Polycom Video Conferencing Systems Target Small Huddle Rooms

The RealPresence Group Convene and Group 310 offerings are designed to bring high-quality collaboration features to smaller meeting rooms.

Polycom video

Polycom is expanding its portfolio of RealPresence Group Series video conferencing offerings, which are aimed at growing number of "huddle rooms" that are becoming increasingly important collaboration spaces in enterprises.

The company on May 12 announced the RealPresence Group Convene video collaboration solution that can be used in everything from personal workspaces to open office environments, and which comes equipped with 1080p60 picture quality and support for Polycom's EagleEye Acoustic cameras, which automatically find and track attendees, even as they move about the room.

In addition, Polycom launched the RealPresence Group 310 video conferencing offering, which targets huddle rooms and small conference spaces and which enables content—from videos and medical diagrams to CAD drawings and animation—to be spent and received in up to 1080p60 quality and shared via direct HDMI or VGA connections using the company's People+Content IP application.

The dedicated input ports come at the same price as its Group 300 model predecessor, according to company officials.

The new solutions come at a time of transition for the video conferencing market, with the focus shifting away from hardware equipment to software- and cloud-based offerings, and away from large, expensive conference room systems to personal workspaces and the smaller huddle rooms. Collaboration tools are seen as a way for organizations to increase employee productivity and communication while driving down such expenses as travel.

At the same time, the trends toward workforce mobility, social software, bring-your-own-device (BYOD) and the cloud are driving demand from employees for technology that enables them to collaborate wherever, whenever and on any device they choose.

Polycom officials noted studies by analyst firms Frost and Sullivan and Wainwright Research showing that by 2020, there will be tens of millions of huddle rooms worldwide, and that most have little or no technology in them.

"I believe that if you're used to high-quality video from conference rooms and collaborating over video from your desk, using one of these rooms will be like stepping backwards in time," Brian Phillips, senior product marketing manager at Polycom, wrote in a post on the company blog. "Users will expect familiar collaboration tools in those rooms, and a laptop with a webcam isn't going to give users the experience they are expecting."

Employees should be able to share any kind of content in real time with those they're meeting with, and that shouldn't be limited because they're using huddle rooms, Phillips wrote.

"Full-motion video, interactive animations, or anything else you can see on your own PC needs to be seen with the same quality by everyone on the call," he wrote. "They key is to enable this in a package that's designed and priced for these smaller huddle spaces."

The new RealPresence Group offerings, which are available immediately, are designed to bring that high level of quality to huddle rooms, company officials said. RealPresence Group Convene offers sharp audio, an easy-to-use interface, and a single- or dual-screen display. It can be set up on a table or mounted on a wall, and integrates with Microsoft's Lync 2013 unified communications platform.

The RealPresence Group 310 offering also supports the EagleEye Producer technology as well as Polycom's SmartPairing feature, which enables users to share and annotate on documents from their mobile devices or PCs wirelessly.

A growing number of collaboration technology vendors are creating products aimed at huddle rooms. LifeSize Communications in January unveiled the Icon 400 video conferencing system, which targets huddle room environments. Later that month, Logitech—LifeSize's parent company—announced the ConferenceCam Connect system that also is designed and priced for use in huddle rooms.