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Collaborating on a Budget Is Much Easier When Augmented Reality Enters the Mix

Sure videoconferencing is a great way of sidestepping expensive business trips and accelerating the design process, but it also has its limitations. For instance, analogue yet ubiquitous brainstorming tools like whiteboards simply don’t show up well on camera. More often than not, that sketch of your latest product iteration or next quarter’s sales targets appear blurry and faint to your colleagues sitting in on the meeting from across the country. However that may all be about to change. Cyclops – a new free video collaboration service – is using augmented reality to bring old fashioned marker-boards into the 21st century.

So What Does It Do Exactly?

Cyclops’ algorithm recognizes whiteboards and other writing surfaces. Then it enhances color contrast for items that appear to be text or drawings, while reducing visual interference from your computer’s camera. This helps your ideas to stand out for your audience on the other side of the screen. Plus as a special treat for those who don’t like to read backwards,Cyclops lets meeting hosts and attendees flip the orientation of dry-erase boards within their individual video feeds like this:

Is That All?

Not by a long shot. Cyclops offers loads of functionality inside the app itself, which you can toggle on and off to customize your digital conference room to suit your needs. For example, anyone participating in a group chat can scribble virtual notes on the host’s whiteboard, which will then appear on a shared screen. Opting to activate voice recognition will automatically transcribe your meetings, while running the ask bot lets you search information without ever leaving the video feed itself.

Cyclops does, however, have some important bugs to workout. Currently only eight computers can conference at a time, and the platform isn’t available for other forms of devices. Additionally Cyclops’ algorithm enhances everything, not just what’s in the background. That means that when you stand up to stretch or even if you gesture too quickly, your onscreen image could temporarily blur.

There was a mention of ‘free’?

That’s right, free…for the time being. Cyclops is considering charging a small monthly fee for its service, but it still remains a far cheaper option than the hardware alternatives. Google’s Jamboard, for instance, costs approximately $5,000, and still requires being physically installed. Yet with Cyclops, you can launch a new video chat and start collaborating directly from their website or via your company’s Slack account.

For a price comparison of some other videoconferencing services click here.

Last modified on %PM, %22 %865 %2017 %19:%Sep


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