Hybrid capabilities for conference microphones

Hybrid; it’s one of our new set of pandemic-related “buzz” words along with “social distancing” and “remote participation”. In this case, hybrid refers to the ability to meet with some people physically in the room together – combined with people attending the meeting remotely – usually from a cloud-based meeting platform (like Zoom or Teams). 

While it’s not rocket science, the hybrid meeting configuration has presented some challenges for which the conference microphone system has proven to be an excellent solution. 

Sound quality 

In a hybrid meeting you have to worry about sound quality both in the physical meeting space and for the remote participants:

  • For those in the meeting room, a conference microphone system helps to improve clarity and intelligibility by improving proximity to the microphone, creating a localized sound field, and limiting the number of microphones that are live at one time. Consequently, these features also benefit the sound quality being sent to those participating remotely.

The benefit of having the onboard loudspeakers that create the local sound field in the conference room will also enhance the ability of those participating locally to hear the voices of the remote participants.

  • For those participating remotely – while there isn’t much you can do if someone is calling in on a cell phone, the common practice of muting your microphone when not actively speaking goes a long way toward improving the sound quality coming from the remote participants.This function is mimicked in the conference microphone by providing a microphone on/off button to limit the number of microphones live at one time.
Automated video tracking

In a hybrid meeting it becomes necessary to allow those participating remotely to see the face of the local participant that is speaking.

  • While video of remote participants is provided by the onboard camera of the device they are using (usually a laptop), the local participants need external cameras to pan/tilt/zoom in on them when they activate their microphone. The interface between the microphone and camera systems often involves an AV control system that acts as middleware between the two.
  • The resulting functionality is that when a microphone is activated, the conference microphone system communicates exactly which microphone is live to the AV control system, which has been given instruction (control matrix) as to which camera and which pre-set to trigger when that mic is turned on.As you can imagine, having this camera-follows-the-microphone process automated by using a conference system saves a lot of money when compared to having a technician handle these duties manually.
  • Within the hybrid meeting platform, the remote participants will show up as they normally would (8 remote participants = 8 video squares in gallery view of the meeting platform). In this example, all local participants will share a ninth square, and the image of who is currently being shown on the video for this ninth square will change as the people speaking locally turn on and off their microphones.
  • Some conference system manufacturers also sell PTZ camera systems, but you should make sure the functionality provided is a match for your needs.
All-in-one devices

Often referred to as multimedia terminals, all-in-one devices are convenient options provided by some conference system manufacturers that offer a solution for the local participants. These devices include not only the conference microphone, but a local video screen to view the meeting platform and an onboard web camera to capture the video of the person speaking as soon as they turn on their microphone.

  • The obvious benefit here is that you no longer require external cameras or large video displays (or have to figure out where to put them in the meeting room) and the interfacing between these devices is already done for you. 
Ease of interfacing

From a conference microphone system to a presentation on a PC, running the meeting platform within the physical meeting space is an important factor in this solution. Conference microphone systems require only a simple USB interface for audio and video to make this connection, and from there it is as simple as choosing your audio and video sources from the pc.

For more information on how to take your meeting room hybrid, contact our experts.

In need of information or assistance?

Call Media Vision’s Support Team on +1 415 391 9090 or get in contact via email below.