Lifesize Takes Aim At Huddle Room Video Conferencing With Icon 450

Lifesize, a video and audio telecommunications company based in Austin, Texas, is hoping to solve the problem of extending video collaboration to huddle rooms – and its solution is supposedly the new Lifesize Icon 450 HD camera and phone system.

The huddle room has become a hot topic in the world of video conferencing, with virtually every company getting in on the action – which includes the likes of Crestron and Polycom. Lifesize says that its system is the easiest its ever created however, yet still affords much of the power users have come to expect from its products.

To meet the expectations of the company’s ambition, Lifesize says that it has improved the camera design to address the specific nature and challenges of huddle room spaces. In fact, the Icon 450’s smart-framing sensor is designed to intelligently adjust its sharp, wide-angle camera lens to automatically capture and include everyone in the picture.

The plug-and-play Icon 450 is powered by Lifesize’s cloud-based conferencing service and promises users a seamless, high-quality meeting experience. Leveraging Lifesize’s enterprise-ready interoperability, the combination of the Icon 450 and cloud-based application can automatically launch meetings from Microsoft Office 365 or Google Apps for Work, conference with Skype for Business users and connect employees and guests from their phones or internet browsers — all with a single touch of the Lifesize Phone HD, a meeting room command central for audio, video and web conferencing.

The combined Lifesize Cloud and hardware offering also gives users a unified, consistent communication experience across platforms and devices to simplify the user experience. Lif

“For most businesses the conference room is still the central point of meetings and team collaboration, so the ability to effectively connect users to the conference room is critical,” says Craig Malloy, CEO of Lifesize.

“For more than a decade, Lifesize has been a pioneer in crafting revolutionary video communication technology that allows both end users and IT administrators to spend more time on productive work and less time on troubleshooting.

“The Lifesize Icon 450 combines our rich history in conferencing devices with our powerful cloud-based service to provide a seamless video communication experience for users in today’s most popular conferencing location — the huddle room. This is truly a mark of our unique value proposition among video conferencing providers.”

The Lifesize Icon 450 includes a sharp, wide-angle lens that offers an 82° horizontal field of view and a 59° vertical field of view. It also comes with 24/7 Extreme Support from Lifesize’s customer success and support team.

Installers wishing to specify for the Lifesize Icon 450 can do so from today, with pricing starting at $4,999. That package includes HD camera, Lifesize Phone HD, Lifesize remote control and cables. Users will need to subscribe to the Lifesize Cloud to get the most out of the system however, which has prices starting at $29 per month per user.

Speaking at the launch of the Lifesize Icon 450, Michael Helmbrect, chief product and operations officer at Lifesize, answered a detailed Q&A.

What is driving cloud video conferencing today?

“A big factor is cost. On the one hand, the cost of travel and related expenses of getting people together for meetings is a big issue. On the other side of the coin, the cost for a state of the art video communication system is becoming more accessible for all types of companies.

“Another significant market change driving adoption, is the nature of today’s work force compared with 10 or 15 years ago. Knowledge workers are more dispersed and mobile and expect always on, always available connections. Video conferencing enables much better efficiency, communication and collaboration than the more traditional types of communication like email or audio-only conference calls.

“As a result, many companies are extending the technology beyond the boardroom and executive suite to conference rooms, huddle rooms and individual users. Companies can reduce their operational costs and enhance productivity and collaboration. It is also really about the performance and productivity that video conferencing offers for all sorts of use models and the changing types of work environment nowadays.”

Do you see any differences in adoption by region or vertical markets?

“Not really. We’re seeing adoption of video conferencing around the world as people start to realise the benefits of visual interaction and collaboration. It’s pretty universal and is ideal for allowing people to connect in a more natural way across a number of geographic locations. And, it’s being used across all sorts of vertical sectors – education, health care, manufacturing, technology. Virtually any company that needs a collaborative workforce benefits from enterprise-ready video conferencing.”

What are the benefits of cloud video conferencing vs other collaboration solutions?

“A cloud-based solution makes it easy to deploy and use video conferencing both across any platform – desktop, laptop, tablet or mobile phone. The cloud approach gives users an easy to use, consistent communication experience across platforms and devices. For the IT administrator behind the scenes, this means less time spent on deployment, training and management, which translates into lower cost of ownership. Security is an issue, too, but all of Lifesize’s cloud-based solutions are built with security in mind.”

What is the biggest challenge with adoption of cloud video conferencing?

“It’s really about changing behaviours. People are creatures of habit and often stick with a familiar way of doing things. We see that a lot, but as soon as people experience video communication, they quickly become fans. I think there is probably a perception that video conferencing is too expensive or too complicated for a small or medium sized company, but that is an easy objection to overcome because it’s simply not true anymore.”

Why should customers choose Lifesize?

“The combination of award-winning plug-and-play HD video and phone systems for any meeting room and an easy-to-use cloud-based conferencing application makes Lifesize unique. Survey after survey of IT people and end users show that ease of use is the most important adoption consideration. Lifesize’s whole strategy revolves around making it a very simple, intuitive experience to install, use, extend and maintain.

“Unlike other solutions that have migrated from the consumer space or are scaled down in some way, Lifesize is enterprise-ready. We are built from the ground up for IT and the enterprise. Our technology is robust, secure and scalable to meets any organisation’s needs and ongoing growth. We are maniacal about customer service – it is one of our company’s core values and our customers consitently cite that as a benefit of working with us. We back our service with a financially-backed SLA (more information here). When people look at ROI and TCO, Lifesize is clearly a leader in the space.”

What is new at Lifesize?

“We continue to add more functionality to the core product line, as well as integration with other popular communications tool. For example, we’ve added a calendaring feature that syncs with popular applications like Microsoft Office 365 or Google Apps for Work.

“We continue to enhance the user interface to make it a more intuitive and easy to use control point for integrated communications. And we’ve just introduced a new camera, Lifesize Icon 450, aimed at smaller conference spaces or huddle rooms. It features a smart-framing sensor that intelligently adjusts its sharp, wide-angle camera lens to automatically capture and include everyone in the picture. And it’s all part of an integrated, full-featured solution that includes directory-based calling, one-on-one and group calls and chat, instant and scheduled meetings, and high-definition recording and sharing.

Do you have some good examples of how people are using your cloud video conferencing?

“It really runs a wide-range range of the size and types of meetings, and interactions that organisations can have. From company-wide meetings, to small groups and 1:1 point to point calling, we’re seeing more and more adoption.

“We’re also noticing that more companies are using it externally – with their customers and partners, and in customer support and education models. We see some innovative uses in certain industries like healthcare. Care givers and doctors can diagnose and even treat patients remotely via video conferencing, which opens up a lot of new possibilities in this sector.”