Speaker Tracking in Video Conferencing

image courtesy of Crestron

What is speaker tracking?

Speaker tracking has come a long way from where they were years ago. Then, microphones were positioned in front of every speaker at the table. There would be two cameras in the conference rooms to ensure that the speaker was always in the picture – in theory. The reality is that the technology was fraught with issues and not entirely easy to use.

Manufacturers adapt the technology.

Video conferencing manufacturers like Poly and Cisco developed video conferencing systems with speaker tracking. Both Poly’s EagleEye and Cisco’s SpeakerTrack were great solutions but came with hefty price tags, and speaker tracking was deemed a luxurious add-on for customers.

When is speaker tracking most useful? 

There is no doubt that speaker tracking during a video conference can provide a fantastic experience for participants. However, for most participants, especially in a hybrid work situation, the speaker available is insufficient. Speaker tracking features are also not optimal when used during a lively discussion between several participants that speak at once.

Additionally, speaker tracking capabilities may not necessarily enhance the meeting experience in a smaller conference room. In these circumstances, a video conferencing system adjusted for the size of the room can be sufficient.

If speakers stay in one spot in larger conference rooms, organizers can use pre-program settings from the video conferencing system for the duration of the video conference.

Speaker tracking lite.

Today, manufacturers such as Jabra are trying to solve the requirement of speaker tracking with intelligent software functions in video conferencing cameras. However, the capabilities are limited to the camera recognizing which seat is occupied and then selecting an optimal image. Although the costs of speaker tracking hardware have decreased, the user experience still needs tweaking.

Speaker tracking vs. no speaker tracking.

There are no right or wrong answers.

It essentially boils down to the applications and usages of the technology that we incorporate into our conference rooms and what participants may gain from the experience vs. the pains of using the technology. And of course, let’s not forget the costs!

Source: Videokonferenzen: Speakertracking Author Tobias Enders, GPA Germany – GMS, Global Media Services GmbH

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