Wireless Presentation in Modern Offices
Updated: Feb 21, 2019
There's no doubt that the term wireless has become commonplace during my consultations with clients seeking audiovisual solutions in the enterprise. Often times it is brought up as an important value driver for them, i.e. if the systems can be wireless than their lives become measurably easier. It's almost soft-wired into our brains to frown upon any one thing being physically tethered to another thing, like some hapless animal tied to a stake with way to free itself. Oh and there's that little shot of dopamine our brains receive when we get full WiFi bars on our device sitting in some public setting.
Ever since our laptops broke free from the chains of ethernet jumper cables users have been expecting that AV systems follow suit. Wireless equals freedom, mobility, tidiness from table spaghetti. Though it's hard to say wireless AV has lived up to wireless internet. There is of course, many reasons for this as well as some best practices to consider when implementing any "wireless" AV in your facility.
First, let's look at wireless presentation devices. There are literally dozens upon dozens of products on the market, ranging from USB widgets and table pucks to rack-mounted car batteries. Here are some questions (and why) I ask when it comes to determining if wireless AV is a good fit.
This may seem like a simple question, but it really gets the users talking about the heart of the issue. The client may be tired of messy cables strewn about the conference table. Or maybe the client wants to encourage more collaboration from users within the room up at the primary display. But maybe there isn't a compelling reason, and if not, you as the consultant need to level with the client that the benefits may not outweigh the challenges associated with going wireless. For one:
How do you want to connect? Will users have an existential crisis if they go to connect a laptop and *gasp* there is no HDMI cable? Suddenly stricken with anxiety they fumble for tech support who then shows them the onscreen pairing code. Maybe a product with a USB dongle or puck makes sense in this scenario. Or if the company is all Apple users, can Apple TV with AirPlay enabled on the network suffice?
How do you disconnect? Will the CIO get halfway across the building still wirelessly connected to the board room TV? Scary as it sounds, this happens more often than we think. Dongle-less products require a user to terminate a session in the software as opposed to physically disconnecting a cable or a dongle.
How secure is it on your network? Can any guest walk into your meeting spaces and connect to something sitting on your corporate network? Make sure if guests are going to have access to the wireless sharing devices that the product uses dual NIC's to allow connection to both a corporate and guest network.
Can the IT department manage it? The beautiful thing about hard-wired AV connections is there is usually no software involved in the physical connection. However, with wireless presentation devices these run on software and firmware that require patching to stay up to snuff. Can the device I'm putting in my environment be managed remotely by my IT team? Does my IT team even want that responsibility? Is your network even setup for streaming this type of traffic? Make sure they're involved in those discussions early and often.