Innovate Corporate Collaboration with AI-Powered Solutions for Microsoft Teams Rooms

In today’s fast-paced business environment, effective collaboration is essential for success. With the rise of remote work and dispersed teams, the demand for seamless and intelligent collaboration solutions has never been higher. This is where AI-powered solutions for Microsoft Teams Rooms come into play, revolutionizing the way teams communicate and collaborate. As a professional audio-visual technology distributor, we understand the importance of providing innovative solutions to our Pro AV resellers and integrators. Let’s explore how AI-powered technology can elevate corporate collaboration, focusing on solutions that seamlessly integrate with Microsoft Teams Rooms.

Understanding the Need for Advanced Corporate Collaboration Solutions

MAXHUB 21.9 Aspect Ratio DisplayIn today’s digital age, businesses are constantly seeking ways to enhance collaboration and productivity. Traditional meeting rooms are being replaced by intelligent, interconnected spaces that facilitate seamless communication and collaboration. With the increasing demand for remote work and flexible collaboration solutions, businesses need tools that can adapt to their evolving needs. AI-powered solutions for Microsoft Teams Rooms offer the perfect solution, providing advanced features and functionality that enhance the collaboration experience.

Introducing AI-Powered Solutions for Microsoft Teams Rooms

AI-powered solutions for Microsoft Teams Rooms leverage the latest advancements in artificial intelligence to deliver an unparalleled collaboration experience. These solutions are designed to integrate seamlessly with Microsoft Teams, providing users with intelligent communication and collaboration tools. From AI-powered cameras and microphones to intelligent displays and content sharing solutions, there are a variety of AI-powered technologies available to enhance the Microsoft Teams Rooms experience.

21:9 Aspect Ratio Displays: Revolutionizing Collaboration with AI Integration

Epson 21.9 Aspect Ratio short throw projectorOne of the key components of an AI-powered Microsoft Teams Rooms solution is the MAXHUB 21:9 Aspect Ratio Display. These innovative displays combine cutting-edge technology with intelligent AI features to revolutionize the collaboration experience. With a 21:9 aspect ratio, MAXHUB displays provide users with more screen real estate, allowing for better multitasking and productivity. Also, these displays feature built-in AI capabilities, such as facial recognition and gesture control, that further enhance the collaboration experience.

For projects with limited space, the Epson PowerLite 810E Extreme Short-Throw Projector can deliver up to a 160″ diagonal image from just 12″ away from the wall. It’s built-in flexible digital canvas makes for easy integration at 16:9 native aspect ratio and provides additional support for ultra-wide 16:6 and 21:9 for an equitable conferencing experience in meeting rooms.

Other Essential AI-Powered Technologies for Microsoft Teams Rooms Integration

In addition to 21:9 displays, there are a variety of other AI-powered technologies available to enhance the Microsoft Teams Rooms experience. Lenovo 11S30008US THINKSMART CORE FULL ROOM KIT SystemAI-powered cameras and microphones, such as those offered by Jabra and Audio-Technica, provide crystal-clear audio and video quality, ensuring that every meeting is productive and professional. AI-powered content sharing solutions, such as those offered by Barco ClickShare, make it easy to share content and collaborate in real-time.

To simplify the meeting room product specification process, there are also a variety of meeting room kits available with a system of products from manufacturers such as Lenovo, Jabra, and Yealink.

Check out our recommended MTR-compatible solutions used in the MTR Experience Center at E4.

Explosive Interest in AI Integrated Solutions

The 2024 E4 Experience shows are set to ignite interest in AI integrated solutions, with a particular focus on cutting-edge advancements. Along with showcasing a diverse range of hardware certified for seamless integration with Microsoft Teams, a standout innovation to be featured is Microsoft Copilot, a revolutionary tool harnessing the power of AI. With its ability to streamline tasks and enhance productivity, Copilot makes a significant impact in a variety of applications including corporate spaces. From facilitating the creation of dynamic presentations to optimizing workflows, AI-driven solutions are poised to revolutionize how businesses operate, marking a pivotal moment in the evolution of workplace technology.

Summing Up AI-Powered Collaboration With MTR

Innovative AI-powered solutions are transforming the way businesses collaborate, and Microsoft Teams Rooms integration is at the forefront of this revolution. By leveraging AI-powered technologies such as 21:9 aspect ratio displays, auto-tracking video cameras, wireless microphones, and networked control, businesses can create intelligent, interconnected meeting spaces that facilitate seamless communication and collaboration.

Lisa Lingo, Category Manager – Collaboration

At Exertis Almo, we are committed to providing our Pro AV resellers and integrators with the latest and most innovative collaboration solutions. If you’re interested in learning more about how AI-powered solutions can enhance your Microsoft Teams Rooms experience, contact us today.

Miracast: Everything You Need to Know

Do you know Miracast?

MiraCastAs the liaison between a device and a display, Miracast utilizes wireless technology to detect, connect, and mirror the screen of one device on the other. The up-and-coming technology serves as a peer-to-peer network to wirelessly transmit screencasts comprised of WiFi Direct connections, comparable to Bluetooth’s function. In fact, Miracast allows content reproduction from TVs, smartphones, and more – all onto users’ PC screens.

If you have a wireless connection on your device, you’re capable of utilizing Miracast’s innovative technology. Designed to be a cross-platform standard for user’s, Miracast supports up to 1080p resolution and 5.1 surround sound, ensuring that user’s enjoy a convenient and impressive experience in corporate settings and classrooms, to name a few.

Let’s break it down a little further.

When using Miracast, one device transmits the content through WiFi Direct, and the other device serves as your display by efficiently receiving and rendering the content. Essentially, the technology works to create a WiFi network between your devices, allowing for content transmission speeds to ten times faster than Bluetooth.

screenbeam meeting spacesAlong with the real-time content transmission, Miracast provides content protection through its support of High-Bandwidth Digital Content Protection – or HDCP. The mechanism oversees the transfer of content between the device that originates the content (the source) and the display device, providing an added layer of security to a user’s digital rights.

Now that we’ve covered the basics of Miracast, you’ve likely noticed similarities between other technologies, like Chromecast and Apple Airplay. Despite serving the same function, these technologies are not exactly alike.

In comparison with Chromecast, Miracast acts as a standard protocol within the WiFi feature on a device – essentially, a technology that a user has by default. On the other hand, Chromecast acts as a receiver, requiring a TV. Apple uses their own standard instead of Miracast, called Airplay, allowing user’s to stream content from their devices – iPhones, iPads, and Macs – to their Apple TV. In a meeting room setting, Miracast would be a more versatile option, as the technology is designed for cross-platform use. Plus, Miracast is capable of functioning without an active internet connection.

In fact, Miracast technology is available on a variety of wireless devices from ScreenBeam. By prioritizing collaborative environments in meetings, classrooms, and more, ScreenBeam’s impressive array of technology provides efficient wireless content sharing – no cables or wires necessary. Miracast is native to modern Windows devices – detailed on the WiFi Alliance’s WiFi Certified Devices list.

As an up-and-coming technology, the applications for Miracast’s innovative technology are quite versatile. Miracast is an excellent solution for entertainment, meeting rooms, and lecture halls for presentations and videos. Additionally, Miracast is a convenient option for home entertainment, as users can easily stream movies, mobile games, and more, straight to their TV in real-time.

Above all, Miracast’s efficiency and simplicity paves the way for a cable-free, wireless environment. By allowing for seamless content sharing across devices, the technology inspires an inclusive and collaborative environment.

If you’d like to learn more about Miracast and it’s role in ScreenBeam solutions, I encourage you to reach out to me.

Angie Greene
About the Author

Angie Greene | DSCE

Business Development Manager

Supported Manufacturers: ScreenBeam and Panasonic

Overcoming Security Threats: In-Room Collaboration Technology

Wireless Security Layers

With the increase in hybrid collaboration following the pandemic, cybersecurity is at the forefront of everyone’s mind, especially in office meeting spaces and conference rooms with a great amount of traffic throughout the day – team members and guests included. IT and maintenance departments are incredibly precise with the hardware they are installing, focusing heavily on certifications and the way in which certain products handle these cybersecurity risks – in some cases, even gluing the USB ports of a government-issued laptop to manually prevent any plug-ins.

Wireless display technology presents many security risks, and in order to provide protection against any threats, there are three layers of security that are typical (and industry standard).

1. Connection Level

This involves the user’s laptop connecting to the closest access point and authenticating itself to the network (representing the standard set of security protocols WPA, 802.1X, WEP, etc.).

2. Session

The session involves the transmission of data – searching out, sending an email, connecting to a wireless printer, and much more. When a user transmits their data from a laptop to an access point, they are in an active session – the data is encrypted.

3. On-Screen

The on-screen layer involves a display pin that needs to be entered, requiring someone to be physically present in order to connect.

Network Security

Along with these three layers of security, ScreenBeam adds additional protection in the architecture of the device itself, providing an internal network for employees and an external network for guests, with a firewall in between. In your conference room, users with Apple devices can connect to the access point and use AirPlay to discover ScreenBeam as a display point over the network infrastructure – this applies exclusively to company employees. For those with Windows 10/11 devices, users may connect to ScreenBeam using P2P mode. On the other hand, guests may use WiFi tools with ScreenBeam an access point, without ever interacting with the internal network. If they require Internet access, they can gain this permission through WLAN1.

When utilizing ScreenBeam, users must authenticate themselves, as anything shared is encrypted. With other similar technology, you must choose between putting a device on the internal network (which guests cannot use) or putting a device on the guest network, which requires every employee to also switch to the guest network. ScreenBeam is connected to both the internal network and the external network at the same time, so you can connect securely to both networks, without ever exposing your internal network to guests, since their access is directly connected to the display.

Additionally, when faced with guests that require a connection to the network, other similar devices would likely opt to provide guests with access to the internal network, therefore punching a hole in the firewall, which is not the most secure choice. With ScreenBeam, there is no connection between the local WiFi and Ethernet, which prevents access to the wired Ethernet, even if someone were able to hack into the local WiFi.

When it comes to in-room collaboration security, there’s much more to the product than most people realize.

With any questions or to learn more about ScreenBeam’s innovative solutions, I encourage you to contact me or reach out over on LinkedIn.

Angie Greene
About the Author

Angie Greene | DSCE

Business Development Manager

Supported Manufacturers: ScreenBeam and Panasonic

Atlona’s WAVE-101 for a Hands-free Meeting Experience

Wireless Audio Visual Environment

What product do you know of that can wirelessly share from Windows, iOS, Andriod, and MacOS, dynamically adjust the interface based on the number of presenters, play videos from YouTube, allow presenters to control who is on screen, and even livestream the output of your presentation straight to remote audiences on YouTube – all while maintaining a hands-free experience?

Atlona logoThe Atlona WAVE-101 (AT-WAVE-101) is probably the smallest wireless presentation tool that we’ve put on our bench – made for the commercial professional audiovisual market, by people who know the Pro AV space.

Device Types

We’ve seen a lot of screen sharing and collaborative devices over the years. From full servers to set top boxes – then, to dongles, and now this little cube. Typically, the smaller they get the fewer features they have, but this is not the case with the WAVE 101. Let’s discuss why.

Wireless presentation tools fall into a few categories. The ones that require a dongle to be connected to your computer in order to connect to the screen in the room. The ones that require software for you to connect to the screen in the room. Lastly, the ones that have the wireless protocols for the specific OS variations built in – no additional software needed.

Operating Systems

This is where the WAVE-101 sits in the market. It provides wireless screen casting with iOS®, AndroidTM, Mac®, ChromebookTM, and Windows® devices through native AirPlay®, Google CastTM, or MiracastTM protocols. This covers pretty much all the major OS’s and device types. No additional dongles or software needed.

Ease of Use

Users connect via the instructions onscreen and start sharing content. The system dynamically adjusts the screen when additional users want to share content, and the meeting gets moving with no added wait time.

Device Ports

The Wave-101 has a Gigabit Ethernet (GbE) port for connecting into the local network, an HDMI port for connecting to the display, and few USB ports for accessories. Lastly, it has a Kensington lock (a.k.a. K-Slot or Kensington Security Slot) for what I would call a removal deterrence feature.

This is simple hardware that even includes a Vesa Mount in the box to secure the cube to the back of your monitor.

wave-101 callouts

Top 3 Features

Here are the 3 features that we think will make you want to use the WAVE-101:

#1. Instructor Mode

When used in a classroom, or even a rowdy conference room with engineers who are always trying to flash photos of their latest Dungeons & Dragons conquests, this feature can really come in handy to reign in control of the screen. A queue is displayed to the instructor showing who is connected and wants to share content. The list of available content will appear on the page, and the instructor can show up to 4 contributors at the same time – or deny them from sharing altogether. Instructor Mode allows a user to manage content, adjust audio volume, upload and play media content, stream YouTubeTM, and switch between layouts.

Because this is a media device, URLs and media content can also be loaded into the queue. So instead of the content being driven by a device, a contributor can load up a URL to YouTube and let the internet do the sharing. Thankfully, since it’s in the queue, the final decision on what’s shown is still in the hands of the instructor.

#2. Room Occupancy Sensor

Atlona added one more trick up their sleeve – room occupancy sensor integration. When coupled with Atlona’s Network-Enabled Occupancy Sensor (AT-OCS-900N), the WAVE-101 will automatically turn the room on when a person enters the space, and turn off, after a set time of having no one in the room. The sensor, along with the Instructor Mode feature, allow for the room to be used with no additional control system required. Even better, this allows for hands-free operation of the room – to enable safer and cleaner conference rooms.

AT-OCS-900N room sensor

#3. OMEGA Switchers & Extenders

Coupled with Atlona’s new Omega series switching and extension products the WAVE-101 can create a very simple huddle room, or add collaboration to a full size conference room with multiple displays, microphones, and PTZ cameras – making any room the video conferencing hub of your organization.

Atlona huddle space gear
Contact your Exertis Almo team for more information on
how Atlona can change the way you present.

Innovating Wireless BYOD and Beyond

Atlona’s Wireless Audio Visual Environment (WAVE) and the AT-WAVE-101, is a new, innovative wireless presentation platform designed for quick and easy content sharing from up to four PCs or mobile devices. The versatility of the WAVE-101 expands well beyond BYOD content sharing, with a host of additional features to enhance education, corporate, and many other applications.


3 Reasons Why Outsourced Technician Assistance Should Be a Key Part of Your 2021 Strategy

2021 is here, which means we have had a chance to say goodbye to what was a challenging 2020 officially. We are all hopeful that 2021 will be a year filled with opportunity. But it will not come without some uncertainty, and that will hold true for the AV industry as a whole. As an integrator, this does not mean you can’t plan to scale your business. Yet, prediction and preparation are not mutually exclusive! 

Here are our top 3 reasons why your company should be using Outsourced Technician Assistance for 2021.

It is time to get back to growing! 

There is no doubt that the COVID-19 pandemic has affected your business in some way, shape, or form. For some, the impact may not have been as severe, but for others, tough decisions were made to keep businesses alive. Those decisions were likely in the form of reducing headcount, most often from the outsourced technicians. 

Now that we have rolled into 2021 with some optimism and renewed energy. It’s time to start moving into growth mode. One of the fastest ways is by augmenting your staff through outsourcing and reduce risk. This is the simple practice of augmenting your labor force to help assist your skilled W2 technicians/project leads out in the field. 

This form of outsourcing has become very popular in recent years. The need to augment technicians through an outsourcing program was accelerated due to the pandemic’s impact. With technician augmentation capability, you no longer have to pass on jobs due to lack of employees, keeping your calendar full for 2021. 

Now is not the time to lose control!

You have spent a considerable amount of time and effort building your business, so it is understandable that the reputation you have made through your relationships and proof of performance means everything. 

They are possibly the biggest reasons for your success. By using technician augmentation it could be perfect for your business as you wade through uncertain times. Let me explain: Augmentation and supplementation are two very different things. 

Augmentation gives you access to technicians that will work alongside and take direction from your on-site staff members, whereas supplementation is relinquishing an entire job to be outsourced. 

It is often vital to consider technician augmentation rather than supplementation to ensure that specific processes are followed, control is maintained, and the project outcomes are as you desire. Technician help allows you to perform the job YOUR way. 

We don’t need no education (yes, we do).

In December, Presidential Elect Joe Biden announced a plan to get kids back in the classroom in 2021. That plan came with a recommendation to Congress to pass a $4 Billion emergency package to upgrade technology in school systems across the country. 

We all understand the importance of kids being in school from an academic and social perspective, and it’s clear an aggressive effort is being made to get kids back on the school bus! In preparation for the upcoming school year, technology implementation will be crucial to accommodating in-room distanced and virtual learning

So what does that have to do with technician augmentation? Well, it’s simple. Whether public, charter, or private, most schools have at least a handful of classrooms and often hundreds, if not thousands per district. Most of these classrooms are cookie-cutter in terms of technology deployment for clear reasons. 

Teachers and students are trained on how to interact with the same systems, no matter what room they are in. An assisted technician staff best fills this type of repeatable work. From wire-pulling to display mounting to disposal of waste, outsourcing technicians in multi-room environments can prove to be very cost-effective and very efficient—no more hiring and firing based on a single job. 

You can take comfort knowing your organization can complete the work without incurring any unwanted pre and post burden. We should all have a shared enthusiasm for what is next in our industry. The collective ability to adapt and overcome in 2020 has been remarkable, but there are more audible calls to come.  The AV industry will continue to shift and change rapidly, as it did in 2020 (let’s never speak of it again). I cannot stress enough the importance of making sure outsourced Technician Assistance is a Key Part of Your 2021 Business Strategy.

InfoComm Connected 2020: Your Questions Answered

Almo Pro A/V EVP/COO
Sam Taylor

Recently, Almo Pro A/V EVP/COO Sam Taylor participated in the InfoComm Connected 2020 LIVE Q&A with AVIXA President Dave Labuskes, following the keynote address, “A Better Normal: Reducing Friction and Finding Our Way in a Hybrid World.”

During the 15-minute live Q&A, there were so many questions asked that it was impossible to respond to them all in the time allotted. So we asked Sam to sit down with us and tackle every one of the questions directed his way. Here’s Part 1 of those responses:

Q: How do you envision the changing role and importance of digital signage?

A: There is so much opportunity for the AV industry as we create this “better normal,” especially in the area of signage. More than ever before, there’s a need for health and safety messaging: reminders to wear masks, wash hands and maintain social distancing are going to be with us for awhile. Along with this messaging, manufacturers are working hard to build in new features that address this era: touchless monitors, displays that provide thermal scanning, displays with built-in hand sanitizing dispensers and more.

Q: Where do you see the industry going with Wireless Presentation solutions with so many people now needing hybrid solutions and Zoom, team, integration?

A: It’s exploding. Wireless presentation is the future. It used to be about bringing your own device to a meeting — now you can bring your own meeting (BYOM) and have your participants plug-in from wherever they are, which is mostly from home these days. For example, Barco’s Clickshare Conference enables people with different platforms to utilize the same speakers, microphone and cameras for a seamless meeting. This is going to help people social distance and still have a productive discussion.

We’re also seeing more “work-from-home” hardware bundles with web-based portable speakers and cameras that are professional, reliable and can be used remotely from just about anywhere.

Q: As AV designers, especially working with architects, we have to be careful about advocating for digital spaces. It can help AV ride through this crisis, but it will surely dry up future work with architects. How do we advocate for our clients to feel safe in real spaces?

A: That’s a work in progress as there are still so many unknowns. This crisis is also a very personal experience as everyone has their own comfort level about returning to a closed group environment. Virtual connection is here to stay even while in-office connection starts to return. In the short term and long run I believe that AV designers and architects are going to have more work to do. Every existing office will be redesigned in some way. New builds are going to have to incorporate more meeting spaces that are smaller and allow for social distancing. The days of one large conference room for 25 people having a two-hour meeting are not coming back for a long time. Open area seating will have to be redesigned as well.

Q. What new tech integrations do you all see going forward in a post-COVID world in regards to events AV and connectivity?

A: This is another area where our industry can shine. The show, the learning, the networking must go on but this has forced us to be more creative in our delivery. The key is to keep the learning coming, and to keep us connected and thriving together. Live and virtual events each have their benefits so we feel it would be in our best interest to have both. Expect to see advancements and quick evolution in this arena – better connections, sleeker equipment, and even holographic telepresence, in which a full-size version of a speaker is beamed into a virtual meeting or live event without the travel time and expenses.

Q: Is there a role for distributors to play in helping companies bridge the revenue gaps through creative financing options?

A: Absolutely! Distributors have already begun partnering with manufacturers to provide financial relief through creative financing options such as additional 30-day extended credit terms. This gives resellers the critical ability to keep planning ahead and pushing forward.

Q: How would you recommend integrators get into AVaaS?

A: Lean in on the supply chain! Contact your distributor. If your distributor doesn’t offer it, we do at Almo. Now is the opportunity to leverage the services available through distribution to help rebuild and grow businesses. AV as a Service has been a buzz term for many years but those flexible financing and leasing options are needed more than ever because they allow for cash flow. This gives the integrator or reseller the ability to pursue larger, long-term installation opportunities as they open up, provide the latest technology, labor services and recycling/replacement options without any capital expenses.

Look for Part 2 to these questions, coming next week. We’ve reached out to Almo’s Business Development Managers who are SMEs on many of the inquired about topics relating to moving forward in a hybrid world.

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