Creating a basic Zoom Room couldn’t be easier. You get a computer, connect a display, keyboard, and mouse, and then install the Zoom Room software on the computer. Once you register the room and iPad (or another control device capable of running Zoom Room), you’re in business. In fact, a few weeks back, I had a “WOW!” moment when I installed a Zoom Room in under five minutes. Granted, they had the computer ready to go, and an iPad at the ready. This is the utopian AV setup many groups have been looking for.
But… what happens when you attempt to integrate a Zoom Room in an existing space with a more-robust traditional AV system? Oh, and the AV system was installed by an external AV integrator. Well, things become a bit more interesting, complex, and expensive. We sat down with a local AV integrator to sketch out just what this would look like in an existing space, as this is a bit of a shift in the industry.
The Easy Part
The content and video part is rather straightforward. The Zoom Room interface will need to be feed to the AV system, which will route the signal to the display or projector. A camera and content feed will need to be feed from the AV system to the Zoom Room, which will most likely require a few dongles (again, this is rather easy). If you’re lucky, your AV system will have the extra capacity (extra HDMI inputs/outputs) to handle this upgrade without the need for additional cards or splitting video signals using a distribution amplifier.
The Not So Easy Part
Now comes the interesting part… audio. Zoom Rooms shine when the computer manages everything (cameras, mics, speakers, etc.), but when deploying a Zoom Room in an existing space, the audio needs to be integrated so that the rooms acoustic echo cancelation (AEC) doesn’t play havoc with the Zoom Room’s echo cancelation. It’s usually easy to spot an issue as the audio in the Zoom Room will have an “elastic” or “warble” sound, which usually ramps up when the conversation speeds up. For this part, you really need someone that understands audio and the audio program.
Also, when integrating a Zoom Room, you’ll need to decide how you’d like to handle the control of the Zoom Room. Some touch panels are capable of switching between the Zoom Room interface and an existing program, but that may be a bit too complex for some users. The alternative is to have two control systems in the room, one for the AV system, and one for the Zoom Room. This setup isn’t ideal.
Pro Tips for Integrating a Zoom Room into an Existing AV Space
- Work with a local AV consultant to give you a general sense of how difficult the integration will be. Does your existing system have extra capacity? Will your existing audio configuration be compatible with Zoom? How many screens do you plan on using? Etc. etc. etc. (Psssss, if you work at Duke, you have a group on campus that offers that service for FREE!!!). They will be able to detail a base cost associated with the install and may be able to sketch out the design upgrade you can pass along to the AV integrator.
- Pass that design sketch to your AV integrator. They will most likely have additional questions, such as: Who will support the Zoom Room, who is buying the computer, how will users interface with the Zoom Room, etc.
- Get a quote from the AV integrator.
- Approve the project and install!
We are actively monitoring a number of spaces integrating Zoom Rooms, so stay tuned for updates over the coming months.