Zoom Rooms updates target health and safety in the workplace

Zoom announced Feb. 3 the general availability of Zoom Rooms, as well as updates to the platform that allow it to count the number of people in conference rooms to help offices maintain social distancing.

The latest updates to Zoom Rooms aim to better enable a hybrid workforce, the company said. It also adds virtual check-in at reception features, and the ability to communicate safety protocols, or display room capacity details to attendees before they even enter the room. The spread of COVID-19 remains top of mind for workers.

A recent study from Publicis Sapient discovered that, when it comes to considerations about whether they’d like to return to their office, 80 per cent of people said fear of contracting COVID-19 is their main concern when returning and commuting to the office. 

“But, to accomplish this, employees have to have a healthy, safe, and secure conference room experience that meets the needs of today’s emerging hybrid workforce. Zoom is well-positioned to provide this,” said Craig Durr, senior analyst with the market research and analyst firm Wainhouse Research, in a news release.

Zoom Rooms features explained

Zoom Rooms Kiosk Mode: Now generally available, a virtual receptionist can greet you or your building guests using a Zoom Rooms for Touch device.

Pair a Zoom Room with your mobile device: iOS or Android mobile clients can be paired to join meetings in a Zoom Room, and they will automatically be placed in companion mode during the meeting. Upon downloading the Zoom Rooms Controller app on mobile phone, users will have access to all room controls, including the ability to start or join a meeting and full audio, video, and participant controls, eliminating the need for users to share the in-room controller.  

Access a real-time people count data: With supported cameras, Zoom Rooms will allow you to see how many people are in a room in real-time on the Zoom dashboard and Scheduling Displays. This helps ensure social distancing mandates are met and meeting spaces aren’t overcrowded.

Users will be able to view real-time people count data. Source: Zoom.

Monitor environment and air quality: Neat Bar, a Zoom Rooms Appliance, includes an advanced set of capabilities called Neat Sense, which lets you monitor your meeting rooms for things like air quality, humidity, CO₂, and volatile organic compounds to keep occupants safe and healthy. Environmental data can be viewed on the Zoom dashboard, on the Zoom Rooms Controller, and on the Scheduling Display for real-time feedback on the safety of your meeting rooms. All the data and statistics for these will be fully available in the Zoom dashboard on Feb. 11, the company noted in a Feb. 3 blog post.

Users will be able to manage and monitor the room’s environment and air quality. Source: Zoom.

Share a whiteboard to Zoom Chat: Designed to help streamline the content sharing outside the meeting room or within a hybrid workforce, this new innovation will allow you to send a Zoom Rooms for Touch whiteboard to Zoom Chat or email. 

Use Gallery View when content is shared: Now you will also be able to select Gallery View when content is being shared. This allows Zoom for Home users to share content from their laptop while using Gallery View on their Zoom for Home appliance. The company says this gives the work-from-home crowd the same capabilities and flexibility to share content as in-office workers. 

Control a shared desktop from Zoom Rooms for Touch: Zoom Rooms for Touch Users can control the desktop of the person currently sharing their laptop screen, from their device.

Direct share via ultrasound on Zoom for Home: You can now direct-share via ultrasonic sound proximity detection on Zoom Rooms Appliances and Zoom for Home devices, so you can connect your desktop client and share content. 

Additionally, Zoom Rooms will enable Zoom for Home devices to join and host OnZoom sessions scheduled on the user’s calendar. When these sessions are also on your device’s calendar; Windows, Mac, and Zoom Rooms Appliance devices can view real-time transcriptions so that participants are not missing anything.  The new in-meeting toolbar and controls on Zoom Rooms for Touch devices have also been redesigned for improved accessibility. 

The company also revealed that it will soon release additional voice-activated functionality that is currently in beta phase. Voice commands for Zoom Rooms will soon be supported on additional platforms with an expanded command set to provide a hands-free experience. In addition, the company will also enable voice-activated controls for Zoom Rooms Appliances with Alexa for Business. 

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Pragya Sehgal
Pragya Sehgal
Her characters are bold and smart, but in real life, Pragya is afraid of going upstairs when it is dark behind her. Born and raised in the capital city of India - Delhi - bounded by the Yamuna River on the west, Pragya has climbed the Himalayas, and survived medical professional stream in high school without becoming a patient or a doctor. Pragya now makes her home in Canada with her husband - a digital/online marketing professional who also prepares beautiful, healthy and delicious meals for her. When she isn’t working or writing around tech, she’s probably watching art films on Netflix, or wondering whether she should cut her hair short or not.

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