Conversation is the basis of all virtual collaboration, but there are times when conversation alone is not enough. In these instances a visual component is required.
ZipDX WebSharing is a well-established way to add shared visuals to a conference call. Accessed using a simple web link, it’s commonly used to present slides, share documents or demonstrate software. Participants can view the shared visuals in any web browser, on any platform, even tablets and mobile phones.
We’ve recently extended the existing WebShare toolset, adding the ability for up to three presenters to appear in-person, using their webcams.
To conference participants the webcam streams appear inside the WebShare window, along side the shared visuals (as shown below.)
The webcam visuals show up to three participants. An example with a single presenter is shown above.
Can You See Me Now?
To be visible, a suitably equipped participant must click the camera button in the WebShare window to turn on their webcam and be actively or recently speaking. Those who are muted or silent for an extended time are hidden from view.
Thus for webinars, where all participants are muted, only the presenters will be visible. In the case of board or committee meetings, the most recent three speakers may be visible.
The participants can opt to turn off their view of the webcam streams. This may be preferred where internet bandwidth is limited or on very small screens.
The ability to see a live presenter makes the conference experience much more personal. It allows marketers to be more engaged with their prospective customers, and co-workers more connected with their distant associates.
- 1 – Technical Requirements
Here’s what’s required to add a webcam when hosting or presenting to a ZipDX conference:
(1) A computer with a webcam.
The host or presenter’s computer must have a webcam. It can be a built-in or an external webcam. If you need a webcam we recommend the Logitech HD Pro C920.
(2) Chrome web browser.
Like our WebPhone, the WebShare leverages aspects of WebRTC. In this case it requires that the presenter be using Google’s Chrome web browser. A presenter cannot share their screen or webcam using any other web browser.
(3) Reliable Internet Access.
The Webcam feature needs reliable, uninterrupted internet access to ensure that the image stream is continuous. We recommend a wired, Ethernet connection that delivers at least 1 mbps. Avoid wireless (Wi-Fi) connections where possible.
- 2 – Enabling the Webcam Feature
Enabling The Webcam Feature
The webcam feature must be enabled prior to the start of a conference.
This is done by adding the word “webcam” in the Project Tracker field (as pictured above) in the process of creating the conference. The presence of this term tells the system to include the webcam tools when the WebShare is launched.
If you plan to make regular use of the WebShare with webcams you can add the “webcam” term to the project tracker in the default template, which is called simply “Meeting.”
Alternatively, you can also create a new template with webcams enabled.
- 3 – The Webcam Controls
There are only three controls involved in the webcam function: The camera control turns your camera on/off. The play/pause control turns your view of the camera streams on/off. The Zoom control varies the size of the streams from the cameras.
When webcams are enabled, and three or more participants are using webcams, the system always tries to start the webshare with the three webcam streams scaled to fit the vertical space.
- 4 – The Presenter Experience
The Presenter Experience
The Presenter sees the webcam streams displayed on the right side of the browser window that’s used to manage the WebShare.
When the conference is setup to use SlideShow the webcam display is presented similarly, on the right side of the SlideShow controller window.
- 5 – The Participant Experience
The Participant Experience
Participants can use any web browser to view the WebShare. The webcams streams are displayed in desktop and laptop browsers, but not on tablets or smart phones.
Participants see the webcam streams on the right side of the browser window showing the shared document or desktop.
Participants can use Zoom slider to vary the size of the webcam stream. They can also use the Play/Pause buttons to turn the webcam display on/off as desired.
- 6 – Conference Recording
When a conference is recorded any related WebShared visuals are also recorded for later playback. The webcam streams are also recorded, but they will only playback when the conference recording is viewed using Chrome or Firefox.
- 7 – Selecting A Different Camera
It’s possible for a computer to have more than one webcam connected. This is in fact quite common. It happens when a presenter is using a laptop, which has a built-in webcam, but prefers to use an external USB-connected webcam.
An external webcam usually produced better image quality, and can be positioned away from the laptop display, offering greater flexibility in achieving a satisfactory view.
With webcams enabled the WebShare tool will use the first webcam found on the computer, which is typically the built-in camera.
To select the other webcam the presenter must do the following: (presumes that they already have the WebShare launched and the internal camera in use)
- Click on the blue camera icon to turn off the the webcam display.
- In the browser address bar click on the small black camera icon (shown right) to reveal a list of media devices.
- In the Camera pulldown list select the desired webcam.
- Click on the [Done] button.
- Refresh the browser window by pressing the F5 key on the keyboard.
- Click on the blue camera icon to turn on the the webcam display.
You should see the image from the new camera when the stream returns.
The WebShare tool will continue to use this camera as long as it’s available.
An external camera may be disconnected between calls. If it’s not connected when next required the WebShare tool will fall back to using the internal webcam.
This new webcam capability rounds out the feature set of our existing WebShare tool. It provides a more complete solution to delivering webinars, with a personal touch.
WebSharing, now enhanced with webcam access, is just one of many features of ZipDX.
If you have questions about any aspect of ZipDX please contact our support team at:
- Or, +1-312-348-8175,
- Or, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
We’re here to help you get down to business.