During a simultaneous event in six different countries, Sharp and Microsoft launched its Windows Collaboration Display for the European market. It was designed to promote collaboration and make meetings more efficient.
For the occasion, Sharp had set up its new collaboration screen in six different locations: the Microsoft offices in Belgium, France, Italy, Poland, the Czech Republic and the United Kingdom. The purpose of that semi-virtual press conference was to immediately show how the Windows Collaboration Display (WCD) makes collaborating and remote meetings easier.
“We spend an average of 17 hours a month in meetings and that costs a lot of time and money,” says Ian Barnard, European Director of Visual Solutions at Sharp, live from the UK. “Sharp’s” smart office “strategy is aimed at making every office smart, ensuring a free flow of information and making suspensions more effective.”
A little later we see how Sharp employees from every country work together in real time in the Microsoft Whiteboard application. The presentation from the various national Microsoft offices was not chosen accidentally: Sharp and Microsoft worked closely together on this screen to fully coordinate hardware and software. The WCD is fully supported by Microsoft Teams and the Windows operating system. All drivers are provided and everything will continue to work even with future updates.
The WCD is a 70 inch 4K screen with touch support. Sharp speaks of a pen-on-paper experience that is equivalent to the touchscreen of your smartphone or tablet. With regard to input possibilities, USB-C is the optimum choice. An 8-meter cable is supplied that transmits all image and data from a laptop to the large screen and enables touch interaction.
Alternatively, with a wireless connection, almost the same experience can be achieved, but then you will experience a slight delay when you take notes on the screen. In addition, the WCD also supports HDMI and Thunderbolt 3, so that you can also connect a MacBook. In that case the integration is less seamless than with Windows and you will have to configure more yourself.
Albert Sironval, Dealer Account Manager Visual Solutions at Sharp in Belgium emphasizes that the Windows Collaboration Display, despite the first word in the name, is an open system thanks to the input via USB-C. “The WCD is certified for use with Windows and Microsoft Teams, but 62 percent of the companies use more than three collaboration platforms. The system is open and can also be used with other platforms. ”
This also applies to the video hardware. The WCD comes standard with a 4K camera with a field of view of 120 ° and an array of 4 microphones that work over a distance of 4 to 6 meters. If desired, the camera can be exchanged for another copy, such as a Logitech MeetUp, with more advanced options.
Sironval positions the Windows Collaboration Display between Teams and Skype Room Solutions on the one hand and the Microsoft Surface Hub on the other. The WCD always needs an input device and can also display two next to each other. Those who prefer to install a permanent solution in their meeting room can, for example, use a NUC and mount it on the back of the WCD.
IoT Sensor Hub
The WCD has one more skill on board in the form of the IoT Sensor Hub. Various sensors constantly collect information about the occupancy, temperature, air quality, humidity and the ambient light in the meeting room. That data is stored in a secure Azure environment that only the customer has access to, and can be used to optimize meeting rooms.
All that data is made transparent in Sharps WorkSpace Intelligence software. If it turns out that a meeting room for twelve people is usually only occupied by five or six people, then a different interpretation of that space can be considered. The data can also be accessed from Azure by, for example, a smart air conditioning system to adjust the temperature optimally. Or simpler: the Sensor Hub is always active and could turn on the screen when it is detected that people are entering the meeting room.
Customers can use the WorkSpace Intelligence software for free for 90 days, after which Sharp charges a monthly license fee per active WCD. The European price for this is not yet official, but will be around 15 euros. The hardware (without foot, but with camera and IoT hub) will receive a suggested retail price of approximately 7,750 euros, excluding VAT, and should be available from the end of this month.