This is a typical Huddle Room setup.
Image from uxmatters.com
Huddle rooms are becoming more popular within our industry. I don’t know if this is coming from end users, people in the huddle room business or from video conference vendors trying to push web cams as a viable means of communication for more than one person. In this blog, we’ll look at the ins and outs of the huddle room as a product, its good points and bad so you can decide if this is a good fit for your organization.
Huddle Rooms, which are sometimes referred to as team tables, typically seat 2-6 people around a half racetrack shaped table. At one end there is at least one or sometimes two displays mounted to the table. This puts you very close to the displays so they don’t need to be big. These displays are typically no more than 55” and can be as small as 32”. The one screen versions usually have the larger displays. Most of them have compartments for a computer or codec and some of them have plug ports for data and power. Lighting nor audio considerations are taken into account with most huddle room products due to cost.
The footprint that huddle rooms have are small, so they can sit up against a wall of a small to medium sized conference room. This is great because you won’t have to do any room remediation before install 99% of the time. Of course, the more people you intend to sit around the table, the bigger it will get and the more square footage you’ll need.
The screens being close to you, while being one of its biggest advantages is also one of its biggest drawbacks. The video conferencing camera is typically placed above the display rendering a horrible on screen image and bad eye contact. Some of the better two screen systems have placed the camera in between the screens at eye level, but you’re still really close to it. If video conferencing is the main goal for getting a huddle room product, don’t intend to have the camera above the display. If your camera must sit above the display, remember that the bigger the display gets, the worse the eye contact is.
The intimate nature of huddle rooms make for a great local meeting environment. The displays can be used for sharing data and in most huddle rooms you can face the other people in the room, unlike some dedicated video conference rooms. Just don’t try to cram too many people in these spaces.
Depending on camera location, among other things, the video experience can be anywhere from a 0 to a 7. Number of participants, type of camera used and the location of the camera are just a few factors affecting the experience.
Just like every other communication solution, pricing is all over the map. There are custom integrations, stand alone products and the do it yourself method. If cost is a big motivator, I would suggest the DIY route. Mount a couple of displays on the wall, place a camera in a good location, get a small table and have at it. Huddle rooms, in my opinion, aren’t the place for full blown custom integrations. They will just get costly by the end of the day.
At the end of the day, Huddle Rooms can be great for both local and small remote conferences. Just keep in mind what your planned usage would be before investing in one.