EasyConf Connect

We’re proud to announce our remote participation software for council meetings: EasyConf Connect.

Standard-supplied user interface for remote delegates. Can be modified to your own look-and-feel

We give you the most user-friendly way to allow remote delegates to participate in council meetings: By making the remote participant part of the meeting as if they are physically there.
We completely emulate a conference system microphone unit:

  • If a remote participant presses their virtual microphone button, his/her voice become part of the conference system audio. for everyone to hear.
  • When speaking, their webcam video becomes the live speaker for everyone to see.
  • When voting, their voting result is registered and recorded for everyone to see.

It doesn’t matter for our software if the speaker is remotely present, or present in the hall:

  • If the person is in the hall, then a conference system microphone is used. When its microphone is enabled, a dome camera will show the speaker. The conference unit can be used to cast votes.
  • If this person would be participating from a remote location, the webcam feed will be used and the webcam microphone is used. And our software can be used to cast votes. If the remote delegate was already allocated on a conference system seat, it will be automatically removed from that seat when logging in from remote.
  • For the chairman, the audience, the recoding and live-stream system and the conference and voting system there is no difference: All will look and work the same if the person is either remotely present or participating in the hall.

That is what we call Easy!

Features

Integration

  • Full integration with supported conference systems*
  • Our software allows a remote participant to be part of the conference system as if they are physically seated in the hall.
  • Efficient re-use of the existing AV infrastructure in the hall including the conference system, audio amplification, guest microphones and existing streaming and recording solutions.
  • Full support for remote delegates and their voting results in our streaming meeting metadata (with speaker, agenda and voting results information) to be used by third-party recording and steaming solutions for video marking.

(*) Current supported conference systems are: Bosch Dicentis wired, Dicentis wireless, CCS1000 and DCN-NG. Ask us about Shure and Televic support. 

 

EasyConf Connection diagram. The left side represents the room hardware. The right side represents EasyConf Connect connectivity.

Control

  • Full chairman control over the room conference units’ microphone and remote microphones, all from our easy to use software.
  • Conference system and microphone control works in the traditional way and is the same for hall and remote participants.
  • Individual and group speech time support just like in the conference system using our software.
  • Full visibility and control over the request list and microphone modes.
  • Remote participants microphone is instant-on when the microphone is enabled.

Invitation and participation

  • After receiving a digital meeting invitation, remote participants can become fully part of the meeting for which they were invited to.
  • Only remote participants with a valid meeting invitation are allowed into the meeting.
  • Invitations can be removed anytime during the meeting to disallow people who misbehave, or to temporarily disallow persons during a closed/private session.

Audio and Video distribution

  • Spoken audio from the room and other remote participants can be heard in high-fidelity by both the hall and remote participants.
  • Audio mixing happens locally, so every speaker can be clearly heard. Even when you are speaking yourself!
  • The live video from the hall, the presentation feed and the video from active speakers in the hall or remote can be watched by remote viewers.
  • Recording and streaming can be configured with their own unique feed. So, the live feed to the audience watching the streams at home may be differ from what the hall is seeing and may differ from what remote delegates are seeing.
  • Support for the distribution of language channels towards remote participants, who can tune-in on their own selected channel.

1 speaker active in the Live view. As seen by a remote delegate in the EasyConf connect client

3 speakers active in the live view, including (group) speechtimes

Mosaic view, multi video outputs

  • All remote participants webcams can be shown to the hall permanently in a mosaic view and can be viewed by remote participants.
  • The chairman/clerk and the room can see the quorum at all time by looking at all live webcam feeds in the mosaic view.
  • Up to 100 persons can be shown at the same time in an automatically sized mosaic format.
  • The mosaic view is nicely sorted by group and alphabetically. No more difficult searching for delegates there.
  • Multiple video output, to allow the live view and mosaic view to be shown on different screens in the hall.
  • The chairman/operator can switch the view ‘live view’ to ‘mosaic view’, for instance during a voting session so people watching the live feed at home can also see everyone at the same time.

Mosaic view of remote participant. Active speakers are indicated red. Request list in green (not seen). Sorted by political party.

The same 4 speakers, but active in the live feed which can be a second screen.

(Remote) Digital voting

  • Full digital voting support for remote participant and full integration into the conference AV system.
  • These results can be combined with the results from conference system including group and individual results.
  • Voting results can be shown in the existing way to hall displays and to the video recording and live viewers of the meeting. PDF voting reports are created in the same way as usual.
  • All remote delegates can be shown during the voting session in a mosaic-format, including the (individual) voting results. This view can be made part of the video recordings.
  • The mosaic is nicely sorted by political party, making the viewing of persons and their voting results easy to understand.
  • When a remote microphone is enabled, it’s instantly visible and audible to the hall and into the recording to allow quick roll-calling of voting answers if there is need for this kind of voting.
  • Our custom UI allows for different look and feel on how the voting screen looks.

Voting session with all remote voters visible in the mosaic at the same time, Including voting results. Nicely sorted by political party and alphabetically.

Custom UI for delegates

  • Customizable UI for EasyConf Connect is spupported!
  • Just like our conference control software, our hall displaying capabilities and Multimedia devices
  • Design the UI for remote participants with your own look-and-feel.

Standard-supplied user interface for remote delegates. Can be modified to your own look-and-feel

Active voting session User Interface. Can be changed!

(Cloud) Distribution

  • The audio/video distribution to and from all remote participants can be hosted either in the Cloud (Azure, AWS, OVH,..) or directly on the local AV system
  • We supply the cloud server software as part of EasyConf connect.
  • When using cloud hosting, the cloud server just requires a high-speed up and downlink. Nearly no CPU performance required there.
  • The server software can run locally as well, simplifying the concept even more. This does require the local AV network and internet towards remote users to have a high-quality, high bandwidth internet connection.

Privacy

  • The connection between the hall, the (cloud) server and remote users is a closed loop. No other internet service, connection or API is used.
  • The (cloud) server and remote users don’t store delegate or personal data.
  • Only the room-PC contains and stores the delegate and meeting database.
  • Connecting to the (cloud) distribution server is a choice. It’s only required to allow remote participants to join in. At any moment, this connection can be severed, where the room runs in the traditional stand-alone mode with no internet required.

FAQ – Frequently asked questions

What is EasyConf Connect supposed to solve?

The difficulty of adding remote delegates into city-council meetings and still be able to run a normal meeting.

The difficulty of managing the conference system in the hall, with people sitting in the hall combined with remote delegates. The difficulty of adding remote voting into all this.

The difficulty of easily managing these kinds of meetings, by the city-council clerk, chairman or operator who already has its hands full!

The difficulty of making sure only the allowed invited people enter the meeting and can be removed when misbehaving.

EasyConf Connect allows remote delegates to be part of the council meeting as if he/she is present in the room. Where the clerk/chairman operator has easy management of all aspects of this traditionally difficult scenario, made simple by us.

What is the benefit with respect to existing video conferencing applications?

There are several, but most important: EasyConf Connect has been designed with the requirements of a city-council chairman-controlled meeting in mind. Which is built around the existing conference system and existing AV infrastructure in the hall. Since the start of our company 10 years ago, we have been experts in conference systems and have been designing conference system AV software ever since. We know the needs of our customer and build our software accordingly. Simple software.

EasyConf Connect emulates real conference system discussion units, with all key feature in mind: Chairman controlled, maximum amount of allowed speakers, request lists, voting sessions, meta-data generation, video mixing, name generation with logo and (group) speech times. Basically, what we do already with our EasyConf and EasyCam software, but now including remote participation. Most of the existing video conference call applications have none or only some of these features.

With our solution, there is no need for laptops in the room showing third-party videoconferencing solutions. Remote participants are already part of the conference system with our solutions.

There is no need for people in the room to use headsets or the need for other third-party software to control remote participants and run voting sessions. They can already be controlled in the existing conference system, there is no difference in the traditional way of working!

Can the remote participant be seen in the room?

Remote participants are fully part of our video processing and camera control system software. That has a dedicated video output in which all home users are permanently visible, called Mosaic View. This output can be displayed on TVs in the council room or could even be broadcasted if required. There are easy ways to change the main output from Main Screen (i.e. speaker view) to Mosaic View. Whenever a home user turns on his microphone, he is automatically mixed into the Main Screen and therefore existing broadcast and recording facilities can be used as before.

How many delegates can join from home?

EasyConf Connect now supports up to 100 home users. The meeting itself may have hundreds of participants participating in the conference system in the hall with 100 remote participants added.

Does the system support remote voting?

Absolutely! The home user is requested to cast his/her vote whenever a voting session is started in the conference system software. It has been seamlessly integrated in the existing software and all aspects work as before: total/group/individual result calculation, majority calculation, quorum calculation, etc. We’ve gone one step further and made the Mosaic View show the individual voting results as a nice-looking overlay on all individual videos. This is supposed to be used to validate and visualize given votes.

If a roll-call voting session is required and everyone is required to speak their voting result into the recording, our software will switch instantly to any remote use who has its microphone enabled for quick roll-call processing.

Which modifications in the system are required?

This depends on a lot of factors, mostly depending on the quality of the existing system in the hall. For starters:

  • A recent Shure, Televic or Bosch conference system.
  • Sufficient dome camera’s in the hall to allow remote participants to view speakers in the hall, controlled by our EasyCam software.
  • A decent wired internet connection which is dedicated for this purpose
  • A recent PC/Workstation with minimally a Nvidia Quadro P2000 or Quadro RTX 4000 graphics card, 16Gbyte of memory and at least 4 intel CPU cores (Xeon or Core I5/7/9)
  • Dante audio (for in and output) by either installing the virtual sound card or a hardware USB Dante-audio adapter

This PC needs to be equipped with the latest MVI AudioVisual software releases (EasyConf and EasyCam).

This PC will do all the hard AV work of encoding and decoding audio and video, run the camera video processing, conference system control and audio management.

So, if you already have an existing MVI installation with our camera and conference control software, then a purchase of EasyConf Connect with a maintenance contract and a software upgrade may be sufficient. We can help in determining what is required in your system, since usually each system is unique. Contact our sales support for this. ( sales@mvi-audiovisual.com )

What about security?

All traffic is encrypted. Only delegates that exist in the conference system can access the meeting. Participants can only access through a personal invitation send from the conference system. The delegate can only join as long as the meeting is open for remote participants, the meeting is started, and the delegate-ID is known in the system. Every delegate that joins is visible in the Mosaic View. With a single click of a button, the access of any single connected user can be revoked instantly, causing an immediate disconnect for that remote delegate. Furthermore the software is an MVI AudioVisual developed solution.

What about privacy?

The solution is basically a closed-loop system. Data is only stored in the room PC/Workstation. Both the cloud server and the remote participant will store no personal information. (only the invitation-ID).

Since we allow the end user to self-host the EasyConf Connect server, they can add additional security and privacy measures by embedding VPN and login methods into this total system.

Only if the end customer decides to make the meeting public by recording the meeting, recording our meeting metadata and/or sending the live video to a streaming party, then delegate details are known to the outside world.

Can the Bosch Multimedia devices be used in the meeting?

Yes, this is fully supported! All of our existing solutions apply (EasyCam, EasyConf and EasyConf-DelegateUI).  When the MMD devices run our modern MVI app, they can fully participate with the (hybrid) voting sessions and see the live or the mosaic video on the 7″ screen of the MMD device.

In which language is the software available?

We’ve decided to integrate our custom UI generation possibilities in EasyConf Connect! This means that the complete layout of the user interface can be changed (by the integrator) to reflect the look and feel of the council. This also means that the software can be translated to any native language. We can provide English and Dutch templates. More language support and translation tables are under way.

What are the requirements for the home user?

EasyConf Connect is working properly on all standard laptops running Windows 10. We are working on a release for Apple (MacBook, iPad, iPhone) and plan to have it available in summer 2020. Furthermore, it is strongly advised to use a headset (for best audio and to prevent echo). We’ve tested several different webcams and haven’t seen any problems with them. A decent internet connection is required (2Mbit down and 1 Mbit up). More important is usually the quality of the wireless system at the home user location. If the router is in the living-room and the user is participating from the attic, the bad wireless connection can cause a bad meeting experience.

Does the system support interpretation channels?

It does. For now 8 channels can be inserted into EasyConf connect and are accessible by all remote participants.

More are easily supported, contact us if you need more channels.

When is the product available?

We target full availability in the summer of 2020 including Apple, Android and Windows support.

The software is currently working, we are daily using this software for our own remote participation work meetings. Its available for pilot testing and available to customers who are in urgent need for our EasyConf connect solutions.

Contact our sales support for more details ( sales@mvi-audiovisual.com )

Is it possible to live stream the meeting?

Yes, any existing broadcast/recording/live stream system can be used. EasyConf Connect is part of our existing EasyConf and EasyCam solutions. No modifications are required here. Furthermore, it is also possible to live stream to YouTube or Facebook by using OBS studio and using one of our virtual webcams as video source on the same PC/Workstation.

Your screenshots look to be using stock material, is this all real?

Correct and yes, it’s all real! All of the screenshots above are created from a real live meeting, where stock video footage has been used instead of webcam feeds. 37 physical EasyConf Connect remote participant clients have been used this way, where the meeting was hosted on a 2Gbit OVH elite VPS server located in Germany.