Interview with Expert – Conference Mics

David – Today I’m delighted to be with a special guest, Jim Seretis, from Biamp Australia. I’ve known Jim for about 10 years now. He’s an Audio Expert and has so much experience in professional audio in many different fields and industries. I know you’ve given me some great advise along the way. So, it’s great to have you here. Today, we’re going to be talking specifically about workplace. And even more specifically about huddle or collaboration spaces in workplace and the importance of audio. I think you’ve been seeing some trends in recent times in this area. Can you tell us a little bit more about that?

Jim – Sure! Well, thanks for having me. You are right. It’s a bit of a passion of mine as we now see spaces going from what we call static spaces to dynamic spaces. And the biggest trends are driven by the personal devices we have like through our phones, our laptops, etc. And also the metrics of the end users and customers who are wanting to utilise those spaces as possible as they can. We know for a fact that the estimate is about a million rooms a year that get refreshed worldwide, and we’re not talking new rooms. People want these type of flexible, collaborative huddle spaces etc. Effective what they are, the spaces are where people are away from their desks of their normal workplace and actually having a meeting but most importantly trying to have it very effectively and naturally.

David – So how do you see the importance of audio in this type of space because quite often they are out of the open and collaboration, over some sort of a conference call environment is what people are expecting or wanting. How hard is that to achieve or what’s important for them to consider to achieve that?

Jim – As a one on one, we use our phones with soft codecs like Skype for Business, Zoom these days and many many other of those technologies. And on one to one, it works really well with a computer, or a laptop, or your phone. But as we start to bring more people in to that Meeting Room, we’re starting to share information and have a different conference call. The audio does not really behave the way you wanted to because of the physicality of the room, the acoustics, noise and the simple fact that we’ve got very small microphones and speakers in the products we use that don’t adhere nicely to a bigger space. So, those are challenges we need to address.

David – Do you have any specific recommendations, or how to address those challenges, or product types that we are aware of?

Jim – It’s interesting, probably, luckily what’s happening these days is technologies becoming more advanced. We’re becoming more networkable in terms on how we do IP network product for video and audio but also we’ve seen huge advancements in beamforming like with microphones and speakers where we can electronically steer that particular device. Let say, microphone with its elements as needed in that space. Now, that works really well. There are many technologies out there that allow you to create, let say, a footprint of a particular environment. And that’s based on the information and the technology we have but Biamp are a firm believer that technology shouldn’t dictate where you can have a meeting. We see it the other way. The people should dictate where to have a meeting and hence, the technology should follow you.

So, Biamp address this by bringing out a Beamforming Microphone which is, and I state in this in a strong word, a TRACKING MICROPHONE. So, this particular device will lock on to your voice and follow you in the room. So, naturally the idea being that you walk in a room, you can stand up, you can do whatever you need to do and you know you’ll be heard in a way that’s natural on the far end or locally but also doesn’t feel distance. The biggest problem I’ve seen that in Meeting Room is, besides the acoustics, people always sound distant. And the reason is because physics dictate that the best way of the microphone is right next to your mouth. Where, this technology basically follows in the room but also dynamically lift and lower levels accordingly as needed. So, if someone’s shouting, if someone’s quiet, i’s always dynamically chasing them which is fantastic.

David – Yeah, absolutely. I guess, that opens up now a realm of possibilities which weren’t really there before. So, if I’m a designer such as an architect, or maybe a builder looking at workplace at the moment, I could conceivably be considering these more open spaces as Video Conferencing or Teleconferencing Spaces for small teams.

Jim – Absolutely! I think that the other things driving you too, there are lots of times we’ve seen these ad hoc spaces or new enterprises having their lighting, and their ceilings are part of the architecture now. And so, sometimes you can’t put products where you need to. You need to put a product where they suggest it needs to go and having a product that will actually follow you in the room instead of having something that physically just covers an area has its advantage.

David – Well Jim, how can people find out more about some of these products that Biamp has to offer?

Jim – Well, I guess, we obviously do a lot of things like YouTube TV, we have a lot of fantastic articles, through yourself, of course, and knowing the technology and what’s been used. But the technology is available. There are show rooms here in Sydney with certain integrators, obviously with the distributor as well. But the technology, if you need to have a look at it, the best way is to listen to it. And so, I probably suggest and invite anyone, through yourself and others, to give us a call and we can actually set up a demonstration and you will seriously hear the difference.

David – And that’s what we want with audio, to hear the difference. Sounds like a great plan. Well thanks for coming in Jim. We really appreciate your time and your expertise today. And for those watching, that’s definitely the new way to design your collaboration spaces. Focusing on the audio and taking advantage of this new beamforming technology. That companies like Biamp have to offer.

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