Inavate + Sennheiser: Certified success

When it comes to hybrid videoconferencing, audio is king. Petteri Murto explains how Sennheiser’s TeamConnect Intelligent Speaker creates the perfect audio experience for Microsoft Teams Rooms.

When it comes to creating the right Microsoft Teams Room (MTR) environment, an effective audio system is the building block of any successful videoconferencing setup.

Petteri Murto, vice president for APAC sales, Business Communication, Sennheiser, explains: “The pandemic brought a huge shift in the way we work. Hybrid meetings and hybrid work are the new normal. A workplace used to be a concept that was strongly tied to a physical place, but today, a workplace can exist in an entirely virtual environment. We are no longer bound by distance and are even more closely connected than ever.”

Corporate end users are on-board with the changes being implemented as we see the creation of ‘hybrid workplaces’.

He elaborates: “We have seen a change in the mindset that organisations have, as they realise that they will need to invest in the right technology and products that can make hybrid working happen. In the last two and a half years during the pandemic, many of us have asked ‘can you hear me now?’ on many videoconferencing calls. Meetings can continue without a visual component, but a meeting cannot happen without audio. Having the right audio solution is extremely important, so that employees don’t have to stress over audio quality or troubleshooting, freeing up their time for collaboration and important tasks.”

The pandemic put high quality audio front and centre as Murto highlights: “Audio is the linchpin of hybrid and virtual collaboration and the expectations of workers have doubled overnight. A poor quality audio solution could now mean the difference between success and failure in the workplace.”

To meet these elevated expectations, Sennheiser unveiled its TeamConnect Intelligent Speaker, TCISP, the company’s first product designed exclusively for use in UC environments.

The TCISP is optimised for medium sized Microsoft Teams Rooms. It is fully Teams certified, for up to 10 people either in the room or connecting remotely. On top of this, it has the hardware to deliver on its promise of quality in the shape of seven beamforming microphones.

Murto details how the combination works in practice: “With the TCISP, Sennheiser and Microsoft have taken the Teams Room experience to new heights. It provides powerful, intelligent audio that allows users to take advantage of perfect speech intelligibility in every meeting with excellent double-talk performance.”

The speaker’s omnidirectional microphone array allows users to comfortably pick up audio both in-room or remotely, using a set of intelligent accessibility features to enhance the VC experience for all, no matter where they are. Sennheiser’s goal is to create optimal outcomes for meetings and the TCISP has the features to ensure this. Murto details: “Teams meetings can now be smart, focused, and inclusive. The TCISP changes the way that teams can collaborate in hybrid meetings. Sennheiser and Microsoft worked together to provide excellent double-talk performance as well as the ability to transcribe meeting speech in real time.”

Murto adds: “The speaker can identify up to 10 voices in the room which gives remote and hard of hearing participants a seat at the table for inclusive and supportive collaboration. The transcription feature is also useful for users with a packed schedule, overlapping commitments and more, giving busy users an opportunity to catch up on meetings in a productive way. Instead of wasting time watching a recording, the transcript is available immediately after a meeting, identifying who said what, identifying names in notes and specific topics that were discussed.”

Further demonstrating the partnership between Sennheiser and Microsoft is the integration between TCISP and Cortana, Microsoft’s voice assistant. Murto details: “The TCISP also understands voice commands and responds seamlessly to commands with Microsoft Cortana, enabling users to have a touchless user experience through voice commands. Users can interact verbally with Cortana to control the microphone, creating that touchless meeting experience.”

The ability to accept voice commands is pertinent as it addresses the increasing health and wellness requirements of the modern workplace. The TCISP’s integration with Cortana minimises the number of contact surfaces in the meeting room and allows for an intuitive control option for users facilitating easier and more accommodating meetings.

Murto adds: “With a sleek design and finish, the TCISP can cover a radius of 3.5m with excellent speech intelligibility. The TCISP also has a single, capacitive touch button for mute/ unmute, eliminating distracting clicking sounds during a meeting. It also has a light ring to indicate whether the device is muted, unmuted or whether meeting participants are interacting with Cortana.”

When it comes to the TCISP, both hardware and software features are all in service to the user experience. Meetings in the hybrid workplace need to start, continue, and conclude without hassles or glitches and this is exactly what the TCISP delivers. Murto says: “The user experience is the key. We want to provide an audio solution that provides premium quality audio and is easy to use.”

Last but not least, Sennheiser has taken into account the challenges faced by the AV professionals that design and deliver Microsoft Teams Rooms for clients and end users. The demand for MTRs is high and the business-critical nature of VC spaces means that meeting and collaboration rooms are required almost instantly.

Working under this time crunch is difficult for the AV professional, but the TCISP offers a helping hand as Murto explains: “The setup for the TCISP is so easy to do, it’s very flexible and straightforward with a databox that can be included in an MTR console. All you have to do is attach the TCISP via an attached USB-C cable with the data box and you are ready to go. The simplicity of the setup makes the TCISP the perfect product for an MTR environment. After installation, the TCISP works without any additional setup through devices such as laptops or smart phones. The product also comes with a number of mounting options depending on the user’s needs to meet the requirements of any Microsoft Teams Room alongside long cables and a variety of nation-specific power plug adaptors.”

Even a cursory examination of the trends in the corporate sector highlights the fact that small to medium-sized meeting spaces are required to empower the hybrid worker. However, these new meeting spaces require new solutions designed for the purpose of making them effective. The TCISP fits the bill.

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