You’ve seen the headlines and read the stories: Retail stores are closed. Schools and universities are holding classes online. Employees are working (or trying to) from home. Movie theaters, Broadway, ballparks, stadiums, arenas, and convention centers all sit dark and empty. Broadband service providers are seeing unprecedented demand for speed, as videoconferences, gamers, musicians, and TV binge viewers compete for gigabits.
Even as we stumble along trying to control the pandemic while attempting to resume normal economic activity, our clients still have urgent needs for AV support. But we can’t rely on the same old solutions and products that served us in the past; not with government and medical strictures in place to observe social distancing rules and minimize both person-to-person contact and incidental contact with surfaces that might contain viral residues.
Consider meetings and classes. While there is on-going debate about whether to have them in-person or virtually, people still need to meet to discuss, share ideas, and learn. Ideally, we would want to use a wireless, touch-free platform to connect local participants while also providing secure, reliable communication paths for those joining remotely.
Kramer’s VIA wireless presentation family of products is hands-down the best solution for these challenging times. First and foremost, VIA does away with cables, dongles, and pop-up connector plates and relies instead on wireless handshakes. There’s no need to touch any buttons to share your screen—you just use whatever laptop or mobile device you brought to the meeting, and control your presentation from your own screen. VIA’s on-board support for web-conferencing apps (BlueJeans, Zoom, Skype for Business, GotoMeeting, WebEx, and Microsoft Teams) makes it the ideal choice for virtual meetings.
For remote participants on the same network, such as students socially-distanced in multiple classrooms, VIA supports H.264 video streaming from one VIA device to another, or to any other computer or device on the network that supports this codec. And for students connecting remotely via wide area networks, VIA also employs Real Time Messaging Protocol (RTMP) and RTMP-Secure to connect to Facebook Live, YouTube Live, Kaltura, Panopto, and other live streaming services.
Kramer’s latest innovation is VIA Versa, which lets you run the meeting using your own laptop. And you can travel light, as there’s no need to plug in any hardware in your meeting space. With Versa, you can improve the quality of your video and audio by making wireless connections from USB peripherals such as cameras, microphones, and speakers to your device, using a software-agnostic application. Versa is perfect for distance learning, hybrid classrooms, and meeting with remote attendees.
Watch the video below to learn more about Kramer's VIA Versa.
VIA doubles as a content server, too. Between meetings, you can use it to display digital signage to update meeting, social distancing, and personal protective equipment (PPE) guidelines in rooms and in common areas. And VIA Site Management software lets you maintain and update all devices on your network remotely—there’s no need for an admin to travel to a room troubleshoot, reset, update, and reboot individual VIA devices. VSM also provides detailed analytics on which rooms are and aren’t being used, so that disinfecting crews can more efficiently target high-traffic spaces.
Control systems are another area of concern during these times. There are myriad health and economic reasons to install an AV control system that minimizes on-site labor for programming and troubleshooting and also retains flexibility for software updates and hardware replacement. The solution, of course, lies in the cloud—that is, a cloud-based control system that makes extensive use of virtual programming and large driver databases, and broadband connections to make it all work.
And Kramer has that solution: Kramer Control, the only cloud-based AV control system available today. With Kramer Control, there’s no need for on-site programming. Instead, a complete AV system program can be pushed over an Internet connection from anywhere in the world to the control system processor. No one needs to set foot in the meeting space other than for a hardware installation.
There are multiple advantages to a cloud-based control system. Remote access to the room's user interface through a broadband connection makes it possible to train anyone who will use the facility without going on-site. Rooms can be custom-configured and monitored for clients who don’t have technicians on staff and lack the knowledge to maintain a control system on their own.
And specialists can log in and take command of the system remotely for diagnostics, much the same way remote terminal programs allow technicians to take control of a computer for troubleshooting. With Kramer Control, most operating issues and problems can be investigated, diagnosed, and repaired remotely. Programming can be thoroughly tested online, and if a major issue is located that requires an in-person service call, the technician is better prepared to fix the issue upon arrival and minimize time on site.
To minimize contact, Kramer Control supports Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) operation. A QR code posted in a meeting room or classroom links to the local user AV control interface for that room when scanned with a mobile device. Anyone can then launch a Web browser on the mobile device and access the Kramer Control interface virtually, limiting any physical contact to that individual’s screen. To further reduce the need for contact, sensors can be installed to automate selected room functions such as light switches and shade and screen controls.
No one knows for certain when the coronavirus pandemic will end. But you can be sure that when we finally emerge from it, we’ll see major and permanent changes in how we connect, communicate, and collaborate with each other; changes that will call for a new generation of AV solutions. And Kramer will answer the call, as we always do.
For more information, visit kramerav.com/.
This article was sponsored by Kramer AV.