|A BYOD breakout room powered by Crestron.
Over the past few years colleges, universities and corporations have adopted a more agile approach to meetings and
working in groups. One of the ways companies are making this change is by implementing huddle rooms, which allow
for more flexibility, and better opportunities to collaborate or to meet, whether it’s a decision making meeting or a group
Huddle rooms, or small conference and meeting
rooms, are designed in such a way as to reduce the
clutter, so to speak. These rooms are often smaller
than a traditional conference room and feature a
small table, and likely a flat panel display. Users can
walk into the room, plug in to a cable cubby, or connect
to a wireless display appliance and they are off
and running in just a few seconds; certainly streamlined
over a traditional conference room
or boardroom setting.
There are a number of available
options when it comes to sourcing hardware,
or software, for huddle room presentations.
Seemingly every manufacturer
in the switching and control market has a
huddle room product, and from the number
of press releases I receive on a daily
basis, the quantity and quality of huddle
room technology is only going to increase.
Whether the application is for presentation,
group study, collaboration, or even
videoconferencing there is no shortage to
the supply of huddle room solutions.
When thinking about potentially outfitting
a huddle room, there are solutions
that run the gamut from simple plug-and-play
options, to wireless technology, to
small solutions that incorporate full control
systems as well as videoconferencing
capabilities. It’s imperative for technology
managers to evaluate products not only on the quality
of the technology, its consistency, reliability, and
ease-of-use but also to make sure the solution meets
For an organization that uses huddle spaces sporadically,
investing in huddle room systems that are
costly and have extraneous features, for example
room scheduling, might not yield the best ROI.
Universities with Microsoft Lync might could greatly
benefit from selecting a huddle room system that integrates
with users’ laptops to provide video teleconferencing,
whereas those without a soft-codec based VTC
system might not get the same return. These are a few
products that have stood out as viable solutions for
any huddle room space, from familiar manufactures
that will integrate well into any existing environment.
We explain them in greater depth in the previous
feature in our October Tech Manager's Guide.
• AMX Enzo
• Crestron Connect It and AirMedia
• Epson BrightLink
• Extron TeamWork
• FSR Inc. HuddleVu Dugout
• Kramer VIA Collage
• Vaddio GroupSTATION
Look for the best fit
This is a small sample of the products available to
help outfit a room with flexible huddle
technology. Although huddle rooms are
the latest technology, and aren’t going
anywhere, for some organizations, technology
managers must measure whether
or not implementing huddle rooms at
all—regardless of technology available—is
the best fit for their organization.
First: Focus on BYOD
|The ideal collaboration system of the future will support a variety of mobile devices, as well
as digital and legacy analog signals. Extron says that its TeamWork solution was designed
to meet any huddle room or collaboration need.
Huddle rooms are designed largely to
operate with BYOD technology. A user
brings their laptop into the room, sets it
on the table and with a plug-in here and
a few clicks there their content is displayed
on the screen. This is exactly what huddle
rooms are designed for—quick and easy
presentation and collaboration designed
to increase efficiency. For an organization
which relies heavily on meeting spaces
with a built-in AV operator, these rooms
can be confusing, challenging, and ultimately
won’t be utilized as frequently, limiting the
How can tech managers deal with managing
BYOD when we are still also using more traditional
technologies, such as PCs? According to Tom
Barnett, director of marketing communications at
control technology provider Crestron Electronics Inc. in Rockleigh, N.J., in
today’s meeting space, you need to be able to support all sources, including
mobile devices and laptops. “Your goal ought to be that the user can get their
content up onto the display, regardless of the device it’s on,” he said. Crestron has
addressed this with its DigitalMedia distribution system, which manages both
point-to-point wired and network-based wireless infrastructures. Its AirMedia
component enables presenters to share content wirelessly with their laptops,
tablets, or mobile phones.
Barnett says that one of the issues in getting content off devices and onto a
screen is compatibility. “If you are building an all-AirPlay infrastructure, you’ll have
a difficult time with Android and Windows devices,” he said. “It’s important to find
the solutions that are cross-platform. Ideally, once you get into the device age you
have a single solution that can be used for laptops as well all of the mobile device
platforms,” he said. He also notes that a lot of BYOD solutions feature built-in
wireless access points, which can compromise security. “We encourage people to
think very hard before adding a wireless access point that is not already in their
enterprise security policy. You want to treat BYOD collaboration devices like standard
network appliances.” AirMedia, he notes, can be managed similarly to other
network assets like printers.
What do your users need?
For organizations, which don’t regularly hold small, or stand-up, meetings a
huddle, room might not be the best fit, either. Yes, the technology is great, easy
to operate, and relatively inexpensive, but if there’s no need for the space, then
there’s no need to buy the technology. For some organizations, presentations are
only done to large audiences, and smaller, decision-making, meetings are often
done in an office with no presentation capabilities. Designing a huddle room for
an organization with these qualities would be akin to putting the proverbial cart
in front of the horse.
Technology managers: if your organization has decided to migrate from conference
rooms towards more agile huddle spaces, there are endless options. But also
know, just because the technology exists, doesn’t mean it’s the best fit for your
Mike Brandes, CTS, DMC-D, is a regular contributor to AV Technology.