The age of poor videoconferencing could finally be at an end thanks to a new release from Jabra.
The company has today revealed the launch of its PanaCast video product, which hopes to take the pain out of video calls thanks to a major hardware upgrade.
Providing a high-quality 180-degree view of your conference room (or rooms of any size) PanaCast can quickly adapt to the number of people present, providing useful analytics insight into how rooms are being used.
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Jabra is already a common presence in offices around the world thanks to its long-standing expertise in audio, with its conference phones, speakers and headsets popular with businesses of all sizes.
But as Calum McDougall, Jabra SVP of Marketing, explained to TechRadar Pro at the PanaCast launch event in Monaco this week, the company also wanted to expand into video to be able to provide a combined platform to customers.
This aim took a significant step forward back in February when Jabra announced the acquisition of video experts Altia Systems. Its former CEO Aurangzeb Khan quickly took charge of spearheading the launch the new PanaCast offering, which is now set to be available across the world within the next few weeks.
PanaCast (pictured above) is the latest step in Jabra's ongoing campaign to adapt to the changing way in which businesses work these days. With large open-plan offices becoming the norm for many companies, the need for a space where employees can get together and collaborate efficiently is paramount.
These so-called "huddle rooms" as Jabra calls them, can hold as little as five or six employees at a time, but are often let down by poor-quality video and audio equipment. And with videoconferencing often replacing typical phone calls in many businesses, the need for high-quality kit to support this is key.
Khan demonstrated how some of the competitor products offer such a limited field of vision that some people are effectively cut out of the video altogether - creating an unpleasant feeling of being left out of the collaboration process that can be hugely damaging to team morale.
PanaCast looks to address this using a multi-camera array that comprises of three lenses working together, processing 300 million pixels per second to knit together the most complete view of everyone in the room. And thanks to its Vivid 2.0 HDR technology, PanaCast's video quality is also far ahead of other products out today, which often appear bend to a "fisheye" view when confronted with a wide angle.
The device is also able to detect exactly how many people are in the room at any time thanks to built-in detection software. This is able to keep tabs on participants even at a distance, quickly spotting new entrants to a meeting as well, as snapping to a wider-angle view if needed to ensure everyone feels included.
Jabra is already working on getting PanaCast out to its customers around the world, noting that the technology is scalable from start-ups to multi-billion dollar businesses.
Ultimately, the company wants PanaCast to be the central video solution for your conference room needs, with a partnership already announced with Intel's new Unite system to help get the product in as many businesses as possible.
The device is cross-platform, so will work with both Mac and Windows devices, as well as plugging straight into Chromeboxes, and being fully compatible with Jabra's existing speaker and telephony products.
Khan also stated that the data collected by PanaCast could be incredibly valuable in helping businesses not just track when meeting rooms are going unused, allowing them to tweak light, heat and energy usage, but also how their employees are feeling.
Getting workers engaged in the collaboration process can be key for business success, and PanaCast can track when employees don't appear to be engaged - a service which Khan says could also be applied to other use cases such as advertising.
"Data and AI not only provide information, but also improve the experience," he notes, labelling the PanaCast as an "AV and data device".
"It's not about cost, it's about the quality of the experience and the utilisation of a company's resources," he adds. "We believe the old-style solutions are not enough for this new environment."
PanaCast will be available from August 15th for 895 euros per device.
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