Dolby Voice Room Enables Productive and Collaborative Meetings

By Biju Oommen  |  May 24, 2019
Fig. A Dolby Voice Hub & Dolby Voice Camera, Fig. B Dolby Conference Phone (News - Alert) (DCP)

Many organizations working to digitally transform their business use video conferencing tools and technology to drive better business results. It is part of their communications and team collaboration strategies. To make meetings productive, users of these systems can use advanced capabilities and technologies, like Dolby spatial audio, dynamic levelling, wireless and wired content sharing, white board framing, high dynamic range (HDR (News - Alert)) video, and 4K smart cameras for intelligent scene framing. Let us now briefly analyze how these features and technologies can work together in tandem to make users’ highly interactive collaboration experiences positive.

For example, Dolby’s spatial audio technology picks up all the voices in a room and presents them clearly to all participants with the appearance of coming from specific, distinct locations in the room. This makes it easy for remote audio call attendees to easily follow the speakers and their conversations.  Dynamic levelling adjusts the level of speakers in the room, on an ongoing basis, enabling full-room voice capture.  Noise suppression cancels unwanted extraneous ambient sounds, like projector noise or HVAC systems.

The HDR video technology helps display an optimal image of the room, objects and meeting participants under different lighting conditions.  Wireless and wired content sharing enables speakers and participants to share and view files in a simple and secure manner with a laptop, tablet or a mobile device in real time.  White board framing allows users to set up the four corners of a white board in view of the camera during system setup and configuration.  When selecting share whiteboard mode, the whiteboard appears as content at the far end.  Dolby 4K smart cameras with intelligent scene framing continually detect people in the meeting room and adjusts the view so everyone is visible.  Intelligent scene framing adjusts the framing of the image automatically to provide participants the most relevant view of the collaboration session in progress.  

For a cost-effective and affordable cloud-based solution, the Dolby Voice Room can be easily combined with Video Conferencing as a Service (VCaaS) from BlueJeans or Highfive.  This review focuses on the BlueJeans solution with Dolby Voice Room. 

Previously, we had the opportunity to review the Dolby Conference Phone (DCP): The Pillars of a Successful and Meaningful Meeting.  Dolby Voice Room is designed to run with other third-party software, such as VCaaS.  We will consider Dolby Voice Room with BlueJeans VCaaS as our overall objectives are a better video conferencing meeting experience, enterprise-grade video calls, high definition Dolby audio and improved TCO.

The Dolby Voice Room system comprises the following system components: Dolby Voice Hub, Dolby Voice Camera and the Dolby Conference Phone (DCP). Please refer Fig. A and Fig. B above.  As a side note, if you already have a Dolby Conference Phone for audio conferencing, you can add the Dolby Voice Camera and the Dolby Voice Hub and migrate to a complete video conferencing solution. 

The following links include the product specs: Dolby Voice Room and Dolby Conference Phone.

The Dolby Voice Hub is a small appliance that has a secure Linux OS and on top of that provides a Chrome Embedded Framework web application development environment. This allows Dolby partners, such as BlueJeans, to develop an app to fully control the out-of-box and runtime user experiences. It provides secure fully immersive integration with service providers to join, engage and share content.  Other features include:

  • A 1 Gbps Ethernet port for network connectivity
  • One PoE port for the DCP connection
  • Three USB 3.0 ports for the Dolby Voice Camera or third-party cameras
  • Two HDMI ports for connecting two HDTVs (CEC protocol is supported to automatically turn the TVs ON and OFF)
  • One port for content sharing from the computer
  • Setup and configuration software are essentially plug and play and handles system functions, auto-update of camera/phone software, etc.
  • The touch-screen display is for interacting with the Dolby Voice Room software and the conferencing service provider’s application.

The Dolby Voice Camera supports multiple mounting configurations, 13 megapixels, USB 3.0, 4K Ultra HD image sensor, 95°wide angle lens, Digital pan-tilt-zoom (PTZ), and high dynamic range (HDR) capabilities.   

The Dolby Conference Phone (DCP) is the multi-speaker/microphone conference phone with a customizable touch user interface (UI) designed for use with Dolby Voice-enabled conferencing provider’s application/services and for interacting with the Dolby Voice Room software. When the DCP is paired with a Dolby Voice enabled video conferencing service, it becomes a control center for videoconferencing. It supports:

  • Dual operation modes (IP phone mode & Dolby Voice mode)
  • For the user interface it has a LCD display with touch interface/swipe support
  • Visual status indication via LED halo: blue halo when in a Dolby Voice conference; green halo when in an IP telephony call; red halo when muted
  • External tactile keys (Mute/Volume control etc.)
  • Full integration with Dolby Voice Room as audio and video control console
  • 10/100 Ethernet with IEEE 802.3af PoE support
  • In IP phone mode supports audio codecs: G.711a/G.7 11u/G.722/G.729ab/iLBC
  • Dolby wideband (HD) audio
  • (20-ft) microphone pickup range
  • Full-room pickup
  • Full duplex
  • Dolby noise reduction
  • Dynamic leveling
  • Acoustic echo cancellation

In Dolby Voice mode with BlueJeans, the solution supports:

  • Dolby Voice enabled conferencing service
  • Preconfigured access to Dolby Voice enabled conferencing services
  • One-touch meeting start in personal mode-voice placement (presents each speaker’s voice from a distinct location to make it easier to follow and understand the conversation)
  • Viewable roster of meeting attendees and active speakers
  • Touch-screen meeting management (mute/unmute and eject participants, lock meeting, etc.)
  • Ports for connecting two satellite microphones.

It is now time to conduct a functional and SIP interoperability testing of the Dolby Voice Room, which is a SIP conference endpoint.  We will use the DCP in dual operation mode.  In IP phone mode, it will connect to a SIP trunk/Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS) via an Enterprise Session Border Controller (eSBC) for inbound/outbound voice calling and audio conferencing.  In Dolby Voice mode, it will use the BlueJeans VCaaS.  The solution operates in both modes simultaneously, offering a handset icon to call through a registered UCaaS service and a meeting button to connect to BlueJeans.

FUNCTIONAL TESTING

The test setup consisted of the Dolby Voice Room (software version 2.1.1.16); Dolby Voice Camera (software version1.0.0.9, FPGA 153); Dolby Conference Phone (software version 4.2.1.20); and the following devices and systems (Please refer to Fig. C): 

  • Public SIP trunk services/UCaaS 
  • Patton (News - Alert) SmartNode SN5570 Series eSBC running software version Trinity 3.15.2-19042, which will provide SIP registrar services and SIP demarcation from the public SIP trunk/UCaaS provider in the cloud while maintaining interoperability and interconnectivity
  • Microsemi PDS-208G Digital Ceiling PoE switch (software release version 2.53) for efficient network connectivity and PoE delivery for the DCP when operating in pairing mode that is detached manually paired.
Fig.C Functional and interoperability testing of Dolby Voice Room
 

We started with a few simple steps, such as physically connecting a network cable from the Hub to our network switch, an Ethernet network cable between the Hub and the DCP, a USB 3.0 cable connection between Hub and the camera, an HDMI connection to the HDTV display, from the Hub’s content sharing HDMI input port an HDMI connection to a notebook PC, and, finally, the power cable from the power adapter.  We powered the Hub and used the web interface for all the management and provisioning of the Dolby Voice Room, shown in Fig. D.

Fig. D Dolby Voice Room - Web Interface
 

We configured/checked the values relevant for our testing by clicking on:

  • Settings > Features > Operation Mode: Dual mode
  • User Preferences > Localization > Time Zone
  • Network > DHCP Network Configuration Method: ON
  • NTP > Primary NTP Server Address, Secondary NTP Server Address
  • Provisioning > Server > Manual Server Configuration: ON > Provisioning Server Type: HTTPS > Provisioning Server Address
  • IP PBX (News - Alert) Settings > Account > Display Name > Extension Number/Address > Display Number > Transport Port
  • Server > SIP Domain Name > Primary Call Server/Outbound Proxy > Primary Server/Outbound Proxy Port > SIP URI Scheme: ON > Only Accept Call Server SIP Events: ON
  • Credential > User Credential Name, User Credential Password
  • VAD-Signal G729 Annex B: ON
  • Dolby Conference Phone IP Address > Allow Bluetooth Advertisement: ON
  • Dolby Voice Camera > Operation Mode: Room > Enable High Dynamic Range: ON

Preliminary setup of the Dolby Voice Room in our test environment was incredibly easy and fast.  With some planning, it took us about 20 minutes due to its well laid-out web interface.  The Dolby Voice Room was now ready for use in both Dolby Voice mode and IP phone mode.  The Dolby Voice Room solution supports flexible deployment options.  Either the Hub can PoE power the DCP directly or you can connect both separately to the network and pair over the network.  So, before we started the testing, we moved the DCP, as it is PoE enabled, away from the hub and connected it directly to the Microsemi Digital ceiling PoE switch, which provided both PoE and network connectivity.  The status of the DCP, on the Hub now for the pairing mode changed from attached auto-paired to detached manually paired.  The DCP served as our control center for video conferencing, as it is paired with the BlueJeans Dolby Voice enabled service.  For our testing, the DCP’s intuitive touch screen user interface was used for meeting control, as shown in Fig. E.

Fig. E: Display on DCP during the BlueJeans meeting
 

To join a BlueJeans meeting using the DCP touch screen, you enter the Meeting or Event ID and the optional Passcode and then tap JOIN.  Once in the meeting, you get access to icons/functions such as: Video (tap on it to enable/disable camera), PIP (show/hide PIP), camera control (tap on it and you get presented with options for Room and People), Leave (to leave the meeting), Start Rec (tap to start/stop recording).  You can also view the meeting roster if you tap on the People icon (refer to Fig. F.) 

Fig. F: Display on DCP- People icon- meeting roster
 

Dolby Voice Room with BlueJeans supports wired content sharing while on a call, and even when you are not on a call.  Tap on the share icon, then tap on HDMI icon for wired content sharing capability.  If you tap on the Share Screen icon, it will provide a link/URL that users can type into their browsers to share the desktop or application in a BlueJeans meeting, as shown in Fig. G and Fig. H

Fig. G: Display on DCP-Share icon-Screen Share
 
Fig. H: Display on DCP-Share Laptop Screen URL

Before using the Share Whiteboard feature, for optimal whiteboard framing performance, we must configure the location of the whiteboard in our meeting room.  We can now define a portion of the Dolby Voice Camera view that contains our physical whiteboard.  On the DCP, you tap on Settings > Dolby Room Settings > Dolby Voice Camera > change mode to whiteboard > Configure Whiteboard.  To define your whiteboard area, you drag the corners of the rectangle on the DCP display while concurrently viewing a live preview of the area of the selection of your whiteboard on the HDTV display connected to the Hub.  This is so the capture area of the rectangle on the DCP display lines up with the corners of your whiteboard (refer to Fig. I).

Fig. I Display on DCP- white board capture area rectangle
 

Defining the whiteboard was an easy task. Share whiteboard  is an excellent feature.  Now, with the clear and well framed whiteboard view correcting any distortion and removing skew/keystone automatically (refer to Fig. J) available, our remote meeting attendees were abe to collaborate as if they were in the room.  

Fig. J: White board displayed as content to remote attendees
 

If you tap on the Layout icon, you are presented with icons such as Speaker View, People View, Gallery View, etc. (refer to Fig. K).

Fig. K: Display on DCP Showing Layout Options
 

Next, we focused our attention on testing the DCP in IP Phone mode of operation.  We placed inbound/outbound calls through the Patton SmartNode SN5570 eSBC, which provided SIP registrar services and access to the SIP trunk/UCaaS in the cloud. Fig. L shows the call statistics of the call in IP Phone mode and Fig. M provides call details during a Dolby Voice mode call.

Fig. L: Dolby Voice Room web interface IP phone mode-call statistics
 
Fig. M: Test Call details Dolby Voice mode call

                                        

During the testing, users joined the meetings locally and remotely from laptops running BlueJeans for Windows and smartphones running BlueJeans for Android (News - Alert).  From the end user’s perspective, the whole setup was very streamlined with just a few clicks on the relevant screens.  During their collaborative sessions, the ease of use was matched by good audio, video and whiteboard/screen sharing experiences.  Dolby’s advanced audio and video conferencing technology, when integrated with conferencing service providers like BlueJeans VCaaS, makes for a winning combination.  The Dolby Voice Room enabled productive and collaborative meetings. 

Conclusion

Dolby’s Voice Room integrated with BlueJeans VCaaS delivered a dependable and positive meeting experience.  The audio, video and whiteboard/screen sharing worked as expected and exceeded our expectations during the collaborative sessions.  We would recommend that you bring the Dolby Voice Room in to your huddle rooms or small meeting rooms for audio and video collaboration.  Truly, seeing is believing.




Edited by Erik Linask