Zoom In: A Look At The Increase Of Virtual Meetings

Jason Cooley is Support Services Manager for Tech Experts.

Quarantine as a whole was (and still is) a strange thing to see happen in the United States. With state-by-state protocols varying and dates in which states began to open back up done on a per-state basis, months were lost.

Schools shut down and businesses closed, some permanently. The businesses deemed “essential” stayed open with new restrictions in place.

Travel was restricted domestically and halted internationally. Anyone that could work remotely was reassigned to work from home.

With travel bans and remote work orders in place, Zoom saw huge increases in usage.

Zoom is meeting software, allowing users to do video or audio conferences as a group. There is a very good free tier for users to join unlimited calls, to host calls with up to 100 participants for up to 40 minutes, and unlimited one-to-one calls.

Among other similar solutions, Zoom has seen skyrocketing numbers since the pandemic started.

In December 2019, Zoom reported 10 million daily meetings taking place. Fast forward to March 2020, and Zoom hosted 200 million daily meeting. By the end of April 2020, Zoom reached 300 million daily meetings.

Zoom users vary from friends chatting, students collaborating, businesses meeting, conferences, and even the British members of Parliament.

Video conferencing has been used to keep gatherings to a minimum, teach students, conduct business meetings, and more.

While there may be a time that the number of video conferences may drop down, I believe the way we do business and operate as people has changed in some ways that will continue the prevalence of video conferencing.

Many schools across the US closed early late last year due to the pandemic. In Michigan, students in K-12 have a few different options when it comes to how they proceed with their learning now. Students can work remote or virtually.

Remote learning has two options itself, in-person learning with remote or just remote. The in-person learning involves a limited school day and less days in attendance per week. Or a class will be entirely remote.

Virtual school will remain that way all year. This is an existing system in place, and students will remain home doing virtual learning even when restrictions ease. Students may have already been using this system prior to the pandemic.

In both cases, students are typically using Google Classroom and Zoom. Remote learning with Zoom sees students join a conference with an instructor. They may have a lecture or another type of lesson that is done over the video conferencing. Virtual school’s lectures can vary based on the program itself.

When restrictions are lifted in Michigan for schools, those who are doing remote learning with attendance will attend school on a more regular schedule, but will still see some use of Zoom as a way to reduce traffic and students in different classrooms. Those doing just remote learning will stay home after restrictions are lifted and continue to attend video conferences as classes.

There have been many changes this year, and some are for the better. There will probably be a decrease in travel, even as bans are lifted. Some things that had previously been done in-person will now be done through video conferencing. Students will continue to be able to attend school from home. Work-from-home positions may offered by more companies.

Things will continue to return to how they were before the pandemic, but video conferences will continue to thrive.

Does Videoconferencing Make Sense For Your Company?

Thomas Fox is president of Tech Experts, southeast Michigan’s leading small business computer support company.

Science-fiction fans have long wished for life-sized communication devices that create a real-time image of the person you’re talking with.

Recently, holographic video technology has begun to surface, although at present the price means it’s restricted to only the wealthiest companies.

More realistic options when you want a face-to-face with clients across town are video conferencing and telepresence setups, like HP’s Halo solutions.

Soaring fuel prices, and the growing awareness of our carbon footprint, are encouraging the fast adoption of video conferencing among big and small companies alike.

Some businesses have even taken the line that if a video conference is possible, they won’t travel long distances for a meeting.

The advantages of video conferencing are obvious. As the old saying goes, “a picture is worth a thousand words.”

By being able to see each other, participants benefit from improved understanding and communication. Productivity goes up, travel costs are removed, and the time spent driving or flying to meetings is slashed dramatically.

The next stage
The benefits offered by video conferencing are soon to be taken to a new level by technologies like motion tracking, facial recognition and simulation, intelligent audio technologies, handheld and full-scale holographic devices, 3D monitors, stereographic camera setups, and entire-room display technologies.

Recent months have already seen the introduction of digital projectors into mobile phones.

While many of these technologies sound quite far-fetched, a lot of them will be available for regular business use in the near future.

And like most technological breakthroughs, with time many of them will also find their way into our homes. Friends and family living overseas could virtually walk in and talk with you – or share their living rooms in full detail.

Enhancing collaboration today
While holograms and other such technologies are still out of reach for most, video conferencing systems like Halo are helping organizations hold more engaging long-distance meetings that lift productivity while reducing costs.

The top-end products can include life-sized screens, crisp pictures, surround sound and even operating technicians.

A far more attractively priced option are PCs and notebooks equipped with web cameras. With free services like Skype and Webex, you can quickly and easily set up time-saving face-to-face meetings.

Collaboration and communication can be improved effortlessly, travel costs removed in an instant.

New technologies will soon revolutionize the way we communicate, but in the meantime, video conferencing can offer your business a great advantage.