Once upon a time, a speakerphone and projector were the epitome of modern conference room technology. Bonus points if they both worked. But if that’s what your conference room looks like today, it’s probably time for an upgrade.

The venerable conference room has long served as the nerve center of business, where people meet, collaborate, brainstorm, strategize and hammer out deals in a face-to-face setting. Technology has made these activities more efficient, sophisticated and accessible – especially for remote workers.

From whiteboards that read scribbles to cameras that put everyone face to face

What kind of tech are we talking about? Touch-sensitive whiteboards, for example, let you make presentations, write notes, edit documents and collaborate interactively, all on screen. Most include options to capture the final product, putting an end to the cell-phone whiteboard photo at the close of the meeting. Additional options take John Madden-style scribbles made on the presenter’s separate, tablet-style input device and turn them into legible, typed text on screen.

Want to show a short clip or a handful of slides? Many companies have replaced conference room projectors with large-screen TVs, coupled with wireless transmission via systems such as Google Chromecast or Apple TV.

When you want to accurately capture the meeting for those off site, high-definition immersive video and high-end audio reproduction do it well. Digital data streaming, content sharing and mobile connectivity solutions propel static conference rooms into dynamic locations where people from across states, countries and continents collaborate face to face – but virtually – thanks to tracking cameras that zoom in on a speaker’s voice and motion.

Participants realistically experience the full measure of communication: visuals, tone, body language and posture. And no one has to request camera time – devices automatically capture the image of whomever is speaking, making the teleconferencing experience more personal than ever before.

Conference room booking gets faster and easier

Conference room scheduling has grown up, too. Meeting attendees can now see which conference rooms are available within the desired time frame and book a room quickly, in cooperation with their regular calendaring system.

Did the group not show up for the scheduled meeting? Some booking systems can be set up to cancel the meeting automatically if no one checks in for the event. On the other hand, maybe everyone shows up and the meeting runs long. If time is up but the discussion is still underway, the meeting organizer can quickly tack on a few extra minutes, as long as the room isn’t already booked for the next time slot.

Lost? Some room management platforms work with indoor navigation beacons to offer turn-by-turn directions.

While there’s no shame in the speakerphone-and-projector setup, advancements in conference room technology can help us all collaborate more productively and efficiently.

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