By Susannah Magers
Immersive Video Experience for Workplace Group Calls
As BlueJeans’ Principal Product Manager for the room experience, Tedd Fox’s domain is “from the time you walk into a room to the time you walk out of the room for a meeting.”
Moment of truth: the new device or software has arrived, and is ready for deployment. Tedd Fox wants navigating BlueJeans group video call software to be intuitive and easy to implement, without the standard learning curves and the oftentimes lengthy ‘getting to know you’ process that setting up, implementing, and using new technology can involve. Fox’s theory is that if you need to have tutorials, and extensive how-to guides, then the company “needs to do better.” This speaks to the ways in which intuitive design is incorporated into the BlueJeans group video call platform. “We are developing user interfaces that allow people to automatically and intrinsically know how to use our service.”
Every product had its “pain points,” as Fox describes, which are the aspects of using the product that make an end user stop and think about how the product could be better—or, to put it another way, what do you just not do because it’s just not worth going to the trouble? The biggest obstacle to starting or joining a group call—which Fox says is referred to at BlueJeans as “the video tax”—is around five to fifteen minutes just navigating how to get a video meeting started. To this end, BlueJeans group video calls ensure that your meeting will start and end on time.
The key to solving issues like the video tax is through figuring out how to make it better, whether it’s about joining, interacting in, or leaving a meeting. “Talk to the customers, the people who use the product, and find out where the pain points are.”
What are some of the barriers to an online meeting being able to just happen effortlessly? A primary one is that people are not used to the technology being in the room. Fox describes what can be an intimidating hurdle to deploying group video call technology: remotes with detailed instruction manuals or placards that can be daunting to many users. In response to this common deployment issue, Fox and his team created the one-push system. “All they have to do is schedule the room and schedule the meeting.” The rest is just a click of the button. In fact, BlueJeans group video call technology is so sophisticated that if you have the BlueJeans Android or iOS app installed on your mobile device, when you walk into the room the software will automatically ask you if you want to join the meeting. If so, joining the group video call is as easy as accepting that prompt.
When looking at Android, iOS, desktop, or BlueJeans group call rooms, the goal is to create what Fox calls a “congruent user experience.” This idea refers to limiting the amount of new information an end user might need to absorb and download to implement a new technology, essentially working with what you already know.
Fox describes how the various BlueJeans apps for various systems look, and behave, similarly. This familiarity is key: the apps possess the same labels and nomenclature, says Fox, so if someone wants to say mute their microphone during a group video call, it’s a recognizable, easy-to-access feature within the congruent, interoperable BlueJeans environment.
Fox details the release of BlueJeans Relay for iOS: “We just released Relay for iOS so that users can mount an iPad, for example, in their existing Polycom, Lifesize, or Cisco video-enabled rooms, and have that same interaction model, user interface, and dialogue. It’s a dialogue that they can understand as long as they have any knowledge of any of BlueJeans’ group video call platform items, and they can get into a BlueJeans meeting and interact well.”
Remember that concept of “remote intimidation”? The dreaded, multi-page instructional manual? That desire to ditch the remote is exactly what led to the evolution of Relay. “That should be the only barrier of entry to a BlueJeans group video call: you should be able to schedule the meeting, invite the room, and anywhere in that meeting invite includes the BlueJeans video meeting link. When they walk into the room, they should see that meeting, and just click, ‘join.’ They shouldn’t have to go to the directory, dial in to the IVR, enter in a meeting ID, and then hit the pound key. It’s just too much.”
BlueJeans Relay was initially released with an Android interface. Deep Magic is a BlueJeans Relay feature that was developed to provide a one-touch solution that resides on the native touch panels on the existing in-room group call hardware systems—removing the need for any additional hardware. Another highlight of BlueJeans Relay is that it provides status data on the room: if it’s in use, in or out of a group video call, and what kind of endpoint is being used. “This is information that systems administrators may find necessary,” states Fox. From this same meeting console, any group call meetings scheduled for that day are also visible, making it more transparent for room administrators to determine which rooms are busy and plan accordingly.
Efficiency and ease-of-use shouldn’t stop once the meeting begins. BlueJeans’ industry-leading integrations carry you through your webinar or video calls without the usual hiccups around screen-sharing content, for example, that impede productivity. Fox recalls common feedback: “How do I bring the whiteboard into the meeting, or make sure I can see everything I need to?” The visual language of mobile applications is a main influence for Fox’s design ethos—intuitive design that enables users to do launch and navigate the app without extensive background knowledge or tutorials.