Huddly Multi-Camera Experience – Interesting Concept but Weak Debut

Earlier today, Recon Research attended a Huddly webcast focused on the company’s upcoming multi-camera experience.  In a word, we were underwhelmed – by the session (not the topic).

Truth be told – we are Huddly fans.  We like the company’s offerings.  We like its razor-sharp focus (yes – two puns in one phrase there) on meeting room camera technologies.  We like its corporate attitude.  And we’re enthusiastic to see Huddly continue to expand its value-add in the meeting room.

But, to our disappointment, this premiere event was simply the scheduled release of a brief (~ 6 minutes long), pre-recorded video clip during which Huddly’s Chief Commercial Officer (Daniel Johanssen) stepped through the basics of its upcoming offering, the Multi-Camera Experience.

And when we say the basics … we mean the basics.  This session was notably lacking in detail about the future offering.  As one attendee so aptly put it within a chat message … “Huh?  Where is the beef?”

So – what exactly did Huddly pre-announce?  A solution that delivers, “the world’s first AI-directed multi-camera experience” (their words – not ours).

The Huddly Multi-Camera Experience (previously referred to as the Huddly Studio) is a kit including three Huddly L1 1080p network cameras and custom software that work together to capture meeting participants from multiple angles.

Huddly - Multi-Camera Experience

The secret sauce here is what Huddly calls the built-in AI Director that switches between the cameras and chooses the best shot to use at any given time.  In addition to switching, the AI Director uses different types of shots (e.g., reaction shots, listening shots, speaker shots, overview shots, etc.) to provide a TV-like production experience.  What’s not to like?

During today’s session, Huddly played a one-minute video clip that it called, “the first-ever short film directed by AI.”

However, what could have been an extremely effective demo of the meeting experience of the future was devalued by the inclusion of non-meeting footage, including a woman being handed coffee and she walked onto the set and into makeup, a man reviewing the video script before walking into the meeting room, and a team preparing the meeting room for the video shoot (see the screenshots from the video below).

Even if this footage was actually captured using L1 cameras and “directed” by the built-in AI Director within the Multi-Camera Experience offering, these are not things people typically do during a meeting.

Huddly - Multi-Camera Experience
Woman Walking onto the Set
Huddly - Multi-Camera Experience
Woman in Makeup
Huddly - Multi-Camera Experience
Man Reviewing Script before Shoot

All in all, the AI-directed short film included only a few seconds of real “during-a-meeting” type footage consisting of two over-the-shoulder shots of participants seated across the table (see the two screenshots from the video below).

Huddly - Multi-Camera Experience
Over the Shoulder Shot - Example 1
Huddly - Multi-Camera Experience
Over the Shoulder Shot - Example 2

Today’s premiere was really intended to keep Huddly customers and partners from going to other meeting room vendors for their meeting equity requirements before the Huddly Multi-Camera Experience starts shipping in Q2 2023.

Event frustrations aside, we believe Huddly is onto something with this upcoming offering.

The low-hanging fruit for meeting equity in a standard meeting room (vs. a bespoke telepresence suite) is the use of multiple cameras.  However, just having more cameras does not a better experience make.  The ability to make the right experiential decisions in real-time is the real value, and that takes compute and AI.

According to Huddly, the Multi-Camera Experience solution will be available for demos during Q4 2022, available for ordering in Q1 2023, and shipping in Q2 2023.

In summary, we like Huddly’s concept of adding an AI intelligence layer on top of its existing camera technology.  And we’re eager to take this solution for a real test drive once it becomes available.

But with all due respect, with today’s session, we believe Huddly took the concept of “always leave them wanting more” a bit too far.  Hopefully, more details will follow soon.