We’re all going to be video conferencing more – here’s what needs to happen

COVID-19 has fundamentally changed the way that we work.

Now that parts of the economy are opening up, and the restrictions that were put in place to limit the spread of the disease have started to ease, many of us are going to discover a "new normal" for work. One that is more remote and heavily reliant on video conferencing.

Analyst firm, Gartner, found that 41% of employees -- nearly half of the workforce -- will continue to participate in remote working going forwards. The offices will re-open and be an option when needed, but the home or remote office is going to become a more standard way of working. The reason for this is clear: Remote working improves productivity and results in an additional 1.4 working days per month, benefitting both businesses and employees that enjoy a better work-life balance and greater morale in their job.

For remote working to be effective, however, there's one technology that's absolutely essential and that's conferencing – both voice and video. There's a reason that conferencing specialist, Zoom, has seen a boom in demand since the COVID-19 pandemic hit; meetings and interactions are much more effective over video than just voice.

In short, remote work is going to become a permanent part of how we get things done. However, remote working can only be effective with the right tools. Video conferencing is one of the most important of these tools. This is where Shure's IntelliMix technology comes in, providing the underpinning technology that allows for the clearest, most seamless, and most productive communication. 


How to get better meeting room audio and communicate with a distributed workforce

Good conferencing needs more than a simple laptop and webcam -- that might do in a pinch for a quick meeting on the run, but for important meetings and interactions there needs to be better clarity for both visual and, particularly, audio, in order to make sure communications are clear and understandable.

For example, those productivity gains that are promised through remote working are lost if, through a video conferencing meeting, details are missed due to poor voice quality, which could mean that those details need to be repeated at a later point. Or, in a worst-case scenario, mistakes are made based on faulty or incomplete understanding.

There are any number of potential causes for distortions to sound, which are different to the video side of conferencing technologies. Video only requires a fast internet connection and a reasonable camera to convey the footage clearly. Voice, meanwhile, can easily become distorted through echoes in the room, background noise, or low quality microphones.

IntelliMix® by Shure is a solution that has been designed to minimise background noise, prevent echoes caused by talkback being re-broadcast through the system, and boost the intelligibility of the voice to make communicating a much more natural, seamless process during video conference meetings.

The key features in the IntelliMix solution include Shure's proprietary Digital Signal Processing (DSP) technology, which helps deliver a premium audio experience through automatic mixing, acoustic echo cancellation, and automatic gain control. Whether it's one room or a thousand, the smart audio processing can handle any acoustic challenge and is fully compatible with popular video conferencing applications such as Zoom, Cisco, and Teams.

It's also critically important to consider security when using Voice over IP (VoIP) in a professional setting. VoIP is vulnerable to denial of service attacks, eavesdropping, phishing, malware, among other hacking attacks, and it is one of the most common vectors in which attacks arise. IntelliMix is a solution to this challenge too, as Shure Network Audio encryption leverages AES-256 security technology and other security best practices between Shure devices, meaning that sensitive information can be discussed with confidence.

To find out more about Shure IntelliMix® solutions, click here.

Building better conferencing environments

Ideally, you want to have a specifically dedicated room for video conferencing. Doing so will allow you to tailor the environment to maximise the quality of the voice through the microphones, thereby eliminating distracting elements that might compromise the quality of any call. 

Some other considerations for designing (creating?) an effective conferencing environment are as follows:

  • Make good use of natural lighting, as well as artificial lights that can be controlled based on time of day, so that the picture is always clear.
  • Install a Shure MXA310 Tabletop microphone, or a Shure MXA910 Ceiling microphone with IntelliMix so that you can deliver leading voice quality without having to worry about placing multiple microphones throughout the room.
  • Make use of acoustic wall panels and ceiling tiles to maintain clarity of voice.
  • Make use of audio processing technology. For example, the Shure IntelliMix® P300 Audio Conferencing Processor or the software-based version, IntelliMix Room, both feature automated noise reduction and audio mixing, which helps to minimise noise distractions when multiple microphones are active at once. This helps to deliver a consistency and clarity of voice for each individual speaker, meaning that those boisterous meetings are much less a confusing mass of noise that they might otherwise be.

Systems integrators benefit from the Shure IntelliMix solution and technology too, as the systems are effectively plug-and-play, and feature native integration with Shure's networked microphones, meaning that installations are speedy and simple, allowing them to undertake a greater number of installations at a lower cost.

The IntelliMix Room software solution, which can be downloaded and deployed directly to the in-room PC in seconds, further improves the quality, ease of use, and management of the audio-conferencing environment for systems integrators. CAPEX, or Capital Expenditure, can also be reduced by moving IntelliMix Room software licensing into Operating Expenditure, or OPEX, along with other software licensing, allowing greater transparency of costs and assets for businesses. 

Video conferencing is going to continue to grow to be a standard part of business communications. As one report found, over 62 million video conferencing apps were downloaded within a single week in March. However, for video conferencing to be effective, the delivery of visuals and, in particular, sound needs to be of high quality so mistakes aren't made and technology doesn't become a liability.

Find out more on how Shure IntelliMix® can deliver better video conferencing audio for all your meetings.