Bringing videoconferencing into the enterprise was supposed to solve a host of communications problems.

However, just putting a camera and a microphone in a room full of people can start a chain of problems on their own: What if people move around?

Polycom Inc. thinks it’s solved that difficulty with its EagleEye Director, a software-based camera tracker for its HDX-series systems that links two cameras with voice and facial recognition. Combined with a horizontal microphone array, it can follow a moving speaker or fade in and out from one speaker to another.

As a result, says Jim Kruger, the company’s vice-president of solutions marketing, a speaker in a videoconference can roam across a stage or walk up to a whiteboard and keep viewers’ attention.

 “It solves an age-old problem in the conference room where you have what we call the ‘bowling alley effect – a large room with people around a table. If the camera doesn’t focus on the speaker you don’t get the full benefit on videoconferencing.”

 There are other two-camera systems, Polycom says, but they require someone to pan cameras manually by remote control.

The Director is an option on new HDX systems. Companies that already have a single-camera HDX system can upgrade to a base unit and a second camera.

The Director uses two of Polycom’s Eagle Eye II or III cameras, which sit on a base that’s approximately 19.2” (H) x 25.3” (W) x 5.6” (D). In between is a tall, narrow microphone array with seven pickups. It plugs into the HDX control box with an HDCI ord and an audio cable.

The system is recommended for rooms up to 25 by 25 feet.

“It really changes the dynamics of videoconferencing in larger rooms because it makes it more personalized,” said Kruger.

Pricing of the Director starts at US$8,499.

The company also announced the HDX 4500 desktop videoconference system, built around 24-in. LCD monitor. While some might think it big for a desktop, Kruger said the advantage is up to four persons could be accommodated within the range of the camera on top of the monitor, making it unnecessary to book a conference room.

It can handle 1080p High Definiton video. Like other HDX products, it uses up to 50 per cent less bandwidth than earlier VC systems by taking advantage of H.264 High Profile video compression.

It can also be licenced to use Polycom’s optional MPPlus multipoint software for extending point-to-point to multi-point video conferencing.

The HDX 4500 lists at US$11,999.


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Howard Solomon
Howard Solomon
Currently a freelance writer, I'm the former editor of ITWorldCanada.com and Computing Canada. An IT journalist since 1997, I've written for several of ITWC's sister publications including ITBusiness.ca and Computer Dealer News. Before that I was a staff reporter at the Calgary Herald and the Brampton (Ont.) Daily Times. I can be reached at hsolomon [@] soloreporter.com

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