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October 8, 2019
Arm Extends Reach in IoT

October 1, 2019
A 5G Status Report

September 24, 2019
Revised Galaxy Fold Adds New Twist to Fall Phone-a-Palooza

September 3, 2019
Huddle Rooms and Videoconferencing Reshaping Modern Work Environments

August 27, 2019
VMware Paints Multi-Faceted Picture of Computing Future

August 20, 2019
Server Chips Now Leading Semiconductor Innovations

August 13, 2019
Samsung and Microsoft Partnership Highlights Blended Device World

August 6, 2019
IBM Leveraging Red Hat for Hybrid Multi Cloud Strategy

July 30, 2019
T-Mobile, Sprint and Dish: It’s All about 5G

July 23, 2019
The Contradictory State of AI

July 16, 2019
Changes to Arm Licensing Model Add Flexibility for IoT

July 9, 2019
Intel Highlights Chiplet Advances

July 2, 2019
Ray Tracing Momentum Builds with Nvidia Launch

June 25, 2019
AT&T Shape Event Highlights 5G Promise and Perils

June 18, 2019
HPE and Google Cloud Expand Hybrid Options

June 11, 2019
AMD's Gamble Now Paying Off

June 4, 2019
Apple Blurs Lines Across Devices

May 21, 2019
Citrix Advances the Intelligent Workspace

May 14, 2019
Next Major Step in AI: On-Device Google Assistant

May 7, 2019
Microsoft Bot Frameworks Enable Custom Voice Assistants

May 1, 2019
Dell Technologies Pushes Toward Hybrid Cloud

April 23, 2019
Intel and Nvidia Partner to Drive Mobile PC Gaming

April 16, 2019
Samsung Galaxy Fold Unfolds the Future

April 9, 2019
Google Embraces Multi-Cloud Strategy with Anthos

April 8, 2019
Intel Helps Drive Data Center Advancements

April 2, 2019
Gaming Content Ecosystem Drives More Usage

March 26, 2019
PCs and Smartphones Duke it Out for Gaming Champion

March 19, 2019
PCs and Smartphones Duke it Out for Gaming Champion

March 12, 2019
Proposed Nvidia Purchase and CXL Standard Point to Data Center Evolution

March 5, 2019
Tech Standards Still Making Slow but Steady Progress with USB4 and WebAuthn

February 26, 2019
Second Gen HoloLens Provides Insights into Edge Computing Models

February 19, 2019
IBM’s Watson Anywhere Highlights Reality of a Multi-Cloud World

February 12, 2019
Extending Digital Personas Across Devices

February 5, 2019
Could Embedded 5G/LTE Kill WiFi?

January 29, 2019
Successful IT Projects More Dependent on Culture Than Technology

January 22, 2019
XR Gaming Market Remains Challenging

January 15, 2019
The Voice Assistant War: What If Nobody Wins?

January 8, 2019
Big CES Announcements are TVs and PCs

January 2, 2019
Top Tech Predictions for 2019

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TECHnalysis Research Blog

October 15, 2019
Poly Extends Collaboration Options

By Bob O'Donnell

As simple as it may sound, one of the hottest topics in the modern workplace is figuring out how to best collaborate with your co-workers. Given the preponderance of highly capable smartphones, the ubiquity of available webcams and other video cameras, and a host of software applications specifically designed to enhance our co-working efforts, you would think it would be a straightforward problem to solve. But, in fact, companies are expending a good amount of time, effort and money trying to figure out how to make it all work. It’s not that the individual products have specific issues but getting multiple pieces to work together consistently and easily in a large environment turns out to be harder and more complicated than it first appears.

Part of the challenge is that video is becoming a significantly larger part of overall inter- and intra-office communications. Thanks to several different factors including faster, more reliable networks, a growing population of younger, video-savvy workers, and enhanced emphasis on remote collaboration, the idea of merely talking to co-workers, customers and work colleagues is almost starting to sound old-fashioned. Yet, despite the growth in video usage, just under 5% of conference rooms are currently video enabled, presenting a large opportunity for companies looking to address those unmet needs. Plus, our dependence on smartphones has reached deep into the workplace, creating new demands for products that can let smartphone-based video and audio calls be more easily integrated into standard office workflows.

A number of companies are working to address these issues from both a hardware and software perspective, including Poly, the combined company formed by last year’s merger of Polycom and Plantronics, Zoom, the popular videoconferencing platform, and, of course, Microsoft, among many others. At this year’s Zoomtopia conference, Poly took the wraps off a new line of low-cost dedicated videoconferencing appliances, the Poly Studio X30 and Studio X50, both of which can natively run the Zoom client software, as well as other Open SIP-compliant platforms without the need for a connected PC.

The soundbar-shaped devices are built around a Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 SOC, run a specialized version of Google’s Android, and feature a 4K-capable video camera, an integrated microphone array, and built-in speakers. In conjunction with the Zoom application, they allow organizations to easily create a Zoom Room experience in a host of different physically different size spaces, from huddle rooms to full-size conference rooms. Plus, because they’re standalone, they can be more easily managed from an IT perspective, offer more consistent performance, and can avoid the challenges end users face if they don’t have the right versions of communication applications when connecting to USB-based video camera systems.

Leveraging the compute horsepower of the Qualcomm SOC, both devices also include several AI-driven software features called PolyMeeting AI, all of which are designed to improve the meeting experience. Optimizations for audio include the ability to filter out unwanted background noises, while new video features offer clever ways of providing professional TV production-quality video tweaks, doing things such as focusing on the current speaker, seeing overall meeting context and more.

Poly is also working with Microsoft’s Teams platform in another range of products called the Elara 60 series that essentially turn your smartphone into a deskphone. Most versions of the Elara include both an integrated speakerphone, a wireless Bluetooth headset, and an integrated Qi wireless charger that can be angled to provide an easy view of your smartphone’s display. By simply placing your smartphone on the device and pairing it via Bluetooth, you can get the equivalent of a desktop phone experience with the flexibility and mobility of a smartphone. Plus, thanks to the integration with Microsoft Teams, there’s a dedicated single Teams logoed button that lets you easily initiate or join a Teams-driven call or meeting—a nice option for companies standardizing on Teams as their unified communications platform.

Of course, the reality is that most organizations need to support multiple UC platforms because even if they make their own choice for internal communications, there’s no way to know or control what potential customers and partners may be using. Given the diversity and robustness of several different platforms choices—including Zoom and Teams, but also Blue Jeans, GoToMeeting, Webex, Ring Central and Skype among others—what most organizations want is a software-based solution that would allow them to easily switch to whatever platform was demanded for a given call or meeting. While that may seem somewhat obvious, the reality is that most videoconferencing products came from the AV industry, which was literally built on decades of proprietary platforms.

Thankfully, we’re reaching the point where it’s now possible to build collaboration and videoconferencing devices based on standard operating systems, such as Android, and then simply run native applications for each of the different communications platforms that are required. We’re not quite there yet, but it’s clear based on some of these new offerings that we are getting much closer.

Here's a link to the column:

Bob O’Donnell is the president and chief analyst of TECHnalysis Research, LLC a market research firm that provides strategic consulting and market research services to the technology industry and professional financial community. You can follow him on Twitter @bobodtech.

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