screen.
Each Rally microphone covers more than 150 square feet. “Each mic pod is actually four mics and each of those has two beams,” Logitech’s marketing manager Joan Vandermate told eWEEK at a briefing here. “Each beam listens for a human voice and turns off the other beams so you won’t hear, for example, side conversations or someone typing on their keyboard.”
The microphones can also be daisy-chained to form a mesh of noise suppression and Vandermate said that noise leveling technology makes it possible for those listening from a remote location to hear someone with a loud voice as clearly as someone speaking more softly.
Central to the Rally system is the Rally Camera with Ultra HD 4K video. “The Rally Camera is like the big brother to our Group camera that’s been out there, but it’s a more premium product and doesn’t replace the Group 1080p camera,” said Vandermate. Rally can also be used in larger settings such as conference halls.
The $1,299 Rally Camera also differs in that it has a higher 90-degree field of video zoom, higher level pan-and-tilt motor and nearly silent operation, according to Logitech officials.
“The Rally portfolio gives Logitech the opportunity to move up-market and extend the reach of its conferencecam lineup,” said Ira M. Weinstein, managing partner at Recon Research, in a statement. “Based on what I’ve seen, Rally has the potential to be as disruptive as the earlier Logitech conferencecam solutions.”
While Logitech isn’t known as a software company, it has made significant investment in software that supports its audio and video products and makes the software available to customers for free. RightSense encompasses three different software enhancements—RightLight, RightSight and RightSound.
RightLight works with the Rally camera to compensate for backlight and optimizes light balance so people in the meeting don’t come across as washed out or in the dark. RightSight finds human figures within the camera’s field of view and automatically pans, tilts, and zooms to comfortably frame everyone in the meeting. However, unlike some systems, it does not automatically turn the camera to focus on whoever is speaking.
“What we found with systems that do speaker tracking is that the camera is constantly moving and the video becomes distracting as it whipsaws back and forth to whoever is talking,” said Vandermate. “We know many companies end up turning that feature off.”
RightSound aims to deliver “natural-sounding” audio by suppressing background noise, applying acoustic echo cancellation and noise reduction, and auto-leveling voice volume so that everyone in the meeting space can be heard clearly.
The standalone Logitech Rally Camera will be available this summer for a suggested retail price of U.S. $1,299. The Logitech Rally system, which includes Rally Camera, plus table and display hubs that minimize cross-room cabling, along with one speaker and one Mic Pod, will be available this fall at a suggested retail price of $1,999. Logitech Rally Plus, which adds a second speaker and Mic Pod, will be available at a suggested retail price of $2,499.
The system can be expanded with additional Mic Pods, available at a suggested retail price of $349.
Vandermate notes that Logitech works with all the major video software suppliers including Microsoft’s Skype for Business, Microsoft Teams, Google Hangouts, Zoom, Blue jeans and others including Cisco which competes with its own line of popular video conferencing products. “We sell tons of cameras for Cisco’s WebEx,” said Vandermate.