Is your collaboration truly immersive?

Oblong Industries surveyed over 200 integrators, end users and consultants to get a pretty thorough market perspective on the current state of collaboration systems in enterprises. The survey found that advanced collaboration technology, which enables businesses to engage with data in a  more interactive way would help complex business problem solving.

When communicating via video do you find that your technology infrastructure provides a truly engaging experience? Do you find it hard to follow what other participants in a collaborative meeting are saying? Do find that the attention of other participants wanders when you are presenting?
Oblong Industries conducted a survey on workplace collaboration at ISE in February of this year. The results show that 89% of employees want a more interactive approach to solving business problems. Survey respondents noted challenges with existing meeting room collaboration tools, highlighting the potential for better engagement and productivity with more immersive technology
Among the insights gained from live, one-on-one interviews with industry respondents at the show was a strong demand for more immersive interaction with teams and information. Close to 89% of those polled “agree” or “strongly agree” that engaging with information in a more interactive and immersive way would help complex business problem solving.
As defined in the survey, immersive collaboration includes spatial, multi-dimensional and interactive components. Only about half (52%) of survey respondents said their existing office collaboration system is immersive, and respondents also estimated immersive collaboration could drive a 65% improvement in productivity during meetings.
When asked whether their employer offers the right collaboration tools to work effectively with remote team members to solve complex business problems, the most commonly selected response (39%) was “neutral.” This suggests that while organisations may be providing some level of technology for distributed teams, it may be an incomplete toolset that still leaves room for enhancement.
“Knowledge teams continue to be more and more distributed,” said Lilian Bories, VP Marketing at Oblong. “Empowering employees to work at 100% productivity regardless of where they happen to be sitting is the only way businesses can fully maximize talent. Collaborative technology that gives staff the same level of video and content connectedness in or out of the office is critical. These solutions must provide seamless and complete connectedness with content for these distributed participants.”
Forty-two percent of respondents said their biggest challenge with their meeting room technology today is technical delays in starting the meeting. This indicates the need for collaboration solutions that provide seamless connectivity, as well as easy-start technology that doesn’t require a lengthy, involved ignition process.
In addition to the technology that powers meetings, the survey found that the type of people involved in the meetings is also changing. Today’s workforce is largely made up of millennials who are bringing forth a new set of workplace expectations. On engaging this audience, 52% of survey respondents said they believe flexible working (remote work, work/life balance) is the most important aspect. Twenty nine percent said energising workspaces, including the latest technology, was most important.
Respondents indicated the increasing frequency of important planning and decision-making meetings taking place in small groups (2-6 people). For meetings focused on timely decision making and/or issue resolution, over 95% of respondents said at least half of these take place in small groups. Ninety-four percent of respondents also noted that at least half of their meetings focused on project advancement take place in small groups.
“Smaller size rooms including huddle rooms are becoming increasingly common in businesses of all sizes,” said Bories. “Frequently, the best ideas surface outside of formal board room-style settings and instead arise in more casual environments. These teamwork-centric meeting spaces, which Wainhouse Research numbers at close to 48 million globally, should encourage collaboration and participation. Immersive technology that inspires and engages multiple participants is the best way to facilitate the creativity these spaces have come to be known for.”
89% of those polled “agree” or “strongly agree” that engaging with information in a more interactive and immersive way would help complex business problem solving.

“42% of respondents said their biggest challenge with their meeting room technology today is technical delays in starting the meeting.”

Immersive environments: the key to learning?

Chester Zoo wanted to create an immersive audio visual educational experience for its Sumba School that included a 360° projection display in a square room. The use of the sophisticated 360° projection and audio system has created a truly immersive learning environment. Its flexibility has been a massive hit with the education team.

To create 360° projection with clean edge blends around a whole room requires incredibly accurate installation. Chester Zoo appointed Show Systems Programmer and Consultant, Dave Lascaut, and AV integrators, Pure AV, to design and assemble the project.
Sumba School is part of the ground breaking £40 million ‘Islands’ development at Chester Zoo. Home to the Zoo’s education team, the building hosts a varied programme of educational activity including workshops for local schools and colleges, curator-style talks and animated story telling for younger audiences.
Eight EH503 Optoma 1080p projectors, suspended with bespoke Unicol brackets, were used to project and blend a seamless image around all four walls of a room at Chester Zoo. The 360-degree video content was commissioned by the Zoo and captured in Sumatra, Authentic natural sound was added with a quad surround system and Dataton’s Watchout software was used to manage the content. It also allows for live inputs from Power Point presentations, DVD players and Apple TV.
The Optoma projector was chosen for its combination of zoom, lens shift and choice of five lenses including an off-axis short throw that could meet the exact requirements of the 360-degree projection. This bright 5,200-lumen 1080p projector produces vivid colours and pin-sharp imagery.  It has powerful image blending tools with a 3-axis colour matching system and 10x lamp-power steps making it ideal for edge blending this type of project.
A rack containing the video servers, line drivers, control system and audio processing equipment to drive the system, was built and configured by the Pure AV team off-site and delivered ready to go. Martin King from Chester Zoo said: “The experience Pure AV brought to the project was instrumental in bringing together the vision with the reality of the building’s environment.”
Tony Crossley from Pure AV said: “Some adjustments to the original specification were made. For example, the original long DVI cables were replaced with HDBaseT twisted pair interfaces to ensure that there was no signal drop out, leading to a more reliable system.”
HDBaseT not only allows data to be sent over a much greater distance than HDMI, but can also carry HD video, audio, Ethernet, power and control on a single cable.  This significantly cuts down the number of cables needed for a typical installation.
The use of the sophisticated 360° projection and audio system creates a truly immersive learning environment and its flexibility has been a massive hit with the education team. Ed Boyd, education officer at Chester Zoo, said: “The 360° display allows us to create a real impact as students enter the space. The ability to display different content on the walls enables us to get participants up and on their feet and engaging with content in new and exciting ways”.
Martin King said: “We knew the integrator would be working to the tightest of margins – as little as an eighth of an inch out and a clean edge blend would not be possible. Having worked with Pure AV on projects in the past, I was confident that they would be able to deliver to the exacting reOptoma-Chester-Zoo-e1487248492469quirements of the specification”.

The immersive educational environment at Chester Zoo uses edge-blended projection to bring nature to life.