On October 5th, 2022, Logitech took the video meeting equity discussion up a notch with the announcement of Logitech Sight, an AI-powered tabletop camera.
During a 57-minute live video webcast with a distinctly Apple-Esque flavor, Scott Wharton (VP & GM of the Video Collaboration Group) and his team stepped through Logitech’s view of hybrid work and how its solutions address the needs of today’s and tomorrow’s workers.
Author’s Note – Two days earlier, during a six-minute pre-recorded webcast, Logitech competitor Huddly announced its upcoming approach to meeting equity. See our research note on Huddly’s session and announcement.
Primer on Meeting Room Issues
Next, Logitech’s Henry Levak (VP, Head of Product – Video Collaboration Group) showed the difference between how desktop users and meeting room users are captured during a video meeting.
Note how small the meeting room users are in the screenshot below.
Next, Henry showed how eye contact (and even face contact) is lost when a meeting room participant talks to another meeting room participant.
Finally, he showed how the situation becomes even worse when content is shared during the meeting.
Approaches to Improving the Meeting Experience
Now that the stage was set, Henry walked the webcast attendees through five approaches for improving the video experience for traditional room layouts.
Approach #1 – Front of Room
Uses a single, front-of-room camera and AI / computer-vision techniques to frame meeting room participants and send them to the far end.
This approach works well in smaller rooms, but the experience starts to fail when participants turn away from the camera to talk to each other or lean forward and block other participants (see the screenshot below).
Approach #2 – Standalone 360 Camera
This approach uses a 360-camera to capture participants talking around the table.
However, the experience starts to fall apart when participants turn toward the front of the room to look at the remote participants.
Also, some 360 cameras provide a panoramic view of the room, which many users find disorienting and unnatural.
Finally, these devices often include a speaker, which means that sometimes the remote participants’ voices will come from behind (see white dot and white rings at the center of the table) while their video will be displayed at the front of the room (see screenshot below).
Approach #3 – Multiple Cameras (Logitech called this Stadium)
This approach involves installing cameras in various parts of the room, for example on the side walls or at the front corners of the room. See the white dots in the screenshots below.
However, if the cameras are installed too high, the result is a security-camera-type view (a.k.a. a toupe shot). Similarly, if the cameras are installed too low, one participant may block the camera view of another participant (see the white boxes in the screenshot below).
Also, this approach doesn’t work well in rooms with glass walls.
And this approach requires multiple cameras that must be properly installed on the walls and require power and/or Ethernet cables. This takes time and money and makes the space look very tech-heavy.
Author’s Note – this approach sometimes includes the installation of additional displays near the additional cameras (see the rendering of Crestron’s Sightline / Intelligent Video offering at right).
These additional displays allow in-room participants to see the remote participants without turning to the front of the room, which improves the camera’s sight lines and provides better eye contact.
However, this approach adds additional cost and has a heavy footprint on the space.
Approach #4 – Changing the Physical Design / Layout of the Room (Logitech called this Stage)
This approach is reminiscent of the expensive dedicated telepresence suites that were fairly popular five to ten years ago. In most of these spaces, the tables are turned 90 degrees to ensure that each participant is facing the camera.
This allows the front-of-room camera to frame each meeting room participant.
While this provides tight, front-facing shots of the meeting participants, it only works in relatively small rooms with a limited number of participants.
Also, this typically turns the meeting room into a dedicated video conferencing space (vs. a standard, multi-purpose meeting room).
Approach #5 – Logitech Sight
Finally, Logitech presented what it believes to be the best way to improve the remote participants’ view of the meeting room — Logitech Sight.
Logitech Sight is a center-of-table camera with a 315-degree horizontal field of view and built-in microphones designed specifically to work with Logitech Rally Bar and Rally Bar Mini video bars.
Logitech Sight provides close-up views of meeting room participants, giving remote participants a virtual seat in the center of the action.
But so far, this sounds like a typically 360-degree, center-of-the-table camera, right? Well, think again.
Logitech Sight works together with the Rally Bar (or Rally Bar Mini) installed in the room to pick the best shot of each person to send to the remote participants.
For example, when a meeting room participant turns to the front of the room to look at the remote participants, Logitech Sight’s no longer has a front view of the person (see screenshot at left below).
At this point, the view from the front-of-room camera (see screenshot at right above) is used instead.
Logitech Sight – The Details
Logitech then stepped through the details of Logitech Sight, including the fact that it includes two 4K cameras, onboard AI, seven beamforming mics, advanced AI noise suppression, and an onboard mute button.
As shown in the image below, and unlike 360-degree center-of-table cameras, Logitech Sight does not capture the front of the room.
This seemingly small difference between 315- and 360-degree horizontal field of view means that Logitech Sight’s cameras won’t capture the display at the front of the room and won’t send the remote participants a loopback of their own video.
Logitech Sight can be placed on the table, installed in a grommet mount, or on a tripod (for use with U-shaped tables).
In terms of cabling, Logitech Sight requires only a power cable and a single CAT-X cable to the Logitech Rally Bar or Rally Bar Mini in the room.
Initially, only one Logitech Sight can be used at a time. However, in the future, Logitech expects to allow two units to be daisy-chained to support larger spaces.
Logitech Sight is expected to be available globally in the Summer of 2023 for an MSRP of $1,999.
Live Q&A Session
Finally, the session ended with a live Q&A session during which the cast answered questions from the audience.
Recon Research’s Opinion
Let’s start with the event experience. This webcast was top-notch. The video and audio quality was excellent, and the hand-offs between presenters were seamless. This session was the next best thing to being there.
Now, let’s shift to the attitude of the session. This session was as humble and unassuming as the people behind it. The Logitech team kept it real.
For example, while covering the topic of hybrid work, Wharton explained that “the shift to hybrid is and will be messy, and we’re only at the beginning of it.” He also admitted, “we don’t have all the answers, but we feel an obligation and passion to help figure it out with you.”
To be absolutely clear, this was certainly a marketing event. For example, the session included information about a wide range of Logitech products – some related to Logitech Sight (e.g., Rally Bar and Rally Bar Mini) and meeting equity and some that simply support the needs of workers at large (e.g., Logitech Dock). And that’s just fine. Fish need to swim, birds need to fly, and vendors need to pitch. What matters here is that the sales pitch wasn’t overdone.
Now, onto the meat of the session.
Logitech did a great job covering the various approaches for improving the remote participants’ view of the people in the meeting room. And the videos and graphics used to present each approach were top-notch.
This brings us to Logitech Sight. Although we haven’t seen this product in action yet, Logitech Sight sounds like a great way to improve the meeting experience.
Logitech Sight’s advantages include:
- Low Cost – with an MSRP of $1,999, Logitech Sight is significantly less expensive than traditional multi-camera approaches
- Works in Standard Meeting Rooms – Logitech Sight does not require changes to the physical meeting room or the room layout.
- Easy Installation – Logitech Sight requires only power and a CAT-X connection to the front of the room and supports various mounting options.
- Platform Agnostic – our understanding is that Logitech Sight will work with any platform supported by Rally Bar and Rally Bar Mini, including Microsoft Teams Rooms (MTR), Zoom Rooms, and even BYOD use cases.
- Camera Shots – Logitech Sight provides close-up, front-facing shots of each meeting room participant (unless a person is looking at the front of the room, which is when that person is captured using Rally Bar’s camera).
- Field of View – we particularly like that Logitech Sight does not capture the front of the room (which is a problem plaguing 360-degree camera solutions)
- Integrated Mics – Logitech Sight brings the mics closer to the meeting room participants, which should improve outgoing audio quality.
Yes – there’s a lot to like here. Easy to buy, easy to install, and easy (meaning automatic) to use.
In terms of disadvantages, the list is much shorter and includes:
- Requires Rally Bar / Rally Bar Mini – Logitech Sight is an add-on to a Logitech Rally Bar or Rally Bar Mini, so it won’t work in rooms without a Rally Bar.
- Device on the Table – Logitech Sight’s position on the table means that the device will be visible to the participants. However, the device is lower than eye height and relatively small, so people should get used to it quickly.
- Separate Power – our understanding is that Logitech Sight requires a separate power connection, which means each Logitech Sight requires two cables – one CAT-X to the Rally Bar / Rally Bar Mini in the room, and one power cable. In the future, perhaps Logitech will add PoE power to the CAT-X cable, eliminating the need for a separate power adapter. Given that PoE++ Type 4 supports up to 100 watts, this should be possible.
- Camera Angles – it appears that Logitech Sight’s cameras will be slightly lower than eye level. This may result in an upward-facing view (a.k.a. nostril-shot) of taller participants.
Overall, we give Logitech major kudos for Logitech Sight and this debut webcast.
Based on our discussions with many end-users, we know that meeting equity is top of mind. However, we also know that for the typical meeting room, IT managers can’t spend a lot of money, buy and install tons of new gear, modify their physical spaces, or turn the tables sideways just to achieve meeting equity.
Logitech Sight gives IT managers a way to dramatically improve the experience provided by a typical meeting room – without breaking the bank or modifying the meeting space.
And it doesn’t hurt that Logitech Sight gives IT managers a reason to use Logitech video bars.
Obviously, the proof will be in the pudding (meaning when we can actually test Logitech Sight). And Logitech Sight certainly isn’t (or won’t be) perfect.
But based on what we’ve seen, it looks like Logitech really hit it out of the park with Logitech Sight.