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The Mezzanine "Infopresence" Room - New, Improved, and Available from AVI-SPL

December 4, 2013 | David S. Maldow, Esq.


Earlier this year we covered a new, and unique, visual collaboration solution. The Mezzanine by Oblong. Please see our previous article for the full details, but for a vast oversimplification, think of the futuristic displays in the Tom Cruise movie "Minority Report" (which the Oblong scientists happen to have worked on). Rather than having a dedicated monitors for videoconferencing, or data share, or other content, the characters in the movie just seamlessly swapped any type of content from screen to screen. Mezzanine gives a mult-monitor meeting room the same type of flexibility.

The unique user interface follows a similar workflow to the common PowerPoint slide deck creation. Users can add or move content to the monitors, much as you would add or move content between PowerPoint slides. The result is a very flexible, and powerful, presentation and collaboration environment. The power is amplified when Mezzanine rooms in multiple locations are connected, allowing for not just remote meetings, but true remote collaboration. Please see our earlier coverage for more information about the solution.

Since we last checked in, there has been a lot of activity from the Oblong Team. We got the details from Mike Brown, Global VP Sales. Keep reading to learn about the four big things happening with Oblong, in no particular order...

1. AVI-SPL Partnership
This is about the best news a technology start-up could hope for. AVI-SPL is the leading visual collaboration design and integration firm, with an incredible active customer list of enterprise technology users. When organizations want to build a new meeting room, AVI-SPL is often the first (and sometimes the only) place they turn to for advice. If AVI-SPL is behind the Mezzanine product, that is an incredible vote of confidence, as well as the best sales support a company could ever hope for.


2. Holiday Open House Event
Oblong is hosting 4 cocktail events this month to show off the Mezzanine to potential customers. When I spoke with Mike, people were already lining up for the New York event, which he later confirmed turned out to be very successful. If you are in Boston, Boulder, or San Francisco, it is not too late to still sign up.

  • NEW YORK, December 4 (Completed)
  • BOSTON, December 5 (Sign up)
  • BOULDER, December 11 (Sign up)
  • SAN FRANCISCO, December 12 (Sign up)

The San Fran event is being held at Beats Music. You don't get much hipper than the new music service from the makers of Dr. Dre's iconic headphones. What is particularly cool about Beats is that they are actual Mezzanine customers. This "demo" isn't a theoretical installation, but the real working environment for this cutting edge company.


3. iOS Compatibility
Oblong recently released Mezzanine version 2.8, featuring enhanced iOS support. This provides a number of benefits. First of all, it allow users to present and collaborate using their tools of choice. If you create a presentation on your iPad, you shouldn't have to first transfer it to another system before sharing it. Not only does this new support allow for easily sharing content from personal devices ("Bring and Fling"), it allows them to control the Mezzanine environment itself. Any person in the room can control and manage them multiple screens managed by the Mezzanine system. Oblong calls this the "democratization" of the meeting. Why waste time transferring control to the new presenter, when everyone can enjoy control throughout the meeting. Obviously, basic meeting etiquette will transfer to this new dynamic. Just as you wouldn't talk over another presenter, you wouldn't "mess with" another presenter's content on a Mezzanine monitor.


4. Fox News Displays
Well the secret is out, thanks to the sharp eyes at TechCrunch. While the Oblong team is not at liberty to discuss it in too much detail, the Mezzanine is powering those fancy new massive monitors on the Fox News set. A very high profile win for the Oblong team.

Final Thoughts
As I made clear in my original coverage, I am a big fan of the Mezzanine concept for a number of reasons. First of all, I am glad that as an industry we are getting so adept at managing video signals that we can start to be creative and come up with these kinds of solutions. It wasn't too long ago that we were happy if we just got basic connectivity to work.

Just as significantly, I am glad to see a solution that focuses on what is important. Productivity. While video social calls are great, at TPO we are interested in collaboration and working environments. Many meeting rooms are simply designed to talk ABOUT work, not to actually get work accomplished. Videoconferencing is great for these wrap-up sessions, but it is really just a small part of the technology's potential. Integrated videoconferencing and collaborative environments, like the Mezzanine, are the next step in exploring the full potential of videoconferencing, and team workspaces.

Mike talked about Oblong's concept of "Infopresence" which is somewhat similar to telepresence, but the focus is on the work, the data, the info, rather than primarily on the face to face interaction. Information is king, especially in collaborative environments. As productivity focused analysts, we are big fans of putting the work to the forefront. Videoconferencing brings people together, but once that is accomplished they still need to move their projects. As Mike explained, this information centric approach enables a distributed work process. Regardless of physical location, everyone on the team has the information they need, not just at their fingertips, but up on the meeting room monitors so the entire team can contribute.

Predicting the sales performance of a completely new product category is beyond my comfort level. However, it is safe to say that Oblong is quickly checking off the wish list for any tech startup; with high profile pioneer customers, great integrator / reseller partnerships (including, but not limited to AVI-SPL), and a seriously cool product. With all the pieces in place, I look forward to following Oblong's progress in 2014.

About the Author
David_Maldow, Esq.David Maldow, Esq. is a visual collaboration technologist and analyst with the Human Productivity Lab and an associate publisher at Telepresence Options. David has extensive expertise in testing, evaluating, and explaining telepresence and other visual collaboration / rich media solutions. David is focused on providing third-party independent analysis and opinion of these technologies and helping end users better secure their visual collaboration environments. You can follow David on Twitter and Google+.

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