360° Video Conference: The Basics
A 360° video conference is a virtual meeting with the use of live or pre-recorded 360° video, which allows remote participants to look around a room or space freely.
The intended use for a 360° video conference is for remote discussions and collaboration about physical spaces, whereas, standard video conference tools like Zoom, and Teams, is built for face-to-face conversations.
Key Applications and Use Cases of a 360° Video Conference
There are many applications for the technology across industries and functions. From our experience, these use cases can be broken down into three main categories: remote inspections, virtual tours, and location-based training.
Remote inspections involve assessing, examining, or verifying a location, equipment, or process from a distance. Ex. Quality Checks, Health & Safety inspections, Regulatory Compliance inspections, etc.
Virtual tours provide virtual “boots-on-the-ground” experience of a location or facility.
Unlike static photo tours or digital twins, 360° video uniquely captures the dynamism of a location, capturing what’s happening on site rather than what the site may look like.
For example, DB Schenker, a global leader in logistics solutions, uses 360° video conferencing to provide facility tours for clients and stakeholders.
Location Based Training
This involves training sessions that are deeply tied to a specific location or environment.
For example, The National Emerging Special Pathogens Training and Education Center (NETEC) uses 360° video conferencing to simulate, review, and analyze spill containment drills and other emergency response scenarios that would otherwise be very difficult to reproduce at every location.
Three Ways to Collaborate with 360° Video Conference
In an asynchronous meeting, the 360° content is shared with remote participants to review, mark, and annotate at their own convenience. These notes and annotations can then be reviewed by the rest of the team for further collaboration.
Why Businesses Adopt 360° Video Conference Tools
Cost and Time Efficiency
With an alternative to in-person visits for various activities and tasks, businesses across industries – Manufacturing, Construction, and Logistics in particular – benefit from significant cost and time savings.
Consider the amount of time spent on those various activities that require individuals and small groups to travel across the country, or even across the globe to conduct. Although some tasks will always require an in-person visit, many can be done virtually.
360° video conferencing redefines what’s possible with remote collaboration by bringing an entirely new medium to the table – 360° video.
Whether you’re considering remote inspections, or virtual tours, existing tools ultimately fail to deliver the experience necessary for a realistic assessment of a remote location.
The panoramic view provided by 360° video conferencing closely mimics physical presence, allowing remote engagements to be far more practical, and effective.
Trust and Transparency
The biggest limitation of existing collaboration and video conferencing tools is visibility. It doesn’t come close to delivering the confidence you get from standing there in person and seeing it yourself.
However, the 360° view changes that. It provides a true-to-life perspective, ensuring remote stakeholders and participants have the visibility they need to have trust and transparency into what’s happening on site.
Is It Right For Your Business? Here Are 4 Things to Consider
1. The 360° View
First and foremost, do you need a 360° view? Having the full view is important for discussions and meetings about the space, but may not be suitable for some applications, depending on the situation.
For use cases such as remote field support, the field of view required may be much smaller.
For example, a remote subject matter expert (SME) supporting a technician on the field on an installation or repair, may simply require a close up view of the machinery.
2. Remote Participants
Do you have multiple remote stakeholders that need to be involved? Or do you and your team work with multiple sites that require travel?
The higher the number of people that have to travel, and the more frequent the site visits are, the more value you’d get from a 360° video conferencing platform like Avatour.
Additionally, consider how far one would have to travel to visit the site in person. For shorter drives between 30-60 minutes, in-person visits may make more sense.
3. Internet Connectivity
Validate whether there is a reliable internet connection on site. Having WiFi or 5G connection will ensure you have the bandwidth necessary to host meetings.
For locations without internet, consider options like a mobile hotspot or use pre-recorded 360° content in your meetings.
4. On-Site Camera Operator
To run a live 360° meeting, you need a person on site to operate the camera. Make sure there is someone that can be trained to operate the camera and equipment at each location.
360° Video Conferencing vs. 360° Conference Cameras
360° video conferencing is easily mistaken for a 360° conference camera, a product typically installed in a conference room.
360° conference cameras, like the OwlLabs Meeting Owl and Kandao Meeting Pro, captures the surrounding environment to deliver a view of the person or people who are speaking. In practice, 360° conference cameras are used to conduct standard video calls, capturing multiple participant faces without requiring multiple devices to join the call.
Proper 360° video conferencing, as exemplified by Avatour, is quite different.
In this model, a portable 360° camera is used to capture a complete panoramic view of a location in real time, providing shared physical context between on-site personnel and remote attendees. 360° video conferences are about spaces, not faces.
A New Way to Collaborate
360° video conferencing is reshaping the way businesses think about remote collaboration. With tools like Avatour, the world becomes a little smaller, with distant sites and facilities only a click away.
It’s not just the future of communication; it’s the future of connection.