When people walk into a conference room, they don’t want to struggle with the technology – they want it to just work. PanaCast provides that while significantly enhancing employee productivity by streamlining collaboration with its intelligent features. That’s why we’ve deployed hundreds of PanaCast devices across Uber’s conference rooms globally.
Ravi Sharma, Head of Collaboration and AV Services of Uber
How many times have you heard someone say “I ubered there?” This verb is testament to Uber’s rising prevalence and the company’s position as a leader in the ridesharing economy. Almost 10 years after its founding in San Francisco, CA, Uber and its drivers give about 15 million rides a day – proof of the company’s success in accomplishing its mission: to “ignite opportunity by setting the world in motion”. Uber’s commitment to helping passengers reach their final destination via Uber – whether via UberPool, UberX or any of the company’s many offerings – mimics their criteria for video conferencing technology. Just like the ideal Uber ride, a video call should be easy and efficient, should enhance productivity and should leverage the latest in cutting edge video collaboration technology.
Enter PanaCast! Uber has deployed more than 850 PanaCast camera systems worldwide over the course of the past 2 years. Their technical team began working closely with Altia Systems / PanaCast’s sales and engineering teams in September 2016. This was in response to a dramatic uptick in demand for conference rooms amongst Uber employees. Uber was growing at a rapid pace and the need for ZoomRooms – the selected video conferencing service – was multiplying, a good problem to have, if you will. The PanaCast team worked closely with Ravi Sharma, Uber’s Head of Collaboration and AV Services. Sharma joined Uber to lead their AV 2.0 effort. Responsible for connecting thousands of Uber global sites via cloud collaboration technologies, Sharma built a task force dedicated to that single mission. Under his leadership, the team has revolutionized how Uber collaborates via video, offering a premier user experience while simultaneously reducing cost and enhancing remote manageability.
Streamlining enterprise scale video conferencing technology updates while offering a superior end user experience is no small feat, especially for enterprise companies. Sharma’s mission was to accomplish both for all 15,000+ Uber employees in 400+ offices. First, the team conducted deep analysis of users’ needs and selected solution components which would deliver an outstanding, immersive, easy-to-use experience. This included Zoom as the preferred VC cloud services provider and PanaCast as the preferred device to provide Panoramic-4K quality video with a 180° immersive experience. Zoom and the Altia Systems / PanaCast teams worked together to integrate PanaCast controls into the Zoom Room control panel via an open API, which simplified and enhanced participants’ experience.
Sharma selected PanaCast for its panoramic field of view, Panoramic-4K video quality and Intelligent Zoom experience. He loves the fact that PanaCast offers full coverage of a conference room and a full 180° view. “Full room coverage is the biggest thing in real estate,” he states. “You have 5 chairs per huddle room. If 2 are not in the camera’s field of view, those 2 chairs are not usable and you’ve lost those seats at the table – literally.” Sharma recognizes that PanaCast has saved the company money on what would otherwise be lost real estate while simultaneously enhancing how employees collaborate globally. “PanaCast has significantly improved the productivity of our employees,” Sharma attests. “This is why we’ve standardized on PanaCast. The devices are now being used in about 850 collaboration rooms and spaces in Uber offices around the world.”
Next, the team reviewed and reduced the amount of equipment (and suppliers) in each conference room. They evaluated each product’s contribution to an immersive and engaging experience and each product’s ease of manageability. Solution components which required manual updates were replaced with devices which support network-based updates. The PanaCast engineering team worked closely with the Uber AV team to integrate our enterprise manageability solution with Uber IT so that the more than 850 devices (and growing) deployed at Uber are managed through a simple IT-driven push process.
Finally, Uber took an early lead in integrating Intelligent Vision capabilities – such as Intelligent Zoom and PanaCast Vivid – into the solution. This helped optimize users’ experience by replacing the need for manual adjustments using remote control devices for traditional PTZ cameras with autonomous intelligent technology. Such technology automatically ensures an always-right field of view and a great presentation of participants regardless of how room lighting changes through the day or between seasons.
When asked what his favorite PanaCast feature is, Sharma raves about Intelligent Zoom. “When employees previously walked into conference rooms, they had to figure out how to zoom into the right part of the room. It was hugely disruptive. Now, with PanaCast’s Intelligent Zoom feature, I walk into a room and wherever I sit, the camera knows where I am and frames me right away. What was a struggle previously is no longer one.”
Uber has been one of PanaCast’s largest and most active customers, giving the PanaCast team a lot of feedback to improve user experience. Naveed Alam, Yashket Gupta and John Zhang from the PanaCast Engineering team dedicated a great deal of effort to further enhance Uber’s Intelligent Zoom experience. “For Intelligent Zoom, we changed the zoom in/zoom out transition from a gradual transition to instant reframing,” explains Zhang. “This means Intelligent Zoom ‘jumps’, if you will, from the prior starting setting to the final setting immediately.” PanaCast’s engineering team also spent time developing 2.5x zoom-in capability for Intelligent Zoom, which is especially useful when there is only a single person in an Uber conference room, and PTZ presets so that Uber employees can switch to certain PTZ settings with a single click. Sharma commends PanaCast’s team on their efforts. In his words: “We are getting a lot of ‘kudos’ for Intelligent Zoom.”
Beyond the technical benefits of PanaCast mentioned above, Sharma has thoroughly enjoyed working with PanaCast’s engineering team. “They’ve really enabled global deployment,” he says. The Altia Systems and Uber teams are now looking ahead, integrating the unique PanaCast capability to deliver real-time data and information to automate workflows and enhance users’ experience even further, utilizing precise data and information to continually optimize the solution, its usage, and users’ experience. And that will be the subject of our next story…