The COVID-19 pandemic permanently changed consumers’ relationships with technology, especially video. A recent survey from Mojo Vision found that consumers were more likely to try new technology during quarantine. As people adopted new tech, they also reported depending on it more and viewing it favorably – perhaps unsurprising given how integral video communications have become during this time. During the most stringent period of lockdowns in the U.S., a majority of all employed people were working from home, and 68 percent of CEOs surveyed by Deloitte in the fall of 2020 said their workforces were still remote.
In 2021, we can anticipate consumers will seek more powerful video tools. As video communications have become ubiquitous, so too have complaints about the online meeting experience. Experts have been chronicling the new phenomenon of “zoom fatigue” since March of 2020. While exhaustion linked to increasing use of virtual platforms has many possible causes, The Psychiatric Times posits that the low perceived rewards-cost ratio of most video interactions is a significant factor: that is, that the effort of joining a virtual conversation is not sufficiently rewarded with interpersonal connection.
Virtual events, schools, and businesses are responding by creating more interesting, interactive experiences with higher production values. Consumers may decide to jump on the bandwagon, too. Already, we’re seeing impressive broadcast quality multi-camera livestreams being produced by literal laypeople in houses of worship across the country. The tech enthusiasts newly converted by the circumstances of the pandemic may see the value in bringing these capabilities home.
There are already indications that people are taking their home workspace setups a lot more seriously. Technology companies are witnessing growing sales, and Forbes has tracked the rising importance of home office space in new home sales and customization. The research shows that consumers want dedicated environments, with the appropriate integrated technology tools. In 2021, the home office and AV industries may see a wave of people committing to optimizing their home office setups. This will require careful attention to outgoing audio and video quality. Professionals will be more productive and be perceived as more reliable when these channels work effectively.
Consumers have a lot of tools available to help them make the best possible impression; the trick is selecting the appropriate one for the task. People who are making training videos or conducting product demonstrations from their home offices will have very different use cases from those leading team meetings or sales calls. When it comes to cameras, it is essential to choose a device with the right field of view for the application. Consumers should also consider whether a static image is adequate, or if pan, tilt, and zoom (PTZ) capabilities are required to capture the intended messages.
More sophisticated use cases may call for a camera with dual outputs for confidence monitoring while live streaming; some Ultra High Resolution (UHD) cameras can even be used to simulate a multicamera setup by creating simultaneous HD streams of different subsets of the 4K field of view.
Other users may benefit more from smart cameras with auto-framing or tracking capabilities that allow them to move naturally without worrying about camera control. Whatever device is chosen, it must integrate with all relevant videoconferencing and streaming platforms and post-production tools.
Camera technology does not exist in a vacuum. Improving the quality of at-home video communications requires addressing the whole environment, including space, light and sound. The new year will also likely usher in consumer adoption of pro-quality microphones, including both headsets and desk-mounted directional or beamforming microphones, as well as personal videoconference lights. For those who cannot designate an entire room as a videoconferencing studio, we may also see growth in the area of personal greenscreens and backdrops.
Professional quality video is more accessible than it has ever been in terms of price, access to knowledge and training, ease of use, and options. That accessibility is being met by interest, as more and more consumers are exposed to broadcast quality production and understand that this is something they can achieve in their own homes. This is an exciting time for the video technology industry, as a broadening base of increasingly sophisticated consumers is sure to ignite innovation in the field.