So the other day my neighbor asked me, “Hey Mat, I’m having a problem. When I join a virtual meeting and the other team members are at the office, I can’t read the stuff on the whiteboard. It’s either too blurry, the lines are faded, or it’s just a lot of glare from the lights and windows. How can I solve this?” Besides writing more legibly…
Or just go into the office too since they’re all there.
Oh, hell no.
Anyway, I have a few solutions which will actually solve this problem for you. Watch closely, and I’ll show you how to take your good old whiteboard into the digital realm. All of that on this episode of All Hands on Tech.
In today’s business world, it’s all about a hybrid workspace. How can we make it like we’re all in the same room when we’re not in the same room? How can we use the tools we normally use even though some of these tools weren’t designed for the virtual world?
Take the whiteboard as an example. What kind of whiteboarder are you? Are you the type who points the laptop at the whiteboard as if that’s going to help, or did you plug in a snazzy webcam so we would look crisper? Or are you the one taking photos with your phone and sending them to all the attendees just so they can see what you wrote after you’ve finished writing it and having the discussion?
Well, you’ll be happy to know there are solutions, and in this episode of All Hands on Tech, we take one of the options, whiteboard cameras, for a test drive. Test drive is just a metaphor. We’re not actually driving. Now one of the biggest problem with remote hybrid meetings, aside from not getting those pastries… I miss those pastries. Sorry. It’s the functionality of the whiteboard. As a technical employee, I deal with development, diagrams, networking diagrams, process diagrams, and working with different teams, it really helps to paint a picture rather than just talk verbally and hope everyone understood what you meant.
A whiteboard is imperative for a brainstorming session. Sure, you can see it perfectly on this end, and so long as everyone’s in the room, it’s great, but what about people from the other end? We now work in a world where people are scattered across the country. You still need them to be able to brainstorm with you.
Today we’re going to look at the Logitech Scribe, an AI powered whiteboard camera designed for video conferencing rooms and built for hybrid work and classrooms. The Scribe is a part of Logitech’s conference room solutions, which include webcams for full room coverage, touch panels to launch meetings, and audio solutions for optimal audio conferencing. You can read all about the rest of the Logitech suite and their video conferencing solutions on our Logitech Hub at itworldcanada.com.
Now, let’s start with the specs. Let’s be real. I’m just going to cover a couple that actually matter to me. If you want to know all about the details, dimensions, go look on the Logitech website. Now, the Scribe uses a 1080p camera. Also, the Scribe is designed for whiteboards that are six feet by four feet. Our whiteboard is larger than six feet by four feet, so I placed a few markers around the board to indicate the boundaries of the camera, so when anyone’s writing, they know not to go past the line.
Now, the Scribe connects to your meetings in three ways. A meeting room controller, a share button, or simply plugging a USB cable into a computer, which makes the Scribe be recognized as a camera, and then you can just use it in Zoom, Teams, Meet, WebEx, whatever comes next, because all these conferencing solutions accept a USB camera.
Now, most importantly and my favorite feature, the killer feature, it doesn’t actually kill. AI doesn’t mean it’s going to kill. The Scribe requires virtually no training at all. Whiteboard cameras are nice and easy. Basically, if you can operate a whiteboard, you can operate a whiteboard camera. Now, you will have to provide some basic training on how to use the camera in your meetings, but really who hasn’t used a camera before?
Installation of the Scribe is really simple, and Logitech has a great video that you can find on their YouTube channel. The installation will take a bit of planning, however. It is fairly simple, but there’s a few things you want to consider. You will have to budget some time to run your cabling and to cable manage. You want to keep your boardroom presentable. Now, the scribe uses standard CAT5e cables, which make things pretty easy and cost effective. You can buy a network cable anywhere or you can have it installed for you. It’s powered by a regular plug that serves as a POE adapter. The network cable also runs the power. Now, it’s no secret that to fix a lot of IT issues, you just turn it off and back on. So to make that easy, make sure that the POE adapter is accessible.
One thing we found was, and one of the options suggested by Logitech is to use a boardroom computer. We opted not to because in our previous office, the keyboard and the mouse, they walked away all the time. So rather than have that problem, everyone already has a laptop and they’re very portable. You don’t need a boardroom computer anymore.
Now, let’s see this thing in action. As mentioned, this part requires zero training and you can have Post-it notes if that’s your groove. Now, one great thing about the Scribe is you can manage all your Logitech devices in one console. Logitech calls it Sync. And it allows you to do remote firmware updates and basic troubleshooting. This is great for your IT department or solution provider.
Now, the camera’s robust AI helps in a number of ways. For one, it does a phenomenal job making the picture much crisper and it eliminates glare. As you can see, this whole side of our boardroom is window and sunlight gets in all the time. We have lights outside of this wall. There’s always glare on this board. And get this. The AI can even remove you from the picture, so the remote audience doesn’t have you blocking them. It doesn’t actually solve the problem of you blocking the board from your team inside of here, but I’ve made a feature request to Logitech. They’ve promised they’re going to fix it in the next release.
Now, to be fair, the Logitech Scribe is one solution for hybrid whiteboarding. There are other whiteboard cameras such as the Kaptivo, Huddly, and ShareTheBoard. Huddly and Kaptivo are similar to the Scribe, but what differentiates the Scribe is the Logitech smart boardroom suite of products and the unified interface that manages all of them. There are also native drawing apps built in into Zoom and Microsoft Teams. There’s also the new Microsoft Whiteboard app and even Apple’s upcoming application, Freeform. These are good products and easily accessible. They also don’t require much training. For us at ITWC, the Scribe has become our solution and it’s a valuable addition to our hybrid meetings. It is a bit pricier than some of the other options, but hey, I didn’t pay for it. I mean, you get what you pay for.
Now, a few things to keep in mind. If you are a MSP, keep in mind that you have to plan for installation and everyone’s boardroom is different. But luckily as a good MSP, you know your clients and their infrastructure. So make sure you plan the install and add it to the budget for the rollout of a whiteboard camera.
That’s it for this episode. Good luck in choosing your own solution, young Jedi.
May the force be with you.
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