During my recent visit to the Asia Pacific headquarter of Polycom in Singapore, I was briefed about the growth of video conferencing in the region, and given a tour of the company’s main product offerings. I hope this brief overview of Polycom’s video conferencing products is helpful if you’re in the market for this type of solution.
Main product families
The top tier of the Polycom RealPresence solutions are RealPresence Experience (RPX), Open Telepresence Experience (OTX), and Architected Telepresence Experience (ATX), all of which are designed to closely mirror in-person meetings. The most immersive offering is RPX, which is a purpose-built environment with multiple high-definition screens for a real-life like experience for executive and boardroom meetings (Figure A and Figure B). This is followed by Polycom’s OTX (Figure C) with up to three 65-inch LCD displays, and ATX, which is a customizable option for system integrators to create unique video conferencing environments with the same core technologies.
A live meeting conducted on a RPX system with another location. (Photo: Paul Mah)
The appliances powering the RPX solution are in a hidden cabinet. (Photo: Paul Mah)
An OTX environment with three LCD displays with two tiers of participants. (Photo: Paul Mah)
A lower end “Room” series can be deployed in conference rooms, classrooms, and meeting spaces. The Room products are available as a telepresence kit or as a turn-key solution that includes the display and stand.
Next are desktop-centric products that encapsulate stand-alone units or desktop software that runs on standard business PCs.
Polycom also has a mobile-centric offering that makes use of tablets and smartphones as mobile video conferencing end-points. Harnessing the company’s technology allows for secure, enterprise-grade video calls in any environment, says Polycom.
One feature that particularly impressed me is the camera-tracking capability in the EagleEye Director. The system is installed with any Polycom HDX room telepresence system to create a heightened level of an immersive experience. The use of voice triangulation and face-finding technology gives the cameras an unerring level of accuracy to locate and zoom in on speaking participants. The system is smart enough to include more than one participant in the case of rapid verbal exchanges, and will zoom back to the room level if multiple participants start speaking at the same time.
Another product that caught my attention is the Polycom UC Board, which transforms a standard LCD TV into a whiteboard for collaboration (Figure D). A sensor device clips on to the edge of the TV, allowing a participant to use it as a whiteboard or annotate on existing content with an electronic stylus. Participants will be able to see the content from their own video conferencing systems.
An LCD display with the UC Board appliance attached in whiteboard mode. (Photo: Paul Mah)
Polycom supports the use of mobile devices through its RealPresence Mobile platform. The system allows preconfigured smartphones and tablets to be used for video conferencing from outside the company firewall through a Wi-Fi or mobile data network.
For smaller businesses, I learned that Polycom is working with service providers to eventually deliver video conferencing to mobile devices as a service. When that happens, mobile devices can be integrated with existing deployments without having to invest in expensive back-end bridging equipment.