Tag Archives: Video

Facebook to launch Workplace Rooms in challenge to Zoom

Facebook plans to expand the video conferencing features of Workplace by Facebook, its business collaboration product. But the enhanced service, Workplace Rooms, will lack numerous advanced meeting features at launch in June.

Facebook is late to the game, analysts said. The social media giant has grown Workplace by Facebook to 5 million paid users over the past few years. But the company hasn’t attempted to build a business-class video service until now.

Facebook last month launched Messenger Rooms, a consumer video calling product. The company is now adapting that product for business use in Workplace. The Workplace product will integrate with single sign-on software and provide some control to IT admins.

But Workplace Rooms won’t initially support polls, in-meeting chat, breakout rooms, personal meeting rooms or virtual backgrounds. It also won’t give hosts the ability to control who can present or speak in a meeting. The service lets users invite external guests to meetings.

What’s more, the product will come with a size limitation. Only 50 people will be able to join a meeting. Rivals like Zoom and Cisco Webex let hundreds of people participate in sessions on their platforms.

Facebook Workplace Rooms will display up to 16 people on screen at one time, compared to 25 people in Webex and 49 people in Zoom. The ability to see many simultaneous video feeds has become an essential feature amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Facebook will undercut competitors on price, however. Zoom, for example, costs $14.99 to $19.99 per host, per month for a premium license. Businesses can get access to Workplace Rooms and the premium version of Workplace for $4 or $8 per user, per month.

screenshot of Workplace Rooms
Facebook plans to add Workplace Rooms, a video calling feature, to its business collaboration product in June.

Facebook also has a free version of Workplace and gives nonprofits complimentary access to a premium edition. Workplace mimics the interface and features of the consumer version of Facebook. But the two platforms are separate, requiring users to create different accounts on each.

Julien Codorniou, vice president of Workplace by Facebook, said the company did not intend to match more mature platforms like Webex on features. Instead, Facebook wants Workplace Rooms to do “85% of the job for 99% of the people,” he said.

Facebook intends to bring video conferencing to portions of the workforce that have never used such technology before, Codorniou said. Many Workplace by Facebook customers are multinational companies with a significant proportion of service workers.

“We don’t go after just the market of knowledge workers,” Codorniou said. “We go after the market of everybody who’s employed with a working mobile device. That’s billions of people who have never touched IT before.”

But it remains to be seen how many nonoffice workers will adopt video conferencing platforms. It’s also not certain that Workplace by Facebook customers will use Workplace Rooms.

Customers previously reported using Workplace by Facebook primarily as an intranet replacement, rather than a team collaboration service like Slack or Microsoft Teams. Facebook added a basic video calling feature to Workplace for internal use in 2017.

“They’re casting a line, and they’re going to see if they get any nibbles or not,” said Brian Doherty, an analyst at Gartner.

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Pandemic could accelerate convergence of audio, video calling

The coronavirus pandemic may decrease demand for traditional business phone services in favor of video conferencing. The crisis could also lead more companies to buy audio and video calling products from the same vendor. 

The pandemic has forced millions of workers to begin using video conferencing apps. People are now more comfortable with those platforms and are using them in place of the telephone in some cases.

Joshua Tretakoff used to participate in six or seven regularly scheduled phone calls a week as head of development for JustAnswer, a San Francisco-based online help service.

Those conversations are now taking place on video platforms like Microsoft Teams and Zoom. Tretakoff spends nearly double the amount of time on video calls that he did before the pandemic. “I’m not making phone calls at all,” he said.

Tretakoff also plans to tell his employees to cancel their subscriptions to a service that provides them each a virtual phone number through a mobile app. They should start calling each other in Microsoft Teams instead, he said.

Tretakoff’s experience highlights how the adoption of video platforms can reduce the need for traditional phone calls.

The pandemic will likely increase the adoption of video products permanently. In a recent Wainhouse Research survey, 76% of IT buyers said they expected the use of video conferencing to remain above pre-pandemic levels at least through the end of 2020.

Companies tend to pay for fewer connections to the public switched telephone network (PSTN) when they use video conferencing. Microsoft partners have reported reducing PSTN lines by 20% when installing Microsoft Teams, said Irwin Lazar, analyst at Nemertes Research.

Enterprises that had previously expected to buy a cloud calling license for every knowledge worker will likely reevaluate those plans, said Marc Beattie, managing partner of Wainhouse Research. “I think that you’ll see the impact of that probably in early or mid-2021.”

In the future, companies may be more likely to buy audio and video calling services from the same provider.

In the Wainhouse study, a significant number of the 222 businesses surveyed said they were already using calling services connected to Microsoft Teams, Cisco Webex and Zoom.

The research found that 69% were using or considering Microsoft Office 365 for calling, 65% were using or considering Webex and 48% were using or considering Zoom Phone.

Business communications vendors have already begun responding to those shifting buying preferences.

Cloud telephony providers like RingCentral and 8×8 recently added video conferencing apps to their telecommunications suites. On the flip side, vendors like Zoom and LogMeIn have launched telephony services to complement their video offerings. 

As a result, the lines between the audio and video calling markets are blurring. Some communications apps now let users quickly shift between a phone call and a video call. The current pandemic should hasten that trend.

“With respect to video adoption, it’s been coming any day now for a long time,” said Brian Doherty, an analyst at Gartner. “PSTN calling has been kind of on the wane for a while.”

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Sony Semiconductor Solutions and Microsoft partner to create smart camera solutions for enterprise customers – Stories

Companies collaborate to make video analytics solutions more accessible in order to drive better business outcomes

TOKYO — May 19, 2020 — Sony Semiconductor Solutions (Sony) and Microsoft Corp. (Microsoft) today announced they are partnering to create solutions that make AI-powered smart cameras and video analytics easier to access and deploy for their mutual customers.

Sony logoAs a result of the partnership, the companies will embed Microsoft Azure AI capabilities on Sony’s intelligent vision sensor IMX500, which extracts useful information out of images in smart cameras and other devices. Sony will also create a smart camera managed app powered by Azure IoT and Cognitive Services that complements the IMX500 sensor and expands the range and capability of video analytics opportunities for enterprise customers. The combination of these two solutions will bring together Sony’s cutting-edge imaging & sensing technologies, including the unique functionality of high-speed edge AI processing, with Microsoft’s cloud expertise and AI platform to uncover new video analytics opportunities for customers and partners across a variety of industries.

“By linking Sony’s innovative imaging and sensing technology with Microsoft’s excellent cloud AI services, we will deliver a powerful and convenient platform to the smart camera market. Through this platform, we hope to support the creativity of our partners and contribute to overcoming challenges in various industries,” said Terushi Shimizu, Representative Director and President, Sony Semiconductor Solutions Corporation.

“Video analytics and smart cameras can drive better business insights and outcomes across a wide range of scenarios for businesses,” said Takeshi Numoto, corporate vice president and commercial chief marketing officer at Microsoft. “Through this partnership, we’re combining Microsoft’s expertise in providing trusted, enterprise-grade AI and analytics solutions with Sony’s established leadership in the imaging sensors market to help uncover new opportunities for our mutual customers and partners.”

Video analytics has emerged as a way for enterprise customers across industries to uncover new revenue opportunities, streamline operations and solve challenges. For example, retailers can use smart cameras to detect when to refill products on a shelf or to better understand the optimal number of available open checkout counters according to the queue length. Additionally, a manufacturer might use a smart camera to identify hazards on its manufacturing floor in real time before injuries occur. Traditionally, however, such applications — which rely on gathering data distributed among many smart cameras across different sites like stores, warehouses and distribution centers — struggle to optimize the allocation of compute resources, resulting in cost or power consumption increases.

To address these challenges, Sony and Microsoft will partner to simplify access to computer vision solutions by embedding Azure AI technology from Microsoft into Sony’s intelligent vision sensor IMX500 as well as enabling partners to embed their own AI models. This integration will result in smarter, more advanced cameras for use in enterprise scenarios as well as a more efficient allocation of resources between the edge and the cloud to drive cost and power consumption efficiencies.

Sony’s smart camera managed app powered by Azure is targeted toward independent software vendors (ISVs) specializing in computer vision and video analytics solutions, as well as smart camera original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) aspiring to add value to their hardware offerings. The app will complement the IMX500 sensor and will serve as the foundation on which ISVs and OEMs can train AI models to create their own customer- and industry-specific video analytics and computer vision solutions that address enterprise customer demands. The app will simplify key workflows and take reasonable security measures designed to protect data privacy and security, allowing ISVs to spend less time on routine, low-value integration and provisioning work and more time on creating unique solutions to meet customers’ demands. It will also enable enterprise customers to more easily find, train and deploy AI models for video analytics scenarios.

As part of the partnership, Microsoft and Sony will also work together to facilitate hands-on co-innovation with partners and enterprise customers in the areas of computer vision and video analytics as part of Microsoft’s AI & IoT Insider Labs program. Microsoft’s AI & IoT Insider Labs offer access and facilities to help build, develop, prototype and test customer solutions, working in partnership with Microsoft experts and other solution providers like Sony. The companies will begin working with select customers within these co-innovation centers later this year.

About Microsoft

Microsoft (Nasdaq “MSFT” @microsoft) enables digital transformation for the era of an intelligent cloud and an intelligent edge. Its mission is to empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more.

About Sony Semiconductor Solutions

Sony Semiconductor Solutions Corporation is the global leader in image sensors. We strive to provide advanced imaging technologies that bring greater convenience and joy to people’s lives. In addition, we also work to develop and bring to market new kinds of sensing technologies with the aim of offering various solutions that will take the visual and recognition capabilities of both human and machines to greater heights. For more information, please visit: https://www.sony-semicon.co.jp/e/

For more information, press only:

Microsoft

Microsoft Media Relations, WE Communications for Microsoft, (425) 638-7777, [email protected]

Sony

Sony Corporate Communications, [email protected]

 

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At long last, Microsoft Teams to get multiwindow support

Microsoft Teams will soon let users open chats, calls and video meetings in separate windows. The long-sought feature will help people multitask in the team collaboration app.

Microsoft plans to finish rolling out pop-out chats this month. Teams will get multiwindow support for calls and video conferences sometime in June.

Nearly 20,000 people have asked Microsoft to add multiwindow capabilities to Teams since the first request in 2016. It’s yet another example of an essential feature of Skype for Business that’s still missing in Teams.

“It’s like not being able to open multiple Word or Excel documents at the same time,” said Andrew Dawson, an IT professional based in the United Kingdom. “Archaic!”

Without the ability to open multiple windows, users can only do one thing at a time in Teams. The limitation forces some companies to use other communications apps in conjunction with Teams.

Jacques Detroyat, an IT manager for a company based in Switzerland, said one common workaround is for users to message on Skype for Business or WhatsApp during Teams meetings.

The setup is not ideal, Detroyat said. “It’s a bit like writing with a badly sharpened pencil or trying to have a conversation in a noisy environment: You can do it, but the experience won’t be great.”

Screenshot of Microsoft Teams chat
Microsoft is rolling out multiwindow chat for Microsoft Teams in May.

Some users want the company to support multiwindow viewing in even more scenarios. For example, Microsoft could let users edit a document in Teams in one window while searching for information they need in another. But the company has not committed to doing so.

Users will be able to open multiple Teams windows only in the Windows and Mac desktop apps. Microsoft has not said whether users of the web app will eventually get the upgrade.

The launch of multiwindow support will not solve another problem that users face. People want to be able to open separate Teams windows for different accounts on desktop. Microsoft has committed to letting users sign in to multiple accounts at the same time. But it has not provided an update on the feature in months.

Teams has attracted millions of new users during the coronavirus pandemic. The app grew from 20 million daily users at the end of 2019 to 75 million daily users in April.

The increased usage of Teams has made its shortcomings more aggravating to users. Complaints include the app not having a large enough group video display or a robust calendar.

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Cisco looks to close gaps in Webex Teams video conferencing

Cisco has promised to bring more advanced video conferencing features to Webex Teams eventually. But for now, users must rely on the vendor’s Webex Meetings product for full-featured video calling.

Cisco has been working for years to bring the two apps closer together. But despite relying on the same cloud infrastructure, Teams still lags behind its collaboration cousin.

Webex Teams lacks polls, in-meeting chat, screen-sharing with remote desktop control, 5×5 video displays and key host settings like the ability to automatically mute attendees upon entry.

What’s more, Webex Teams users cannot access essential video conferencing features without a license for Webex Meetings. Those capabilities include meeting recording, guest access and dial-in numbers.

Despite marking Webex Teams as an all-in-one collaboration app, Cisco generally sells the product in a bundle with Webex Meetings.

“We are actively working to bring all the advanced video conferencing capabilities of the Webex Meetings to Webex Teams,” Cisco said in an emailed statement.

Later this month, Cisco plans to address one significant shortcoming in Webex Teams by expanding the product’s video display. The app will soon support a 3×3 video grid. But it will still show fewer video panels than Webex Meetings, which has a 5×5 array.

Webex Teams vs. Microsoft Teams
Webex Teams vs. Microsoft Teams

Demand for large group video meetings has soared amid the coronavirus pandemic. People want to be able to see everyone on screen at the same time. Some customers have chosen a video platform based solely on this issue. Cisco did not say when it would enable a 5×5 grid view in Webex Teams.

Another feature missing from Webex Teams is a “health checker” button, like the one in Webex Meetings for troubleshooting connectivity issues. Furthermore, the video interfaces of Webex Teams and Webex Meetings are not identical, which could confuse users who host meetings in both.

Cisco launched Webex Teams as Cisco Spark in 2015. The app initially relied on a separate cloud engine than Webex Meetings. The company later rebranded the product as part of a broader strategy to streamline its portfolio of communications apps.

Unlike competitors Microsoft and Slack, Cisco has not disclosed how many people use its team collaboration app. However, the company said 324 million people attended a Webex meeting in March.

“Obviously, it’s been a work in progress from the Webex Teams side for a couple of years now,” said Josh Warcop, senior solutions engineer at Byteworks, a Cisco reseller. “We’re probably going to see a lot more feature parity here just this year.”

On the flip side, Cisco said it was also working to bring at least two Webex Teams video features to Webex Meetings. One is the ability for anyone to start a meeting, not just the host. The other is the integration of Meetings with video mesh nodes, which let businesses keep some video traffic on premises.

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Wanted – Atom netbook – E.g Samsung NC10

Final testing complete. The battery ran a YouTube video for 2 1/4 hours before asking to be plugged in with 15 mins still remaining. Next charge reported 3 hours but took a real caning with updates, so there may be a little more to come with with more charge cycles bearing in mind it’s been unused for so long.

Condition is quite remarkable for it’s age, very nearly mint. I’ll post pics if you want but will stake my feedback on it. It also has an extra 1GB of RAM (maybe 2 but the Atom can only use & report 3GB total.

I was hoping it would sneak under RM’s Small Parcel limit but it’s 500g too heavy. Best alternative balance of price/timescale for delivery is 48 hour courier (normally next day) for £8. With that in mind I’m happy at £40 if you still are.

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For Sale – Gaming PC: 7700k/16GB/Vega56/NVME SSD Full specs inside

So I’ve gone back to team red out of a need to do hefty video editing and as such selling my old PC which was mostly used for gaming:

Intel Core i7 7700K (delid + liquid metal) – Cooled by a Noctua NH-D15
16GB Corsair Dominator Platinum 3200MHz C16
Asus Intel ROG STRIX Z270E Gaming
Samsung 960 EVO M.2 SSD (250GB)
Radeon Vega 56 8GB HBM2 (Purchased April 2019 so still within warranty)
Corsair Crystal 460X Midi Tower
BeQuiet PurePower 11 500W 80Plus Bronze PSU

If I spec up a PC today on OcUK at the same or lower spec parts it comes to £793, so this is available for £600 collected.

Also available are 2x WD RED 6TB NAS hard drives for £130 each. Replaced by larger capacity drives so working fine just no longer used. S.M.A.R.T tests etc all available.

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Cisco Webex Edge for Devices links on-prem endpoints to cloud

Businesses using on-premises video gear from Cisco can now get access to cloud services, while keeping their video infrastructure in place.

A new service, called Cisco Webex Edge for Devices, lets businesses connect on-premises video devices to cloud services like Webex Control Hub and the Webex Assistant. Customers get access to some cloud features but continue to host video traffic on their networks.

Many businesses aren’t ready to move their communications to the cloud. Vendors have responded by developing ways to mix on-premises and cloud technologies. Cisco Webex Edge for Devices is the latest offering of that kind.

“It gives users that cloudlike experience without the businesses having to fully migrate everything to the cloud,” said Zeus Kerravala, principal analyst at ZK Research.

Cisco wants to get as many businesses as possible to go all-in on the cloud. Webex Edge for Devices, introduced this month, tees up customers to make that switch. Companies will have the option of migrating their media services to the cloud after connecting devices to the service.

Webex Edge for Devices is available for no additional charge to businesses with an enterprise-wide Collaboration Flex Plan, a monthly per-user subscription. Alternatively, companies can purchase cloud licenses for the devices they want to register with the service for roughly $30 per device, per month. The service won’t work with gear that’s so old Cisco no longer supports it.

Video hardware linked to the cloud through the service will show up in the Webex Control Hub, a console for managing cloud devices. For on-premises devices, the control hub will provide diagnostic reports, usage data, and insight into whether the systems are online or offline.

Many businesses are already using a mix of on-premises and cloud video endpoints. Webex Edge for Devices will let those customers manage those devices from a single console. In the future, Cisco plans to add support for on-premises phones.

Businesses will also be able to sync on-premises video devices with cloud-based calendars from Microsoft and Google. That configuration will let the devices display a one-click join button for meetings scheduled on those calendars.

Another cloud feature unlocked by Webex Edge for Devices is the Webex Assistant. The service is an AI voice system that lets users join meetings, place calls and query devices with their voice.

In the future, Cisco plans to bring more cloud features to on-premises devices. Future services include People Insights, a tool that provides background information on meeting participants with information gleaned from the public internet.

Cisco first released a suite of services branded as Webex Edge in September 2018. The suite included Webex Edge Audio, Webex Edge Connect and Webex Video Mesh. The applications provide ways to use on-premises and cloud technologies in combination to improve the quality of audio and video calls.

Cisco’s release of Webex Edge for Devices underscores its strategy of supporting on-premises customers without forcing them to the cloud, said Irwin Lazar, analyst at Nemertes Research.

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8×8 Video Meetings launches for free in challenge to Zoom

8×8 has launched a free version of its video conferencing app, hoping to lure businesses into subscribing to its cloud-based calling and contact center suite.

8×8 is challenging Zoom and LogMeIn in launching its first stand-alone video product. The move comes as those vendors have been seeking to penetrate 8×8’s primary market: business calling, also known as unified communications as a service (UCaaS).

Zoom has aggressively expanded its cloud-based business calling service over the past year while LogMeIn has pursued product consolidation. The company recently folded its flagship video conferencing platform, GoToMeeting, into a broader UCaaS offering called GoToConnect.

8×8 Video Meetings places no limit on how long meetings can last. In contrast, the free versions of Zoom and GoToMeeting cap meetings at 40 minutes. 8×8’s free version also provides toll-free dial-in options, which are usually a pay-by-the-minute add-on.

“This is certainly a compelling new entrant that will challenge Zoom and GoToMeeting’s freemium offerings,” said Mike Fasciani, analyst at Gartner.

Screenshot of 8x8 Video Meetings
8×8 Video Meetings uses WebRTC to enable browser-based meetings without downloads or plugins.

But only 50 people can meet at once on 8×8’s platform. That’s fewer than the 100-person limit of Zoom’s free version, although more than GoToMeeting’s three-person cap. (Zoom’s paid service can support 1,000 participants, while GoToMeeting’s premium tier can support 3,000.)

Users can access 8×8 Video Meetings without registering. However, signing up with an email address unlocks benefits such as calendar integration, team admin controls, and personalized virtual meeting rooms. In turn, 8×8 will try to convince users who register to become paying customers.

8×8 Video Meetings launched in September for businesses subscribed to the vendor’s X Series suite, which includes calling, messaging and contact center apps. 8×8 built the product using the open source software of Jitsi, which the vendor acquired from Atlassian last year.

Businesses get a couple of perks for using 8×8 Video Meetings as part of the X Series. For those customers, 8×8 Video Meetings includes a call-me feature for connecting to a meeting’s audio. Also, the video app integrates with third-party services, such as single sign-on software.

In the future, 8×8 might create a paid subscription tier for 8×8 Video Meetings. The offering could include advanced features like transcription and meeting room controls, said Eduardo Cocozza, a senior marketing director at 8×8.

Because it relies on WebRTC, 8×8 Video Meetings lets users conduct meetings in web browsers like Chrome and Firefox without downloads or plugins. But desktop and mobile apps are available for those who want them. Highfive, Cisco and BlueJeans have also enabled browser-based video conferencing in recent years.

8×8 is currently beta-testing meeting room software for connecting its video app to software-agnostic endpoints from vendors like Logitech and Poly. 8×8 is in the process of cementing partnerships with hardware vendors for preintegrated room kits, Cocozza said.

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Amazon Chime gets integration with Dolby Voice Room

Amazon Web Services has integrated its Amazon Chime online meetings software with a video hardware kit for small and midsize conference rooms made by Dolby Laboratories.

Businesses using Amazon Chime could already connect the app to software-agnostic video hardware using H.323 and SIP. But standards-based connections are generally difficult to set up and use.

The Dolby partnership gives Chime users access to video gear that is preloaded with the AWS software. However, Dolby only entered the video hardware market last year, so few Chime customers will be able to take advantage of the integration without purchasing new equipment.

Amazon Chime is far behind competing services, such as Zoom and Microsoft Teams. Both already have partnerships with leading makers of conference room hardware, such as Poly and Logitech. Also, Chime still lacks support for a room system for large meeting spaces and boardrooms.

Online meetings software must integrate with room systems to effectively compete, said Irwin Lazar, analyst at Nemertes Research. “So the Dolby announcement represents a much-needed addition to their capabilities.”

Dolby Voice Room includes a camera and a separate speakerphone with a touchscreen for controlling a meeting. The audio device’s microphone suppresses background noise and compensates for quiet and distant voices.

AWS recently expanded Chime to include a bare-bones service for calling, voicemail and SMS messaging. The vendor also earlier this year released a service for connecting on-premises PBXs to the internet using SIP.

Unlike other cloud-based calling and meeting providers, AWS charges customers based on how much they use Chime. However, Chime still trails more established offerings in the video conferencing market.

“Customers I’ve spoken to like their pay-per-use pricing model,” Lazar said. “But at this point, I don’t yet see them making a major push to challenge Microsoft, Cisco or Zoom.”

In a recent Nemertes Research study, 8% of organizations using a video conferencing service were Chime customers, seventh behind offerings from Microsoft, Cisco and others. However, only 0.6% said Chime was the primary app they used — the smallest percentage of any vendor.

Adoption of Chime has been “pretty sluggish,” said Zeus Kerravala, principal analyst at ZK Research. “But Amazon can play the long game here.” Launched in February 2017, Chime is a relatively insignificant project of AWS, a division of Amazon that generated more than $25 billion in revenue last fiscal year.

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