Technology And The Modern Conference Room

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Conference rooms used to be a safe haven from technology. Not any longer. When was the last time you were in a meeting in a conference room that didn’t include a large monitor displaying some content, or sitting around the table with most people on their laptop or tablet? Probably not recently.

Conference room technology has come a long way in a short amount of time. This means interactive, content rich meetings have become the norm. No longer relegated to expensive conference rooms only found in the offices of Fortune 500 companies, even the smallest organizations now sport technology-driven conference rooms.

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From touchscreen monitors to fully interactive electronic whiteboards and wireless display capabilities, businesses of all sizes can now affordably outfit their conference room with up-to-date technology. Companies like Microsoft, Sharp and Infocus make some of the easiest devices to implement. The Infocus MondoPad, Microsoft Surface Hub and Sharp Aquos Board are among the market leaders for small and mid-size organizations. They range in price from around $2,000 to upward of $10,000, depending on the features. Some of these units, like the Microsoft Surface Hub, can be strung together to create an entire smart wall of monitors, though that can get quite expensive. Using a single unit to replace a traditional whiteboard or monitor will introduce interactive touchscreen capabilities as well as the ability to run applications and get online.

Video conferencing solutions like GoToMeeting, WebEx and Zoom really come to life on these large screen interactive monitors, allowing you to see the remote parties and interact with applications and presentations for a truly rich meeting experience.

For those organizations who may want an even simpler solution, you can consider installing a large smart TV on your conference room wall, adding a webcam to it and using wireless display technologies to connect a computer to the smart TV without having wires dangling all over the room. There are several brands of smart TVs that can be purchased for well under $1,000 in sizes as large as 65 inches or more. These devices have embedded apps and browsers that allow you to get online with a web browser and in some cases, connect a computer to the display wirelessly.

If you have a smart TV that does not include an app to wirelessly connect your computer, you can purchase an inexpensive adapter to do this. Microsoft makes a wireless adapter that plugs into an HDMI port on the smart TV that will allow any Windows 10 PC to wirelessly connect. Several other companies make similar adapters that range from $50 to $200, depending on quality and distance needed. For Apple devices, if your smart TV supports AirPlay, you may use that. If it does not, AppleTV will allow you to connect or any number of adapters are available as well for similar prices as the Windows adapters previously mentioned.

There are also any number of fully integrated conference room solutions that combine a motion-activated camera with an online meeting solution that connect to any type of monitor, but like some of the first options mentioned, these can become expensive quickly.

As collaboration platforms like Slack and Microsoft Teams, the two market leaders, continue to evolve, they will become more important interactive meeting tools. From scheduling the meeting to check and avoid conflicts, to hosting the meeting within the collaboration tool on a conference room monitor like one of the options mentioned previously, technology is embedded in nearly every conference room you enter.

This article originally appeared in the March 3, 2019 editions of Foster’s and Seacoast Sunday.

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