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Give Your Video Conference Room a “Stage” with Cisco PresenterTrack

- May 9, 2016 - 5 Comments

About 18 months ago, members of my engineering team conducted customer site visits and came back with a most interesting challenge. They met a Spanish teacher who needed to teach a physical/virtual class over video, but current technology constrained her ability to move about the classroom. Any teacher will tell you that it’s an unnatural experience to spend the entire class in a fixed position.

The school already had video-conferencing equipment, but the experience just wasn’t right for what this teacher wanted to do. The IT team couldn’t figure out a simple way for her to move around that didn’t require a complicated room and equipment set-up, and maybe even a producer and film crew involved to direct cameras.

We’ve done a lot to make video conferencing more natural and easy to use. But, until now, it’s pretty much still a seated experience. This goes against the natural tendencies of many people (including me) who would prefer to move when presenting. Even when rooms are set up so that the presenter could stand, they didn’t allow presenters the flexibility to move beyond a fixed a point. And, the far-end audience was often left with a view of the back of the presenter’s head.

What’s the point of video conferencing if you can’t see faces and reactions?

I’m happy to report that we solved the problem for that Spanish teacher. And just last month, we made the technology – PresenterTrack – available to the rest of the world.

How It Works
PresenterTrack* dynamically finds and follows presenters as they stand to present at the front of a room, and perfectly frames them for the far-end audience. This is achieved with face detection and image processing software along with a Cisco TelePresence Precision 60 Camera mounted at the back of the room.

When a presenter enters a predefined “trigger zone,” it activates PresenterTrack and allows the presenter to move comfortably across the “stage.” When the presenter moves out of the zone, the camera switches back to show the broader video conference.

PresenterTrack blog photo

All this happens intelligently, seamlessly and automatically. You won’t need help from your IT staff or an on-site producer. Not surprisingly, PresenterTrack has been very popular with organizations looking for a briefing or training room solution. But, it can give any video-conference room a “stage.” It offers a more natural experience for presenters and a face-forward view of the presenter to the far-end audience.

How to Get It
If you already have our MX700 or MX800 room systems, or a SX80 codec, adding PresenterTrack is simple. All it takes is a software download and a Precision 60 camera. You get a polished, TV-studio look and a great experience for all meeting participants.

PresenterTrack is part of our “Intelligent Views” group of technologies, which also includes the very popular SpeakerTrack 60 dual-camera technology for active speaker tracking.

Going to InfoComm? Visit our team in Las Vegas June 8-10 for a live demo of PresenterTrack at the Cisco booth (N1204).

*PresenterTrack requires an MX700/MX800 system or SX80 Codec as the in-room videoconferencing system running Cisco Collaboration Endpoint Software 8.1. The download is free for customers with active service contracts.
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5 Comments

  1. It is an impressive feature!

  2. Hi Snorre, great announcement and a very helpful feature. Is there any video from Cisco right now where Presenter Track is in action. It's much more easier to show a video to a customer, then to tell or try to explain such a feature.

    • Hi Marc! We've got footage of one of our TMEs Tobias Brodtkorb at ISE 2016. Short video, the actual movement is at 0:27: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j2E5DcFKxBw

  3. To switch between presenter and audience has been our issue, we got around this by using QSC Q-sys DSP with gain ramps and some internal scripting which allows a smooth camera "switch" command when a participant microphone is "ramped" (not erratic boolean logic) up. A trigger zone sounds great and is probably more stable but it would great if Cisco looked into this other feature - Curtin University.

  4. Snorre, As the first sales guy at WebEx in 1998 it's incredible to see the improvements you've made in voice activated or motion activated video. I remember this being requested - keep up the innovation!

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