Zoom has added voice commands to Zoom Rooms which may simplify the use of conference room systems.
The feature, released in public beta this week, uses technology from speech recognition company Sensory Inc. The new controls allow workers to start a meeting, join a chat, end a session, and check in and out. walk out of a conference room. The feature works on all Zoom Rooms hardware.
People who wish to use voice commands will wake up the room system by saying “Hello Zoom”. Sensory processes all orders locally, instead of in the cloud, to avoid conflict with company security policies.
Technalysis Research founder Bob O’Donnell said features like voice commands are needed to reduce the complexity of conference room systems.
“[The systems] were notoriously difficult for people to use, ”he said. “We’ve all become experts at running Zoom calls on our PCs, but that doesn’t necessarily translate to a system in a room. “
On PCs, employees click a link to initiate a meeting. Conference room systems often have dedicated controls that can be finicky, O’Donnell said. Bypassing the hardware with a voice activation system could eliminate these hassles.
Along with the release of voice control, Zoom also launched a public beta of Smart Gallery. The feature displays meeting participants in the office and at home in individual video frames to allow remote workers to read facial expressions and body language.
Smart Gallery only works with specific cameras, according to Zoom. Several Poly devices now support this feature, while Neat, Logitech, and DTEN D7 products will add support this year.
Cisco and Microsoft have announced plans to release similar functionality in Webex and Teams, respectively, this year.
Zoom has also added a Zoom Rooms chat feature that is unrelated to public beta releases. Available immediately, the feature allows users to use a Zoom Rooms controller or touchscreen to enter messages to other meeting participants. Zoom said the feature gives conference room participants parity with those who use computers or phones.
Mike Gleason is a journalist specializing in unified communications and collaboration tools. He previously covered communities in the MetroWest region of Massachusetts for the Milford Daily News, Walpole time, Lawyer Sharon and Medfield Press. He also worked for newspapers in central Massachusetts and southwestern Vermont and was a local editor of Room. He can be found on Twitter at @MGleason_TT.