Innovations Introduced at InfoComm 2017
Touch Annotation and Skype for Business Added to Growing List of Integrations and Capabilities for Mezzanine.
Touch annotation on the Mezzanine 200 Series opens up new and better ways to work together. Unlike many digital whiteboard solutions, which only enable annotation over a single directly connected device, Mezzanine allows annotation over multiple wired and wirelessly connected streams simultaneously. Collaborators can annotate over graphics or live video, including live video feeds of analog whiteboards in other locations. Instant screen captures of annotated content deliver new assets directly into the workspace portfolio on the fly, which is great for later reference and download.
"Teams that use Mezzanine collaborate more effectively because they do not have to wait for a turn or switch modes or ask for permission to do anything", says Navjot Singh, Chief Product Officer at Oblong Industries. "Participants can be in a video chat and be whiteboarding, sharing applications and documents all at the same time. When designing our touch-based annotation experience, we were able to retain that delightful experience. Users will now be able to walk up and start drawing at any time, with multiple users on multiple screens. It's a natural extension of our capabilities."
Oblong CEO John Underkoffler adds, “Oblong wrote the book on gesture, and direct pointing via Mezzanine’s spatial wand is the most powerful way to move, arrange, and interact with content around a room. Touch is an important proximity-based case of gesture; today we’re excited to add annotation to Mezzanine’s interaction arsenal -- for quickly marking up whatever’s on a screen, touch is obvious, immediate, and gratifying. The addition further amplifies the unbeatable value Mezzanine brings to collaborative work, presentation, and decision-making.”
Also available for delivery in Q3 are integrations with popular enterprise utilities that are a part of the Microsoft ecosystem, including calendar integration with Microsoft Exchange and video integration with Skype for Business. It’s easy to schedule and start Mezzanine meetings with these familiar enterprise tools, enabling remote collaborators to join directly from their Skype client, or for rooms to connect with a Skype meeting ID.
The slate of hardware and software innovations for Mezzanine have brought the opening price point down below $50K, making it more accessible to more teams in more places. Earlier this year, Oblong announced innovations that make Mezzanine swift to install, including bezel-mounted optical gesture-tracking which requires no ceiling remediation, and a smaller hardware footprint to support more Mezzanine configurations and easy in-room installation. The rich feature set of Mezzanine is unparalleled in the industry, providing not just an engaging wow-factor for presentations but real utility for collaborators doing important work, the kind that relies on visual information and complex data sets for teams across the enterprise.
Oblong’s integration partners reacted enthusiastically to the new features presented at InfoComm. In a formal survey of partner integrators who visited the booth, two-thirds said they plan to bring a customer into an Oblong demo center in the next 30 days. The same respondents also indicated that they find Mezzanine 200 appropriate to the business needs of 80% of their clients. Of special note to AV integrators was the introduction of a new “Mezzanine 200 In a Box” Partner Kit, which complements a choice of display screen, VTC, and other peripherals preferred by integrators and their customers. Industry watchers at InfoComm hailed the news with tweets, stories, rAVe clips, and even a podcast.
Working with Watson
The goal of each Watson Experience Center—located in New York, San Francisco, and Cambridge—is to demystify AI and challenge visitor’s expectations through more tangible demonstrations of Watson technology. Visitors are guided through a series of narratives and data interfaces, each grounded in IBM’s current capabilities in machine learning and AI. These sit alongside a host of Mezzanine rooms where participants further collaborate to build solutions together.
The process for creating each experience begins with dynamic, collaborative research. Subject matter experts take members of the design and engineering teams through real-world scenarios—disaster response, financial crimes investigation, oil and gas management, product research, world news analysis—where we identify and test applicable data sets. From there, we move our ideas quickly to scale.
Accessibility to the immersive pixel canvas for everyone involved is key to the process. Designers must be able to see their ideas outside of the confines of 15″ laptops and prescriptive software. Utilizing tools tuned for rapid iteration at scale, our capable team of designers, data artists, and engineers work side-by-side to envision and define each experience. The result is more than a polished marketing narrative; it's an active interface that allows the exploration of data with accurate demonstrations of Watson’s capabilities—one that customers can see themselves in.
Under the Hood
Underlying the digital canvas is a robust spatial operating environment, g‑speak, which allows our team to position real data in a true spatial context. Every data point within the system, and even the UI itself, is defined in real world coordinates (measured in millimeters, not pixels). Gestures, directional pointing, and proximity to screens help us create interfaces that more closely understand user intent and more effectively humanize the UI.
This award-nominated collaboration with IBM is prototyped and developed at scale at Oblong’s headquarters in Los Angeles as well as IBM’s Immersive AI Lab in Austin. While these spaces are typically invite-only, IBM is increasingly open to sharing the content and the unique design ideas that drive its success with the public. This November, during Austin Design Week, IBM will host a tour of their Watson Immersive AI Lab, including live demonstrations of the work and a Q&A session with leaders from the creative team.
Can't make it to Austin? Contact our Solutions team for a glimpse of our vision of the future at our headquarters in the Arts District in Los Angeles.