As multiple countries remain on strict orders to maintain social distancing and continue working from home with COVID-19 cases in some areas still growing, we are here to provide as many resources as we can to help you. What do you need to improve meetings from home? What is the best way to connect with co-workers and customers? How important is the technology, including cameras and microphones?
While we examine each of these areas, there are some key points to get you through this time without too much hassle:
1. You will need a stable Internet connection, a small area removed of clutter and access to a desktop or laptop computer. If possible, use an Ethernet cable to plug directly into your Internet router. This will improve the speed of your Internet connection over solely using a WiFi connection. For important video conferencing meetings, you may want to take this extra step.
2. Cameras and microphones are indispensable for any home office. They are key requirements for holding video conferences, as well as recording events and live streaming. Choosing a USB video conferencing camera that is easy to use and provides versatility is important. USB conferencing cameras offer an easy plug-and-play solution, so setting up is a breeze.
3. These cameras can be used with a variety of video conferencing platforms, including Google, Cisco WebEx, Go to Meeting, Skype, and Zoom. Because you may want to use a camera for both video conferencing and live streams, this flexibility is important.
4. Not to go without mention, the audio portion of your meetings may be most critical. Speaker phones are conference-focused systems that include microphones and touch-screen interfaces for easy control and access, with many affordable options available.
Quick tip: Your computer's built-in microphone may not be the best option.
Our recent Tech Talk podcast with Phoenix Audio Technologies can give you some idea of ways you can improve the audio portion of your conferencing calls.
Listen to our recent podcast here or read the transcribed version below.
JS (Tech Talk) (00:04):
Okay. Welcome to another edition of CRS Tech Talk, the podcast version. I'm Julia Sherwin, joined via Zoom call with Ryan root who is the director of marketing for Phoenix Audio Technologies. Well, as you all know by now we are under the threat of a pandemic that is affecting multiple countries and more than ever we are reliant on telecommunication, audio and video conferencing and Ryan, is going to take us through some of the things that Phoenix Audio Technologies is doing right now to kind of help people stay connected. Welcome to the podcast, Ryan.
RR (Phoenix Audio) (00:51):
Hi Julia. Thank you so much for having me on. It is, it is wild what is going on right now in the world, but it's also really cool that we're able to still have these conversations and just jump on a simple video conferencing call like this in order to continue to have business go as usual in a way.
JS (Tech Talk) (01:10):
Absolutely. These are really unprecedented times and we certainly commend the CDC and all of the government agencies who are telling people to stay home right now because that clearly is a way to “flatten the curve.” What the experts are talking about with sort of slowing the spread of this virus. So the beauty of today's technologies are that you can pretty much do everything remotely.
RR (Phoenix Audio) (01:50):
Yeah, absolutely. And there are a lot of people that need that right now. I'd say there's three industries specifically who are heavily relying on video conferencing, as we all know, audio is a major part of that equation.
JS (Tech Talk) (02:08):
That's right. And Phoenix audio technologies, you've been around for some time. Give us a little bit of background on the company and the solutions that you're really using right now to help people.
RR (Phoenix Audio) (02:26):
Yeah. So it's been around since 2004, so that's about 16 years old now. And currently our product offerings are really focused on the conference space for conference room audio. But we've also been incredibly involved in telemedicine in distance learning and just the overall education space and remote work. I think these are three specific areas we're seeing a need in more than ever right now. I'm sure not a lot of people are meeting in their conference room because they're home. Some in this case are on lockdown for the next couple of weeks. So they're looking at alternatives for communicating and for continuing business as usual. Because if we can't, a lot of things could go a lot worse. If we talk specifically about the hospitals and the medical industry, we're seeing a tremendous need for telehealth and for doctors to be able to take a look at a patient remotely and diagnose them and you know, just still have conversations with them in a way that they wouldn't be able to if they had to bring them into the hospital and meet face to face.
RR (Phoenix Audio) (03:45):
So now doctors are able to meet with so many more people, diagnose them much quicker and do this all in the comfort of their own home, which is a total game changer and is really just saving lives cause it's all about how quickly we can diagnose these things and get the people the help they need. And that's where it's going to start. Then when we talk about hospitals. They're looking to us and saying: Hey, we maybe weren't as prepared as we want it to be, but now we know that we need to outfit a lot of our hospitals with total health capabilities so that we can diagnose patients in the comfort of their own home. And being able to provide them with the audio is a tremendously valuable thing right now.
JS (Tech Talk) (04:42):
Yeah, for sure. Ryan, take us through some of those actual solutions for me. I know from the video conferencing side you do work with different camera manufacturers such as PTZOptics, right?
RR (Phoenix Audio) (05:04):
Yeah, absolutely. We work very closely with PTZOptics and providing that audio solution. So if I go back to what our offerings really come down to, we have a Sting Ray DSP mixer, but that's less relevant in today's day. Just specifically talking to the point that a lot of people aren't in their conference room. Right? So you don't necessarily need a DSP mixer today. But what what we're seeing is a massive need for our other three products that we really focused on here, which is our speaker phone which we call the Spider. This is a device that is incredibly popular in the telehealth, telemedicine industry. They're outfitting these speaker phones to medical carts, and this is a way for doctors to remotely diagnose patients. So the Spider is incredibly valuable right now in the sense that it is literally saving lives.
RR (Phoenix Audio) (06:09):
We also have our Condor beamforming microphone array. Again, something that we've seen attached to an AV cart very often. It's also a very important place in the conference room, but again, not as important immediately right now cause a lot of people aren't in their conference room. But this is something we're seeing people outfit in their home office building, kind of an executive home office because you can't go into your office. So being able to work from home and still have that high quality audio is incredibly important. You know, even though we're on this video call and this will end up being a podcast if we were only able to look at each other, this conversation wouldn't go very far back, I don't know sign language. So it's pretty vital that we have a way to communicate over audio, and our products are making that possible.
RR (Phoenix Audio) (07:05):
So we talk about hospitals as a major, a major need right now for audio conferencing for telehealth. But we kind of segued smoothly into home office, which is, you know, what we're doing right now. So being able to work from home and still have a great meeting and have that high quality audio pickup, you wouldn't be able to have meetings without it. So, and not only that, but we're seeing this also with students. Right? So, I don't think I know one school that hasn't sent their students home. But they're still continuing school, you know, so they have a few more months, maybe weeks to finish out their semesters or quarters and they need a way to jump on calls. And to have that high quality idea is very important. So I'd say the last product we have that is really filling that need is our Duet. That device is a personal speaker phone. But it really gets the job done so much more than just our built-in microphones on our laptops. Those really don't get the job done as well. So making sure you have that high quality audio for anything from a student, to, a high-level executive to your doctor who's trying to diagnose someone who may have something like the Coronavirus. These are all areas that our devices are in high demand for right now.
JS (Tech Talk) (08:36):
I think there are great points and so much like I said at the beginning of this, which has been focused on video conferencing. But you're absolutely right. Right now it's critical that everyone is being heard and listening to each other. And the price points we at Conference Room Systems, this is CRS Tech Talk. So our eCommerce site, ConferenceRoomSystems.com we offer all of the Phoenix Audio Technologies products. The Duet personal speakerphone, it comes in at a price point of $119. I mean, that's just an easy fix, but if you are an executive and you're on that C-level suite and you need to meet with Zoom, you know, with dozens and dozens of employees over conferencing, you might want to opt for that Condor or product which comes in at a higher price point, but that's still very sleek and would look perfect in a home office. I'm not a C-level suite person, but I'm here in my home office, and I wish that I had the Condor right now, but none of us anticipated that we'd be here just even five days ago.
RR (Phoenix Audio) (09:51):
Yeah, yeah, absolutely incredible. Usually I think we realize we need something when it's too late. So that's what we're seeing right now is there's a massive need for these products and we're doing whatever we can to get these out to people as quickly as possible. We have all hands on deck here. You know, I think it's pretty clear to most people that audio conferencing is one of those essentials right now. Especially in the current climate. So we're doing whatever we can to get our audio devices out to the people who need them the most so that they can either continue business or so doctors can continue to diagnose patients as quickly as possible and get them the help they need or with students to continue their schooling. Because there's plenty of students out there that are either close to graduation or just in general need to get their classes done. And we want them to be able to continue to do that without having any interruptions.
JS (Tech Talk) (10:46):
Absolutely. We want people to stay safe. I certainly hope that your teams are. You're in more of a remote basis as well and everyone's working really safely and at a distance too, I assume?
RR (Phoenix Audio) (11:00):
Yeah. I think we're pretty focused here on going from home to work. And you know, as I'll look at my watch here, it is Tuesday, March 17th, and we are on alert to a potential lockdown. You know, we're, we're here in southern California and we're aware of that, but we're just trying to do everything we can to help people in this time of need before things get worse.
JS (Tech Talk) (11:25):
Absolutely. Well, I wish you all the best and your team. Thank you for everything that you're doing right now. And you know, we feel it is imperative to educate people who are embarking upon this work-from- home experience, really, some of some of them for the first time. And that audio portion, it can't be underestimated, the audio portion of your meetings.
RR (Phoenix Audio) (11:52):
Correct. I'll mention that. So I'm head of marketing being here. We are very focused as a team on putting out a lot of resources right now to help people learn about these things. Right? Cause maybe you made a good point. This may be new to a lot of people to work from home. If you're not sure how to set up your office you know, in order to continue business as usual from home, we have those resources for you to show you how to set them up, what audio you'd need for your rooms. So I'd say just jump on our social media, Phoenix Audio Technologies. We're on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and this'll be a place where you can download guides. And then we have one pagers that will detail out how to set up an executive home office or even things about our personal speaker phones or telemedicine, if that is something you're in need of as well. So a lot of resources being created because we want to help connect the dots here because this is new for a lot of people. It's something we all need to gather around. So we want to make sure that we're providing help where it needs to be.
JS (Tech Talk) (12:57):
That is perfect and we are more than happy to share those resources with our listeners. So thank you so much.
RR (Phoenix Audio) (13:05):
Okay, awesome. Yeah, I mean, wow, I don't know where we're headed, but I think we're doing a great job banding together and fighting this as one. So I'm really excited to see where we go from here.
JS (Tech Talk) (13:18):
I believe that as well. It is wonderful to see everyone sort of come together during a crisis like this and you know, we're all looking for those resources, those gems of information that are going to help us go about this new normal in a smoother way. So Ryan Root, director of marketing for Phoenix Audio Technologies, I look forward to having you back on the program when the dust has settled from all of this, and we can showcase some of your solutions on our Tech Talk show as well.
RR (Phoenix Audio) (13:55):
Thank you, Julia. I really appreciate it.
JS (Tech Talk)
Read more on How to Use Video Conferencing at:
"How to Use Video Conferencing Today," Read more here.
"Examining AV Tools for Enterprise Communication," Read more here.
"Focusing on AV Solutions for Higher Education Settings," Read more here.
"Teaching Students How to Live Stream," Read more here.
"Live Streaming for Radio Broadcasts," Read more here.
"10 Hacks to Up Your Video Conferencing Game," Read more here.
"Infographic: Dos and Don'ts of Video Conferencing, " Read more here.