I got an email from Wolfgang Berger in Germany, asking if I would like to take a look at a relatively new piece of web conferencing software from his young company, Conferendum.
I took him up on the offer, and we went through a demo, followed by a small amount of playing with the presenter's interface on my part. I haven't used it enough for a full product review, but I wanted to tell you about two innovative implementations in the software. Web conferencing products are getting more and more similar, so it's always fun and exciting for me when I see a product that introduces a new slant on a piece of functionality.
The first function involves making it easier for your audience to see content on a shared PowerPoint slide or work document (you can display a snapshot of content from most Microsoft Office documents). In addition to standard annotation tools such as drawing colored lines on the screen, you can specify an arbitrary rectangular region that you want zoomed.
The screen changes to show just the content inside your rectangle, expanded to fit the display area.
You can click a button to return to the normal display of the entire slide content whenever you are ready.
Some other vendors have ways to change display sizes, but this is the first time I have seen a rectangle selection tool used to pick a sub-area for magnification. Neat.
The second new feature was obviously inspired by Conferendum's international target market. They recognize that especially in European business, you deal with a lot of different languages. So they built in an integrated "Translation Room" feature. This is effectively what the e-learning vendors call a breakout room. You designate a language for the room (the choice is used purely for labeling purposes) and a named participant from your participant list. That participant becomes the translator for the room (translation companies would argue that the person is a "simultaneous interpreter" rather than a "translator", but we won't split hairs).
The translator hears the VoIP audio stream from the speaker in the main room of the conference. She translates, speaking into her computer microphone and all other participants in that translation room hear her translated audio stream, rather than the stream coming from the primary speaker. You can have as many of these rooms and separate audio streams as desired.
Again, the basic idea of being able to provide simultaneous audio interpretation is not new, but I like the built-in integration of the labeling and handling of the streaming audio. It seems to me that this would make a natural partnership opportunity for Conferendum and a translation/interpretation provider.
So good job to Conferendum for introducing some new ways to think about web conferencing functionality. If you want to check it out for yourself, they offer a free trial from their website. Oh, and by the way, the software is not intended for things like lead generation webinars... There is no registration or reporting included in the package.