Video calls change the way I work – so much so, that “phone only” conversations seem so much less productive, and more importantly, less human. So naturally I had to try the new HP MyRoom – and it my first impression is, “Wow – this takes “desktop video conferencing” to a whole new level.
When you work with people around the world like I do, plain old telephone conference calls can be problematic. Some countries charge people for incoming calls, and connections are not always crystal clear. It’s no surprise that IP telephony has taken off, especially free services like Skype or Google Chat. The added bonus of VIDEO “phone calls” makes the conversation more human, and it adds back some of the missing “body language” that helps us communicate.
But in many cases, it’s not just about conversation – it’s about collaboration. Enter an HP MyRoom, and you’ll begin to see why I like it:
- The analogy of a “phone call” is replaced by “a meeting”. You don’t “call someone” – you bring (click and drag) your contacts into your room. Once you’re together, you not only get voice and webcam video, but it’s a “room” that holds our important stuff. In fact, the items in your room are still there when you come back.
- The desktop sharing seems to work better than simple webcam conference calling services. When you’re sharing a presentation or part of your desktop, you can still see each other in small live video thumbnails.
- It’s easy.
It’s also free – at least the basic version that allows 1:1 meetings (see www.myroom.hp.com for details). For a very nominal fee, you can get premium services:
- Rooms that hold 4, 10, or 25 people at once
- Recording functions
- Translation functions (!)
I’m particularly intrigued by the translation function, especially because I’m often talking to people who graciously speak in English even though they might prefer otherwise. With the SpeechTrans option, you can supercharge the text chat channel in your room. For users that have the premium SpeechTrans service enabled, they can:
- Automatically translate chat messages that are posted to you but in a different language
- Automatically (or on demand) have chat messages READ to you (great for those with visual limitations – or those of us prone to multitask and hide the room under another “task”)
- Enter chat messages by speaking (another great accessibility plus)
- Do all three, and essentially get translated speech to speech chat
NOTE: A free trial of SpeechTrans is currently being offered. Now’s your chance.
I, for one, am thrilled to see Desktop Video Conferencing getting better. It’s more than just hanging out, and more than just a call. In fact, I think we need to call it something else – perhaps, “Getting Stuff Done Together When We’re Not Nearby”…
Jim Vanides, B.S.M.E, M.Ed.
Global Education Program Manager
Sustainability & Social Innovation