Zoom takes it up a notch with a slew of new platform capabilities


The latest additions include room monitoring capabilities for the hybrid workforce era.

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Image: iStock/metamorworks

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, video meetings and messaging platforms have replaced traditional in-person communication. While some organizations have brought employees back to the workplace, others continue to operate remotely, and some companies have also made long-term commitments to telecommuting. On Wednesday, Zoom announced a number of new platform capabilities to empower organizations and remote workforces.

“People are at the heart of every organization and keeping them safe, connected, and productive is a top priority,” said Oded Gal, chief product officer of Zoom in a press release. “As the world plans to safely reopen businesses, educational institutions, healthcare facilities, and government entities, we are focused on innovating across our platform to support their needs.”

Monitoring workplace spaces

As companies bring employees back to the office amid a modern plague, companies are incorporating a wide range of technologies and protocols to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 in-house. New Zoom features will provide organizations with the ability to monitor physical meeting spaces in real time using cameras, and this information will be available on the Zoom dashboard, according to the press release.

Head of Zoom Rooms, Jeff Smith, said that gaining a better understanding of how workspaces were being used was “one of the top feature requests” he had received from customers. These enhancements offer planning and design benefits. For example, Smith said these capabilities could help organizations understand if they should have a large number of small meeting spaces or a small number of larger meeting rooms.

“That’s a key question that we can answer by providing data on how many people are typically using those spaces,” Smith said.

Using Zoom’s Neat Bar, organizations can use Neat Sense capabilities to monitor room air quality, humidity, CO2 levels, and more. The Zoom Dashboard will detail air quality metrics in real-time, according to the press release.

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Mobile capabilities

The Zoom Rooms Controller app allows mobile users to manage the Zoom meeting experience from their smartphones including starting or ending a meeting, audio/video settings, and more.

“They can walk in safely and securely control the Zoom Room equipment from that device, they can call a contact, start a scheduled meeting, control the audio [and] video, [and have] full control of that room experience from their personal device,” Smith said.

These smartphone capabilities offer public health and UI benefits for employees and organizations.

“[This] allows them to minimize the touching of shared surfaces from a hygiene perspective, but also from a user experience perspective, it’s familiar,” Smith said.

Virtual reception

A new “virtual receptionist/kiosk mode” provides contactless interactions with clients, employees, vendors, and other external organizations. This creates a buffer space between organizations and regular contacts. Smith said that this feature can be customized for further personalization.

“Just customize the “Start Meeting” button on a Zoom Rooms for Touch device in your lobby to connect visitors with a receptionist and safely greet them,” the release said.

“Being able to physically separate the physical presence of your lobby personnel from people that come in to visit your office becomes very important. So it’s [a] customizable interface that a company can configure to dial in to, to dial a person, or dial a group, dial into a meeting, call security, call reception,” Smith said.

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Whiteboard sessions and screen sharing

With the latest updates, people can share Zoom Rooms for Touch whiteboards via email, Zoom Chat, and private Zoom Rooms whiteboards can be shared in chat groups, according to the press release.

Screen sharing is a popular way for remote teams to access information and collaborate virtually. Zoom Room for Touch will offer enhanced screen sharing features such as greater control over screen sharing at a distance.

“Users can control, right from their device, the desktop of the person currently sharing their laptop screen, streamlining collaboration,” the release said.

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