HP has unveiled a sprawling set of hardware, software, and services designed to make meetings easier for a hybrid workforce to participate in together and easier for IT professionals to manage and secure.
Named HP Presence, the new conferencing and collaboration portfolio aims to ensure that employees are equally empowered to speak, hear, and contribute regardless of whether they’re at home or in the office, according to Andy Rhodes, HP’s general manager and global head of commercial systems and display solutions.
“Every voice in your companies, in the companies we serve, should be heard,” he says. “That’s where great ideas come to life, that’s where great projects come to life, and you should have a seat at the table whether you’re sitting in the room where most people are or whether you’re outside of that room.”
HP Presence includes both meeting space solutions and endpoint technologies. The meeting space components are built around the HP Presence Mini Conferencing PC; the touchscreen HP Presence Control and Control Plus consoles for adjusting audio, video, and other settings; and a new 4K camera, conference hub, microphone, and sound bar.
“These were designed together so we can make sure we have an intelligent end to end experience to fit into any kind of space,” says Ann Lai, senior director for commercial experiences, software, and conferencing solutions at HP.
To make starting meetings on time easier, HP’s Meeting Ready system automatically wakes up the control console and camera when someone steps into a conference room. “All you need to do is join the meeting,” Lai says
Users can initiate a Zoom or Microsoft Teams meeting with a single tap, or use the solution’s “guest mode” to employ another conferencing application. “You can virtually use any conferencing client by plugging your PC in and following a few simple steps, and then you can take over the video and audio within the room,” Lai says.
Once a meeting is underway, a variety of built-in features are designed to ensure that remote attendees can see, hear, and participate as fully as people in the room. HP Auto Frame, for example, automatically focuses the camera on whatever part of a conference room attendees are occupying, while HP Speaker Tracking automatically keeps people who are moving in frame as they talk. Other features help remote speakers be heard during loud meetings by automatically raising their volume and help remote listeners hear quiet speakers by automatically raising the in-room audio’s volume.
To simplify setup, HP Presence solutions come with color-coded cables and a dedicated setup app. A Bang & Olufsen room calibration tool allows organizations to create a custom optimized “room blueprint” based on its size and shape, the location of cameras and microphones, and characteristics like carpeted versus hardwood floors or high versus low ceilings.
Management and security components include the HP Presence Manager utility, which supports real-time hardware monitoring and streamlines firmware updates, and HP Wolf Business software, which secures firmware at bootup and in runtime.
Features designed to make attending meetings less tiring for remote participants include PC-based camera technology that automatically keeps users who are on their feet in view and “scene detection” functionality that senses and adapts to room lighting conditions. “It automatically adjusts for optimal video, so you don’t need to move locations, you don’t need to adjust the lighting in the space, and you also don’t need to keep opening and closing your blinds so that you look good and clear at any time of day,” Lai says.
Dynamic voice leveling technology, meanwhile, automatically ensures that remote speakers sound close to the microphone whether they’re leaning in, leaning back, or roaming their room.
HP Presence meeting space solutions, which will be sold in pre-assembled kits, are slated to begin reaching market next year, beginning with two kits for small meeting rooms set to arrive in late February. Additional kits for small, medium, and larger rooms will ship next spring.
HP Presence updates for both the HP Elite Dragonfly Max notebook and HP EliteOne 800 all-in-one become available next month, with support for additional PCs to follow.
Analysts expect hybrid work arrangements in which employees split time between home and office to persist well after the coronavirus pandemic recedes. Some 43% of employed Americans working from home, in fact, don’t want to return to the office at all, according to a July research study conducted by The Harris Poll on behalf of Sungard Availability Services, while 51% percent would prefer a mix of remote and in-person work.
In response to that trend, HP reports, offices are increasingly becoming places for people to work together rather than simply work. Eighty percent of organizations are changing their office footprints to accommodate collaboration, the company says, and 79% are investigating how to upgrade conference rooms generally and conferencing video systems in particular.