In October of 2015 Microsoft announced the release of Skype Translator, and now Mercuri Conferencing is pleased to announce Skype Translator for your conference calls as part of Mercuri’s Skype Direct service. Now when you dial into your conference call using Mercuri’s Skype Direct with Skype Translator enabled your speech will be translated to the language you have chosen while you listen to the foreign language translation as well as read the translation in the chat window. It has never been easier to communicate with people in 8 available languages!
Take it to up a notch with UN style multi language conferences when more than 2 languages are used in a conference. Each participant sets the conference language and their own language in the Skype Translator settings and then dials in via Mercuri Skype Direct using the Audio Call button in the top right corner. After entering the passcode they will join the conference and be able to listen to the conference call translated into their own chosen language in both audio and text, and anything they speak in their own language will be translated in audio into the conference call, all while being able to hear the original speakers as well. Of course you can still use Mercuri Skype Direct to just connect to your conference call without the translator, and as always Mercuri recommends a USB headset for the best possible audio experience.
Another innovative application of Mercuri’s Skype Translator service is for use with the hearing impaired. By simply setting the language of the conference call for both the Skype caller and for the Mercuri Contact to the same language the caller will be able to read a real time transcript of the conference call in progress and still participate in audio.
Watch the 2 minute demo Youtube videos below or just upgrade to the latest version of Skype and add the Mercuri Contact if you don’t already have it. There is no extra cost to use this innovative new service so give it a try!
The future is all about change in how we collaborate. No longer are video conferences conducted just in the Executive Boardroom, the modern trend is to “trickle down” to more informal meetings in many smaller rooms and spaces with emphasis on collaboration. The modern meeting room is about creating a space that provides the right kind of experience for the end users.
The consensus is that more smaller and medium sized meeting rooms are needed with less emphasis on larger full blown boardrooms. Interestingly and perhaps a bit counter intuitive, the trend towards personal video calling will actually drive more of these smaller meeting rooms rather than being an alternative to them. The meeting spaces of the near future break down into four categories:
A staple of the past the number of new room executive boardroom deployments is not expected to increase significantly, but existing rooms will be modernized with the latest in intuitive and easy-to-use video conferencing end points and all bells and whistles such as multiple high quality microphones & speakers or speaker phones, large screens with high resolution video and pan-tilt-zoom (PTZ) cameras. Money is still not an object in these rooms as organizations will spend what’s needed to provide the best service.
Standard Conference Rooms
Like boardrooms, in the past these were complicated rooms with lots of technology. In the future they will be less complicated, with simplified designs, all digital, with focus on how the rooms feel and the experience. This is driving the costs down, simplifying the user interface and making the rooms more accessible to everyone. Some boardroom meetings are migrating down to this type of room while other meetings normal conducted in this type of room are migrating down to huddle rooms and teaming spaces. The future will continue to see deployments of these types of rooms, but in a simplified form factor that drives scale.
The typical huddle room is a small and basic meeting room for 5-6 people, equipped with standard furnishings and basic technologies. This is a place to get work done. Such rooms are equipped with video conferencing, audio conferencing and content sharing (both wired, and wireless for next-gen workers). There is little or no technical support in this type of room as there are too many rooms to support. The technology is cost effective, simple to use and easy to deploy and is highly reliable due to remote monitoring. The huddle room is poised to become the work horse of the collaborative environment and ready for large scale deployment.
These special rooms for “uber collaboration”, and include many displays of different shapes and sizes, comfortable furnishing like comfortable chairs and small table or couches with no tables at all, or even bar seating. The focus is on a collaborative experience, a space for creativity, brain storming, analyzing information and decision making. It’s all about the value of the people in your organization.
The room of the future is not just a physical meeting room and not just a virtual meeting room. In any given meeting some participants will be dialed into these meeting rooms virtually from their homes, their own work space, or from other meeting rooms while others are physically present in the room. These sessions will demand that other participants can be brought into the meeting adhoc or by scheduled invitation, and to participate fully – meaning video, audio and content sharing.
As Huddle rooms become the work horse of collaboration the equipment will become easy to install and support and the price total cost of ownership of the equipment will decrease significantly due to the sheer volume of huddle room deployment. Video will become easy to access and as a result the value of video will be realized by the enterprise.
The culture of some organizations is to use the desktop while others prefer meeting rooms and still other use a mix. The technology of the future must embrace all of these preferences to allow the end users to collaborate in the most natural ways.
We may not be wearing Virtual Reality headsets or video conferencing in 3D just yet, but the future of collaboration is about changes for people, business and technology. Huddle rooms will become the work horse of collaboration in the enterprise. The future is about increasing usage and getting more people into more rooms (either physically or virtually) where a more casual environment fosters creativity and collaboration.
The sleek and stylish Starleaf Touch 2035 is here! The intuitive low profile all touch surface works just like your smartphone while maintaining the consistent user interface familiar across all Starleaf endpoints and apps.
Every Starleaf video endpoint comes with a choice of touchscreen for control. Contact Mercuri for more information or to arrange a demonstration of Starleaf video.
Welcome to our year end edition. A lot has happened at Mercuri in 2015. Here’s our year in review..
Did you know Mercuri now offers Video Conferencing? .. read more or call us to find out more.
New Features and Updates from 2015
Instant Mobile Notifications .. read more about Mercuri text messages.
Conference Viewer: In-conference Audio Playback .. read more about audio playback.
Conference Viewer: On Demand Webcasting .. read more about webcasting.
Mercuri on the Chrome Web Store .. read more about Desktop Sharing.
Global Timezone tool .. read more about managing global timezones.
Web Chat now available on all Mercuri accounts .. read more about chat
Highlights from the Mercuri BLOG:
5 Reasons why Video is a must have for startups .. read more
International Conferencing: A Primer for Success .. read more
3 Great tools for successful international conference calls .. read more
How your Webcam Mic can drive you mad .. read more
Mobile VS Landline.. Can you hear me now? .. read more
Remember! As a Mercuri customer you already have a portal for accessing public conference events, web meetings and recordings. Create easy access for your employees, customers, suppliers and partners. Contact Mercuri support for details.
So you had a great idea and you’re past the concept stage, you’re funded and have the key people you need to get ready to launch, now you need to enable effective communications to facilitate a collaborative environment for a successful launch. High quality and reliable video calling and conferencing is no longer something just for larger companies as pricing models have changed significantly making video both more scalable and affordable than ever before. Enterprise has adopted video over the past decade but here are 5 reasons why you need video calling and conferencing in your startup.
Video calling & conferencing gives your startup great flexibility. Your people need to use their time effectively. Video allows your people to communicate quickly, clearly and effectively with each other in one to one and team environments, and to partners, suppliers, customers and new prospects, all without the associated travel expenses or even a centralized workplace.
Video calling & conferencing eliminates low and unproductive travel time whether it is to and from a workplace or hopping a plane to Europe to meet a supplier, customer or prospect. Video allows your people to meet anytime to brainstorm new ideas or solve problems. Everyone is just one touch away!
When pitch your products and ideas to a global audience you need to look good. High quality video is paramount to effectively communicate with your own people and to reach a global audience cost effectively.
In any organization and especially in a startup, you want your people to be happy. The people in your startup will be happier know that they will not have to commute on a daily basis. Immersive Video will bring your people together even when you don’t have a centralized workplace.
After your startup has launched successfully you will continue to use video as your primary communications and collaborations tool.
As your business grows, you will continue to enjoy the benefits and efficiencies of video calling and finding many new applications for video such as recruiting, all the while maintaining your image of a cutting edge organization ready to meet the world head-on.
High quality video conferencing is now very affordable and scalable, allowing you to get started with a minimal investment and grow as your startup grows.
International conference calls or conference calls with participants in two or more time-zones can be a challenge with common questions like: What is the base way for Dieter to dial in from Berlin; Is Mary in Vancouver 3 hours
ahead or 3 hours behind my time or; does Sydney, Australia observe daylight savings time (the answer is yes, from the first Sunday in October to the first Sunday in March, western Australia does not however).
When planning your next international conference call keep in mind these 3 useful tools to get everyone connected at the right time and eliminate confusion.
Call Me and Viewer Apps. Dialing out to participants can be cumbersome using touch tone dial out within a conference call, but Mercuri delivers with two unique web app options to help:
Participants can dial out to themselves using our Call Me page. They simply enter their participant code, name, and set the country code and enter their phone number (and extension if applicable), then click connect. Call Me shows you the progress of the dial out. When the participant’s phone rings they simply answer and join the call.
The Moderator can dial out to any participant with the Conference Viewer. Like Call Me, just enter the name, set the country code and enter the number (and extension if applicable) and then press Call or Sidebar. Sidebar allows you to speak to the participant before they join the call while Call will immediately join the participant to the conference call.
Numbers page: Our Numbers Page lists all our global dial-in accesses either alphabetically or closest to the user geographically. Toll Free, Local and National dial ins are listed for over 100 cities and 50 countries as well buttons for Skype direct link and our web audio dial in.
As the moderator use the numbers page to get valuable time-zone information. Just set your meeting date and time at the top of the page and then see the meeting date and time local to any of the dial-in accesses by clicking the Globe icon button next to the number. This amazing new feature calculates the time of the meeting to any listed local number for the scheduled time of the meeting! You’ll never have to worry about how many hours ahead or behind a participant may be, or if or when daylight savings time comes into effect as the scheduled meeting time will always be accurate for all locations! As a participant the numbers page link is included in all invitation emails sent out by Mercuri so that each participant can quickly and easily find the best dial-in number option for to use.
Outlook Conference scheduler : Use our Outlook App to schedule your conference call right from Outlook using your Outlook Contacts. When you use Outlook with Mercuri’s Conference Scheduling App you set your meeting for your local time
and when you send out the invitation each participant will receive a calendar invitation that automatically adjusts the meeting time to their local time-zone based on their computer’s settings. Each invitation automatically includes the link to our Call Me and Numbers pages so everyone can join easily and on time. A similar email invitation web app is available in our Selfcare Website
These tools are available to all Mercuri’s customers and are already on your Mercuri account. Visit our Youtube Channel or our Website and contact us for more details!
At Mercuri we pride ourselves on providing the simplest, most user-friendly conferencing experience possible. Recently we heard from some of our customers about a little confusion around the best way to conduct an international conference call.
Conducting a conference call with participants all over the world is not as difficult as it seems. There are some simple steps you can take before the meeting to ensure everything goes according to plan.
Most of our clients connect to their meeting via a toll-free 1–800 number. However, these numbers often do not work outside of the US and Canada. In some cases the number can be called and and connected but your local carrier’s long distance fees will still apply, defeating the purpose of a toll-free number. So what’s the best way to get around this?
Here’s the good news. Mercuri provides local and international toll-free numbers in over 100 cities and 50 different countries, which are available at numbers.mercuri.ca. Conference planners can reference this page beforehand, or include the link in their meeting invitations so participants can choose the best option for their location. For convenience these links are included in Mercuri’s Outlook Scheduling Tool and the online Self-Care utility.
International toll-free numbers work best when called from a landline, because not all mobile carriers have agreements with international providers. If the participant must use a mobile phone we recommend test calling the toll-free number in advance to ensure everyone is connected on the day.
So what happens if you’re trying to conference with someone in Tuvalu or Burkina Faso? Countries with poor telecommunications infrastructure rarely offer international toll-free services, and Skype may not be an option as high-speed internet is required.
In a scenario like this the best option is dialing out to the participant. Mercuri offers several solutions for automated dial-out:
Self-dial-out is available is available at callme.mercuri.ca. Participants enter their passcode, phone number and select the country they’re located in. A dial-out can be scheduled ahead of time, so when the chairperson starts the meeting the participant will be called and connected to the conference.
If the participant is in an area without internet access the chairperson can request that touch-tone dial-out be activated on the account.
An operated-assisted conference can be arranged in advance. Our operators will dial-out to the participants and ensure everyone is connected to the meeting properly.
International conferencing can seem like a daunting task, bit with a little preparation and care it can be as easy as the average phone call. If you have any questions about the specifics of you international conference don’t hesitate to contact your Mercuri representative. We’re always happy to help.
And it’s a good thing I wrote that idea down, because I’ve forgotten it already.
You dial into a meeting. You’re connected quickly and everything seems okay. You’re not really here to do anything of import, just listen to the conversation, only contributing if it’s absolutely necessary. At some point it becomes necessary so you un-mute the mic in your webcam, say your piece and mute the mic again.
Someone asks you to repeat yourself. They heard you speaking but your voice was broken and overwhelmed by the fan on your desk. You repeat yourself. Same problem. You have no idea what’s going on, and your very unhappy about it. But don’t worry, there’s a simple and inexpensive solution to your problem.
Your webcam was never built to provide high quality audio. The microphone was added as a selling point, not a dedicated tool. It’s small, positioned too far away from your mouth, and is by necessity an omni-directional microphone. That means it’s not just listening to the words from your mouth, it’s listening to every little sound in the room. The same goes for the mic built in to your laptop.
So a webcam mic is out, but that’s not a problem because you’ve already come up with a solution. Aren’t you clever. Your smartphone came with a pair earbuds that have a little microphone attached to the cable. Perfect, you think, This should solves all of those little problems. If only things were that simple.
Those earbuds solve problems like ambient noise and poor mic placement, but you’re still facing the biggest problem of all: your computer’s sound card.
Like the microphone in your webcam, your sound card wasn’t built to be anything special. It handles audio playback well enough but the mic components are often thrown in as an after-though. They exist so a user can do the most basic sort of sound recording; talking into a microphone and playing it back at a different time. Conferencing demands simultaneous audio recording and playback, which your stock sound card wasn’t designed to handle. Speakers and microphones generate sound through an analog process while your computer only understands digital signals, so the sound card has to translate these signals. To save the manufacturer money the playback and recording conversions are handled by the same circuitry. The sound card’s primary function is audio playback, so when it’s required to deal with playback and input at the same time the input quality tends to suffer.
So how do we solve this? It’s simple: don’t use the sound card.
USB headsets are designed for real time communication. The headset contains its own very tiny sound card, which uses separate circuitry for encoding input and decoding playback. You computer won’t have to do any of the processing internally, which frees up power for heavier tasks like a video conference or desktop share. Most importantly, a USB headset puts the microphone right next to your mouth. It doesn’t have to be omni-directional or boost the gain to hear your voice. You talk, the headset listens, and sends sends impeccable audio into your conference call.
A USB headset is a simple and inexpensive tool to improve your web conferencing experience. You could stomach the poor audio from your laptop’s microphone, or wonder with increasing anger why your white earbuds don’t do the job any better. Or you could spend a little money on a headset and not have to complain again. Trust me. Go with the third option. It’ll be the best fifty bucks you’ve ever spent.
In the late 1980s a major US telecom boasted their call quality was so exceptional that “you can hear a pin drop”. Twenty years later, another telecom bragged they could offer “fewer dropped calls” and repeated over and over the phrase, “Can your hear me now?” It wasn’t a gimmick, it was an honest question, and it paints the perfect picture of the shift from landline to mobile communications. No one disputes the benefits of mobile phones, but it’s undeniable that the technology trades quality and reliability for convenience.
In the past few years the prototypical cellphone has all but disappeared, giving way to smartphones, text messaging, and always-on internet connections. Mobile calls are shorter and less frequent than ever, so the diminished quality and reliability tends to go unnoticed… until you want to participate in a conference call.
Your typical conference call is an hour long, connecting five, ten, twenty or more people. In this environment call quality and reliability are paramount and cannot be assured by a wireless network. Moreover, the portability of a mobile phone means you’re seldom in a quiet place while making a call. You’re likely somewhere in public, or in the car using a speakerphone. And while your phone’s speaker maybe be louder than its earpiece, you’re using the same microphone in either mode. Your phone simply boosts the volume of the input, meaning it will pick up not only your voice, but any little noises within a few feet of the microphone. That means your radio and engine, as well as road noise, wind from and open window, and the sound of other traffic. Muting the line can help if you only need to listen, but if you’re planning to talk avoid mobile speakerphones all together.
The landline is almost a thing of the past. Consumers have switched the cable-based home phones and business is migrating to Voice-Over-IP. Carriers are constantly handing calls off to each other through cost-saving measure called Least Cost Routing and have combined their voice and data networks into a single pipe. All that considered, landlines are still regarded as having better call quality and reliability than any mobile service.
Keep in mind that every piece of the puzzle, from your headset to your phone to your service provider, plays and important role in the quality and reliability of your call. A little knowledge can go a long way to ensure a top notch conferencing experience.
Web conferencing grew as a natural extension to the audio teleconference as the next evolution in the virtual meeting. Facilitated by the Internet, web conferencing products were initially offered as a separate collaboration tool. Subscribers to web conferencing services would Continue reading Web Conferencing: Origins and History