With Cisco’s latest wave of telepresence room series devices, you now have even more flexibility than ever before. With that flexibility comes the choice of three distinct speaker track capable platforms. This leads us to the core query of this post:
What endpoint do I need for my conference room?
Fundamentally, this choice comes down to the layout and size of the conference room in question. To get to the bottom of this query you need to understand the room dimensions as well as the most commonly used layout. Finally, you also need to understand how many ancillary devices will be required. (screens, input sources, microphones)
Let's break the choices into three categories loosely labeled small, medium, and large. Next, let's plug the endpoints into each category.
Room Kit, Room 55
Room Kit Plus, Room 70(D), SX80+Quadcam
MX800D, SX80 + SpeakerTrack 60 (ST60)
To understand the above categorization we will start by inspecting the capabilities of the tracking systems. Here are the specifications for each system:
Kit Camera: 20 feet/6 meters 83 degree FOV
Quad Camera: 29.5 feet/9 meters 83 degree FOV
ST60 Module: 42.5 feet/13 meters 80 degree FOV
The biggest limiting factor with automatically tracking speakers is the microphone array’s ability to triangulate the location of an audio source. This specification can of course vary with the audio environment the system is placed. For example, the 9-meter specification in a ST60 installation guide that original estimate has proven to be quite conservative. With a good audio environment, we have found the ST60 can track out to the 13 meters listed above. Once the source is located, we then need to be able to get a good camera shot of that individual. The speaker track 60 module has two 20x pan-tilt-zoom (PTZ) cameras, the quad camera leverages 4 fixed cameras for a total of 5.4x digital zoom while the kit uses a single camera with a 3x digital zoom.
The next important aspect is the field of view of the cameras, for automatic tracking if we can’t see the subject the system will have to revert to a wide shot. Smaller rooms with folks sitting closer to the telepresence system will fit the kit or quad camera systems wider field of view. When subjects are seated further away we might trade that wide angle for a longer zoom on the ST60. Larger rooms may also benefit from the full range of motion the manual pan/tilt the SpeakerTrack 60 cameras provide. Those cameras can pan 100 degrees to each side, providing a total pan specification of 200 degrees. They can also tilt up or down 20 degrees, providing a total tilt specification of 40 degrees. The result of this is that the SpeakerTrack cameras can cover a maximum area approximately 280 degrees horizontal and 88 degrees vertical by using mechanical pan and tilt.
Putting exact room dimensions to this is complicated but the overall result is that the SpeakerTrack cameras, when manually controlled, can cover a much larger area than the Quad Camera and zoom into objects that are farther away.
The next consideration is the needed inputs and outputs, the MX800(D) and SX80 both are based on the SX80 codec and carry a broader range of inputs and outputs. The Room 70(D) is based on the Kit Plus codec so they share the same I/O. An interesting point of consideration here is the Quad camera module consumes a single HDMI input on the SX80, compared to the two needed for the ST60, leaving more I/O for other devices.
The last few points I would call the soft factors as it relates to the users and there are less hard guidelines. Cameras moving around and following people have proven to bother some users, so the fixed setup of Room series will be appealing to many. Those same fixed cameras also drive up the responsiveness of the switching which can be useful in more dynamic situations. Finally room series endpoints also include chip sets capable of taking advantage of Cisco’s future work embedding AI into conferencing which should maximize ease of use in the future.
In summary determine the size, layout and I/O needs of your room and that will drive your decision here. If they fit the room scenario a Kit or Quad Camera based system is your best choice. For more complicated or larger rooms using an SX80 codec will be necessary and even falling back to the speaker track 60 for the largest rooms will be the best choice.
I want to thank my friendly neighborhood technical marketing engineer (TME) Enrico Conedera for help with the technical detail in this article. Please don’t forget to use Cisco Project Workplace site as a fantastic resource for these discussions.