In our previous blog posts we discussed the ultimate UCC solution and some misconceptions about AV-over-IP in UCC spaces. Although AV-over-IP solutions are not often considered for UCC spaces, we introduced how they could be extremely beneficial in conference rooms, provided that a solution solved some common pain points. If you have not yet read our previous posts, please check them out as it provides a great deal of context (https://www.mimomonitors.com/blogs/mimo-news/evaluating-needs-for-the-ultimate-av-over-ip-solution-in-ucc-spaces and https://www.mimomonitors.com/blogs/mimo-news/imagining-av-over-ip-in-ucc-spaces and https://www.mimomonitors.com/blogs/mimo-news/misconceptions-of-using-av-over-ip-in-ucc-spaces). In this post, we are going to look at the first AV-over-IP solution for UCC spaces, the Google Meet Series One touch controller (https://meetingdevices.withgoogle.com/seriesone/).
The Series One Google Meet hardware kit from Lenovo introduced the concept of AV-over-IP to UCC spaces for touch displays. The concept of this device was conceived through a collaboration between Mimo Monitors and Google, who were looking to truly take conference room solutions to a currently unmatched level in the market (The industrial design was Google’s to match the rest of the Series One hardware). It was a ground-up custom solution for Google and Lenovo, but the knowledge learned can be leveraged into future products that can take this promise of AV-over-IP solutions even further.
The Series One touch controller solves many, but not all, of the issues previously discussed, making it a very viable and good solution for conference rooms. In our previous post, we discussed these as potential issues of AV-over-IP in UCC spaces. Here we will lay out some of the strong benefits this solution presents, exploring the only currently available AV-over-IP touch controller solution currently on the market:
Cables: The Series One touch controller is a clear winner over traditional displays in this regard. There is only one cable, a standard Cat5e 5-meter UTP Ethernet cable. This cable provides the power to the unit, the video data for the display, and the touch information back to the host computer. The Series One touch controller plugs directly into the compute device for a solution as seamless as it is simple. The touch controller supports cable lengths up to 100m, so if desired, any ethernet cable can be used at any length less than 100 meters. This provides ubiquitous and intuitive cabling in the conference room, which is a common pain point.
Cost: While Mimo Monitors does not control the retail price of a Lenovo product, and at the time of this writing, the touch controller is not available outside of the entire kit, cost is not a significant factor. The Series One is available WITHOUT the touch controller for $2,699 and WITH the touch controller for $2,999, and while this $300 difference in retail cost may not be 100% reflective of the cost of the controller, it is a strong indication that the controller cost is well under the previously discussed ideal $1000 target.
Installation architecture: There is no difference in the way the system is architected. The touch controller is ‘just a display’ to the host computer, and to the room architect, the only difference is that the cabling is different. The new cabling is much easier to install, manage, and support, so it is a change that can easily be understood. The rest of the controller functions as-normal making for a seamless transition.
Features: This solution although it does not integrate all the features of the ultimate solution, has all the required features of a touch controller. Most importantly interactive touch data is sent back to the host as a standard HID touch controller, so has been implemented without any additional driver requirements.
Reliability: Uptime is of utmost importance in an enterprise conference space and the touch controller is no exception to this requirement. The Series One touch controller is built on well understood networking components that have been around for literally decades. The display was then put through extensive reliability of testing with HALT, Environmental, drop, vibration, temperature and many other tests. In addition, the software systems have been extensively tested, and there is intelligence inside the touch controller to detect and report the overall health of the system.
Latency, Resolution, Decoding, Compression, Bandwidth: I am going to discuss these combined. In short, all of these issues are resolved. The industrial design of the Series One touch controller, while elegant, does not leave much room for electronics, or ways to mitigate high power heat generation. As such, the power and size requirements are all minimized. There are no external boxes, and all the decoding and power requirements are inside the source PC or the touch display. The latency is much less than 100 mS and the display supports lossless video, giving full 1280x800 pixel-for-pixel full resolution. While this solution does not support 4k resolutions, that was not a requirement for this touch display. In addition, while the Series One Meet kit has been designed for a point-to-point connection, if the data were sent across a network, the bandwidth requirements are low, especially for static images since only new pixel data is sent.
But in these areas, the Series One comes up just a bit short of the ultimate solution we’re imagining and have been discussing in the last few posts. The following are features of the ultimate solution that are not supported by the Series One touch controller:
HDMI Capture: The biggest missing feature is that the Series One touch controller does not support HDMI capture and in some installations an HDMI capture component is required. While wireless sharing hardware is available and online sharing is possible in most video platforms, both of these require steps and support beyond a very easy ‘plug in a cable’. It is also secure, since it does not require wireless connections to unknown systems. However, adding this feature would now require that the AV-over-IP display send video data in both directions over the same cable, and it is still the case that no currently available AV-over-IP implementation supports two-way video transmission.
Additional Devices: I had previously written “Imagine a control panel that needs only 1 cable, and other table side equipment like the speaker/mic can be connected through it.”. This is another feature of the Series One that is not present. To be fair, the Series One uses a front of room sound bar and microphone system that has its own advantages but connecting it through the Series One controller is not part of that architecture. Therefore, this Series One system could not support the desired system that could allow a on table speaker/mic to be connected and powered through it.
Drivers and Software: There are custom drivers on the PC to make the Series One work. This is not the preferred solution but is acceptable for this touch controller because Google is in full control over both the operating system (Chrome) and the application (Google Meet). However, the preferred solution would utilize only built in drivers and not require any unique PC side support.
Google Meet only: While the Series One is a great accomplishment, it was designed for Google and the Google Meet system only. The Series One is not supported by any other video conferencing systems like Microsoft teams or Zoom and with many folks utilizing a variety of these, there is no commercially available AV over IP touch display available for these solutions.
From this, it’s evident that the Series One touch controller included in the Google Meet hardware Kit from Lenovo is an excellent choice for UCC spaces. We believe though, that with a few additional tweaks and changes, AV-over-IP solutions have the potential to be truly remarkable, providing unmatched convenience, flexibility, and long-term hassle and cost savings in the conference room space.