27th May 2016
Read our latest meeting room technology focused article. Updated for 2020.
Driven by organisational change and advancements in technology, what we do and how we interact in meeting spaces is changing at a rapid pace. As a result companies are continuing apace to make meeting spaces more collaborative and immersive and technology is playing its part. We explore some of the technological shifts driving this change.
Arguably this is the innovation that adds the most convenience whilst also being the one that's so easy to forget about - it's just there now. Wireless is the standard and so we don't need to think about it.
From back when a meeting table would be covered with ISDN cables snaking their way to all the laptops in the room. From back in the early 90's when an Australian radiographer developed WiFi from a failed black hole/atomic particle experiment, the concept of transmitting data with no hard-wired connection has gone from strength to strength.
Researchers at the University of Surrey recording speeds of up 1 Terabit per second on a 5G network - we've come a long way from early smartphones, some of which went as high as 9.6bits per second. Wireless Charging is next on the innovation chopping block - with even furniture retailers Ikea leading the charge (pardon the pun) in wireless charging proliferation. Apple filed a patent in 2012 for wirelessly charging computer peripherals - to put it simply, you would plug in your Macbook and it would wirelessly charge your iPad, Mouse, Keyboard etc.
The QI Consortium are the body taking the lead for the industry, hopefully in the very near future you won't even need to plug your laptop in your meeting room, just the act of putting your computer, phone and tablet down on the desk will keep them charged.
Take great wireless infrastructure, add a dash of what people are doing in their homes with consumer grade devices like Apple TV and Fire Sticks, and then mix in the idea that our computing devices are essentially extenstions of ourselves (everything we do work wise in here - reports, files, dashboards, docs, webpages) and you'll see the need for wireless presentation systems in every meeting space.
As a result the need to scramble for HDMI/Mini HDMI/USB/Micro USB etc etc, is over. So to collaborating and sharing screens with other, remote attendees.
The phrase BYOD was coined by Intel back in 2009 - they realised that more and more employees were bringing their own devices to work and connecting them to their network. What started as an anomaly, quickly became the norm - almost every business these days has to be aware of BYOD in some form or another.
Where meeting rooms could, at one point, be fairly uniform - suddenly they had to allow for different operating systems, different connection ports, different security levels - different everything really. In 2014, smartphone sales worldwide were more than 1.2 billion - the ship has sailed, people want to use what they already use, the onus quickly turned to the corporate sector to accommodate this new wave of personal devices in the workplace.
Huddle rooms are tough to define element of the modern workplace - not quite a meeting room, not quite just a chat at someone's desk. Generally, they are smaller than a meeting room, with minimal technology but just enough to do what needs doing.
A small desk or podium, some seats and a display - put some sort of walls around it and you've built yourself a huddle room, removing the formality of a "meeting". These are ideal places for idea bouncing and catching up on developments and progress. Again though, participants often need to share information, and wouldn't it be great if that was easier.
More and more work environments are adopting huddle rooms, it's up to the designers to make sure that the technology that goes in them is just background noise - that the act of collaborating and working is made seamless by the technology.
The arms race in touch screen displays has been a furious one indeed, from 32" with 1 point of contact all the way up to 100" with 64 points of contact, manufacturers are confident that what meeting rooms need are more people connecting with the display - and they seem to be right. Gone are the days when a laser pointer or an OHP were all you needed to convincingly work your way through a presentation - now it's all about the interactivity and the touch.
Once upon a time, if you weren't in the meeting... you weren't in the meeting. Then came the speaker/mic combos that sat in the middle of the table allowing you to join in the conversation whether you were in the room or out of the country.
This progressed to the installation of video conferencing end points that meant your team in one meeting room could talk to a team in another location as if they were in the same room.
These days any computer with a webcam can be a front end to services that offer video conferncing capabilities for FREE either stand-alone or as an add-on to collabroation tools like wireless presentation and shared-whiteboarding. While they may not be appropriate for some high-end uses, most of these services can offer solid, basic videoconferencing that can allow you to keep in touch with your remote colleagues and get stuff done.
You may also be interested in our blog post 52 Tips for Killer Meetings...