Hybrid meetings and augmenting meeting rooms

Created fall 2021

Hybrid meetings include both online and in-office participants. Meeting rooms with a large screen (data projector or “tv” type display) used with Microsoft Teams allow people in the meeting room to see remote participants. If the room does not have speakers and/or room microphones, an individual in the room can use their laptop for both, depending on room size. To further augment rooms for hybrid meetings, there are cost-effective, moveable solutions. Permanent (fixed) solutions are convenient but come at a higher cost. For design and equipment selection consultation, contact ITMS Presentation Technology Services (ITMS-PTS) at eclass@uwaterloo.ca.

Due to a high volume of inquiries for our services, we may redirect requests for fixed solutions to external integrators.

High level tips

  • Room audio is the most critical aspect for attendees on both sides of a hybrid meeting.

  • Room cameras add an immersive aspect to hybrid meetings but add expense over audio-only.

    • Most critical to a successful video collaboration is room lighting.

  • If a fixed/permanent installation (audio or video) is desired, standardization is key to success.

    • Standards make it easier to support and consistency makes it easier for room users.

  • Technology tips

    • Avoid wireless solutions for video when possible, including Bluetooth.

    • Avoid hardware that requires special drivers, choose those that are platform agnostic. This allows the user’s computer to automatically setup the added devices, without special installation.

More detailed tips

  • Room audio is the most critical aspect for attendees on both sides of a hybrid meeting. Microphones come in an array of types, each designed to address specific configurations and situations. Choosing appropriate hardware for a hybrid meeting room will allow the remote and local participants to hold natural conversations, without "loud-speaking", "we can barely hear you", and other intelligibility problems.

  • Room cameras add an immersive aspect to hybrid meetings. Straight on one-to-one head shots, wide angle table views of all room participants, and panning and tilting cameras to capture active speakers in the whole room, can all be used to add an immersive touch.

  • Most critical to a successful video collaboration is room lighting. Poor lighting means a camera view is likely to be a distraction rather than a positive addition to a hybrid meeting. A simple face-forward soft light works to address forehead hot-spotting, “raccoon eyes” (yes, these are the technical terms), and other problems that prevent a natural feel to the connection.

Examples of audio-only solutions

Small room

Costs range depending on aesthetic and cable management from $120 – $600+

Portable solution

  • Plantronics Calisto 3200

    • $120+

Fixed/permanent installation

  • With a TV (65” or larger) and a Crestron UC-SB1, a USB-based soundbar with a built-in microphone array; USB can be plugged into a local PC, or local laptop

    • $600+, + cable management as needed + possible installation costs

  • If no TV, or prefer table solution, use Portable solution but install as fixed

Medium to Large Room

Costs range depending on aesthetic and cable management: $1,000 – $5,000+

Portable

  • Logitech Group without a camera

    • $1,000+

Fixed install

  • Shure Stem

    • Level of integration into the room, and room size and shape, greatly affect the cost

    • $3,000 - $5,000+

Examples of audio and camera solutions

Small room

Costs range depending on aesthetic and cable management: $800 – $1,200

Portable

  • Logitech CONNECT, Owl Labs Owl PRO

    • $800 – $1,200

Fixed install

  • With a TV (65” or larger), Crestron UC-SB1-CAM – a USB-based soundbar built-in microphone array and camera; USB can be plugged into local PC, or local laptop

    • $850+, + whatever cable management needed + possible installation costs

    • If no TV, or prefer table solution, use Portable solution but install as fixed

Medium to large rooms

Costs range depending on aesthetic and cable management: $1,400 – $10,000+

Portable

  • Logitech Group, Owl Labs Owl PRO

  • $1,400+

Fixed install

  • Varies greatly by what equipment is already installed, level of integration, desired aesthetic, room size and shape, and lighting requirements; all equipment standardized to a Crestron interface

    • Q-sys

    • Shure

    • Vaddio

    • Typically, $5,000 – $10,000+

For design and equipment selection consultation, contact ITMS Presentation Technology Services (ITMS-PTS) at eclass@uwaterloo.ca.

Due to a high volume of inquiries for our services, we may redirect requests for fixed solutions to external integrators.

Need help?

Contact eclass@uwaterloo.ca for assistance.