How a home theater can be useful working from home
From Zoom meetings to streaming tech events, there are reasons why professionals working remotely are considering transforming their entertainment space for business.
Image: iStockphoto / fizkes
People became resourceful during the pandemic and made the most of the space they had during the lockdown. In some cases, home theaters served a dual purpose – not just with ceiling-mounted projectors – but also with large screen televisions connected to computers to provide a dual-screen experience for work.
“Nowadays, when 4K and lower priced televisions are just as good and fantastic, it will absolutely become a part of your entertainment, but it can also be part of your education or engagement, anything,” said Namita Dhallan, chief product officer for the video technology company Brightcove.
It’s much easier to connect a computer to a smart TV to use it as a monitor or expand a screen, be it on a PC or Mac, Dhallan said.
With many companies now putting their employees to work in a hybrid model, people should reconsider how they use home theaters and big TVs beyond watching movies, Dhallan said.
SEE: The best devices for business people streaming video (TechRepublic)
“So many more companies are using video to alert their own workforce of new product launches or new employee engagements and town halls,” even to expand zoom views for a better experience, she said. “The ability is there and I absolutely think that people started doing it because they had to [during the pandemic] and they don’t go back “to the offices.
Corporate video grew 22.3% globally year over year, according to Brightcove. The use of networked TVs to watch corporate videos increased 28.5%, the company said.
Brightcove lets customers host over-the-top streaming events and display a custom app with various channels that can be used to consume content that mimics a Netflix-like appearance. The content can be scheduled to run at specific times and a company can decide which employees see which content, Dhallan said.
For example, a customer, logistics platform provider FreightWaves, created a virtual cable TV-like event with 85 video presentations, she said. “When you’re using a digital platform with video and you’re watching it on a big screen, you feel like you’re there.”
Then there is the appeal of video as opposed to a more static medium. Viewers “find a visible medium like video much more appealing than a SharePoint site, for example,” said Dhallan. “Now you are using your home theater for business purposes. I think we’ll see more of that … [OTT] could be the new intranet. ”
But Ira Weinstein, founder and managing partner of Recon Research, said the concept of using a home theater for businesses was new to him.
“That might be interesting, but it’s the first time someone has said to me, ‘Can I use toys from my home theater in my home office?'”
Typically, home theaters have plush chairs and carpeting, and good acoustics to provide a warm, rich video viewing experience, he noted. This is not necessarily conducive to work, he said.
The upside is that they usually have good lighting with room blackout capabilities. So if someone were to use them for work, they could avoid the slick look people often have on video calls, Weinstein said.
On the other hand: “In typical office situations you don’t have any subwoofers or theater chairs or projectors, that is [the use case] gets a little thinner, “he said.” You could argue that my projected image would be phenomenal for a larger group experience, “but the typical home office doesn’t need that, he said.
“Do you really need 65, 80 or 100” video to hold a meeting from a home office? It might be nice, but it’s not the experience you need when you’re the only person in the room, ”Weinstein said. “I like that the technology is there, and in situations where you want a big, immersive screen, you have the toys. I don’t know whether that would have any advantages in everyday life. ”
Dan Root, a senior analyst at Wainhouse Research, agreed. The company does not see home theaters being converted for business purposes; more that home theater companies are developing hybrid devices that can serve both purposes, he said.
“A lot of home theater devices are designed for output,” said Root.
“They use it to hear a soundtrack or watch a movie,” he said. “A lot of the audio systems you see in a home theater – the exits and entrances are not the same as what you would see in a business context.”
Wainhouse sees a shift towards all-in-one systems with microphones, high-resolution cameras and speakers, as well as a computer that optimizes the signal and can sit on a desk or be mounted on a wall.
“These devices are definitely picking up speed, but they have a work purpose – they’re not a home theater to be renamed the company,” said Root.
How to set up a home theater for work
Repurposing a home theater for business purposes requires a digital signal processor or audio processor, which is a device that takes away noise feedback, he said. This DSP or audio processor would need to be connected to an ethernet cable or laptop to make an outgoing call.
All-in-one systems are competitively priced and can be used in a home office or home theater, Root said.
“It enables the same interactions that you are used to in your office, and that allows you to be consistent room by room. That way you’re complimenting the home theater instead of repurposing it and trying to fit a square pin into a round hole, ”he said.
Root said he would try to convert equipment from a home theater to an office rather than the other way around. “I don’t think there is any point in taking things out of an office and building them into a home theater.”
Weinstein agreed that all-in-one video conferencing systems could be used for either purpose. “If I put this in a home theater, you could argue that I’m making a group video conference room out of it – with the important caveat that the seating could be a little unconventional,” he said.
“Collaboration and conferencing are malleable experiences,” but Weinstein isn’t sure whether a home theater should be used for business purposes. “That doesn’t mean people shouldn’t,” he said, but added, “My car is great and I could sleep in it, but I don’t think I want to use it as a hotel room.”
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