The lines between unified communications (UC) and extended reality (XR) have begun to blur. Several companies from both verticals have begun exploring immersive video features across communications platforms. By doing so, firms can expand their connectivity with a greater impact on employees, audiences, and collaborators.
XR Today is honoured to interview Joe McStravick, Managing Director, EMEA and APAC, BlueJeans. On the sidelines of the Verizon London Hub 5G showcase on Thursday, we explored the benefits of immersive videoconferencing for boosting employee engagement. The discussion also briefly noted the ongoing trend of integrating XR solutions on UC platforms amid the rise of remote working.
BlueJeans has remained a longstanding partner of immersive solutions providers like Microsoft, Vuzix, Magic Leap, Mootup, and Google Glass Enterprise. Widely used across XR devices such as Microsoft’s HoloLens 2, Microsoft Teams has recently launched real-time 3D (RT3D) avatars to boost meeting attendee engagement.
XR Today: Can you provide some updates on BlueJeans’ immersive video product lineup?
Joe McStravick: When the company was started in 2009, we built on that. We’re also focusing significantly on our BlueJeans studio events platform, which offers customisable branding. You can add lower thirds, tickers, and more engaging and interactive assets whilst completely tailoring them to your brand.
This is whether it’s your own brand internally or in brand new clients externally, where you would bring those two brands together and provide that collusion for something brand new.
Some of the experiences we talked about [include] polling, chats, and those different features we bring into the platform to provide a much more engaging experience.
XR Today: Many VoIP platforms such as Microsoft Teams are turning to immersive video features to boost user engagement. Why are these technologies important for the unified communications industry?
Joe McStravick: Good question. We talked about this connection dilemma: although we’re more connected than ever before, we’re also more disconnected than ever before, so personal human contact is a real challenge for organisations.
We have figures showing people believe that hybrid work is here to stay, and video is here to stay, but they’re not getting the level of productivity from the platforms they would need. Many organisations are investing in these technologies. This is to enhance that experience to provide a more engaging and immersive view.
XR Today: After Verizon acquired BlueJeans, how did the company’s telecommunications solutions like 5G, cloud and edge network, and others help to scale up your business model and create new types of immersive experiences for customers?
Joe McStravick: Verizon is arguably the only global telco out there today. That enabled Verizon and us to combine our engineering resources and build solutions.
One of the products showcased today was the previous solution, our video platform as a service (VPaaS), where we’ve taken most of our busy US stores to enable our platform to drive additional value from reps during downtime.
Verizon has helped us accelerate globally by bringing their expertise and ours together to provide and accelerate our growth ambitions.
XR Today: Interoperability is vital for XR, UC, and Metaverse solutions. How do your technological collaborations facilitate interoperability with other platforms?
Joe McStravick: This is a really hot topic for organisations. If you think about chief financial officers (CFOs) and finance directors (FDs) wrestling with business cases.
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Currently, our statistics show that most organisations are around 30 percent back in the office. For the CFO or an FD to justify a significant rise in cost and spend 30 percent of an office — That’s the struggle they’re wrestling with.
So leveraging our Cloud Video Interop EDI Gateway solution, you can leverage different platforms. You already mentioned Microsoft Teams, to which we’re a Platinum Partner. We can standardise that experience, no matter what room you are in, anywhere around the world.
XR Today: What are your thoughts on today’s Verizon London Hub showcase?
Joe McStravick: I think it’s really good that people have come in today to see the London Hub. It’s been open for a little while now, but I think the technology on the showcase is fantastic.
What resonates with me is that Verizon is a truly global company, and we’re creating that global experience. I’m really excited about how video will continue to evolve and do in the marketplace.
It also shows how we’re continuously evolving the use of video. I’m really excited about this, and there are a lot of really exciting things to come that you will see more and the year’s end and next year.