Feature Profile: One-Way Glass

Feature Profile: One-Way Glass

The Problem:

Market research and advertising agencies routinely conduct focus groups to poll consumer opinion about new products. In the past this was accomplished by physical gatherings, but these are increasingly being done via conference call. Such calls are a great way to gather detailed feedback from customers.

During traditional focus group meetings the test group would meet with staff from the market research company or ad agency. It was also common staff from their customer to monitor the proceedings from a neighboring room. Often they looked in on the focus group in-progress via one-way-glass. In this way the management team could see and hear their customers opinions first-hand, but without impacting the focus group process.

When this process is taken into the virtual realm via a traditional conference call there is no parallel to the secure side-room. Those managers who are not involved in the focus group can join the call, but being in the same conference  as the focus group, they run the risk of being a disruptive influence.

The Solution:

It’s not uncommon for a conference service to allow “break-out rooms” in support of private conversations away from the main conference. A ZipDX conference offers eight such private rooms adjoining the main conference. However, room #8 is a special case as it features One-way Glass.


One-way Glass provides a dedicated, private conference room specifically for the marketing team. While the focus group activity is happening in the main conference room, agency staff and their customer can monitor the focus group from room #8. Conversation from the main room is heard in room #8, but the main conference cannot hear anything happening in the side room. Thus the focus group in the main conference room can conduct it’s business undisturbed, completely unaware of the management group as they listen in.

One-way Glass features two modes of operation. In the default, “automatic” mode, any conversation between the people in room #8 causes the sound from the main conference room to be automatically lowered. When local conversation stops the sound from the main room is quickly restored to normal volume so that that the focus group can once again be heard clearly.

With One-way Glass in “fixed” mode all participants in room #8 except the host are soft-muted. Upon joining the call they hear an announcement pointing out this fact and advised them on how they can unmute, if desired. In fixed mode the audio level from the main conference remains constant, regardless of activity in the side room.

In setting up a call that uses One-way Glass the organizer can issue invitations such that each participant is automatically joined to the correct room as the call begins.

The market research or focus group application is just one possible application for One-way Glass.  It’s applicable to anywhere you might want to have one group of people monitor, but not interfere with the activities of another group.

For example, it would be equally well-suited to a human resources training application. In the main conference room an HR staffer could be interviewing someone applying for a job. At the same time, tucked discreetly behind one-way glass in room #8, other HR staff listen in on the interview. They remain at arm’s length from the interview, but are able to chat amongst themselves, discussing the technique used to interview the job candidate.

One-way Glass is just another reason to ask, “Can your conference system do all this?”

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