Setting up a video conferencing system doesn't have to mean buying expensive, proprietary equipment. Zoom Rooms is a cloud-based approach to video conferencing that runs on standard computers, tablets, and AV equipment.
Being software-based creates versatility. It's not much trouble to set up a computer, a monitor, and speakers in a conference room on a one-time basis. Other people can participate from wherever they are, using a phone, a desktop computer, or any device using H.323 or SIP. The conference room and Web conferencing, which previously were separate worlds, work together.
Four versions are available. The free version allows unlimited one-to-one meetings but limits group meetings to 40 minutes. The Pro, Business, and Enterprise versions add unlimited meeting length, administrative controls, a higher cap on participants, and higher support levels. The discussion here assumes the Pro version or higher.
Setting up a room
A "room" is a conference area running Zoom's software on a desktop computer. The account owner can assign administrators to each one. Rooms can be defined hierarchically; for instance, ones in the same building can be grouped together and run by one administrator. Rooms inherit their location's settings by default, simplifying setup.
Like any room, it can be scheduled and reserved. Integration with Google Calendar, Office 365, and Microsoft Exchange is included. The room's display will show the schedule whenever no meeting is in progress.
Running a room requires a desktop computer and a mobile device. The Mac or Windows PC runs the conferencing software. The iOS or Android tablet controls the room. A room can support as many as three display screens. Any USB cameras and microphones will work with it. A room can be set up temporarily, as long as a computer and tablet are available for it, then taken down when it's no longer needed.
The tablet can run in kiosk mode, so the Zoom application is always on the screen. If it's mounted in a fixed location in the room and left available, anyone can schedule a meeting and issue invitations from it.
Administrators can invite people, mute participants, and lock conferences. There's no need for any other remote control unit. An account owner can set up multiple administrators and give them control over specific rooms. Administrators can add users, assign them to groups, and select the features available to them.
Sharing from personal devices is simple. A device within Wi-Fi range can share its screen to the conference, using the Zoom Desktop Client. Alternatively, it can share through the Internet by giving the meeting ID. Sharing can include sound.
Many options are available for connecting. The H.323/SIP Room Connector, an add-on feature, lets devices made video calls to a Room Connector or receive calls from one. Connector software is also available for Cisco and Polycom devices. The connectors can be configured to require encryption, so that remote connections are secure.
Breakout rooms allow splitting a conference into multiple virtual rooms. As many as 50 breakout rooms can be running at once.
A whiteboard feature is available for Windows machines with a touchscreen. Participants in the room can add to the whiteboard using the touch features, and the conference will share it with remote participants. They can save the image at any time with the built-in email feature.
Bridging two worlds
Purely Web-based teleconferencing, such as Google Hangouts, works, but it has obvious limitations compared to a dedicated conferencing system. Dedicated systems, on the other hand, have traditionally required expensive hardware, and they have limited ability to bridge to personal devices. By using off-the-shelf hardware, Zoom Rooms allow participants in a conference room to get a high-quality presentation without locking out remote participants who are calling in. Contact us to learn how we can help you set up a system that will boost your business's communications.