Polycom Advances Hardware for New Generation of Collaboration

The Polycom conference phone that has been in boardrooms for decades is getting a major makeover.

By Sean Michael Kerner | Posted Oct 8, 2015
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In conference rooms and boardrooms around the world for the last 25 years, there has been a common sight: a three-legged Polycom conference phone. Polycom is now updating that phone, as well as their other unified communications services, as part of a new wave of products announced on October 7.

Michael Frendo, Executive Vice President of Worldwide Engineering at Polycom, explained to Enterprise Networking Planet that the product that helped to build Polycom as a company is the three-point or three legged conference phone. It was the first real high-quality conference phone in the market and has evolved incrementally over the last 25 years.

"The new Polycom Trio is the next generation of the product," Frendo said. "We're redefining what a conference phone really is."

The Polycom Trio includes an enhanced wideband audio experience for high-fidelity voice calls. Additionally, the Polycom Trio brings in content and video, with the ability to add modular video pods to the deployment. As such, an organization can choose to deploy a Trio as an audio-only solution or to add on the visual plug that is a small modular video screen for additional content.

The Trio has Bluetooth, WiFi, and NFC to enable connectivity with devices that people bring into a conference room.

From an audio perspective, there are some very specific enhancements landing in the Trio.

"The three-legged phone has long had three microphones in it, not just one," Frendo said. "In Trio we're adding noise block technology, where the microphones work with the DSP [Digital Signal Processor] to detect when people are speaking and when there is background noise."

Noise block essentially auto-mutes the phone when people aren't speaking. Other audio capabilities will land in Trio over time to further improve microphone quality.

The Polycom Trio is based on Google's Android mobile operating system and integrates several ARM cores as well as a DSP.

Polycom Centro

While the Trio is a small device, the Centro is the opposite, providing a full-room conferencing experience. Frendo explained that Centro places the screens in the middle of the room, in contrast to other telepresence solutions, changing the dynamic.

The system automatically highlights the person speaking, to help convey body language and other nuances of communications.

Another key service that Polycom is debuting is Real Presence Concierge, which is about enabling BYOD users.

"The idea with Concierge is you can walk into a room, the user pairs with what is in the room," Frendo said. "It's about allowing people to use their own devices and making collaboration easier to use."

Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at Enterprise Networking Planet and InternetNews.com. Follow him on Twitter @TechJournalist.

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