Teams and Zoom combined in hybrid solution

News item: February 10, 2021

This article has been reposted from AV Magazine (Guy Campos).

UK-based Videocentric has developed Focus Arena which combines Teams and Zoom Rooms and other cloud-based apps into a single package, allowing users to select their preferred mode.

Cloud collaboration and videconferencing solutions integrator Videocentric has developed a new hybrid solution which combines Microsoft Teams and Zoom Rooms into one installed package, allowing users to select their preferred mode. The Focus Arena solution also allows for alternative apps such as Webex, BlueJeans, Lifesize, Pexip, GoTo Meeting and Google Meet to use the same room camera and audio system.

Launching Focux Arena, Videocentric explained that collaboration bars supporting multiple applications were launched in 2020 but users’ expectations were dashed when they found that they were focused on futureproofing an investment and needed to be reconfigured by the IT department, as opposed to allowing a user to walk into a room and simply select the required mode to join a Zoom or Teams conference call.

The Focus Arena solution uses one PTZ Camera (with either 5x or 12x zoom), one set of wireless microphones and one speaker, changing seamlessly between platforms on demand. A single touch controller is switched between Microsoft’s MTR interface and Zoom’s Room interface and allows for integrated camera control.

David Shimell sales director at VideoCentric, commented: ”Users don’t care what is going on behind the scenes, as long as it works. They get invited to a Teams or Zoom meeting and simply want to join it; not to be told they don’t have the right licences, or they need to contact IT, or wait for two or three restarts to occur. So, we set about developing a single solution based on components that were already certified by Microsoft and Zoom and where we could add our little bit of magic, based on a simple 1-2-3 approach.”

The three-step approach is:

  1. Power ON Displays
  2. Select MODE (e.g. Teams, Zoom, BYOD or Interactive Whiteboard)
  3. Press JOIN

The new solution is named Focus Arena because it offers a focus on Microsoft Teams Room (MTR) and Zoom Rooms capabilities for primary meeting room usage, while its arena offers a wide selection of desktop apps that employees or guests might wish to use instead, such as Webex, GoTo Meeting, Lifesize, Google Meet, BlueJeans, Pexip, Teams desktop, Zoom desktop or others, whether they be pre-installed on a meeting room NUC, an interactive whiteboard or brought into the room by participants on their own Windows laptops or Macbooks.

Two camera variants are offered at launch but others will follow in 2021, together with a wireless BYOD option. With only one Cat 6 cable to the table plus wireless microphones and wireless presentation sharing, cable management is already minimal but for those with solid floor or glass tables, VideoCentric will install a completely wire-free solution at the same price.

VideoCentric’s Thames Valley showroom is already demonstrating the full flexibility and ease of use of Focus Arena to remote participants. From full Teams Room and Zoom Rooms focus, to a wide arena of desktop capabilities on NUC and portable BYOD, orders are now being taken for installations during March 2021.

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