Design matters. This is a universal truth for all aspects of our lives, from business to technology. Now more than ever, design is critical to the success of the new technology that is gracing our homes and our offices. One area where the design importance may surprise you? Voice control in the conference room.
While AI personal assistants are already pervasive in our cars and homes, they’ve been slow to move into the workplace—until now that is. Soon, AI assistants and the use of voice control will be used within our business offices to create productivity and a higher level of collaboration. Before we can take advantage of this technology, we must consider the design of our offices and meeting places and how these voice activated devices will fit in existing designs.
Businesses can purchase the best equipment on the market for voice control. However, without the correct placement of the equipment and lack of correct room design, it will all be in vain. Let’s discuss the impact of AI assistants on room design and how you can prepare.
The Importance of Design on AV
Your voice control equipment is an important part of your AV or audio-visual system. In your meeting spaces and conference rooms, you may have large monitors for project viewing, speakers and microphones for voice and even lights for better visuals. When it comes to this system, the room design is of utmost importance.
For example, a meeting space with only one monitor for viewing would not be behind the audience. Lights that are made for better visual would not point directly into the audience’s eyes. Design can create a space for collaboration or a space for frustration. And now, a meeting space must be made for virtual meetings as well as physical ones.
With voice control now on the horizon, design becomes paramount for effectiveness. Even if you have a perfect meeting space now, there will be changes you will need to make for using AI assistants such as Alexa for Business. Let’s discuss some of these changes in more detail.
Speaker and Microphone Placement
Depending on the devices that you choose, they will have limits to how far you can be from the equipment for the command to be heard. And before you choose devices, you will want to get an idea of the size of your meeting or conference room.
Businesses will want to be able to issue commands gently, without needing to repeat or use a louder tone. During meetings or conferences, it is impossible to yell across the room to a device that is located too far away from your voice. The key is to create a more productive meeting, not a louder one.
Businesses will also need to consider other voices during discussions and how this will affect the voice control system. An AI assistant that picks up on words from the audience may try to interpret them as a command, creating confusion for all.
All About the Acoustics
As much as speaker and microphone placement matters, the acoustics in your conference room matter too. Unnecessary echoing can inhibit the proper use of your voice control devices and can harm the audience’s ability to understand.
Room designs will need to incorporate sound-absorbing ceilings to their meeting rooms to reduce noise and create a better environment for listening and speaking. These ceilings and other sound-absorbing materials will also help to reduce echoing in large conference rooms, creating a space for listening and speaking together.
Room design also hinges on the furniture and fixtures that are placed in your meeting spaces. To ensure proper sound, echo reduction and ease of communication between you and the voice assistant, furniture should be soft to absorb sound. Hard furniture will deflect sound, create sound waves that bounce and effect echoing and noise.
We may also see the use of acoustic panels for both design and sound-absorption in office spaces. Placed on walls around your room, these panels absorb noise to create clearer soundwaves between the speaker, the audience and the voice control devices.
Proper Integration Requires Collaboration
Proper integration of an AI assistant and voice control system requires collaboration between the business and the vendor integrating the devices. Business leaders will need to understand how they conduct meetings or conferences and be able to demonstrate their needs and concerns. Testing may need to be carried out to ensure the voice control devices are in the proper areas and to make sure any issues are caught prior to their use.
It is critical that both AV systems and AI assistants are implemented and created for each specific user environment. With this technology being used in many different arenas, the main task is to implement it specific to the business’ unique needs. From small meeting rooms to large and open conference spaces, voice control has the ability to change the way you communicate and the way these spaces are designed in the very near future.
John P. Greene manages and directs all tasks and responsibilities for account managers, sales engineers, and administrative sales staff for New Era Technology’s audio visual business. Greene brings particular dedication and insight to his technology and sales direction, as he has been actively involved in various aspects of the audio visual and technology industry since 1979. His experience spans the areas of video, security and surveillance, broadcast technology, and a brief stint as a radio announcer at the start of his career. Greene has previously held executive management positions with notable technology firms and video equipment manufacturers. Greene is an InfoComm member and an InfoComm Certified Technology Specialist (CTS).